I've always loved parades!....at least for the first 30 minutes or so. Then, after while all the floats, all the bands, all the clowns, start looking the same.
Donald Miller has a friend named Bob that started a neighborhood parade with his kids that now has grown into an annual event that includes hundreds people. They have one standing rule: "You can't watch the parade!" Everyone has to be in it, participate, NOT watch. Bob understands that the real joy comes from producing the parade and experiencing it from the inside, not from the outside as an observer.
If I think of my life as a parade, so far, then I realize that there have been times where I am producing the parade and times where I've been an observer. The facets of time where I was marching in the parade, producing something of my life, are the times that still define me today. The times where I stood back and let life dictate my parade, are in many ways, painful to me.
The metaphor gets better when you think about standing on the side of a street watching a parade go by....with each float, band, etc.....you are hoping for a new excitement, something that will thrill you or make you feel happier. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't.....so goes life if you are an observer of it. If you take your place IN the parade and make the float, music, march that you want.....then there is a constant joy in producing that which is YOURS, not someone elses. When you get tired of a certain cadence, then make plans (with God) and change the cadence....the point is to be involved in the parade, not just watch.
I was recently in Portland, OR. This is commonly known as HELL to right-wing activists. To tell you the truth, it's the nicest place I've ever visited. People truly are friendly to everyone. The homeless are fed, you get a greeting at every store. Not just the typical, "thank you sir", but an honest, "hey, how's your day going so far?"......literally EVERYWHERE you go. It did occur to me, and my son, that this is how Christians are supposed to feel to everyone else that encounters us....this is what loving everyone looks like in a small way....this is being in the parade. Portland is organic, messy and real. It's a place where people decide to participate in solutions and not just talk about them or vote on them......if we have a food problem, they start a community farming initiative. If we have energy cost issues, the start using green energy. Instead of standing on the side of the road critiquing the floats, they get in there and build one themself.
What if followers of Christ decided to always be in the parade with an action and not just a verbal belief? What if instead of critiquing the culture's floats, bands and clowns, we got in there and built our own float or made our own music... (we already have enough clowns on tv:)
All this starts with each one of us, you and me, decide to stop critiquing all the other entrants in the parade and get in there with our own float, music, clown. We have to decide on a personal level that we are going to be part of a solution somewhere for someone.....make a difference in the world, work for a cause that Christ would want us to work for....something besides critique....something that leaves dirt under your nails. Something that leaves a life changed in your wake.
This all comes back to the main question from The Storyline Conference....what story are you writing with your life?
Are you watching or are you marching?