Last week Sarah and I were in Gulf Shores, AL. We were able to spend some time on the beach, but due to some rainy weather we were forced to enter a large majority of the beachfront stores. You know, the places that sell thousands of items that you would NEVER dream of buying anywhere else, but since you’re at the beach, why not?
Sarah was in heaven. I was in, well, I was with Sarah so I was in heaven too! (See what I did there?) Anyway, let’s just say I had some time to kill. While I was in one of the stores I noticed they had a hermit crab exhibit. There were hundreds of little hermit crabs in this glass case. There was a for sale sign that said hermit crabs were free. All you needed to do was buy a small cage.
Hermit crabs are interesting because they each need to find a shell that will become a home to their growing exoskeleton. As the crab grows it will need to move out of its shell so it can move into a larger shell. A crab that grows too big for its shell can’t stay in a shell that is too small. It’s not an option. But there is a danger in switching to a larger shell. Vulnerability.
Specifically, when you are a hermit crab stuck in a cage of hundreds of other hermit crabs, you want to make the transition to a bigger shell as soon as possible. No need to leave yourself open to attack.
While I was watching the crabs run around the cage, I noticed one large crab trying to make the switch to a larger shell. You could clearly see how cautious this crab was being. He positioned the shells so his body could easily slide from the smaller shell to the larger one.
I was fascinated by this because one thing became crystal clear. Staying in the smaller shell was not an option. This little hermit crab was growing, and he needed to switch shells if he wanted to keep growing.
Isn’t it fascinating how growth can put us in some pretty uncomfortable situations? I’ve noticed that the very things that helped me to grow the most in my Christian faith are the things that make me most uncomfortable.
In fact, if I were being honest I would say that God has grown me the most through pain. Whether it’s an error in judgement on my part, or an event I wish I could erase. But God has used difficulty to grow me. God has used uncomfortable moments that have taught me valuable life lessons.
At New Hope we are in the process of defining who we are as a church and the direction that God is taking us. The vision is for our church to become a people pursuing a relentless, unrestricted relationship with Jesus Christ. The strategy for moving toward that vision is to Reach people for Jesus, to Connect them to small groups in the church, to Go and make disciples, and to GROW in faith through the entire process.
But one thing that is not an option is to stay in our small shell. It’s time to move into the realm of the uncomfortable. REACHING – CONNECTING – GOING – and GROWING are actions. We are seeking to create movement in this church body. We won’t always be perfect at it, but it’s a goal nonetheless. And Paul teaches us to press on, and not to give up.
Philippians 3:12-15 (NKJV)
12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.
In time you will see the words Reach – Connect – Go – Grow, everywhere. It will be a constant reminder to each of us that this is what God has called New Hope to do. To be a church of action.
Let’s get excited about spiritually growing together!