Christian Living

Spiritual Life

What Elephant Is Standing in Your Path?

Have you ever noticed how at around the thirty-minute mark in a movie the main character is pushed to go deeper than they want to go? It’s the magic number that draws an audience in, makes them care about the characters, then pushes them further until they’re lost in the world that’s been created. While the end of the first act introduces us to the characters, the second act is the heart of the story. It’s not where you ride off into the sunset. It’s where you fight for what you believe and for those you love. Characters transform into heroes or villains, face insurmountable odds, fractured relationships, and moments where one choice sets the story ablaze. That’s what keeps us hooked until the final scene when characters act decisively so the story has a greater purpose.

We see this to be true in Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring when Bilbo says goodbye to Gandalf and leaves the Ring in the hands of Frodo — the beginning of an epic adventure. One choice was a game changer, the big event, and the point of no return. Everything turned from black and white to color when we exhaled the first act to discover what awaited us in the second act.

When I landed on a dirt road in the middle of the Zambia bush, I was on the verge of turning the page of my career and calling. Little did I realize, my second act awaited me on the Zambezi River. After three weeks of producing a live record and filming a documentary which marked a milestone of years in ministry, I stood at a crossroads in my faith. I’d experienced incredible moments of witnessing God’s favor, but there were seasons in ministry that left me burned out, questioning what was next.

Was I willing to take a step of faith, risk all that I’d help to build, in order to experience a greater adventure?

My second act started when my buddy asked if I wanted to share a tent. Pride reared its head as I laughed, “I’ll take my own tent, thanks.” Well, at three o’clock in the morning, when the bush was pitch black with sounds of wildlife nearby, I held up my lantern, looked over toward my friend’s tent, and whispered, “I’m an idiot!”

Surviving the night, we headed out the next morning into the bush to film footage for our documentary. An hour into the trek we came across an elephant who stood about fifty feet away. The guide suggested we get closer. I replied that my camera had a zoom lens. As the Land Rover inched forward I realized we were too close. The elephant’s ears flared, head lowered with tusks pointed directly at us, as a trumpeting sound echoed off the heavens. We flew backward while the elephant gained on us. I kept filming. Why? Because if it was the end, I’d have it documented for eternity. Suddenly, the guide slammed on the brakes, stood in the driver seat, and waved his hands at the giant beast. The elephant stopped a few feet away. With a dust wall between us, we froze for the next few minutes, until the elephant backed away behind a tree.

In those moments of uncertainty, God brought a spark of clarity to the next season of my calling — and it looked much different than anything I’d ever done before. I had to make a choice — go deeper in my faith or be left broken and burned out. I’d faced the elephant in my life and it was time to act decisively to experience a second act filled with greater creativity, risk, and adventure. It was a testament to survival, a revival in my calling, and a shift to encounter a faith beyond the walls of a church or the work in ministry. And, it became a roadmap toward my second act as a follower of Christ willing to pursue Him toward a renewed calling no matter where He led me.

Let me ask you, what elephant is standing in your path today?

Maybe you’re burned out from running hard in life, unsure of where you’re headed. Maybe your dreams of a career, spouse, family, or ministry have yet to materialize? Maybe you’re unsure of God’s calling on your life, stuck in your first act searching for the heart of your story.

You’re at the thirty-minute mark. It’s time to make a choice that’ll be a game changer. It’s the point of no return. Don’t look back at where you’ve been, look ahead for what’s to come. Breathe in God’s calling on your life, and exhale with anticipation as you face the elephants of life with a greater purpose as Christ stands by your side.

Copyright © 2017 D.J. Williams. Used by permission.

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