Episode 1. The World’s Parade
We wander along through life – and sometimes we don’t even notice that we’re marching to the beat of a drum. Someone or something motivates who we are and what we do. Have you ever been to a parade or maybe even been part of a parade? The people all march in the same direction. […]
We wander along through life – and sometimes we don’t even notice that we’re marching to the beat of a drum. Someone or something motivates who we are and what we do.
Have you ever been to a parade or maybe even been part of a parade? The people all march in the same direction. But not only do they march in the same direction, they have to march in step with one another … left, right, left, right … otherwise the whole thing is a shamble.
I remember when I was an army officer. We were big into parades. Sometimes we’d practice for days just for one parade. And to make sure that we all marched in step we had a band. And what band would be complete without a bass drum? Boom. Boom. Boom. Quick time is a 116 beats to the minute. Boom. We marched to the beat of a drum.
What about life? What about the world’s parade? What beat, what drum are we marching to through this great parade we call “life”? So many people live life not even aware that they’re marching to the beat of some drum, somewhere, with a nagging sense inside that, well, something’s not quite right. It’s not satisfying. It’s not really working. Boom. Boom. Boom. But they just keep marching on.
So what about your life? What beat are you marching to? Is it really working?
Have a think about our lives. What parade we’re in. Whose drum we’re marching to. Numero uno. I am the centre of the universe. All inheritantly selfish we are. I’m selfish, we’re all selfish. Naturally we want our needs met. Our wants. My way. Feed me. Feed me. Internet, cable TV, restaurants, coffee, entertainment, me, me, me. Or maybe money, money, money. Or maybe career, career, career. Or, whatever it is.
There are six and a half billion people on this planet. And if we’re all marching to the beat of the drum, me, me, me, it’s not rocket science to figure out it’s just not going to work.
Now I love gadgets, I always have. I remember when I was at school, in high school, when I got my first transistor radio. It was battery powered and when I was at school they started to introduce the earliest personal computers. When I was in my last two years of high school we used a Wang Micro. And as a result I ended up in the IT industry because, well, I loved gadgets.
I always had the latest PC and the latest laptop and they have a special smell you know as you unpack them out of their packaging. There’s this new computer smell. You can get high on it. And so I was always spending thousands of dollars on the latest computers.
You know the saying, ‘little boys, little toys. Big boys, big toys’. Whether its a house or a car or a computer. It was all about money and toys and that constant hit. Boom. Boom. Boom. Marching in a parade. I never really thought about it but it didn’t satisfy me. I needed a constant hit. I always needed to spend it on the next gadget and the next toy. Boom. Boom. Boom. It was never really satisfying.
What about you? What parade are you marching in? People say, “my life isn’t everything I want it to be” and my question is, “well, why not?”
It comes down to the beat of the drum that we’re marching to. The selfishness drum, “I’ll have it my way”. The approval addiction drum of low self esteem. And a variation on that theme, always having to be in the lime light. The centre of attention. The one people go, “ooh, ah, eeh” at. The status, you know, monogrammed shirts and monogrammed hankies and expensive designer pens.
Some people have a “wheeler dealer” addiction. Others have a substance addiction, or a sexuality addiction. Other people are living lives through their children or trying to get fulfilment through pushing their kids as hard as they want.
Other people are workaholics. Now that’s an amazing treadmill. I have a friend and he works for a company where the expectation is that they work 7 days a week. You know, 12 or 14 hours a day. And I said to him, “Steve, why don’t you go and get another job?” “Oh, well, mmm.” I tell you why, because he’s addicted to the recognition he gets from work.
Some people are addicted to laziness. Other people, they’re addicted to loneliness. I had a letter recently from a woman who was listening to our program and she was addicted to a wrong relationship. She said, ‘after 8 years my partner and I have separated and I always knew it was a wrong relationship, I always knew I shouldn’t have been there.’ Well lady, why did you spend 8 years in that relationship?
And others, others are addicted to, to religious rules. People masquerading as Christians. Don’t do this. Don’t do that. Rule based. Missing the point. Come on, the Bible’s not like that. In fact, you know what the Bible calls rule based religion? It actually calls it the ‘doctrine of demons’. Yeah!
Or maybe you’re addicted to something as stupid and as ridiculous as gadgets like I was. What about you?
This is pretty scary stuff you know. When we look at the mirror and say, “what is dominating my life?” Come on, what is it? There’s something, one thing that drives everything that we are and everything that we do. Some of the ones we’ve talked about, maybe they resonate with you. Something or someone is running our lives. It’s the way we are.
It’s almost like we need something or someone to worship. I mean worship sounds like a strong word but worship means “ascribing worth to something or someone”. When we bend our lives towards it or around it. When our whole life is shaped and moulded and guided by work or career or money or success or gadgets or whatever it is. When our lives are shaped by those things, we’re actually laying our lives down to them.
That list of stuff we went through, were any of them worth giving our whole lives to, really? Were they worth selling our souls for? So why do we do that? It’s a sobering thought. Life isn’t a dress rehearsal. As time slips by we can never, never get that time back.
What drum beat are we marching to? I think it’s easy to kid ourselves about this. I know so many people who say, ‘well, you know, I believe in Jesus. I go to Church. I lift my hands up to worship. But I sing really loudly.’ Now, I’m not having a go at any of those things but day to day, you can do that but still march to the beat of a different drum.
Can I just share this with you as someone who’s marched to a different beat, a really radical experience? A decade and a half ago I prayed a prayer that went something like this.
Lord, Everything I have, everything I am, all my hopes and my dreams I give to you.
It was a radical prayer because I felt in my heart, there was no great theological understanding here, it was just something I wanted to do. I felt in my heart to give God everything with no conditions, no holding back, no everything except this, this and this. No, “God, I believe you but I still want my gadgets”. Radical, complete and everything. It wasn’t a theological decision. It was a decision of my heart.
The apostle Paul, 2000 years ago, said:
Don’t be conformed to the ways of this world.
He literally meant, don’t let the world squeeze you into it’s mould. What an awakening! Why should I march to someone else’s drum beat? Why should I let other things squeeze me into their image? Because you and I are made in God’s image.
And when we lay all that stuff down at His feet and say, “Now Lord, help me to have a life that’s really free, really amazing, really satisfying, really significant.” When we do all of that, all of a sudden Jesus opens the door and says, “Now come and have a life worth living. Have the life I always intended to give you.”
For me it was a choice, it was a decision a decade and a half ago and from that time God has been cleaning that junk out of me. And today, I’m living the life God always intended.
Can I ask you gently but radically? What about you?