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The Wisdom of Leapfrogging

Ron L. Buford
Aug 19 2012


Well, you may not have noticed, but it’s political campaign season – the time when politicians seem to have answers for everything. Imagine Solomon as a young national leader in modern times dealing with our current problems, about age twenty-something and saying things entirely different from the double talk we’ve grown accustomed to hearing from our politicians.

A wise young Solomon might say something like . . . “Friends, despite the evidence of climate change, there are those who want me to pretend that it’s not happening; Despite growing unrest around the world among the most disenfranchised, there are those who want us to continue trying to pull the wool over their eyes; Our wealthiest one percent are getting richer while our bridges, roads, hospitals and educational systems crumble and politicians stumble because they lack the moral courage to hand those of us who are among the most privileged a due bill for our fair share; Our teenagers are getting gunned down by semi-automatic weapons while merely hanging out in parked cars or in movie theatres, and yet we leaders seem locked in a conspiracy of silence that keeps us in bondage to unrelenting death and destruction.

God help us!

Now imagine that same young leader then having the moral courage to actually tell the world the truth, “We don’t know what to do . . . yet. But with God’s help, we will. Surely, God will show us a better way!” Do you believe?

Ah belief! Always the first and most important step!

And so young Solomon, in the tradition of Moses and Abraham takes that first and most important step and goes to the source of all being, the source of all wisdom and knowledge . . . and has a conversation with God, “Now, O LORD my God, you have allowed me to come to this position even though I am only a very young man and do not yet know how to even carry out my routine duties . . . So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people – to distinguish between right and wrong.”

And God answered saying,

“Solomon, since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have you asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. Moreover, I will also give you what you have not asked for—both riches and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings.”

And so Solomon becomes a remarkable leader. His accomplishments were so extraordinary because he first sought God’s direction! He also did not limit God. Solomon dared to leapfrog . . . moving with the ever accelerating mind of God rather than limiting God to the petty domain of our simple and selfish passions – Typically asking for more money, more wine, women or men and song more for me, my family, and those I love. Forget about everybody else!”

The wise Solomon built the temple for God that David wanted to build but that God did not allow David to build. When Solomon was done, it was said to have been one of the wonders of the ancient world. Solomon leapfrogged. Remember that David had only recently moved the Ark of God from being in a portable tent outside . . . but now Solomon leapfrogs this idea and builds a temple that becomes a wonder of the ancient world! Is it any wonder God told David, “No, I don’t want you to build my temple. I am going to wait for Solomon!”

We do limit God sometimes, don’t we? What is it that we envision from God for the world? For ourselves?

God is not limited by the past. It is in the present with God that we discover more light, and more truth. Then and only then can we create the truly new wonders of the world!

So in practical terms, what might that mean?

In a workshop with church leaders in San Antonio, TX, we raised this idea of leapfrogging faith, the kind of faith that allows God to help us build the next new wonders of the world.

Looking at current issues, someone immediately said, “Hunger in our communities!” We leapfrogged and before we knew it we had worked our way up to ending world hunger! Why not?!?

We giggled nervously, as we started to build a plan, starting with packets to which we could add water to end starvation in the world, while we moved toward giving everyone in the world the kind of food we want for ourselves and by the time we left, no, we had not solved the problem of world hunger, but we no longer believed the problem was unsolvable. It is not the role of the church to be afraid or tentative.

The same God that was with Solomon and with Jesus is with us! Don’t be afraid! Leapfrog! Everyone seems to assume that we can’t just end world hunger . . . Do you?

Why? Do you think it’s impossible?

But I imagine God saying, “Oh Yeah? I remember when they said it was impossible to end slavery.” And, no, slavery’s not totally gone but it’s well on its way to extinction.

Someday, people will look back on our time and say, you mean people actually had enough food to feed all the people in the world and they actually let it rot in warehouses rather than feed all the people? Think about it. How primitive!

Someday, people will look back on our time and say, you mean they actually had cures for diseases that could spread and come back to haunt them and their children, but they refused to treat all the people based on people’s ability to pay . . . How primitive!

And so, Old South Church, we can raise up young leaders like Solomon, like Will (who read this morning’s scriptures), like you, like me who Leapfrog . . . who make the darkness of our present understanding as light before us, as we move to change the course of human history . . . forever. I ask you, do you believe it’s possible?

It is indeed the role of the church to lift up a new reality as possible even when the rest of the world thinks it’s impossible and to show the contradictions! That’s leapfrogging faith!

We have good examples . . . Martin Luther King leapfrogged

When Dr. King said, “I have a dream. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character,” he leapfrogged.

Harriet Beecher Stowe leapfrogged after coming home from church where she had heard a stirring sermon about the evils of slavery, she sat down that day and began to write Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Within two months the work was done. President Lincoln would call this woman who stood less that 5 foot tall, “the little lady who started the big war.” She leapfrogged!

CNN recently reported that a young woman in Colombia, Catalina Escobar, leapfrogged. When volunteering a baby died in her arms because her teenage mother could not raise the $30 she needed for the treatment to save her baby. Escobar was heartbroken realizing she’d had $30 in her pocket! Shortly after this her own baby fell to its death in a freak accident. After this she leapfrogged, dedicating herself to providing deluxe treatment and has done so for more than 2,000 young teenage mothers, and tens of thousands of children have benefitted from her leapfrogging . . .

And friends, leapfrogging isn’t just for the big issues like slavery, world hunger, healthcare, and the rights of all human persons. It’s for the issues that plague you and me at home. The habit that has you bound, the worry you can’t seem to shake, the feeling of personal defeat or fear that seems to have a death grip on you, some financial failure, anger, an old grudge or hatred, something in yourself or others you can’t seem to release yourself to forgive . . . Well you came to the right place this morning. Maybe . . . just maybe God is still-speaking, speaking . . . to you and to me today saying . . . And maybe, just maybe God is saying . . . It’s time It’s time . . . Leapfrog!

Let us pray . . .

Now, O Gracious God, you have allowed us to come to this place in life though many dangers, toils, and snares . . . and we are stuck on issues related to the environment, to hunger and poverty, to education, to other scientific discovery, to beating down personal stuff, finances and bad habits that plague us every day, keeping us from becoming our best selves, a temple that is a gleaming wonder of the world. And we don’t know what to do. But you know. We come thinking that “Maybe, just Maybe O God, you are still-speaking to and through us. Perhaps in the silence of this moment . . . Perhaps in the work week ahead . . . perhaps while holding the one we love, please speak to and through us this morning so that we will never be the same . . . and neither will the world around us. And all God’s people said, Amen.