I pulled out of my parent’s driveway that day with a lump in my throat, a spring in my step, and hope in my heart.
I thought back over the past couple of weeks. To my last group gathering with the Cornwall crew, after which I took stock of where all of our group was or would be going.
Ireland. New Brunswick. Australia. Portland. Though not part of that friend group, I also had family in South Africa and Malawi at the time. And then there was me, preparing to load up my little car with all (or at least most) of the stuff I needed to jump start a temporary life in California. It just seems crazy how geographically diverse my friends and family have become. Maybe this is part of the “going into the nations” that Jesus talked about?
I thought back to creativity sessions with my little sister while she was in Cornwall, which have quickly become one of my favourite things to do while we’re together. I thought about her genius repeating of a super appropriate Winnie the Pooh quote in response to my musings about my imminent departure:
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
Thanks for the endless well of wisdom, little sister!
I thought back to my last meetup with two of my closest friends, Josh & Josh, filled with the requisite youtube videos, church talk, future plans, and prayer. As always, I left with a well-fed soul, feeling like a ship that just caught the perfect gust of wind, sent gently but firmly with a beautifully aligned trajectory. Friends like these will make you stand up taller and straighter, and fill you with confidence.
I thought to my last time with a small group of young worship leaders, and prayed again that what I started would grow far beyond my wildest dreams.
I thought back to the last campfire at my house, the light sources limited to a torch, dying embers, and the occasional flash of distant lightning as I strummed my friend’s ukulele and let my voice fill the night air with words of hope and heaven.
I thought back to the countless, seemingly endless goodbyes. Some of them surprisingly easy, and some of them equally surprisingly difficult. I thought about how there isn’t any perfect way to say goodbye, and about the people I didn’t get to see before I left. I thought about how I had learned that frantically trying to check off all the boxes wasn’t the best way to enjoy my dwindling time at home, and instead to let the stress roll off and simply enjoy every moment as best I could, even if I didn’t get coffee with every one of my friends or do all of the Canadian things.
I thought about my last service at my home church, the one I had attended since it started some 16 years ago. Certainly I had visited other churches in that time, but, my goodness, it was going to be a strange thing for me to attend another church on a weekly basis.
I thought about some of my last moments packing, running around my house collecting last-minute things, and thought about how God had been preparing too. He hadn’t been idle. He had already gone before me, thoughtfully planned out every aspect of my learning and growing during this time at Bethel’s school, and even on my road trip to California. As excited as I was to arrive, God was probably even more so, more excited to start revealing all the things He’d been preparing for so long than I was to see them.
I thought with excitement and anticipation about the road ahead, the days of driving through the beauty of Canada and spending time with my dad. I thought about the rockies that I would be driving through later in the week, their towering peaks filling anyone around with an undeniable sense of awe.
Jump forward almost two weeks, and I was driving again, only things were a little bit different.
I had finally changed the time zone in my car, along with my watch and phone. The digital speedometer in my car was now reading in miles, as was my phone’s GPS, and my passport was stamped. British Columbia, Washington State, and the city of Portland were somewhere off in the distance of my rear view mirror, and I had just seen the sign.
On the right, the sign read 122, now a measurement of miles instead of kilometers. On the left, in all caps, a simple word that managed to make me feel all sorts of jittery butterflies: “REDDING.”
I breathed in deeply and definitely didn’t start tearing up or anything.
God is so good and so Faithful and so gracious and so kind. To bring me safely across much of the continent to a beautiful city to fill me up with all sorts of Spiritual goodness over the next nine months… It’s hard to contain the thankfulness. I suppose maybe that’s the point.
“Bridges & Hearts.” “The Cool Kids.” Harvest Christian Fellowship. My house, my job, my cat, my friends and family. So many things left behind, if only for a time, and really a rather short time in the big scheme of things. Somehow, in that moment at least, it didn’t seem so hard.
I kept driving through the night, feeling like I was swimming in the goodness of God.
Since then, I’ve attended a Bethel church service, attended three different sessions of school worship team auditions, met with my “Revival Group” (a group of 70-ish students intended to build community outside of the massive 1200-person main sessions), and planned out my first adventure to the nature surrounding Redding.
