By Lou Perez
It takes more energy to hold on than to let go.
In the science fiction movie Contact Jodi Foster plays, Dr. Eleanor "Ellie" Arroway, a SETI scientist who finds evidence of extraterrestrial life and is chosen by earth to make first contact. In a climactic scene Dr. Arroway is placed in a pod designed by the aliens but built by humans and then dropped through a wormhole where she would hurl through unknown space . Interestingly the Aliens did not design a chair for the pod so to be safe Earth's engineers installed one. During one of the most intense moments of her drop, the pod begins quaking uncontrollably with Dr. Arroway strapped in and holding on for her life. She looks in front of her and sees her medallion that had floated off her neck hovering effortlessly in front of her . The suspended medallion was the only thing not tied down on the small craft, and the man-made seat was the only thing shaking. she made the connection and un-buckled herself from her chair becoming as light as a feather. The intense agitation stopped turning a frenzied scene into tranquility. She then witnessed as the chair detached itself violently and like a screw being pulled by a powerful magnet shot to the top of the pod.
Had she instinctively played it safe, and held on to the chair she would have perished with her instincts and missed all the mysteries awaiting her. Counter intuitive to her senses she found that letting go of what she knew was the only way she would survive. As long as Dr. Arroway held on to what she knew, her life trembled out of control.
Millstones or Milestones
According to the online dictionary a milestone is a “stone marker set up on a roadside to indicate the distance in miles from a given point.” Symbolically Milestones mark specific points of the journey.
On the other hand there is a Millstone which are “a pair of round stones used in a mill for grinding grain.”. In life journey a millstone is a heavy weight or burden.
Peter made allusion to this when he said “Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear?”. Acts 15:10 NIV 2011
He was referring to the teachers of the law who took the milestone of the (ten commandments) and turned them into millstones by adding hundreds of additional laws to them.
In life the very things that once served as our anchors of trust can become the shackles that keep us from our next milestone. The very landmarks of our past season become burdens that keep us going in circles grinding the same grain day after day. Milestones are markers indicating a straight path forward, while millstones (used to grind grains) never go anywhere, but round and round.
Could it be that the thing you once trusted in - the wharf you once tethered all our hopes and dreams on has padlocked your life into a cyclic loop going nowhere? Instead of discovering new markers of wonder on the journey your life has simply stopped. This instinctive “clutching” for our familiar milestones keeps us from discovering the marvelous mysteries God has for us.
We hold the past milestones in a death grip denying God the right to “blow our minds” by not allowing Him to do something we’ve never seen or heard before. Yet God loves doing things our minds have never conceived.
Isa 43:19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. NIV 2011
Playing it safe can be fatal.
It is said that the pioneers settled the West. They were the risk takers who braved perilous lands and weather to colonize a new world. Many became “settler’s while some continued westward. The settlers dug in and shot down roots while the pioneers with a voracious appetite for discovery moved on.
There is a clear difference between a pioneer and a settler.
Pioneers are explorers, who seek to go where no one has gone before. They welcome danger, adventure, and discovery. Like David Livingstone they want to brave the harsh places or die trying. Settlers are far different. The Merriam Webster’s Dictionary defines a Settler as simply “one that settles”. © 2013 Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.
Settlers prefer safety over adventure, the mundane over mystery, and comfort over insecurity. They are like Tolkien’s Hobbits who favor their warm and cozy underground dwellings to seeing the world.
“Safety first” has become a cornerstone of American industry. In 1970, Congress created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to “assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.”
With safety as its motto, OSHA continued to create training programs, and grants designed to reduce work place hazards. In short, Osha created a culture of safety. http://www.osha.gov/about.html
When we become “settlers” we form an unspoken rule to place safety at the top of importance and risk at the bottom. We tend to insulate, isolate and, insure ourselves against potential harm of any kind. We stop taking risks, stop gazing off at the horizon in an effort to conserve what we have.
By all accounts it would appear that the settlers are the ones guaranteed safety while the pioneers are promised a tragic finale. In the culture of God the opposite tends to be true.
When God calls you to move into the “West” of your life being a settler can be the most dangerous thing you can do because every new thing God has for you requires the spirit of a pioneer, not that of a settler. It takes the courage of a pioneer to let God reinvent you, and change paradigms and procedures that have become millstones to you.