I hope all of you had a chance to hear my father’s message last week. That powerful message that he taught us on how to live the full life. Capital full life because he laid a wonderful foundation and I’m going to carry on from that message today.
You know I had a wonderful childhood and being raised by Dr. Schuller and Mrs. Schuller, I am blessed, there’s no question about it. One of my favorite things to do as a child was when mom and dad would bring us back to the farm for the summertime and we would stay with our aunts and uncles. And my favorite farm to stay on, of all of them, was aunt Margaret’s. Aunt Margaret is my dad’s older sister, and she actually was a teacher, and she helped pay to put dad through college. What a legacy Aunt Margaret has left because she put my dad through college.
But I loved Aunt Margaret’s farm. It was a wonderful, wonderful farm and my cousins, my brother Robert and I would spend time there with our cousins, and Arie was my older cousin. Just a couple years. I would best describe him as a modern day little rascal. You ever seen those TV shows little rascals? He had the strawberry hair, the freckles across the nose and he was full of mischief. And his favorite thing to do when Robert and I were there was try to show us how naïve we were city slickers. And he would put us in all kinds of interesting scenarios on that farm.
So I didn’t trust Arie all that much, especially one time when he said to me you know Sheila, you’ve got tennis shoes on, do you know that you can touch a hot electric wire and you won’t get a shock? I said no, you aren’t going to get me with this one Arie, I said. There’s no way because he was pointing to the electric fence that ran there along their farm. And I had seen the wallop that those electric fences carried when big huge grown cattle and cows would jump back when they accidentally brushed against it. And our parents had told us this, us city slickers, stay away from the electric fences. This tiny little filament that you could barely see, kept in herds of cattle. I knew there was powerful electricity in that little wire, and when my cousin Arie said just reach out and touch it, no. Absolutely not.
Okay, he said, I’ll show you. So he walked over there and he touched the fence. See, I didn’t get a shock. I thought no there’s a trick to this somewhere. And he said see because I had tennis shoes on, I demonstrated for you, now you can do it. And I said no I’m still not going to do it, and he said watch. So he walked over there in his little tennis shoes and he actually grabbed and held onto the electric fence. Now this got my attention. And he said now will you try it? Well I was a very safe; I liked to play it safe, I didn’t want to be safe and sorry as a kid, and I said no. I’m still not going to touch that electric fence.
And he said okay, let’s do this. So he held onto the fence and he said how about if you just hold my hand. Well I thought okay, somehow touching his fingertips, I very gingerly reached out and I touched his fingertips and felt nothing. So I stood there holding hands with my cousin, and then my brother Robert came up with his tennis shoes on and he held on to my hand and the three of stood there like this, holding onto this powerful electric fence, feeling nothing. And then Shirley, my younger cousin came up and she grabbed onto Robert’s hand and I’m looking down there at Arie’s tennis shoes and Robert’s tennis shoes and my tennis shoes and Shirley’s bare feet and just then we felt the fence. Arie went…, I went…, Robert went…, Shirley went…. And that story gets funnier the older I get because my arms wiggle more.
We had an electric-full experience there that day on the farm. But I’ve learned that we can live a safe, its better to be safe than sorry life, but sometimes isn’t it also possible that we can live a safe and sorry life. That we miss out on the wonderful adventures, the wonder that God has for us because we’re so busy trying to play it safe.
There’s a movie that I watched, it’s not true, it’s called “The Last Holiday.” And it’s about a woman named Georgia Byrd, it’s played by Queen Latifah and Georgia lives in New Orleans. And I love it because it starts out with Georgia and she’s got her scrapbook of dreams, and she puts in this scrapbook her dreams and she lives her dreams out in this safe scrapbook. And then she goes and her dream is to be a world class chef and to have a restaurant. But she doesn’t dare to actually put her dreams into action and she continues to live her safe life by going to her job at the department store where she does cooking demonstrations and would go home and look at her scrapbook of dreams.
Until she gets a call from the doctor and he tells her Georgia, we’ve just run these tests on you and I have really bad news for you. You only have three months left to live. Well suddenly Georgia says three months. Here I am; my dreams have been limited to my little scrapbook. I’m going to make the most of those three months. Because she had nothing left to lose. So she goes to the savings, she gets out all of her money and she flies off to her most favorite restaurant in the whole world that she’s read about, and she decides she’s going to go there and she’s going to indulge and she’s going to have the food that she’s wanted to eat and that her dream was to do the restaurant and to cook that kind of food.
