For All Points-Of-The-View.
‘Don’t Fight the Process’
by Chinta Strausberg
Reminding his congregation that the world is full of many kinds of birds including turkeys, chickens and buzzards, Father Michael L. Pfleger Sunday urged his members to be eagles in the midst of their storms because unlike the other birds that run when faced with hurricanes, eagles fly high above to victory.
Flapping his arms to emulate an eagle, Father Pfleger bellowed, “When the storm comes, buzzards run. When the storm comes, chickens run. When the storm comes, turkeys run, but an eagle when it sees a storm, it lifts up its head to the mountains.
“An eagle flies solo. I don’t need nobody to fly with me. I don’t need nobody to walk with me. I don’t need nobody to validate me. I don’t need nobody to affirm me. I’m an eagle.” The other birds, he said, aren’t going where God wants you to go.
Using the eagle as a spiritual metaphor, Pfleger explained, “When an eagle sees a storm, it realizes that the pressure in the storm can life me up to a higher place. So an eagle does not run. An eagle does not hide. An eagle spreads its wings and goes right into the storm and the pressure in the storm lifts the eagle higher.”
In explaining the behavior of eagles, Pfleger said they build a nest with soft coverings complete with twigs and place it in high places. “We were raised to be in a high place so never live in a low place because God called you to live in a high place. Never live low and dirty because God called you to live high and mighty,” he said.
Flapping his arms, Pfleger said when it is time for the baby eagles to be released into their destinies, Pfleger said they rock the nest blowing away the soft “stuff creating an environmental change.The baby eagles feel the thickets and are uncomfortable. “
“Some of you,” Pfleger said, “wonder why you are in an uncomfortable time when it used to be comfortable because God says you’ve been comfortable for too long…. I’m making you uncomfortable where you’re at because some of you got too satisfied where you’re at.” “God says it’s time for a change in your life….”
The eagles pushed the baby eagles to the edge of the nest and they soon realize “either they’re going to fly or…. That is what God is saying here. I’m pushing you to a new place because I refused to let you stay where you’re at and in a new place you’ll either learn how to fly or you’re going to die where you’re at, but I refused to let you be comfortable.”
“Stop being comfortable with violence…with children dying…with racism…with inequality…with bad schools…. Stop being comfortable with poverty….”
Father Pfleger told of one woman who made a 6-figure salary and she was very comfortable until one day she drank a co-workers drink and he called her an “N” word. Though she had once accused Pfleger of talking too much about race, after this happened to her, Pfleger said, “It's an issue but why wasn’t it an issue when your sisters and brothers were called the ‘N’ word…or is it an issue when it becomes your issue”?
“God will do what he has to do to make you uncomfortable to say it’s time to get up and get involved because I refuse to let you stay here,” Pfleger said.
“Sometimes he will take you to the edge just like the eagle and say, ‘you’re going to learn how to fly or you’re going to die.”
Saying at times people like to get things fast without paying the cost, Pfleger said, “We live in a day when we would prefer to get to our destiny by taking an elevator…. Sometimes you got to climb stair by stair…. You need to stop every now (and then) and catch your breath for the next segment, the next climb of your life. Thank God for landings.”
But, Pfleger said no matter how much one wants to get there “quickly and arrive at our destiny, our purpose and our success in a quick way, there must be a process because it is necessary for our destiny….”
He warned, “You got to go through the process otherwise “you’ll get some place but you can’t stay there because if you don’t have the character and the integrity, if you don’t have the tenacity and the endurance, if you don’t have the root, you’ll get someplace but lose it right away.”
As an example, Pfleger said there are many who win millions of dollars in the Lottery and they are broke including athletes and those in the entertainment field “because they got some place and didn’t know how to handle it.” “Where ever you’re going, learn how to handle itso you can stay there and not lose it too quickly.”
Admitting going through the process isn’t easy, Pfleger said it could be challenging. “Process can shake you. Process will come and bring out of you stuff that you need to get rid of. There are two things you got to know in order to survive the process is you got to know who God is….. If you don’t know who God is, stuff will shake you along the way and knock you off your feet.
“You got to know who you are and whose you are,” he said. “If you don’t know who you are (which) is the reason the world today we have so many people who don’t know who they are and are trying to live their lives through somebody else…. Be yourself,” he told the church. “If you know who God is, even when you’re going through hell and high water, you will understand at the end of the day all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord and conform to his likeness.”