I know that Bethel isn’t perfect. Redding isn’t perfect. The school isn’t perfect. But I will say that I feel an immense sense of peace and joy, and it seems like every day holds some brand new revelation of how good God is, every time in corporate worship deeper than I feel I’ve gone in years.
Maybe this won’t last the whole nine months, but for now, I’m gonna enjoy the moment.
So yeah. I guess I'd say Bethel is pretty darn neat. More updates to follow 😊
Why I’m Leaving Canada, Part 2
What’s that, you say? You say it’s bad form to publish the first of a two-part blog post and then go silent for three months?
Yep. You’re probably right. Sorry about that. Turns out life gets busy when you’re trying to move to a different country.
Anyways, I promise to dig into more of the meat of the reasons I’m leaving Canada in this blog post. I suppose if you just read my last post, you’d probably think leaving would be the last thing I would want to do.
So. Why am I paying a bunch of money to leave my hometown, my house, my friends and family, my job, and my church for 10 months?
There’s a few reasons, but I think to give context to the rest of this blog post, I should start off by directly stating the context by which all of the other reasons start to make sense:
I believe in this Jesus stuff. I actually believe there’s a real, honest-to-goodness God that created all of humanity. I believe in a real heaven and a real hell. And I believe that God puts people on earth for a reason. I think the only reason I’m still sucking air is that God hasn’t run out of use for me down here; otherwise He might as well just take me now.
I also believe that one’s life is most fulfilling when it is lived most aligned to God’s plan.
None of any of this makes sense without that. I would be rather insane to do what I’m doing without that belief.
Anyways, with that out of the way, let’s get into some specifics:
I’m leaving Canada to get equipped.
I don’t know what my life looks like after I’m done at Bethel. I’ve described it a few times now as an all-consuming black hole of mystery; you can throw whatever ideas you want at it, but you’re still no closer to actually knowing anything. Maybe I move to a different country and start working at a church full time. Or maybe I move right back to my hometown, resume work at my current job as a software developer, and continue helping around at my church in a similar capacity to what I do now.
But regardless of what my 9-5 job is, I believe that life after Bethel involves “more” in the realm of “Kingdom-building,” to use a Christian-eze expression which I would condense down to meaning simply more of Jesus and what He does in the lives of the people around me, from handing out purpose and meaning to leading people into healing and freedom; life to the full, you might say.
As involved as I may be right now in “building the Kingdom” through my local church, I believe God has way more for me to do; more discipling, more pouring into people, more seeing people healed and set free, more city-level transformation, more of simply seeing human beings encounter the eternity-altering love of Jesus. I don’t believe there’s a better use of one’s life than using it to help lead people who are far from God even just a few steps closer.
But all of that “more” also requires “more” from me.
More capacity to love and lead people. More of an attentive ear to what Jesus is saying in every moment of every day. More obedience, especially when it’s hard or uncomfortable. More skill in the gifts and talents God has already given me that I know I need to hone more. More understanding in theology and doctrine and more grounding in my Faith. More confidence in who God has created me to be, and more understanding of who that even is.
Like one would go to college before starting a career, I want to get trained and taught so I am ready (or at least, as ready as one can be) for whatever God has for me next. I want to have my tool belt well-stocked. I want to be prepared for anything.
That’s reason number one. Reason number two is this:
I’m moving to California for clarity.
Like I said, I don’t know what my life looks like after Bethel, or two years after that, or five years after that. And I’m not saying that I’ll absolutely come back from Redding with a crystal-clear game plan for the rest of my life, but I do think it’s sometimes very hard to hear God’s voice for the bigger picture type stuff when you’re down in the daily grind.
So one of my hopes for this adventure is that it gives space for Jesus to talk in ways that I may not be letting him in my current, comfortable environment. For Him to bring some measure of clarity into my future.
Psalm 119:105 was one of the first Bible verses I memorized as a kid growing up:
Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path
I like this verse because it assumes the reader realizes that the path is dark. No apologies for that; it’s just the nature of the path we walk. But God’s word illuminates it, and helps us understand where the next step is. That’s what I hope I’ll gain from my time at Bethel.
