First of all, my apologies to those who may have visited Sheepcomics.com on 10/30/99 to see the new cartoon. Due to some events outside my control (most all of events in this world are outside my control, come to think of it), the time I had available for cartooning was greatly reduced. My "Next Cartoon on" dates that I post on the bottom of the home page are my best estimates of when the next episode will be complete. My goal is to release a new episode every two weeks. However, things happen, and even though I do my best to meet this goal, life doesnít always go according to plan.
Now, I could have easily met my 10/30/99 deadline by doing a short cartoon, but there was a particular concept I have wanted to develop since I launched the site back in March. I decided to draw up this rather long cartoon even though I knew I might miss my production deadline.
So, I ended up releasing this cartoon on the evening of 10/31/99. In a way, this is strangely appropriate. This is Halloween night, and this is a scary cartoon. As I write this little blurb there are bands of children running around the city dressed up to look scary. Also, more than a few TV stations are showing their "best" horror movies.
But what I share in this cartoon is more frightening than any costume or horror movie. Itís frightening because is deals with something that could very well happen to you or to me, and this "something" fills me with dread every time I think of it. What is this fear that haunts me almost daily? To put it simply, it is the fear of appearing before God on the day of judgment after wasting my life.
About ten years ago I had a very vivid dream. I dreamt I was walking around the campus of the university where I earned two degrees. I remember thinking in the dream about how much time had passed, and how little the university seemed to have changed. The buildings were the same, as were the trees. Only one thing had really changed, and that was me.
In the dream, I was an elderly man. I was walking around the university I attended in my twenties when I was full of expectation and looking forward to doing great things with my future. What made this dream a nightmare was that in this dream I was an elderly man who had wasted his life and had run out of time. As I was admiring the beautiful campus in the dream, I was also bitterly regretting not accomplishing anything in life, even though I started out with many advantages.
I donít remember thinking about God or Judgment Day, but now I think about both on an almost daily basis. Maybe "real Christians" with "real faith" arenít supposed to be concerned about this, but I am. In fact, I wonder why I havenít met more Christians who are as concerned as I am.
Paul said in Romans 14:12 that each of us will give an account of himself to God. What does is mean to give an account for oneís life? What will I have to account for?
Jesus said in Revelation 22:12 "Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done." (NIV) Whatís this about "reward"? Is there more to eternity than just "getting saved?" Furthermore, it looks like this "reward" is an individual thing. It doesnít seem to be salvation itself, but something else that is given according to what we do. Itís not given according to what functions we attend or how often we "show up", but according to what we do.
To me, "do" does not mean simply sitting and listening; it implies action. Now, I know better than to think I can work my way to heaven. From what Iíve read in the Bible, however, it seems to me that I may want to have more to talk about on Judgment Day than my exemplary worship and bible-study attendance record. Bible-studies are for learning what is in the Bible, and it doesnít seem to profit us much if we study it a lot but donít put what we learn into practice. And letís face it, thereís precious little "doing" in our modern day "worship" assemblies. When it comes to worship, a few professionals "do", and everyone else "sits through".
So what does one do if one has a sense of destiny in their lives, wants to do more than just "show up" to everything, but doesnít want to go into professional ministry? Thatís where things get difficult. There doesnít seem to be much between the two extremes of church attender and church manager. If you are part of a church where someone can be an "active amateur" Christian, and you are encouraged to grow and take initiative, you are blessed.
One concept that seems to be gaining momentum in the world of church leadership methodology is this idea that the highest ranking professional in a congregation is the "visionary". Itís up to the "visionary leader" to promote his "vision" to his staff and the congregation, and to organize his congregation to make the vision happen. Those who donít buy into the "vision" can go elsewhere. It can sound spiritual, but to me it often seems like a way to rationalize an authoritarian leadership structure. The "visionary leader" becomes the king.
Is "vision" only for churches? Why canít any individual Christian have a vision for their lives and persue it with Godís help? That is what this strip deals with. Lionel sees two possbile visions for his future, and one of them is quite frightening.
Some scary thoughts on Halloween, courtesy of Just One Sheep.