Referring to his mother, Pfleger told of how his mother baked his favorite desert, Angel Food cake, but “it doesn’t taste good if you just eat flour…or a raw egg…. If you taste that separately, it doesn’t taste good, but if it’s all put together and it’s stirred together, it will end up tasting good. You can’t be upset with this moment of your life because this is only part of the body. You can’t be upset with this moment in your life. You can’t let this thing define you…because when it is all is wrapped together, it’s going to turnout good.”
“Don’t get upset about a moment in your life. Remember, it’s just a moment,” he said.
“God is preparing us for a greater season,” predicted Pfleger. “If you really want the greater, you got to also be alright with the process.” Saying he knows people don’t like to go through the process, Pfleger warned, “Don’t fight the process.”
Pfleger said to understand that you must first understand God and his greatness. “God does no wrong. He is righteous. Righteous means that the nature of God is to do right. That’s his nature…to do right…. He knows what he is doing…. It doesn’t make any difference whether you understand it or not…. You just got to be able to submit to God” and tell him you know what he is doing because “you are righteous.” God, he said, is also sovereign.
“We like to know everything” given the different storms people go through that may be confusing. “God knows what he is doing. God says I don’t need your advice…. He says when I ask the sun to work all day and I asked the moon to do the night shift, I didn’t need you radvice….” “God does not need us to do anything….”
Pfleger said God created you in his image“ and you are awesome. You are fearlessly and wonderfully made. You are the head and not the tail. You are the apple of my eye…. Sometimes we have been bamboozled by life…but God said I put everything up inside of you. You are awesome. You just got to pull it out and use it. There’s enough oil in your house to feed you.”
Father Pfleger said God made you to look like you look not to go through plastic surgery, liposuction…get blue eyes…. You don’t have to go through all that stuff to look like somebody else. When you are comfortable with who you are and how you look, you don’t have to validate yourself to anyone.” Pfleger reminded them that they are awesome just the way they are.
Peeling off a list of different faiths like the Catholic games, the Baptist games, Pfleger said, “The question is not having been in the game but come out of a game. I don’t need anybody to validate me because I know whoI am…. Moses said we have to proclaim the greatness of God.”
“When you understand the greatness of God, you stop fearing man,” he said. You also stop fearing women and “stuff thatwould knock you down…” you begin to laugh at it because you know who you serve.“Do you know my God,”” “I don’t expect my enemy to know him, but do you know him”?
Referring to financial and other social problems, Father Pfleger said, “Life is full of sinkholes and sometimes asinkhole will pull you down. The sinkhole will begin to throw the ground on top of you.”
In referring to the 6-year-old boy who fell into a sinkhole in Michigan City, Indiana where he was covered by 11 feet of sand for more than three-hours, Father Pfleger said when that happens to you,“you have to make a decision.”
Pfleger said adults become quitters so easy unlike the boy “who didn’t think about quitting. He just kept breathing and when you just keep breathing and you keep believing and keep walking, understand somebody is digging for you…somebody with a hand bigger than your hand that is pushing away the stuff that is trying to kill you.”
Saying God is the solid rock, Pfleger said, “We have to accept the fact that something is wrong with all of us….” When you acknowledge something is wrong with all of us, that is when you can thank God for saving us…and for working out our salvation which means he continues to save us over and over again…because he took you out of stuff that you should have fallen in and drowned in and lost your mind, but God saved you anyway. You’ve been through the fire, but he saved you through some stuff.”
“The good news is that he is still saving you,”said Pfleger. “He is still coming and rescuing me in the midst of my faults, my mistakes, my wrong decisions. He’s still rescuing me.”
Reading from the bible, Father Pfleger said,“…remove not the ancient landmarks. “You would not be where you’re at right now if people didn’t march on Washington, get on buses and leave jobs. Some got fired for going to that march,” he said referring to the August 28,1963 march on Washington led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“We no longer have a value for our elders andthe price they paid…,” said Pfleger. “Young people, 50 and younger, you got to sit down with some folks who went through the fire. You have to sit with some folks who went to the storm because today we have no tenacity. If something gets rough, we quit in a minute.
“You had people who walked for 381 days,” he said referring to the Montgomery Bus boycott sparked by Rosa Parks who refused to give up her bus seat to a white man. “ When you seem to be in a holding place, Pfleger suggested they ask their elders “how did they hold on.” “Learn from the elders. When things try to shackle you up, ask your elders how did you hold on? How did you make it through? How did you not give up…. How did you not quit…”?