And I think sometimes you only get just enough light for one step at a time. I believe going to Bethel’s school is my next step, and I’m grateful for that measure of light. That’s the only step I can see right now, but I believe that as I take it, the light will shift a little farther down the path, and I’ll be able to see what comes next at the right time.
And who knows? I’m certainly not banking on it, but maybe my time at Bethel will allow God the space He needs to cast a full-on floodlight on His large-scale vision for the rest of my life.
I’m not sure what I’m going to be paid for during the next 30 years, but I know what I want to be known for, and it’s not developing software.
Ok, so that’s reason number two: space to hear God’s voice for what comes next. Let’s move on to number three:
I am going to Bethel’s school for discomfort. That might seem a bit strange so let me explain:
I own a house in Cornwall. I work at a job that is amazing (or at least I do for the next three days). I attend a church that I love, and serve in capacities that give me true joy alongside people that I genuinely love and respect.
And as great as all this is, I realize that if I’m not careful, I could settle in and do the exact same things for the next twenty years, and I believe that would come up short of what God has planned for me.
So I want to stay unsettled, and I think a very practical (if not drastic) way to do that is by completely blowing up my environment, so to speak, and seeing where the pieces fall.
Maybe it’ll lead to discovering brand new endeavours that end up becoming core components of who I am in the years ahead. Maybe it will make me even more confident in the things I was already involved in as they end up falling right back into my lap without me putting any effort into it. Maybe it will reveal limitations I was unwittingly living under because of the people and environment that surround me. Maybe it will lead to discovering that some responsibilities I thought I loved don’t give me as much life as I had believed when the expectation to fulfill them is removed.
I certainly don’t know what it looks like, but maybe it will be not playing drums on the worship team (though, full disclosure, I am absolutely auditioning for that). Maybe it’s trying something I’ve always been interested in but never had the time, space, or opportunity to pursue fully. Maybe it looks like discovering a love for something I’ve never imagined myself doing because someone who sees me in a way no one else has before encourages me towards it.
Sure, none of that will be particularly comfortable at the time, but I whole-heartedly believe the benefits of discovering more completely who God made me to be far outweigh any costs of temporary discomfort. The risk of staying comfortable is, for me, far too great.
Well. I guess that kinda sums it up.
I am leaving Canada to invest in my ability to build the Kingdom. I am leaving Canada as a next step, not exactly knowing what comes after it but trusting it will become clear at the right time. And I am leaving Canada as part of my continual efforts to avoid becoming settled.
And yes, in case you were wondering, I am outrageously excited for this upcoming Jesus adventure of epic proportions. 😊
I am excited to meet new friends who will sharpen me in new ways. I’m excited to interact with new leaders who, I hope, will challenge and push me in fresh and unexpected directions. I’m excited for the fresh slate that a new schedule and a new routine bring. I’m excited about learning more of the logic and rationale behind the Faith that I was born into; I certainly don’t want to ever be at risk of being a mindless Christian.
And, let’s be real, I’m super excited to pack up my Mini Cooper until it’s bursting at the seams and road trip across the continent.
I suppose the simple appeal of a new adventure is one more reason why I'm leaving Canada.
Why I'm Leaving Canada
Yes, my dear friends and family; in case the news has yet to reach you, I will be leaving my hometown of Cornwall as well as my home and native land of Canada this upcoming August, and moving to Redding, California for about 9 months to go to Bethel Church’s “School of Supernatural Ministry.”
Yep. I know it’s a little crazy.
So I figured I’d throw up a blog post explaining some of the thoughts and reasons behind this crazy adventure I’m embarking on. But first, I thought I’d start with some things that are not reasons I’m doing this. So, let’s get started:
I’m not leaving because I hate Cornwall.
I hear a lot of people talk badly about Cornwall. I recognize it’s not the Garden of Eden or the epicentre of all things bright and beautiful in the world (I’d argue Redding is probably pretty close to that 😉), but I actually really like Cornwall. Honestly. Maybe it’s because I was born here and am, by nature, a loyal person, but I also think that people tend to always think the grass is greener on the other side, rather than focusing on watering their side of the fence. Life after Bethel is very much a mysterious black box to me, but my current plan is to move right back to Cornwall and throw myself into whatever role I have of continuing to see the city transformed. I am not leaving because I hate Cornwall.
