What’s The Obstacle?

Yesterday I told you about my Friday meeting with an interesting breakfast group. After the discussion, one guy approached with a simple, penetrating question.

“What’s the obstacle?”

I asked him to clarify.

“I agree with you…God made us to dream and follow big dreams. So why don’t we do it? Why don’t I do it? What’s the obstacle?

The way he asked told me he already knew the answer. “What do you think it is?”

“Fear. We’re afraid of the risk.”


We create an illusion called safe. Safe is a familiar neighborhood, set of laws, group of people, job, collection of behaviors. We know what it’s like within its boundaries. It’s safe.

Without Jesus, of course, there’s no such thing as authentic safety. But especially in middle-class America, safe is an easily-maintained façade. As long as I remain within familiar margins, I’m safe…right?

I become afraid of anything that asks me to step beyond those boundaries.

I want control. I want to do what I know I can do. I want the appearance of risk with assured, reasonably comfortable success. I’d rather do secure small stuff than risky big stuff.

The problem, of course, is that following Jesus isn’t about small stuff. I can do that all by myself. Jesus says I should trust God and get beyond my comfort zone. And—frankly—I DON’T WANNA! I’ll bet you don’t wanna, either.

We have a tendency to whittle away at Jesus until He’s small enough to be reasonably comfortable. We attend church and do Bible studies and hang out with people who think and act like us. We find all sorts of things to do that look right without taking any real risks.

I make “following Jesus” a smaller thing so it fits inside my nice familiar American life. If I make it small enough and define it narrowly enough, I can do it full-time without breaking a sweat.

I’m not sure that’s what God had in mind. At some point you begin wondering who’s creating whom in whose image.

# # #

Our 1500-mile Mississippi River ride was a step of faith. Becky and I trusted God for something we KNEW we couldn’t do by ourselves.

As we leave for Jacksonville and blastoff of Florida Hope Tour 2013, we might simply be covering old ground, doing the same thing again, turning dream-following into a repeatable, assembly-line process.

Been there, done that. Easy, predictable, controllable, safe. No fear, no courage required.

I hope that’s not what we’re doing.

Please leave a comment here.

2 thoughts on “What’s The Obstacle?

  1. Julie Pfeifer - January 15, 2013

    Rich I miss you and Becky! It sounds as if life has been one inspirational adventure after another for you both. I am happy for you. Thanks for the deep thoughts. I love checking in with you now and again to learn and grow through the experiences and thoughts you share.

    1. Dennis Moddelmog - January 18, 2013

      Rich & Becky, I hope your trip is off to a great start. Your comment reminded me of a quote by Nelson Mandela that seems to relate very well.
      “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? Your are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. As we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates other.” Way to think big. Dennis

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