“You need to take some time with your elders,” he said suggesting if they don’t have elders around them then go visit some in a nursing home.
Referring to the late Ruby Etheredge whose funeral was held last Saturday at Saint Sabina, Father Pfleger said she died onher 93rd birthday. “Mother Ruby would be in excruciating pain, but she would never complain about the pain…. Learn how to hold on, how to presson, how to keep quiet. Quitters not wanted,” he bellowed.
Pfleger said if you know the outcome, it would be easier to go through their storms but “God sometimes will withhold the outcome to see just how much faith you say you got.” Pfleger said in church people say they trust the Lord “ but walk out and hit a bump and we cry and break down like a little punk.
“Ain’t no punks allowed in the Kingdom of God. Ain’t no punks allowed in the Army of God. Aint’ no punks allowed when you’re going through difficulty. You have to learn how to be a soldier. You have to learn how to go to the battlefield…. I’m looking for some frontline Christians…,” said Pfleger.
“We will be back in the 50’s in a minute,”warned Pfleger. “It’s just a different kind of slavery going on now. Violence is a slavery,” he said referring to the 6 people killed and 26 shot this weekend. “That’s a force of slavery. Mass incarceration is a type of slavery. Learn to talk to the elders, learn to talk to the generations who went by and learn how they held on so that you might be the kind of faith to hold on to….”
“God says I got to do some division. I got to separate some things. Part of the process is allowing God to separate some stuff in your life. God has to separate some people from you because you ain’t smart enough to separate yourself from them.” “Instead of crying about why they’re gone, you need to go and get a party hat, get some candles, get some wine and sit down, have a party and say thank you God…. You took them from me because you know I wasn’t strong enough to push them away.”
Pfleger said there are some habits and thinking God has to separate because “your not yet is more important than your right now.” “Some of the folk that you’re kicking with you need to kick out because God says they are not going where I’m taking you.
“God said I’m trying to take you to a place where they ain’t ready for, don’t want to be at, they never want to get there, but you say ‘I’ll go where he goes….’ Pfleger said you could take yourself out rather than always going with others.
“You got to make sure that the people around you can handle your not yet; if not, then leave,” he told the church. “You got to learn how to delete.”
Referring to boundaries, Pfleger said people don’t like that. “Sometimes we get fooled because we think if we’re free we can do what ever we want to do. No… We don’t like boundaries because we want to do what ever we want to do, but you have to understand if you’re driving around a cliff and you go off the boundary, you can get on that road and say I’m free Ican drive on this road. Yes, and you can die.”
Pfleger said the same is true spiritually. “You can go out of boundaries and abort your destiny. You can kill your future.You can rob your blessings.” To those who say the grass looks so much greener on the other side, Pfleger quipped, “Well maybe it is because there is so much fertilizer on that grass….
Some of you know because you’ve been knee-deep in it.” He said they should be glad to be out of it.
“Don’t violate the boundaries. Stay in bounds.” “In a game, when you go out of bounds, it’s a foul.” He said your life should be more important than a sports game.
“There are barren times, but God said he will shield us, keep us in the barren times. You got to go through tests just like school…. How many times are you going to retake this test”?
“When you keep driving down the same street that has the same hole and you keep ruining your tires for the fourth time, youought to say there’s another street. You have to learn how to pass the test sothat you can advance. God allows us to go through tests to see if you’re ready to go to the next level…to go to the next dimension of your life….”
When you don’t feel like praying or go to church, he said the question is “will you trust God in the barrenness and still lift your head, still bless his name….? You got to know you’re in his hand and God is able to keep you.” Some, he said, “have too much evidence in your database to know he kept you…. You were suicidal, but he kept you. You didn’t have no money…were sick…didn’t know a way out, but he kept you.”
“If God kept you through your previous deserts, don’t you think he can keep you now”? God kept and sustained you, he said.
Father Pfleger made an altar call asking for those who want to be eagles to “fly”around the altar. As they walked around the altar waving their “wings,” (arms) as if they were eagles, Pfleger told them, “I’m flying higher,” he yelled as he too marched around the altar flapping his arms like a soaring eagle.
Telling them to keep flapping their arms, he asked the church to say, “I am not afraid of the process. I ain’t no turkey. I ain’t no chicken. I ain’t no buzzard. I am an eagle and the process will just force me to fly higher, higher…. “