And we see her bungee jumping off of a dam, she checks into the presidential suite, she’s throwing money away like there’s no tomorrow because for Georgia there was no tomorrow. And she lived life with abandonment and everybody at this hotel was talking about who is this woman? Who is she? She must be powerful. She must be important; she must be this one.. look at her she just lives life large.
And then when it came time for her to eat her first meal in the restaurant, the waiter comes out and he says let me tell you about our specials tonight. And she’s just drooling over every special. Every single one of them. Oh that sounds good. Oh I can’t make up my mind. She says I’m going to take one of everything. So here they come out, tray after tray after tray of food and she takes one little bite of one special, one little bite of the other special. And then she gets the news. Oh we made a mistake. It was a faulty machine and there’s nothing wrong with you. Absolutely nothing wrong with you. Well Georgia went back and she lived her dream. She opens her restaurant and she has the dream life that she wanted to live, because she learned that when you have nothing left to lose, you’re willing to risk it all and that’s when you find life. And you find life abundantly.
There’s a tendency for us to try to live like Georgia Byrd, to try and live the safe life. I would dare say the safe and sorry life but I’d also dare say that the safe and sorry life can also lead to a dead end life. My husband and I, we had four boys within seven years time. We had a lot of life in our home. And we took, one time when Jason was five, this was before Nicholas was born, Jason was five, Chris was three and Scott was two. And we decided to rent a motor home and take them up the coast of highway. Let me tell you, this is a beautiful, beautiful trip if you’ve never done it, consider it. This is not something you want to miss out on. And we had our motor home, and these little boys, and we decided to camp one night at a place called Lime Kiln. Lime Kiln is absolutely beautiful. Its right on the coast, you climb up and go higher and higher and higher along the coast of highway, and you look down and you see the coast and the waves crashing into the side there right below you. And then there’s a tiny little road that you go down back down, down, down again, and there’s a forest. This beautiful forest and a stream that’s coming out from the mountains and it ends up out there in the coast, in the ocean.
We woke up the next morning with these three little boys and Jim said lets go take them on a hike before we hit the road again. And so we did. We took the little boys and we were walking this beautiful path when all of a sudden we came to a dead end. The path led to a chasm. And we looked down that chasm and there was this stream, the stream that was going out to the ocean. Now for me it felt like thirty feet and my husband says no, no, no, it was only five or six feet. But there was a log across the chasm. The log was about two feet wide, had been shaved so it was flattened on top, no hand rails. About fifteen to twenty feet from one side of the chasm to the other. And my husband says come on Sheila, let’s take the boys across. Well, my heart was pitter pattering just a little bit as he held on to one of the boys little hands, and we made a chain, all of us holding hands and walking across that log and looking down and seeing that stream bubbling below us and I’m thinking we’ve got the life of our little boys in our hands here, but when we got on the other side of that chasm, what we saw, what we discovered I was so thankful that we went over there because there was wonders over there that we would have missed out on if we’d stayed on the safe and sorry dead end side. Because we walked across that log, we experienced a wonder filled, a wonderful, wonderful morning with our children and memories.
I would say today that there are some of you who feel like you’re at the dead end and you have a choice to make. Are you going to stay on the safe and sorry dead end side, or are you going to have the courage to walk across to the wonder filled side. I was very, very blessed, as I said earlier, to be raised by Dr. Schuller and when I was in high school, it was dad’s job every morning to drive me to high school. What wonderful, wonderful morning’s those were. Every single morning for all those years, my dad and me driving to high school. And he would talk to me, he would tell me all kinds of pearls of wisdom and he would teach me poetry. Well when it came time for me to go away to college, I was going to go away to college half way across the world it felt like, Michigan. Michigan feels like a long way away to a California girl. But it was dad’s job to take me, to drive me to school again, this time to the airport to let me fly away to college. And there we were, father and daughter, driving along up to the airport, and all these memories and emotions started to flood me. Memories of a wonderful dad, and I’m reliving it and going oh, I was so afraid I was going to cry in front of dad. I didn’t want to do that.
