by the Merry Monk
I liked my life before I picked up Donald Miller’s book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life. I had good relationships with my wife, kids and parents. I was getting paid to do work I loved. It gave me a sense of purpose. Friends, church, health, it was all good. Then I read Miller’s book and things started changing.
The things I liked about my life before I read this book are still extant, but the book took me to the edge of my world and filled me with enough hope to jump. I’ve been swimming in a sea of possibilities ever since. I had just told my dad I wanted to go on an adventure with him before it was too late, and then he got cancer. We took a life-changing trip, sailing a catamaran to the Bahamas from Florida. I also drained my IRA and took my family on the RV trip of a lifetime to Sedona and the Grand Canyon.
Also since reading Miller’s book, I’ve held two 40-day liquid fasts to raise funds for charity on TheMerryMonk.com. This was no small feat for someone who enjoys food and drink as much as I do. Enough money came in to keep 40 Haitian slave children in school for six months. Funds from the second fast went to Lakota youth and helped preserve Lakota culture on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. I also started writing. I’m getting articles published and I’m working on a book.
All these things are examples of what Miller calls practice stories. They consist of inciting incidents, negative turns and positive turns. Now it’s time for another inciting incident. By telling you my intentions, I’m setting myself up for public failure or success – probably both.
I am committing myself and the resources at my disposal to channeling the creativity of a generation to conjure the experience of God’s grace. What’s more, I’ll do this while embodying radical freedom, infectious joy and surprising faithfulness with the naked abandon of an Old Testament prophet. For too long, some of my dreams, passions and talents have been dying of starvation in a cell of hopelessness. I’m not alone.
I’ve met too many people who are stuck in jobs they hate in order to buy crap they don’t need. They are gifted designers, musicians, storytellers, filmmakers, leaders, speakers, programmers, actors, artists, businessmen, writers, and all have either put their dreams on hold to pay the bills, or they have given up completely by begrudgingly putting their unique gifts in the service of a company they don’t believe in. They’re not free. As John Lennon said, “We’re doped with religion and sex and TV.” We prefer the stupor to overcoming our fear, failures and the lack of faith that we really can live a better story.
However, I’ve dared to live enough practice stories to begin to sober up. I’m the executive producer at Key Life Network. I oversee the creation of radio programs, videos and web-based media for an old preacher of grace named Steve Brown. His simple message is that God isn’t mad at His children. In fact, God is crazed with unconditional love for His jacked-up kids and He has come to set us free!
God tricked me into working at Key Life. I didn’t apply for the job, but basically Steve hijacked my life. I thought he was sent by the devil when I first met him. However, I have come to believe that he was actually in cahoots with the Author of my story to free me from religion, from addiction, to be myself, to be more than myself, to fail, and to give me the freedom to enjoy union with God.
The bottom line is that I’ve been too scared to grow into the leader I’m called to be. This fear of believing I don’t have what it takes has been my biggest hindrance. But thanks to counseling and people like Brown and Miller, I’ve caught the scent of freedom on the wind blowing through my prison. I’m busting out!
I dare to step fully into my leadership role at Key Life Network and help transform this company from an organization that exists to help one man deliver a message, into a company that exists to empower anyone to use their God-given creativity to share that message.
Imagine inspiring movies about radical reconciliation born from the radically freeing forgiveness of God. Imagine the news reporting on real-life lavish displays of love for our worst enemies, fueled by the infectious joy of God who loved His enemies into friends. Imagine music, street performers, viral videos, multimedia eBooks, radio shows, websites, apps and even media we haven’t invented yet. Imagine all these declaring the surprisingly transformative message that we are invited to be the very image of God on this planet bringing healing to a broken world! Now imagine internalizing this empowering message so that you were freed from the mundane into the adventure of using your talents to answer the prayer, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done. On earth as it is in heaven.”
The biggest obstacle is inertia. My generation has gotten used to our prisons. The devil we know has been deemed better than the devil we don’t know. We have all, in one way or another, gone cheap and settled. Our actions prove that many of us have lost our faith that the Author of our collective story is writing us out of our cold cells and into His grand adventure.
My job is to inspire people to embrace the message of radical freedom, infectious joy and surprising faithfulness that they may join me in sharing that message using their unique talents and gifts in order to set others free.
By its very nature, this story cannot be written alone. The best ideas are still in our heads. I hereby solicit them. Send them to Erik@KeyLife.org. Read Miller’s book, and edit your life. Get in touch with me and let’s “get it” together. Buy the ticket and take the ride. It’s for freedom that He has set us free!
In closing, I’d like to quote an email I recently received:
“Press on. Write your life story. Don’t allow the narrative to stagnate in the routine eddy of circular time. Don’t wait for someone to empower or invite or open your doors. Whether you grasp it, or not, each day is a precious gift. Seize each day by God’s grace and wrest every drop of meaning and possibility. Embrace the life adventure that is uniquely yours. Resist the mundane and the routine. Run from those who would deny, discourage and disdain all the possibilities. Make noise. Rattle doors. Look for the serendipitous opportunity that is a game-changer in your life. ‘There is a tide in the affairs of men, which when taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; omitted, all the voyage of their lives is bound in shallows and miseries.’ – The Old Bard”
by the Merry Monk