I’m not leaving because I hate Canada or have gotten tired of it’s winters.
I’m guessing most people reading this know this about me, but the fact that I will miss out a Canadian winter because of this move is 100% a sacrifice, not a perk. I absolutely love Canada, and everything it is. I love snowboarding down a long, meandering slope, or playing ice hockey with neighbour kids at the local rink. I love sipping on a hot cup of something delicious while watching the snow gently fall outside. I love that feeling you get when the snow first starts to fall and you know you can finally listen to Christmas music without feeling weird about it. I love bundling up and tromping around some snow-covered winter wonderland with a group of friends, and then following it up by piling inside, starting a fire in a wood stove, mixing up some hot chocolate, and sitting down to a long afternoon of board games. I am not leaving because I’ve grown tired of Canada or its winters.
I’m not moving because of relational issues.
To start with, let me state plainly that this past year has been the most challenging of my life. Period. Full stop. The primary reason for this is because of some really hard relational circumstances. I have never felt more hurt, frustrated, or downright confused when it comes to relationships than this past year.
But that’s still not the reason I’m leaving. There’s no one I’m running away from, no situation I’m trying to hide from. And it’s not because all of these issues have been totally resolved and wrapped up. They are definitely better than they have been, but not to the extent where I could confidently say that everything will be smooth sailing from here. I will admit that I tend to shy away from conflict, but I absolutely do not believe running from these things is going to solve anything. If anything, I would be more inclined to try to force some sort of resolution of these situations before I leave, but I also don’t think that’s the best approach.
All that to say, I am trusting God with these relationships. I don’t know what they are supposed to look like by the time I leave in August, and I don’t know what they’re supposed to look like when I come back, or three years after that. But I’m not running away from them. I am simply placing them in God’s hands, and trusting that He will take care of what it’s supposed to look like before, during, and after my time in Redding. I’m not moving because of relational issues.
I’m not leaving because I’m frustrated with my church.
No church is perfect. If you go to church, I guarantee it’s not perfect because, spoiler alert, you aren’t perfect. My church isn’t perfect either. There are things about it I wish were different or better, and even some non-core beliefs that I still have a hard time getting totally on board with.
But all of those things are small and pretty insignificant when compared to how much I absolutely love my church and what it’s doing. I believe in Harvest Christian Fellowship perhaps more than I ever have before. It actually feels a bit frustrating that I can’t responsibly get much more involved than I am, seeing as I will be leaving relatively soon. I love the people, and the direction we’re going.
On a related note, I’d like to believe I have always valued the opportunity to play drums as part of worship for the church, but having the context of leaving in a few months makes me treasure the opportunities I have to lead my friends in worship that much more. Smashing animal skins and metal disks as we build into a crescendoing chorus of worship and being able to look out a group of family and friends all connecting with Jesus, is something I hope I will never take for granted.
I plan on auditioning for the worship team for Bethel’s school, and I really hope I get in. It would be an incredible privilege and opportunity to help lead worship for hundreds of my fellow students in an atmosphere I am sure will be charged with excitement and passion. I think it's safe to say there will be more people in a larger auditorium that will be, on average, more engaged with the worship when compared to my home church. If I do end up getting to drum for worship during school, it would be incredibly exciting.
But it won't be the same. Nothing could possibly replace knowing the people you are helping to lead in worship. And I know the people in my church.
He used to be an atheist. They are still trying to figure out if they believe in this Jesus stuff. She lost her dad. They’ve known me and my family since before I could talk. They had a miscarriage. He’s been trying to find a job. They are holding their miracle baby. I teach him drums every week.
That might end up being the thing I miss the most when I'm gone. Again, drumming in larger contexts always brings with it a measure of extra excitement, but I know it won’t be able to replace looking at faces that I know the stories behind while I help lead them in worship. I’m not going to Bethel because I’m looking for a more grandiose worship drumming experience.
And, of course, my church is far from just a place I get to help lead worship at. It is moving. It's expanding. People in my hometown of Cornwall are encountering Jesus like never before in my church.
People who were staunch atheists a couple of years ago are helping greet people at the door. Broken and insecure people are finding community and real relationships in small groups. Lives are being changed and transformed. And I truly believe it's just the beginning.
