The book definition of a “Free Radical” is this: “Free radicals are a byproduct of normal cell function. When cells create energy, they also produce unstable oxygen molecules. These molecules, called free radicals, have a free electron. This electron makes the molecule highly unstable.” About.com Health: Longevity.
It started when I took the family with me on another God inspired mission as part of my book’s ministry. For some reason, I felt led to put my “Feet on the Pavement” and walk into some of the largest churches in our capitol city of Raleigh today.
Since last Friday my brain seems to have been set on fire. Although I had a good recuperation on Saturday, I seemed to have picked up where it left off starting on Sunday. When Monday rolled around, I was ready to make things happen. I couldn’t wait on those phone calls that weren’t being returned, I couldn’t wait on those emails that weren’t being replied too; something had to give. So, we drove into the “Big” city of Raleigh North Carolina.
As we turned the curve to enter the downtown area, the skyline is visible in a distant view, making it look like “A cardboard cut-out” as my son put it. He thought the scene before him looked “fake” but realized it would soon become quite real. The analogy was the same as I went down my list of churches that I had quickly searched before we left home. There, standing before us once we had found our parking spot, were some of the largest churches in North Carolina; some of them a full city blocks in size. Needless to say, I was beginning to doubt my aspirations. My children were simply in awe of the multi-story office buildings. They have never been to a city larger than Raleigh before, so to them, these were their skyscrapers. I had been in large churches before, but not for a purpose or reason I was searching them out today. It seemed I was David and they were the Goliath.
Before we began, I felt the need to regroup, so we headed to the Museum of History where we all took a brief restroom break and I called the offices of the churches on my list, checking to see if it would be okay for me to just drop in. All the secretaries I spoke with were very kind and welcoming; however, after speaking with them it was apparent, there would be nobody I would meet face-to-face today. I would simply be dropping off a copy of my book. I expected this and was obliged. I realize there are many complexities when running a large corporation-size church and to simply take someone’s book who walked in off the street and distribute it to your congregation is far more complicated than a simple review of said book. There are committee approvals, staff reviews and in some cases, institutional reviews required. In some instances, the church might only allow what is sold through its publishing house; thus are the intricacies of corporate Theology.
I’ve talked to people who’ve gone to such institutions and most of them have described how they felt like a “number” at times since there are so many people in attendance. Surprisingly, most of the time they are happy with that; meaning, they don’t feel like they owe anything beyond what they dropped into the collection plate. That spiritual high they felt last Sunday was all part of the show, and that’s it.
For some reason, I’m not wired to accept that. My electron has been pushing the outer edge of its orbit for some time now.
So when I finally found the open door to these monolithic institutions, it was no surprise when we met the secretaries on duty, they said pretty much what I had expected. The people who made the decisions were either not here or would require a multi-level approval before anything would be considered. I was very thankful to each of them. After all, I was thankful just to be allowed to enter into their offices and leave a copy. If I had tried to email, write or mail a hard copy of my book, I wouldn’t have known whose hands or what department it might have landed in, if at all. So as I left each beautiful sanctuary of faith, I felt somewhat successful.
Yet, there was a new feeling of old I hadn’t expected; an ancient memory.
Here I was, a humble fledgling author, led by God to write a book I had never expected to pen, searching out institutions that had been years, even centuries in the making. Their vast resource libraries and highly educated theological staffs were so much greater than what I represented, in my mind, that I felt as small and irrelevant as did my children walking down the street between buildings that reached high into the blue cloudless sky.
My thoughts raced back to the time of my ancestors and suddenly it hit me.
They too would have had the same sense of being so insignificant when compared to the Holy Roman Catholic church; the same church who forbid them to preach the Gospel on their own. However, unlike them, I was not in fear for my life; I was merely looking at possibly only wasting an afternoon, not losing my life. Yet, the similarity of the massive institution, so large that it had to succumb to legalities, formalities and rites of passage required from years of applied perceptions and beliefs that it could not accept one man’s ministry of its own merit, regardless if it met all biblical teachings and beliefs relevant to the institution for which they represented. Time had come full circle and I was now facing the Goliath of my ancestors.
As we drove home after enjoying a wonderful home-cooked meal from the State Farmer’s Market Restaurant, I reflected on the journey we had just taken. I had but for a fleeting moment experienced a similar feeling as those long ago Waldensians. My experience was only a fraction of what they struggled through for multiple generations, each one passing on to the other the Word of God and their burning desire to evangelize to the world around them. Each passing day, I feel the need to do more, more than is expected. I feel the reigns of the institution I currently call home falling away and my release, my “Free Radical” moment becoming a reality.
Where I am going, if anywhere?
I don’t know. I’m going to leave that to the one who sent me to Raleigh today. After all, he was there when David slew the giant. I know he’ll be there when my day comes as well.