24 June 2010

Raise the Roof!

I was listening to a sermon today by the Reverend C.L. Franklin (Aretha Franklin's father) entitled "Asking for Big Things." In this sermon, he makes a statement that arrests my spirit and imagination. He states, "raise your eyes and your faith above where you are..." This statement is simplistic yet profound.

We often allow our self-perception to be shaped and determined by the societal prescriptions that have been set. For instance, every mother raising her children by herself must struggle and scrape in order to maintain the status quo for that demographic. One out of every two black male teenagers must at some point in their teenage years find themselves victim to the juvenile penal system. Black girls growing up need to "dress to impress" with the latest fashions in hip-hop music videos in order to be classified as "got it goin' on." All parents must adhere to the policies of DFACS over against their better judgment so that their children might live healthy and wholesome young lives. These are just a few of the prescriptions that plague our society, especially as blacks in America. Additionally, there are still only certain jobs we can work, certain sports we can excel at, certain positions we can jockey for, and certain political aspirations we can have. We have a tendency to become so overwhelmed and enamored by those whose names are in lights and who do hold positions of prestige, power, and influence that we fail to see what is really going on. We do not readily understand the fact that we too have access to some things in life. We have access to a life of joy and peace and understanding, but how do we get there? How do we raise the roof of the predetermined dwelling we have decided to live in?

First, we have to raise our eyes above our location. We cannot allow ourselves to get caught up in prescriptive perception. As long as we continue to "go with the flow" and allow roped reproductions of the status quo to emerge and prevail, we will utterly live unproductive and superficial lives. We must look beyond our besetting burden, past our present predicament, through our troublesome test, and over that outlandish obstacle. We have to be able to see ourselves as capable of contending in any and all contests. Success is not some evasive or elusive reality; rather, it can be attained by all those who are able to raise their eyes above there location. We must see a better marriage for ourselves, a better job for ourselves, and even better health for ourselves. Can you see it? Can you see that degree on your wall? Can you see yourself in a good mood? Can you see yourself enjoying your coworkers? Can you see yourself defending a client, curing a disease, patenting an invention, or running a business? If not, it is because you have not raised your eyes above your position!

Since perception seems to be reality for us, we have to learn how to perceive properly. This is where the second principle comes into play: raise your faith above your location. In the Holy Bible Hebrews 11:1 indicates that "faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen." The question quickly becomes, how can you possibly see the unseen? How do you grasp what you seemingly do not possess? Well, the best way I can explain it is that we all have to allow ourselves to open up to unknown possibilities. We have to trust that God, in the fullness of God's sovereignty, will take control of our goals, aspirations, and dreams. This is not some ethereal, "pie-in-the-sky" promise that is great in theory but unable to be practiced. This is not some proposition picked up in a self-help book tailored to help drive your life. Rather, it is simply a dependence upon God and not the self. Yes, we have dreams, we have hopes, and we have aspirations; however, our natural eyes can only see so far or rise so high. It will take faith for each of us to see what it is that God truly has in store for our lives. Eyes operate under limitations; faith unlocks unlimited possibilities. Eyes get distracted by changes in condition; faith stands unshaken through life's changes. Eyes are dependent upon the human brain to dictate and determine perceived realities; faith is dependent upon the sincerity of the human spirit to seek out God's divinely orchestrated destiny for our lives. Raise your eyes and your faith above where you are in order to raise the roof of life's possibilities! Trust God!