Big Fat Hairy Deal

Remember the old cliche about a monkey on your back?
It’s often associated with some kind of addiction or character flaw.

I asked this question on Facebook yesterday: Everybody has a monkey. What’s your monkey’s name?

Some of the answers were serious.
Some were funny.
Some were flippant.

If the shoe was on the other foot, I’d try to answer with something funny or flippant too. If you are like me, your real monkey is serious, painful, and seemingly best ignored.

But, this thought leads us to some funny imagery… In a room full of people, or better yet, a church auditorium or sanctuary, we all walk around seeing the monkey on others while trying to ignore our own. And lest we forget, the readily available righteous indignation when someone happens to get a glimpse or fix on the monkey riding our back.

As it turns out, monkey business is never very funny for very long.

My monkey wasn’t/ isn’t alcohol or drugs. There was/ is nothing about mine that would suggest some kind of aberrant behavior. It wasn’t/ isn’t a family embarrassment. Nor the kind of monkey one shouldn’t talk about in polite social situations.

But, he was/ is a big monkey. Ape-sized. Bigger even. I think he had a previous life as a body double or stand-in for another famous Hollywood chimp type. You might remember him? The one who climbed the Empire State Building and swatted airplanes from the sky?

Did I say he was big?


Have you ever heard the term BHAG? It stands for Big Hairy Audacious Goal. I am beginning to develop one, but more on that later.

In the meantime, what I have had riding on my back was a BHFD.


That wasn’t (isn’t) necessarily my monkey’s name, but it sure describes his importance, or at least how hard a monkey to shake he has been.

My Dad has a color-pencil drawing in his office that a sweet lady did for him many, many years ago. It is a caricature of Dad sitting at his preacher’s desk with piles and piles of different kinds of hats. The drawing symbolized all the different hats–jobs, roles–Dad had to wear in doing ministry. Every preacher should understand that.

Likewise, my monkey wears a lot of different hats too.
Or rather, outside of the things he isn’t (see seventh paragraph from the top), my monkey (otherwise known as a big fat hairy deal) is a multi-talented creature.

He weaves an unbelievable tapestry of fear, doubt, worry, and lack of self-confidence.
The resulting picture is demoralizing, paralyzing, and capable of producing a self-sustaining debilitation.

He is pretty gifted like that.
I should know.
After all, he is my monkey.
I have owned him for a very long time.

But yesterday, he took a major blow. I heard him shudder. I felt his weakness. I sensed his grip losing its hold.

For years (even during the good ones) he has told me I am not good enough, smart enough, or talented enough. He has painted me with fear, soaked me in doubt, infused me with worry, and convinced me that nothing I did would ever matter.

Add to that potent mix Satan’s mighty evil blow, and my monkey could have, should have had it all sewn up tight.

But contrary to my strongly held monkey belief, God wasn’t/ isn’t finished with me yet. He surrounded me with encouragers, provided the right opportunity, and helped me take the first step forward.

Yesterday, I shared my new found, hard won faith. (Thanks Meadowbrook!)
I preached.
And it felt better than it ever has before.

I am learning to never say never while my monkey is fighting to hold on.
I doubt I would ever be a full time preacher again, and yet, if the right place or people came calling, I would have to ask God what He was up to.

In the meantime, the big fat hairy deal is giving way slowly but surely for the big hairy audacious goal. I am daring to dream–really dream–that I have found my new ministry role/niche/voice to fill.

Thanks to those who have believed in me, found patience to share, and otherwise supported me. Your strength has made a difference.

The road ahead–though with plenty of setbacks and struggles still to encounter–looks brighter still.

Here’s the best part: If God is willing to work in my life, He is certainly willing to work in yours–and through all of our worries, doubts, fears, and perceived inadequacies.

You gotta like that!

If I can help you or your group/church, etc., please feel free to contact me.


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The Great Adventure

Sunday is my day of reckoning.

I am excited.

I am scared.

I am worried.

I am full of doubt.

I don’t say these things to engender sympathy, comments, etc. After all it’s my blog and I can be just as honest as I want to be.

Sunday is my day of reckoning and I am afraid.

I want this new ministry of writing and speaking. I want it badly.

I want a new voice. I want the ability to share with the hurting, validate the questioning, and encourage the struggling. I want the ability and opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others.

I keep saying I… as if it is all about me. It isn’t. I know it isn’t. I am glad it isn’t.

And yet, I am afraid of failure.

I am afraid of success.

I am afraid of not being in control.

And that’s funny considering one of the biggest lessons to have learned–forcibly–was how little I or anybody else really does control.

But we try.

We try hard.

We go to every imaginable length to control or at least feel like we are in control.

Often it is a grand illusion. Until it turns out to be not so grand.

So this Sunday is fast approaching. It’s been a long time since I have preached. It will be the first time to speak in as large a setting as this.

I used to have lots of confidence. These days? Not quite as much. But, I have prepared the best I can. I think God has given me a message. I pray it will be of benefit. I believe it is a message every church, every believer needs to hear,

I hope that doesn’t sound arrogant. I hope it doesn’t seem as if I am high on myself. To the contrary, I feel as if I am the least most likely person in the world to have a message others need.

Until I remember my pain.

Until I recall my doubt.

Until I am faced once again with all of my struggle and questioning…

And then I remember. Then I reconsider. Then I know there are untold numbers of people who are also in pain. Who wrestle with doubt. Who question and struggle with deep, dark things.

Then I remember.

I remember from whence I came.

From where I still am.

And I know others need the same message of hope and recovery.

Sunday is my day of reckoning.

And I am afraid.

But I will face the future as boldly as I know how… and ever thankful for second chances and new beginnings.

Saddle up your horses we’ve got a trail to blaze

Through the wild blue yonder of God’s amazing grace

Let’s follow our leader into the glorious unknown

This is a life like no other – this is The Great Adventure…

 Come on get ready for the ride of your life

Gonna leave long faced religion in a cloud of dust behind

And discover all the new horizons just waiting to be explored

This is what we were created for…

Steven Curtis Chapman–The Great Adventure

Are you ready for yours?

Les Ferguson, Jr.