A dolphin easily leaps out of the water, hangs gracefully in the air, and then skillfully glides back into the water again. They seemingly never tire, covering miles in a day, in the vast ocean waters. They can be seen traveling in pods, riding the waves, and playing with anyone and everyone. A dolphin is free. Then one day it dawned on me, a dolphin is just doing what it was made to do. God made the dolphin to swim and live FREE. Considering the dolphin I asked the question, what special skills has God give me (humanity). (I know I am not Aquaman…I cannot swim with the dolphins). Then a simple answer came to me (obviously this is straight out of the bible)…”God made me to love Him and love people.”
As I sat and thought about dolphins working and moving together, and I thought about their life and community. I pondered, “how do they learn to live and survive in the ocean?” I mean the mighty ocean is a beautifully fierce place. The answer is simple, they are born with certain skills: awesome swimming skills, amazing echo system, and tremendous ability to fish. So how does the dolphin correlate to your life and mine?
Let me share with you…
...about my journey into holiness. In my early Christian walk I was trying hard to “be good enough” and to “be saved”. But I failed miserably. This left me me feeling hopeless, anxious, depressed, and alone. And the pain of what had been done to me was just too much to bear. The word “holy” seemed as far from me as the closest star. In fact, if I was honest, I would say that holiness was considered a bad word to me, because I felt shame for not being able to live up to a certain standard. My heart was cold and locked up, hidden from God and other people. And so, unfortunately, I believed in what I now call the “10 lies about holiness”.
I desperately needed my heart to be free and alive! I wanted to be free of the sin and the pain that so easily weighed me down. I wanted to feel alive as I walked about my day. And I dreamed of making a positive, lasting impact on my family and friends. I desired the destiny that I knew God had for me and deeply longed to actually help those around me. I wanted to see them set free, no longer trapped in the same sin day after day after day. But I didn’t know where to begin. It was there, in that stranglehold of frustration, where I heard the Lord say, “be holy as I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). Reading that verse, I felt the Lord nudge me to answer His invitation today.
So I went on a journey. I studied God’s holiness in the bible. I read every book I could. I talked to my leaders. And you know what? I got so many different thoughts and ideas about what holiness was! After becoming entirely discontent, I made a choice to believe that God is our Creator, and I am His creation. Therefore, His word must be true. He is Holy, and He wants me to be like Him. If He wants me to be like Him, then I really need to trust that He can help me get there. So I gave up trying to be holy by myself and began to trust Him. And because misery does so love company, I decided to invite my friends to go on this journey with me.
I invited 12 random people to join me on this journey. I knew that whatever plan we came up with needed to actually change people. So, I made it hard on God, by picking the toughest cases I could. I love a challenge, and I was tired of hearing about how all of these different plans about discipleship seemed to work for others but not me. First, we found some books about John Wesly, who was the founding father of “Holy Clubs”. In these stories we found that he and several of his friends used to gather together and encourage each other to live and walk holy. They did this by living a very “methodical” or “regimented life” (later they became known as Methodist). Well, not wanting to reinvent the wheel we tried to do what they had already done. They had a series of questions to ask each other about living Holy and doing good things, and so we figured we would at least give it a try. However, we failed miserably.
Why did we fail? It was because the series of “Holy Club” questions focused on the problems and not the solutions. The original holy clubs questions asked about what you did wrong. But after we posed the question to the group, discussed our issues, we felt even more miserable. Why were we miserable? Because week after week after week our group of 12 just met in a room and confessed our sin over and over and over again. There was no way to change. Also, our meetings were boring. In fact, they were oppressive. I remember one of the gentleman standing up and saying, “I hate this group. Seriously, I hate this group. It is so boring and I always leave feeling oppressed.” As the leader I knew that I quickly had to stand up and provide a solution. But what?
Then it dawned on me: Jesus is the solution to all our problems. He is actually Holy and He wants us to be holy like Him. Therefore, we needed to search out the holiness of God, and then conform our life to His likeness. Surprisingly, it was simple. All our small group needed was this: to focus on the solution (God’s holiness) and not the problem (our sin). Jesus was the solution to our problem. He had the power and the plan to make us holy like Him. So now we knew what the solution was. It was then that the next question arose: what teaching should we use?
After much debate, we started by reading A.W. Towzer’s book, “The Knowledge of the Holy”. This was a seriously helpful book. Each week we would read a chapter and then come to our group ready to discuss it. At the end of each group we had a wonderful discussion and left feeling a little better. But deep inside, we knew something was still missing. However, we didn’t give up. We studied the holiness of God and read every book we could find, talking about it more and more. We continued to grow, a little at a time. But even then, we knew something was still missing.
As the leader I struggled to come up with a solution. And so, one day I got out my bible, clutched a pad of paper and had a knock down, drag out fight with the Lord. You know: one of those times where you just call upon His name until you get an answer. I wrote down questions and then waited until I felt Him answer. Whenever I felt him answering, I’d immediately write down whatever I felt Him say. I wrote it down because I didn’t want to miss anything. Then, after 4 hours of writing, page after page after page, I felt a weight lift off my shoulders. It happened as I wrote down the last words. He said, “I want to readily talk to My children. I want them to text Me”. I still remember that 4 hour day. It was a weird thing for God to invite me to “text God”, because at that time I only had a flip phone and you had to push a lot of buttons just to say a few simple words. Texting didn’t sound very appealing. (Later on He would say, “I want to redeem texting”, which 15 years ago just didn’t make sense. Now it does. Today, what if all that time we spend texting was instead spent writing and dialoguing with God?). That was when it dawned on me: this was the answer, that `missing something` in our quest for how to live holy! Later on, we made these: “Our 4 Unique Core Qualities”.