Like I said, I think I may believe in my church more now than I ever have, which makes it that much harder to think about leaving. I am not leaving because I’m frustrated with my church.
I’m not going because I dislike my job.
Ok, so I don’t really like commuting from Cornwall to Ottawa every workday, but that is, by far, the worst part of my job. I enjoy the kind of work I do, I enjoy my coworkers, and the company certainly provides more benefits than I could reasonably expect at most other places. I’m aware of that. Nav Canada is a pretty awesome place to work.
They are even cool enough to give me a sabbatical for this crazy schooling in California, so I might just keep on working at Nav Canada when I’m done my year of schooling. Or I might find a different software development job in Cornwall. Or maybe God will call me to an entirely different type of job in Cornwall. Or maybe God will call me to somewhere else entirely. Like I said, I actually have no idea what comes after Bethel, but I’m not leaving because I’m try to escape my job.
And, no, I’m not going to find a wife.
Ok, so I want to get married. Duh. Most people do. And if you’ve been around the Christian world long enough you have probably heard some jokes about “Bible College” being more like “Bridal College.” It kinda makes sense, really. Logically speaking, most people attending a Bible school are going to be absolutely sold-out for Jesus, and almost certainly looking for a spouse with the same passion. I know I am. So it actually makes a lot of sense that people would find their eventual spouses in a Bible College-like setting.
All that to say, there is a better overall probability of me finding a wife hanging out at Bethel’s school for 9 months than staying in Cornwall. That’s just statistics for you, just straight math. And, obviously, it would be an amazing bonus if that was part of the result. It would be way worth the cost of tuition and living expenses and not working full time for 9 months if it ended with me meeting my eventual wife. But I (mostly) trust God’s timing with this area, and I know that God isn’t limited by any sort of setting. Maybe He will use Bethel’s school as a context for me meeting my wife, but He could also make it happen at my home church this weekend if He wanted.
So finding a wife isn’t the reason I’m going to California. Put another way, I would still be going if Bethel’s school separated the genders, such that there wasn’t any interaction between guys and girls and thus no chance of me finding a wife there. I am not going to Bethel’s school to find a wife.
So why am I going?
Well, that's a reasonable question, but it looks like I've already used up the acceptable word count for one of my blog posts, so I think I'll leave you hanging and make this a two-parter. I promise next time I'll give you the list of things that are reasons I'm going!
Before me stands a raging river. The steep cliff where my foot would fall if I took one more step confirms that the water here has run long, slowly cutting out chasm that now blocks my path.
The other side calls to me. Beyond the river are dreams, hopes, the future I know God has built into the timeline of my life, shaded and mysterious though it may be.
I’ve paced this side of the river for a long time. Long enough that it’s hard to truly know how much time has passed. Weeks? Months? Years? It all blends together.
Yes, I’ve been pacing and pondering for awhile now. Trying to figure out a way across the river, to the grand future I know awaits me.
I glance to my right. There’s the bridge, of course, but it’s not safe. In stark contrast to a bridge that might try to appear safe but sways uneasily when you decide to trust it; this one makes no attempt to disguise its weathered and broken boards. There are gaps between the footholds, each one with a story to tell that might very well all end with some poor, weary traveller’s last step.
No, this bridge is not safe. But it seems I am left with no other options. It appears to be the only path. The only way from where I am to where I know I’m supposed to be.
I take a couple steps back from the cliff’s edge and start walking again, slowly, meandering in the direction of the rickety old bridge. It’s ironic, really.
I’ve talked about this exact bridge before. I’ve made it a point to speak to new and younger Christians about its importance. I’ve written blogs about it before. I’ve literally preached about it’s necessity in a Christian’s life.
And yet here I stand, somehow hesitant to take that first step.
As I near the bridge my eyes are drawn up. There’s a simple, equally-battered sign attached to the start of the footbridge, crooked and barely still attached after all these years. It reads simply enough, only containing a single word:
I grimace as I slow to a stop in front of it, the word echoing around my head.
I think through the endless Christian-ize, the kind of stuff I’ve heard preached from a stage and echoed in my own conversations with people.
