Do you dream of escape?
Last week I was very alive.
You just read that short sentence and raised your eyebrows at me, because you’re thinking, ‘Grace, you are pretty much always alive. I hope.’ Well, I hope so too. 😉 But I believe that you will understand what I mean when I draw your attention to some of those times of your life when you felt so bursting with happiness that you were… more alive than ever. If you can’t recall any, I pity you. Because life is made up of times like that. Moments. Days. Most recently for me, it was last week. I was tremendously blessed to be able to attend a Communicators For Christ (CFC) conference in Corpus Christi. The motto for the organization is; ‘shaping culture through authentic communication’. Generally, people equate public speaking with communicating. But although public speaking is an important part of communicating for Christ, the biggest part is simply how you interact with the people around you. And even those of you who aren’t big about the whole ‘command the platform’ can’t tell me that you don’t interact with people. Not even homeschoolers are that unsocialized. =D So read on a little further, as I try to relate a little of what I’ve learned this week.
I competed in the National Christian Forensics and Communications Association (NCFCA) last year. And I had gone to a CFC conference before. And I was never a shy person. It’s actually pretty funny to listen to all the accounts my friends give of how their mom made them go to the conference, or whatever. Because my parents didn’t tell me I had to go. I told my parents they had to send me. =D Anyway, nothing I learned at this conference was new to me. Anyone could have asked me about it, and I would have agreed. But not until last week were these truths really cemented in my heart. The theme for this year’s tour conference is ‘Lead the Escape’. It’s not talking about escaping from your problems or from the world- on the contrary. This is an escape from artificial to authentic communication. And an escape from Self. The goal is to throw aside everything that would hinder you from sharing the Truth of the gospel, and equip yourself to go into the world in order to change it. And isn’t that all our lives are about?
I’d like to briefly share four things with you that specifically stuck out to me while I was at the conference. I’ve put them into a handy little bullet list for you. (I love those things!)
- Not only is it totally awesome to know how to talk to people and communicate your beliefs, it’s necessary. We do not have a choice. Let me repeat that, because the truth of it still hits me like a bomb: we do not have a choice. Either you will be able to converse with people and share Life with them, or you will be showing them through your insecurity that you don’t know the answers. Everyone communicates. Through your glances, through your body language, through your words or lack of them. You will either communicate your beliefs, or you will communicate your unbelief. It’s that simple.
- Value the relationship above the argument. Those of us who don’t have problems with shyness often struggle with forcing our beliefs on others. We’ve got to remember that only God can change the human heart, and we are only his instruments through which He channels the Truth. Once we plant the seeds, our job is now to tend the ground gently and pray for the rain. And after all, if you are willing to lay the argument aside in order to keep your friendship with someone, you will have another chance. Once you sever ties with a person, you can never go back. There’s a quote I heard this week by Phillip Yancey. It says, ‘No one ever became a Christian because they lost the argument.’
- Being a competent cultural communicator means being willing to risk yourself. That scares me, so I know it probably scares you too. But life is so not about us. If we are willing to risk looking ‘weird’ or being in awkward situations sometimes, or simply willing to give other people the time of day when we’re busy, we will be able to reach farther into people’s lives. We’ve got to be engaging and real and joyful and trustworthy. Then people will connect with us, and we can touch their lives through Christ. We can’t wait on the sidelines for the world to come to us. We must go to them.
- For those of you who compete in speech and debate, let’s remember that competition is only a way to hone our skills. Our goal is never to win rounds, but to win people. How many people do you think you’re going to win by speaking to a bunch of homeschool parents? Sure, there may be a few ‘community judges’, but most likely they are Christians as well. Unless we’re taking the skills we learn out into the community, all our moving rhetoric is for nothing. I know we’ve heard this before, but NCFCA is a game. A means, and not an end. Let’s actually use what we’ve learned by impacting people who need us.
I can’t tell you everything that I learned at this conference. But I felt that those four points were very important, and I hope you think so as well. I’d like to remind us of one thing, though. And that is, we can’t do it. Yes, I know I just took several precious minutes of your time explaining to you what I’ve learned and how to do it. But all of that knowledge is useless. We can’t do it. The only one who can is Christ. And He has chosen to use US! It’s so, so important to remember that Christ is the only one who can light a fire under our rhetoric. He is our answer. One morning of the conference we were beginning the day with prayer, and my friend praying said this- “Let us realize that there’s no possible way to communicate FOR Christ, unless we communicate WITH Him.” I feel that every day. Let us always realize that we are nothing without Christ in us. He must lead us before we can Lead the Escape.
In final (I promise, this is the final) conclusion, I wrote a poem:
Dream of an Escape
If this was all a dream,
Spun from silver moon reflections on the water,
And fanned by firefly wings.
Or tossed from wave to wave, in tempests worthy…
Then when I wake up, I will laugh with the sky,
And everything will be more real, and more right.
I’ll grasp for the pillow and sing for pure joy,
Because this dream has changed my life.
Sometimes our dreams are more real than our lives,
When we are not willing to live them for Christ.
And sometimes our dreams are our way of escape
When we are too frightened to risk for His sake.
But sometimes life seems like a dream
And everything exudes a golden gleam.
And I know that it’s real, more real than I am.
Though it’s bound to my heart with a velvet band.
And I realize that, escaping this way,
I’m delving in, not fleeing away.
The care isn’t that I should save myself,
But help to lead the escape from Self.
For Christians may all sit and babble away,
And be very smart and have things to say,
But what have we done for the kingdom of Christ
Unless we go into the world and speak Life?
There is no higher calling, and no greater care
Than to reach out to others and simply be there.
If we can love in a world full of hate,
We are called to Lead the Escape.
Copyright © GraceElizabeth