The interpretation of the word maverick brings many things to mind. It is often thought of in a negative context. Yet many of us, secretly intrinsically, desire to fit in some form of personal freedom, a freedom we were made for. The book 'Wild At Heart' and it’s phenomenal success proves this point. One of my favourite Bible teachers, a teacher who laid part of my early foundation, was Dr. Ern Baxter. His teaching on the eagle and how it relates to the Christian has helped shape my character. He said an eagle in the sky is the most beautiful of all birds. The strong winds buffet the feathers not only enabling it to soar with incredible effortless grace but also the same wind cleans the pinions that enable it to fly. Put this wonderful animal in a cage and it becomes a smelly pitifully sad example of one of the greatest wonders of the animal kingdom.
My previous understanding of the word maverick was found in the old iconic black and white picture of James Dean. Leaning against the 1950’s car with a smoke in the corner of his mouth, one could see the defiance emanating from him with the unspoken words, ”I don’t live in any one's cage.” Then we have the song by Willy Nelson, “Don’t Fence Me In.” It seems to me we were born with a non-conforming glitch and this is one of the reasons there is no consistent peace in the world or the church. We the church in many ways has failed to see that this desire for a personal freedom and not a copy of someone else, is given by God and can only be met by Him. We are taught there are standards we must conform to and these standards leave their mark or brand. Whatever we give ourselves to that does not work to set us free will leave a distinguishing mark in our soul. Are we the only ones who desire to break out of the restraints? Well, we are in good company! God does not like Himself restrained by our religious framework. He is now in the process of breaking our age old bonds with historical visitations and movements, He initiated. Movements meant to get us on the move but instead we made monuments and stayed close to them. Each group developed a personality created from the beliefs and programs invented to foster the original personal group encounter. We did not know God is taking us all on an everlasting journey of change and that we stopped moving and fenced ourselves in. We thought God would only move in our perceived context. The continue evolution of our inner nature blooming into His Being making us alive and truly adopted, has often succumbed to an eagle in a cage. The cage is not always the outcome of the missing of adventure due to stagnation of the church. We all need to be broken of self-will. We all need to suffer in one way or another in the process of learning obedience and discipline. Yet the working out of our salvation should lead to effortless “flight" and not soulish “might." Liberty must be the mark of the presence of the Holy Spirit. Where the Spirit is there is liberty.
The word maverick was not part of my daily vocabulary. I thought the word was used by others in a derogatory sense. To be called a maverick meant you were a rebel like the guy who comes to pick up your daughter on a loud chopped up Harley Davidson motorcycle. As his pipes thunder over the hill, the poor father shudders with the fact that life will never be the same. That's what mavericks do.
I spoke at a wonderful church in Sarnia, Ontario, when Mary Jane, a good friend and very effective pastor called me out. She is one who understands God’s desire to put eagle wings on His people. With conviction in her tone she declared, “The Lord calls you a Maverick.” That was it. No explanation.
It was not that I was not a team player, there were just some things I could not give myself to. I tried, just couldn’t. I did not understand why until I knew what a real maverick was. This is Webster’s Dictionary; “An unbranded animal.” “No earthly brand!” This reminded me of the western days when they would catch a wild horse and with a hot iron burn into it’s hide the ranchers insignia. The horse was no longer free, like an eagle in a cage.
I see today many are like me and I suppose many aren’t. For those who like to breathe clear air and be the head and not the tail but are caught in the midst of making another man's vision successful at the cost of your own, I have some advice. It is good to be part of a denomination but the denomination should not have a part of you. The marking you are to bear is “God’s Son/Daughter". Grab a hold of this and you can relate to everything but sin. It is heard over and over from good people,”I don’t have a problem with God but I do the church.” Pastors/minister are on the same level as Politicians. Man does that hurt. We are not to point fingers. In one way or another we have all failed, I have. Yet there is a place in God for us that the world has not seen. A greater state of being that is undefinable by earthly standards, far above denomination labels and the workings of the insecure to become the big frogs in small holes as well all the negative things the world equates with the church’s history.
The book of Hebrews in it’s first few verses must be at the heart of the church if we are to be taken into an undefinable glory, a state of being so wonderful only God could give. Hebrews 6;
"Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instructions on baptisms, the laying of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgement."
AND GOD PERMItTING WE WILL DO SO
The verses go on to say that there is open to us the ages to come. The greater emergence of Heaven. We need this. The world needs to see it in us. The problem is we have lived in the foundational doctrines and fought over the interpretations of them. In this condition, heaven would be harmful for us. We carry an earthly religious brand and in many ways we don’t relish we are stinking up our cage. But the world does.
How then do we get permission? I am not full sure. If we like the things God likes I think we will be close. Love, humility, mercy, giving..etc. But first we must see our state and repent from it. What brand do we carry. Is it love or ambition? Is our loyalty to our pension and position? Do we desire promotion over brokenness? Are some of these foundational doctrines separating you from loving others even to the place where you would lay your life down for them? If so, ask God for permission for more of Heaven which is nothing less than more of His Nature.
DARE TO BE A MAVERICK
Dan Chappell was fathered in the prophetic by Robert Ewing of Grace Churches of Texas in the early 80’s and mentored in “The Heart of the Father" by Jack Winters.
He is recognized trans locally for his sensitive and encouraging prophetic and strategic insight. His gifting is not just for the local church, but impacts churches across the continent. Debbie, his wife, stands with him in this demanding role.