“Find a good Christian friend you can do life with.”
“Having a good mentor to speak into your life is essential.”
“The Christian life isn’t mean to be lived alone; get in a good community of Jesus-followers.”
I believe that stuff. I really do. So why does it feel like I’ve failed? Why does it feel like I actually have very few people, outside my family, who really, truly know me? Who know my hopes and dreams, my fears and failures, my craziest ideas of what God might want me to do?
I‘ve got my excuses. Perhaps guessing you can relate.
I’ve tried to share dreams and been met with skeptical questions and flat-out laughter.
I’ve assumed this kind of thing gets resolved once you get married.
It pains me to say it, but I’ve looked longingly at other communities that appear to have the depth I crave, compared their members to the people around me, and somehow deemed my own friends as not good enough. I’ve arrogantly thought of myself as being above those around me, and thus, naturally, not able to be encouraged and challenged by them.
And I’ve thought myself above the need for others as a collective idea. After all, truly being open and honest with a friend is what you do when you’re really messed up. Needing other people is for those that aren’t strong enough to make it on their own… Right?
But here, on the wrong side of where I feel called to, all of the excuses fall flat.
Sure, laughter hurts. It always does a little. But not everyone’s default stance is to be critical, and laughter can’t hurt as much as much as wasted potential.
If I’m honest, I’m still hoping that a marriage relationship helps a bit, but it seems a little silly to wait around for that.
And the thinking that one needs a certain caliber of people around them before it’s worth investing in their community? Let’s spend a bit of time debunking that one.
I think the easiest example to pull from is from the life of David. I’m guessing even those of you who don’t have a background in religion at least know a bit about this guy. Killed Goliath, ruled as king for 40 years, and conquered a ton of enemy territory in the process. Pretty famous guy, Biblically and historically speaking.
But before he was a king, he was hanging out in a cave. And people start gathering around him. Only these aren’t the high-rollers or the guys winning the strongmen competitions. 1 Samuel 22:2 starts off like this:
“All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him”
Cool. So we got the distressed, the indebted, and the discontented. The people who we literally running away from their problems. In other words: the losers.
But the verse goes on:
“… and he became their commander. About four hundred men were with him”
So he’s got 400 of these losers. But I think it’s interesting that the Bible describes David as becoming their commander.
David was more than just some random guy wandering the wilderness who just happened to attract other aimless souls. He became their commander. That speaks of organization. That speaks of order. That speaks of an army.
David takes the losers around him, and turns them into an army. They are more than a little hesitant to actually act on their newfound identity (1 Samuel 23:3), but when they do, it’s an undeniable success (1 Samuel 23:5). The Bible records this number of vagrants growing over David’s time in the wilderness, and most Biblical historians would agree that the top-ranking men of this band of misfits ends up being known as David’s “Mighty Men” during his time as King.
David took a bunch of puny, scared weaklings who are running away from their problem and turns them into a growing army of mighty men that history still reveres.
Maybe it’s normal to compare your own friend group to other groups. Maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s an awfully disloyal thing to do. I know I truly do have some awesome friends, but even if they were a bunch of homeless, aimless, visionless and broken cast-aways, a leader like David would see their potential to become an army. I want to see the potential in those around me. I want to stop whining about the state of my community and start investing in changing it. And who knows? Maybe the truth is that I am one of those losers, wandering around looking for a leader who will believe in me. But I sure hope I’ve got enough David in me to stop putting all my hope in that.
The funny thing is, I think everyone wants this. I think everyone wants to be known, to have someone truly understand their innermost thoughts and desires, and to do the same for those around them. I think everyone wants a cheerleader, and to have someone else to cheer for. But someone has to take that first step and decide to invest in it, with nothing more than hope that those around them will jump in.
I place my right foot up onto the bridge, and slowly ease my weight onto it. As I expected, it gives a little as I increase the pressure, but holds fast when I lift up my left foot and commit.
I’m here, now, on the bridge. I breathe deeply and take another step, gingerly easing forward, bracing myself for a sudden snap beneath me. But I keep moving.
This isn’t safe. There aren’t guarantees.
Actually, scratch that: on second thought, there are a few things you can count on.
