I am the third of three children born to T.C. and Jean Mountcastle. Dad wanted his kids to learn something, and so our family vacations had to include some kind of learning experience. In 1965, it was a trip to the New York World's Fair.
I remember that trip well, because it included a characteristic of my Dad that strained our patience: Dad was a get-there-now, not a getting-there-and-enjoy-the-ride kind of person. In other words, the trip was not important, only the destination. So get in the car, fasten seat belts, hang on - we have to beat several world speed records to get where we're going. If one of us said "I have to go to the bathroom," we knew that the answer would be something like "There's a rest stop in 110 miles, hold it till then." (I think Dad secretly wanted to race in the Indianapolis 500.)
We took a tour bus to the Fair, so he wasn't driving, which was pretty frustrating to Dad, who wasn't the guy behind the wheel and on the accelerator. So when we got there, it was get out-get in-get going-move it now-we gotta see everything. We were hungry, but we had to keep moving; that didn't stop three kids moaning "I'm hungry - can't we get something to eat now?" Finally Dad said "ALL RIGHT! There's a place over there - eat and let's get moving again!"
It was a sidewalk café, and they served Belgian Waffles - you know, the waffle with a 3-foot high pile of whipped cream on top (a pancreatic hand grenade, not for diabetics but a sure way to get there). Dad ordered, and we sat down to eat under a tree that has those seeds that drop down like little helicopters - and this particular tree wanted to share its several million seeds with our Belgian Waffles. We tried to eat through this mess, and for the rest of his life, we never missed an opportunity to dig, "Hey Dad, how about some Belgian Waffles for breakfast?"
We did see a lot of really neat things that day and ride some cool rides, so the day wasn't completely lost on nature's choice of toppings for Belgian Waffles. But there was race track for cars as an attraction, and for sure we had to watch that, so Dad could get his vicarious experience of speed. (You can follow this link to see some of the other attractions there. I thought the whole thing was really kewl, but others think the thing was a flop.)
If you are effectively going to get through an experience, you have to go one step, one foot in front of the other. It's God's way of structuring our lives and helping us get through the ups and downs of life.
Some years ago, there was a small group movement called "The Oxford Groups." Bill Wilson, a recovering alcoholic, found sobriety by being invited to an Oxford Group by his old drinking buddy, Ebby Thacher. The Oxford Group Steps were:
1. Complete deflation.
2. Dependence and guidance from a Higher Power.
3. Moral inventory.
6. Reaching out to others
Bill took the structure of the Oxford Groups and developed the first 12 Step program, Alcoholics Anonymous. Today, there are 12 Step programs all over the world that model themselves after the steps of the Oxford Groups. They pretty much boil down to the same principles of those six steps.
Human beings function on pride, self-absorption, and rebellion against God; in a word, sin. We have to get over ourselves - Jesus died on the cross and rose again to give us eternal life and get us over ourselves - cleansing from sin and living a new life.
I will be preaching a 12-part series on the 12 Steps - adapted from Scripture and for living the Christian life, a structure for help along the way, and getting over ourselves. There will be one message a month, each covering one specific step.
But this is not a get-there-now process; it is, of necessity, a getting-there-and-enjoy-the-ride process. There is too much to learn, too many growing steps, before getting to the goal. So the steps give us a structure; it's not magic. But it works if we work it.
There will be Belgian-Waffles-with-helicoptor-seeds-in-them moments, and it won't be a smooth road. But God is determined that we are going to make a difference in life, reaching ourselves and reaching others. That's our mission.
So let's make 2018 a getting-there year. We have a lot of territory to cover, and some definite steps to get there.
Blessings from here to eternity,