So I reached way back into one of the poems that he taught me and I said with as much false bravado as I could muster, I said “grieve not for me, dad, who am about to start a new adventure. Eager I stand and ready to depart me and my reckless pioneering heart.” I didn’t feel like I had very much of a reckless pioneering heart, but I needed it because that year, my first year in college, was a rough one. My roommate was sent home because she had a nervous breakdown in our room. And then there was a girl, I will call her Jane. And Jane was one of my dorm.. we had a quad of dorm rooms and Jane did not know God, she did not know Jesus. And when it was just Jane and I, she would ask me about my faith, and she would ask me about God. And I would talk to her and I would tell her about God, and I’m trying to remember, but I don’t think I ever asked her, Jane have you ever made a commitment to Jesus? Because if you haven’t, you need to. I don’t remember what all our conversation was but I do know this, I knew that Jane did not have a relationship with Jesus Christ. She was going through that faith crisis that 18 year olds go through.
Well one day I came back from my classes, it was in February, and I came into my dorm room and I was greeted by the resident advisor, the RA Sarah, and she said to me oh Sheila, she said, something horrible has happened. She said Jane is in the hospital and we don’t expect her to make it. I was stunned. I said why, what happened and she said oh a boy broke off a date that they were supposed to have and Jane got upset about it and so she took a bottle full of pills. Then she came to me and she said Sarah, I’ve done something stupid. And so this is before, you know days of 911 and paramedics, Sarah drove her to the hospital as fast as she could, but it was too late. The pills had done their harm and there was no way to save Jane. And I was beside myself. Eighteen years old, far away from home, but God in His infinite mercy made sure that my dad was there on campus that very day. And so I went running across those icy sidewalks with tears streaming down my face and I knew where he was meeting, I knew the meeting room and I knocked on the door and I said, the girl oh answered the door and I said I need to see my dad. I need to see my dad. And dad came out and he walked with me and he talked with me along those icy sidewalks and he said Sheila, never forget, never forget Jane because you will in the rest of your life encounter more than one Jane. There are lots of Jane’s out there. And they need to hear the message that they do not have to have a dead end life. But they can have a life that is filled, full filling, overflowing. Let God use you to speak His message to all the Jane’s, whether they be men or women but to speak that message the rest of your life.
Today the Lord has impressed upon me that my message today is for all the Jane’s out there and the John’s, the Barbara’s and the Bill’s, those of you who are at a dead end in your life and my message for you today is that of Jesus Christ. He said, “Those of you who would try to save their life will lose it. But those of you who lose your life for My sake will find it.” And so today if you feel like you are losing your life to depression, you are losing your life to financial ruin. You are losing your life to a marriage that is falling apart and losing the love of your life. I say to you today there is hope. I have good news for you today because even though you stand at a chasm and you look down and you don’t see anywhere to go, I say to you that’s not true. You look across that chasm because there’s a wonderful, beautiful life over there and you say to me oh Sheila, but how do I get from here to there? There’s a chasm between here and there and I don’t know how to get there. And I say to you look again because if you look closely you will see that there is a log spanning this chasm and it is in the shape of a cross.
And right now you say to me, Sheila I am desperate and I say to you then knock on your daddy’s door. And say I need my daddy, I need my daddy, I need my daddy. Because your daddy Jesus Christ is standing in the middle of that cross-shaped log and He is reaching out a hand to you. He is not saying to you, you have to walk this chasm alone my dear child. He is saying I will walk with you. I will hold your hand. Reach out and take His hand and you will see that you will have an electric-full, wonderful, fulfilling, overflowing life.
You will lose your life one-way or another. I say to you today lose your life to Jesus Christ. Lose your life to His dream for you. Lose your life to something bigger than you. Lose your life to God and you will find it. I say if you want to live it, give it. Live it away, give it away. And I say to the Lord every day use me Lord. I chose to lose my life so You can use me. Lose it to use it. Give it away, live it away.
Let us pray. I step out in faith today, oh Lord. I chose to stop trying to live a safe and sorry life by trying to save my life. Rather, oh Lord, I will lose it by letting You use it. Use this one life for You so that when I come to the end of my earthly life and the beginning of my eternal life I will find that when I look back I will have lived an abundant, wonderful, faith filled, fulfilling, overflowing life and am able to say my cup runneth over. Thank You Lord. Amen.