You’ll get hurt. You’ll get frustrated. You’ll misunderstand and be misunderstood. Sometimes, you’ll part ways with people you’ve invested blood, sweat, and tears in.
But, to address my final excuse, I now see that needing people is not, in fact an indication of failure or weakness. Needing others is not solely or even primarily the means for getting back on track after making a mess big enough you can’t clean it up on your own (though, speaking from personal experience, it is absolutely beautiful at that too). It’s not an optional path for those who prefer it.
Rather, I am coming to believe that needing others indicates a willingness to do whatever it takes to advance. To get to the next level. To be free and whole and ever more suitable for the mission that I believe God’s placed me on earth for.
Deciding to need others is an unavoidable, irreplaceable, integral part of the journey from where you are to where God’s called you. It’s the only way across. There’s no skipping in line, no jumping past this part, no shortcuts. You can either stay on this side of the river forever, or give in to trusting the rickety, unsteady bridge.
I’m starting to think the level of freedom and potential in one’s life might be directly related to their willingness to be honest with other people. To their commitment to knowing and being known by others.
Maybe. Maybe not. Either way, I’ve decided I want — no, need — radical community. I want dangerous togetherness. I want to be uncomfortably known. I’m coming to believe it’s worth the risk.
I don’t really know what that looks like. I have no doubt I’ll fail, and I’ll probably pick up some scars along the way. Heck, I’ve already accomplished that and that was before I put a foot up on the bridge.
But I’ve decided I want to live inside an open, honest, safe, authentic, encouraging and challenging culture, and I want it badly enough that I’ll do what I can to be the start.
The bridge shifts as I take another step...
Where do you find God?
Do you find Him in the Bible? In your bedtime prayers?
Do you find Him in a cup of coffee, or a cup of tea? Maybe you find Him in a song, or a book. Maybe you see Him in a sunrise, or a waning moon.
Maybe you find Him under a layer of dirt, or under the crushing waves of the ocean. Maybe you find Him in the noise, or in the silence. In the crowd or in isolation.
Maybe you see Him best on the mountaintop, or maybe you find Him in the valleys. Maybe you’ve seen Him in the desert, or played with Him in the beauty of a waterfall.
Maybe you’ve seen Him in a storm, or in the beauty of utter stillness. In the beauty of falling snow, or in the dusty streets of a rural, impoverished village.
Have you found Him in a friend? How about in an enemy? You’ve probably seen Him in a leader, but how about in one of your followers?
The morning? The evening? The dead of night?
Do you find God in the much-needed relaxation of a vacation? Or maybe you’ve found Him in what feels like the mundane day-to-day.
In a healing, or in the process before?
Maybe you find God in the celebration of a prayer answered, or in the honest venting of frustration at answers delayed.
There’s a billion places you could find God. That’s one of the great things about Him. What to one person might be a casual, every-day happening might spark the greatest revelation about Jesus someone else has ever received.
In my opinion, one sign of maturing in Jesus is learning how to adapt how you find Him.
When I was in my teens, the most consistent place for me to find Jesus was by myself in worship. In my room listening to “Delirious?” albums, in my parent’s basement strumming on a guitar, or wandering in my moonlit backyard with a ukulele. I found God on many of those nights.
Now don’t get me wrong, I still think personal worship times with Jesus are absolutely irreplaceable. But that isn’t usually the way that I connect to Jesus on a deep level anymore.
These days, worshipping with a group of people, memorizing a Bible verse (who knew that could be so good? Seriously, try that instead of your daily chapter sometime), or sitting at Starbucks with a grande Cinnamon Almond Macchiato and journaling thoughts and streams that I myself don’t even understand are the main avenues that I find connect me with Jesus like nothing else.
I suppose my point is this:
Try something new.
Steep yourself a cup of tea and hide away in your room for an evening. Go for a walk out in the falling snow, maybe even without your phone. Take up gardening. Write down all the ways you’re frustrated with Him. Write down all the ways He’s come through for you in the last year. Write down all the things you’re believing Him for. Step into that thing you’ve always felt both pulled towards and terrified of. That might be the place He meets you.
Embrace the storm, and learn how to let the waves propel you instead of crush you. You might just find Jesus wandering around on those same waves.