Once upon a time there was a circus that was traveling through Europe. Among its wonderful and exotic animals (lions and tigers and bears oh my!) and displays were several shows. Although the world's strongest man and the bearded lady were popular, none were as popular as the Great Gambini, the high wire extraordinaire. People came from far and wide (not sure where that is on the map but that is where they came from) to see the circus and to watch the death defying Gambini.
High above the big top (aka large circus tent) stretched the high wire and where Gambini performed. Each night crowds would pack into the seats to watch the clowns, the Human Cannonball, and other acts in order to see Gambini, the grand finale. Cotton candy, peanuts, and funnel cakes flowed freely throughout the evening as the crowd enjoyed the shows. Then, suddenly, the lights would go dim and the announcer (in his very dramatic voice) would direct every one's attention to the landing platform high above the crowd. The spotlight lit up the platform and then slowly followed the pole down to the ground where the Great Gambini was standing. With a wave to the crowd he began the climb to the top.
The crowd cheered when he reached the landing platform. With microphone in hand, Gambini addressed the crowd. "Tonight I will perform my greatest feats for you!" The crowd cheered and Gambini stepped out onto the wire with his long balancing bar. He cautiously and gingerly walked across the wire, step by step, until he reached the other side. He then took the microphone and told the crowd he would walk across the wire without his balancing bar. The crowd cheered him on s he walked across the wire confidently. He then walked across the the wire blindfolded! The crowd got more and more excited as he performed his trade.
Then he announced that he was ordering the safely net below him to be taken down and removed. The crowd fell into a quiet as the workers removed the life net. Gambini asked the crowd if they thought he could walk across the rope without the net below him. They cheered him on as he raced along the wire. The crowd cheered loudly when he reached the other side. He then took a bicycle and asked if the crowd though he could ride the bike across the wire. They again cheered loudly as he proceeded to go across the wire. The crowd was getting his best show ever!
He then pulled a wheelbarrow from the landing area and reached for the microphone. He asked the crowd, "Do you think I can push this wheelbarrow across to the other side?" The crowd cheered! "Do you think I can do it with my eyes blindfolded?" The crowd cheered even louder! "Do you think I could push this wheelbarrow across the wire blindfolded with someone in the wheelbarrow?" The crowd went crazy!!! "Who wants to be my volunteer!" The crowd hushed, to a complete silence. You could have heard a pin drop. Nobody volunteered. No one.
Why? The Great Gambini was the best high wire expert in the land. The crowd had seen his confidence, his skill, his abilities. They had watched with their own eyes as he confidently went across the wire time after time and yet no one volunteered. No one wanted to ride in that wheelbarrow 50 feet off of the ground without a safety net below. Why?
Fear? Lack of faith? You fill in the blank. but the bottom line was it was all fun, great, and exciting when Gambini was up there doing it, but it was totally different when it came time to join him. It is easy to watch the action and something totally different when you become part of the action. That is why their are stands full of people and only a few out there doing.
Want examples? Everyone wants and expects the local church building nice and clean and the grounds trimmed and proper. Everyone enjoys the comforts the building provides. But make an announcement that there will be a work day on Saturday to paint or clean or mow grass and pull weeds... see how many show up. You would think the whole Sunday morning crowd would be there to work, correct? Right. Schedule a gospel meeting. Bring in a "big gun" preacher and watch everyone get excited. Make announcements and pass out invitations and rent out the civic center. Estimate all of the Christians in the area and make sure you have plenty of seats for them and all of the friends that will be coming.... and let me know how it goes. Not very many people jumping in that wheelbarrow is there?
Go on a mission trip to Honduras. Come back filled with passion and compassion. Get excited to hear about future plans and think and dream about all of the great things that could be done. Receive an invitation to make a monthly pledge to reach those goals. Sit back and think of all of the hundreds and hundreds of people that have been on a mission trip and think about the tremendous participation and how much could be accomplished. And wait. Wait for a phone call asking for more information. Wait for a text message asking how to get involved. Wait for that email asking for the form so that they can get started. (here is where you make the assumption that the monthly auto debit campaign has started off slowly!)
Now, this is not to be a Debbie Downer article. It is actually intended to highlight the fact that there are those that show up and do the work at the church building, attend the gospel meetings, and participate in the fund drive. There will always be those that can be counted on when they are needed. Remember, there will always be "spectators" and "participants." That is human nature. I just want you to think a bit harder about being a fellow participant in something that is very important. Every year we come back from Honduras full of ideas and plans. Every year we think of all of the wonderful things that can be done. Every year we come back pumped up and filled to the brim with zeal and excitement. But all it takes is a bit of time and the settling in to our daily routines to knock the wind right out of the sails. And plans are put on hold. Or shelved. Or even forgotten.
Oh, so what happens in the story? Gambini waits patiently for a volunteer to step forward. The crowd becomes uneasy at the deafening quiet that has fallen over the big top. Then, quietly, a young teenage girl stands up and walks to the arena. The master of ceremonies walks her to the giant pole and she climbs the rungs to the top. Gambini places her in the wheelbarrow and places the blindfold over his eyes. The crowd is riveted to the scene above. And with great confidence he wheels his volunteer across the wire and to the other side! The crowd erupts in uncontrollable cheers! People are giving each other high fives and pumping their fists in the air. The real question is, who is the next volunteer? You? Something to think about...