Ok, I have a confession to make. I love Jimmy Buffet's "Margaritaville." In fact, I've spent some time there myself. I love it because the whole song is just so laid back and just has this easy feel about it. Now, you know me well enough, by now, to know that this is not just about a cool island song. That's right, God can even speak through a song about margaritas.
Now, if you remember the song, Jimmy sings about blowing out his flip flop, stepping on a pop top (which my kids have never even seen, but I have stepped on one before), had to cruise on back home...but all the way through, as tough as it seemed to get, there was this sense of "Oh well" in Jimmy's voice. Maybe it was because of what was waiting for him in the blender. Maybe he just realized that some things just weren't worth getting torn up over.
As I was reading this morning from the Life Journal readings for today, I admit that none of them were screaming at me. In fact, they weren't even whispering to me, and I had almost decided that today was going to be one of those days where I didn't blog because I wasn't hearing anything to blog about. Then I went back to the beginning and started over. Isaiah 11 is where I landed.
In Isaiah 11, the author is talking about God bringing home the remnant, those that actually made it through the exile and were getting the opportunity to come back home. It talks about all of the things that God will cause to happen so that these folks can find their way back. Then it says: "The Lord will dry up the gulf of the Egyptian Sea; with a scorching wind he will sweep his hand over the Euphrates River. He will break it up into seven streams so that men can cross over in sandals. There will be a highway for the remnant of his people..."
Isn't that cool? Imagine God making a way for you to get back to God in your flip flops! And...from what Isaiah is saying, God was being VERY intentional about making a way for the remnant to get home. And I think, and it's just me, but I think that is where the church still has some work to do. We're getting better about it in a lot of places, but we still have some work to do as far as making a way for the remnant to get home. Some of them might be listening to Jimmy Buffet and wearing flip-flops. Would it be ok for them to wear them to worship with us?
Now, it may just be that I'm a "Margaritaville" kind of guy in an "O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing" world, and that the things I see as possibilities are really just pipe dreams. And if that's the case, one of these days God will straighten me out. But I really don't think it is. If God would go to the trouble of drying up the gulf of the Eyptian Sea, and drying the Euphrates up to the point where you could cross it in flip flops, to me that says it's time we were just as intentional about making a way for folks to get back home today.
And it's not just about getting them into worship, which I would love to do, it's about showing them that there is another way, and they don't have to keep living like they are. So what if the only shoes they own are flip flops? Goodness knows I'd wear mine to church if I knew I wouldn't get fired. Shoot, I might do it anyhow sometime. So what if they show up with margaritas on their breath? So what if they finally realize it's their "own damn fault" (to quote Jimmy)?
The point is, when someone gets to the point where they realize they are ready to come home, we have the God given responsibility to make sure the trip back is as easy as it can possibly be. If we're not doing that, we're not being the church.
So, if you are part of a worshipping body take a look around at everything you do. Are those things pop tops lying in the sand? And if someone cuts their heal on them, are they something we can scoop up out of the sand and throw away? Or are they things that are so imbedded in our traditions that there is no point in talking about removing them?