Shameless Audacity: Arrogant Disregard
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This book began when two little words rang in my heart. I am a firm believer in the power of words. I am also a firm believer in, at the very moment a word strikes, finding the nearest dictionary and truly grasping all that is being said. This may be my inner-nerd, but I love searching dictionaries, lexicons, and any online sources. I searched the word “shameless” and found the chapters Owning Disgrace and Our Father on my computer screen. It took a few days for the spiritual exhaustion to subside from that short soiree in humility and worship. Now it is time to grasp all the Holy Spirit wanted to teach in the word “audacity.”
Audacity is a word that I have heard, albeit not very often. It takes little effort to glean from context that audacity speaks of the extreme, but what does it really mean? Merriam-Webster defines audacity as “bold or arrogant disregard for normal restraints.” It is taken from the Latin word audax and can mean daring, bold, courageous, spirited, foolhardy, presumptuous, or rash. This word could be used in a very positive way, but was generally reserved for insolent boldness, especially when imprudent or unconventional.
If we want a clear vision of audacity at its worst, a great illustration is found in the parable of the unforgiving servant of Matthew 18:21-35. Jesus tells the story of a servant that owed a King a very large amount, about 20 years of pay for the average worker. Upon discovery that the servant could not pay, the king ordered the man’s wife and children sold in order to pay the debt. The servant pleaded with the king and was shown mercy. That same servant loaned another servant a few dollars, about a day’s wages for the average worker. When his debtor could not pay, he began berating and choking the man. This report of idiocy found its way back to the king. For not extending the same courtesy that was shown him, the servant was punished. The servant had real audacity.
To be audacious is to have a boldness based on something either strange, foolhardy, or out of bounds. As I traveled down this road of self discovery, I convinced myself that I was doing pretty well. I have been actively practicing ownership of disgrace and acceptance of my Father. I asked for a need and received an eye opening look into the needs of the world around me. I asked for my own needs and God confirmed my place in this out of the box ministry. That sounds like a great place to stop. Would you believe that, once again, God disagrees with me? In my world of thousands of written words a day, God went to great lengths to touch my heart with two very specific words. The first word led me to valleys of humility and mountain tops of victory. The spiritual rollercoaster seemed to have run its course. Fortunately (or unfortunately, you decide), this particular rollercoaster is one of those that takes its helpless passengers to the end of the course, stops for a brief second, and then does it all in reverse!
I hesitate to type the words. I know that, as soon as they move from my mind to the outside world, I will be held specifically responsible and accountable for my subsequent behavior. I feel that same feeling in the pit of my stomach that happens on the first swim of the year. Remember that feeling?
It has been a long, cold winter. More than anything, you want to jump into the pool in front of you. But, you know the sun has not been high in the sky for long and that the rain in May still falls cold. Do you jump? Do you find some unsuspecting sibling or cousin to push in first? Come on. Jump. You can do this, but it will be so cold!
Ok. Here it goes. I’m not sure that I have ever sought God for something audacious. I have complete confidence that God can move in and alter different aspects of normal life, but audacity is complete “disregard for normal restraints.” As a pastor and teacher, the receptacle may be larger than others’, but my God is still in a box. Seeking God with boldness based on human understanding and logic can be very rewarding. I wonder what happens to the one seeking God with boldness based on God’s understanding and logic. 1 Corinthians tells us that the foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of men. Why then would our prayer requests stop at man’s wisdom?
Once again, my logic and my theology butt heads. As someone who has been called to sit with families of the dying and give words of comfort, this conflict was bound to occur. As the one who watched kids get off the church van and enter homes that wouldn't be safe for a dog, much less a child, logic gets you through the night. Some may think that pastors should be the most spiritual people, but too often calluses form on their hearts more than others. Yes, theoretically God can heal any ailment, but, more pragmatically so, He allows things like Alzheimer’s to run their course to “teach us a lesson” or because it is “just their time.” God can heal families, but the alcoholic father of that child in the youth group sure seems to be beyond help. In the ministry, there is wisdom and caution in cutting your losses, growing tunnel vision, and doing what you can with what you can instead of seeking too many lost causes. That is sad to hear, I know, but it happens. Pray for your pastor.
It seems there is a belief problem. In the earlier chapter Ask, Just Ask, God revealed to me that asking for help was not a faith problem. In fact, asking for help and guidance from the God of Answers is a direct result of faith (a.k.a confidence in the God that has given reason for confidence). Shamelessness is not a faith issue, but being audacious is.
Lord, make me audacious.
*Check back next Monday to hear more from Cory, or hop on over to MinistryMall.org and check out his curriculum!*