January 18, 2020

Oh. Hello there.


Yes, it’s January. Yes, this blog post is going to be about November. Yes, there’s a decent duration of time between those two things.


But one of the many things I have decided since starting BSSM is that I don’t do shame. So stop trying that on me 😉


I promise I did start writing this in early December, but somehow time just slipped away. I suppose more of that can be discussed in my already-late post about December.


All that to say, this blog post is going to be written as if December hadn’t been completed and January hadn’t started yet. Think of it as a time machine, back to sometime around early December. Exciting, right? Bet you didn’t think you’d be time travelling when you clicked on this post. 


Ok then... Ready to go? Press that button over there, and let's go back…


- Cue very realistic time machine noises -


What. To. Write about.


Three months? Really? 


It just feels impossible. Was it really only three months ago that I stepped into the Redding Civic Auditorium for the first time, wide-eyed and completely mystified at this breed of Christian I was far less prepared for than I expected? That I went to that pool party to meet with my Revival Group for the first time, and somehow left without meeting some of the people who have now become some of my closest friends?


It also feels like three months is some laughable mid-estimation because of how much I feel I’ve changed. In fact, trying to sum up this month alone feels rather daunting:


The love of God and how little I understand it.


Why risk feels more and more like an essential lifeline.


How God is not a puzzle to be solved.


Worship nights & pillow fights.


Stars & guitars.


The deliciousness of truth.


How does one talk about all of these things in a single blog? Or how does one choose one thing to properly expound? 


Oh well. Life is too short to be perfect. Let’s just pick one, shall we? Let’s talk about relationships.


No, no, not THAT kind. It’s still the first half of the year, and it’s been made pretty plain that dating relationships really kick into gear after Christmas. Perhaps I’ll talk about it more then. For now, let’s talk about Jesus relationships, and how I’ve come to value my own more deeply than ever before.


So. The greatest part of BSSM is Jesus. The second greatest part is the people. Yes, the leaders, but also my classmates. They are incredibly diverse, from tons of countries and a thousand different family, cultural, and religious backgrounds.


And, let’s just be real, different people can make you uncomfortable. Or, ya know, offend you. 


Such was my experience with one classmate in particular. My knee-jerk reaction to him was to suspect him, feeling concerned that he was pretending or acting to gain approval from the rest of us students, rather than operating out of a real, honest-to-goodness relationship with Jesus.


I know none of you have ever made snap judgements, but it turns out I’m not immune to them.


Anyways, after I actually took the time to get to know him, my attitude shifted completely. I recognized that he actually carried things in God I didn’t, and I started being intentional about honouring him and learning all I could from him. I quickly counted him as a friend, and looked forward to hanging out with him.


Then, a couple months later, I felt something shift again. A vague, unsettled, uneasiness came over me whenever he was around. I would find myself getting irritated or frustrated without any obvious stimulant. I started mentally and Spiritually distancing myself from him, filtering what he said and not allowing it to easily impact me. And so, I started asking questions. Of myself and of Jesus.


Was this my discernment kicking into gear, warning me against an unsafe person? Was this arrogance on my part? Some sort of insecurity?


Spoiler: it wasn’t discernment.


It was certainly a more involved process than I’ll delve into here and now, but what I came to realize was that my feelings really had nothing to do with my classmate, other than perhaps his behaviour causing my brokenness to bubble up to the surface.


What I came to recognize was that I was comparing my personal relationship with God to my classmate’s relationship with God, and coming to the conclusion that mine was somehow less-than, lacking, insufficient, and thereby raising my insecurity level. After all, I have never related to God in some of the ways he did, ever; that must mean he is further along in God and I am dragging behind, right?


As with most types of comparison, this was already causing relational distance between us, though he hadn’t done a thing wrong. And then I felt God step into the scene and start to guide me into a few fresh understandings.


First, He helped me realize how futile this comparison to my classmate was. After all, I’m also in an environment with people I consider to be absolute giants in the “Kingdom of God,” such Bill Johnson and Kris Vallotton. That must mean I’m behind them too, right? Which one is the one I should most compare myself to? Whom should I try to emulate most closely? With whom should I feel the most insecure when examining my relationship with Jesus?


Then I felt Jesus say something so simple and yet, for me, so revolutionary:


“I don’t want you to be like him.”


Oh right. I seem to remember something like that... God created us unique on purpose.


I don’t suppose I had really forgotten that fact, but it had somehow just slipped too far into the background.

That thought led to another:


The fact that I was insecure in my relationship with God revealed a lack of trust in God. I realize that might seem like a bit of a jump, but hear me out:


Really, part of what I was saying in deciding my relationship with God was inferior to my classmate’s was “God, I don’t trust the way You are leading our relationship. Clearly we are supposed to look like that over there, and we don’t, and I don’t know how to get there, so the problem is that You haven’t showed me how.”


Mhmm. That’s for real. 


And then we went deeper still. I felt God essentially ask me if, given the opportunity, I would trade my relationship with God for my classmate’s, or, for that matter, Bill Johnson’s. If it was possible, would I simply switch my relationship with God for what I apparently deemed to be a better relationship with Him?


The answer I came to and will cling to until the day I die is “no.” I have become convinced that there is no single thing more important or valuable to me than my relationship with God.


Because if you step back and think about it, any relationship is based on history, whether it's moments, months, or decades. And the history I have with God is something I realized I wouldn’t give up for anything. Thus, the relationship with God that that history has created is the most valuable thing I have.


From my 6-year old self praying some sort of salvation prayer I only just barely understood to my 12-year old self beginning to journal my endless prayers that the Ottawa Senators would win the Stanley Cup (apparently I need more faith).


From an experience at a youth conference at age 17 that convinced me anew that God was real and that He was the only thing worth chasing for the rest of my life to brutally hard seasons that made me question almost everything about my life. From wild nights of worship at youth church to solitary nights in my parents backyard under a moonlit night with nothing but a guitar and my untrained voice.


From the mountaintops to the darkest valleys. My victories and my defeats. My failures, successes. From the childish hopes and dreams that have long since melted away to the ones that have persisted, and the new ones. From my uncertain decision to take Computer Science in college to the jobs that seemed to fall into my lap afterward.


And, most recently, this journey to and through BSSM in Redding California. 


Would I trade that? Would I trade the history that my relationship with God is built on? 


No. Not for all the money in the world or my name in the brightest lights or the most glorious leadership position in the grandest organization. Not for anything or anyone. 


My relationship with God is the most valuable thing I have. It is unique and beautiful and unlike anything anyone has seen before.


This is how it’s supposed to be. It’s how it was always supposed to be.


God creates billions of people and yearns for unique, individual, personal relationships with each one of them, somehow reserving a little special slice of Himself for each person that no one else gets to see in quite the same way.


My relationship with God is something no one else could ever have. It’s all my own, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. And I am so thankful for fellow classmates who relate to God so radically differently from me that I am forced to realize that.


Truly, the most valuable thing I have is my own relationship with God.