This past Sunday I turned in my membership form at my church. It might not seem like a big deal to you, but it’s a huge step for me. I’ve been going to this church for nine months now, and I really feel like I’m learning and growing as a result. I have friends there, and I don’t see myself going anywhere else. So why was it so hard to turn in a form and make myself official?
Because by turning in the membership form, I am committing to this church. The thing about commitment, as my pastor (I can officially call him my pastor now) points out, is that it severely limits your options. Once you commit to a man or woman, that limits your dating options. Once you commit yourself to a particular diet (vegan, vegetarian, low cholesterol, etc.), that limits the things you can eat. Once you commit to a minimalist lifestyle, it limits your options for shoes, purses, and just about everything else. And when you commit yourself to a particular church, it limits your options for where to be on Sunday mornings.
I don’t like the idea of limiting (or eliminating) my options. I like to keep my options open. I want the freedom to change my mind without consequence. I like having the freedom to act or participate only when I want to. I want the freedom to walk away whenever I get bored or find something new. And I don’t want to feel guilty when I do.
But I had a conversation with a new acquaintance, and she asked if I was a member there. I said “No,” and she asked why not. I didn’t have an answer for her. It really made me think about why I had such a casual relationship with my church.
After our conversation I thought about what it would mean to join this body of Believers. It would mean that I serve there, and that I contribute financially. It would mean that I would forsake keeping my options open “in case I found someplace better.” It would mean that I stop the search, put down roots, and engage fully.
So maybe it’s time for me to go beyond committing to a minimalist lifestyle, or committing to a church. Maybe it’s time to commit myself to God and his plan for my life. Yes, it would eliminate my religious options, and it would severely limit what I did with my life (no career as an exotic dancer, I guess). But it may also be an opportunity to experience more fulfillment.
That’s the tricky thing about commitment. I can’t wait to see how things turn out and then decide. That’s not commitment. That’s observation. I don’t want to be an observer of my own life. I want to live my life.
I can’t sit on the fence. Well, I can, but that will get me nowhere. I have to make a choice. It’s a scary thing. I don’t know what God’s plan entails. I don’t know what it looks like. But there’s only one way to find out.
Yes, there are unanswered questions. Yes, it’s a huge risk. But reward usually involves risk. And yes, I am terrified. As the Super Bowl approaches, I liken life to the Big Game: we all want to know the outcome, but it must be experienced play by play. If I want to know what it means to fully engage God, and his plan for my life, I have to make the commitment and take things one play at a time, even though I don’t know the end result.
I’ve watched long enough. It’s time to step onto the field.