A New Journey

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Photo Credit: thotprovokr via Compfight cc

Like the sighting of Halley’s Comet, this update has been a long time in coming. Nearly four months ago I told you about three words that would forever change my life, and the life of my family. Since that time much has happened. And while I’ve thought often to share aloud, I never could seem to form the words.

Suffice it to say over these past few months, life has continued forward; sometimes quick and easy and other times not so much. Had you asked me at the time of resigning my pastoral ministry what I thought I’d be doing next, I in no way would have come up with a story anywhere close to what’s actually happened.

I resigned February 5. My final Sunday at the church was April 7. May 6 I started a new job at our local coffee shop. At the time I knew this new opportunity wouldn’t be enough to pay the bills, yet it seemed right. From the moment I stepped around to the other side of the counter as a new employee, I knew this opportunity was God inspired. Functionally speaking I now had a job again. Beyond that however, I knew God was and is allowing me an opportunity where I can be in the thick of community. Then on June 10 I became the newest team member of the Brethren Church National Office staff, accepting a part-time position as Leadership Development Coordinator.

Without sounding too dramatic, this was the “thing” that I had resigned for; although at the time we weren’t even aware such an opportunity existed. I can only scratch the surface of imagining what our daily lives must look like to a God who is omniscient. All that we were unable to see in the moment of our current life situation, He’d already seen. He was leading us, and we were doing our level best to follow.

I remember when I accepted the position with the Brethren Office, thinking to myself, “this isn’t the end, it’s the beginning of a new journey.” It would have been easy for me to have considered all that we’d gone through, in a few short months, to get to this point, and to have considered ourselves finally having arrived. But we knew, my wife and I, that this was where the real work starts. This is where the story turns a page. And very much like the moment I resigned, or accepted the job at the coffee shop, I don’t have but the smallest glimpse of what will come next. However, I continue to remain resolute in the truth that I don’t have to know, because I have put my full stock in the God who’s already seen it all. He knows what’s to come, and that’s good enough for me.

So as we continue pressing forward into the future God is scripting for us, I leave you with an anthem of sorts…

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Normal?

normalthis thing of life is not such an easy thing to live when living is comprised of doing that which runs contrary to that which is normal. yet i question who determines normal? if normal is the goal, i failed somewhere along the way. but if it’s not the goal what is? and if it’s not the goal why do so many strive to accomplish it? considering goals, it seems to be that goals are the sort of thing one works long and hard to achieve and as such it comes at a great cost. a cost that some would deem too steep to pay. those are the ones who pull up short and worse yet, never begin at all. i don’t fancy myself that sort of a person, although this thing of achieving the goal is no doubt a thing of great difficulty; at least these days. i find that my inner self is at war fighting hard to define what normal ought to be. what it ought to look like, feel like, live like. am i called to live a normal life? no matter how much i might wish i were, i know i’m not. so why bother striving for that which i know isn’t the goal?

no. i very much would rather define the goal to be that which is greater than myself and my ability to achieve on my own accord. the goal ought to be that which when looked upon is summarized as anything but normal. it’s the sort of thing that takes more of you than you have. and yet that’s what i want to be found doing. it becomes the sort of thing that wrecks a day, but redeems a life.

i think very easily i could ball my fist and cast darts of anger at God for calling me to that which isn’t normal. and he’d be okay with that. he’d remind me that he’s big enough to take it; that he’s taken it from so many before me and he’s none the worse for the wear. i think he’d remind me that i’m called because he both knew the outcome and the joy that could be had in the journey despite the pain and heartache and doubt and questions and depression and fear and hopelessness and anger and the sense of lostness. he’d remind me that this call is greater than i am and that in my pocket of greatest weakness i’m actually at my point of greatest need. and when i’ve exhausted all other options i’d turn to him and he’d be there to fold strong hands around mine and strong arms around me and he’s breath a firm whisper in my ear that soaks deep into my heart reminding me that my Dad is Abba and he loves and cares of me his child. that he loves me to the point of calling me to that which isn’t normal because he knows that he didn’t create me to ever be normal.

as i daily contemplate the work of God in my life and as i strive to find myself faithful to the call he’s placed in my heart and the journey he’s set before me and my family, i’ve come to take great solace in the words of this song, claiming them as a psalm over this present reality of life.

A Wandering Journey of Sorts

Have you ever found yourself on a journey of sorts, but truth be told, you didn’t have much of a destination in mind? Rather you were just wandering around. Often in our college days my wife (although not married at the time) and I would do this very thing. We’d pile into the car and set off for unknown destinations. Driving around; or as we explained it, we were exploring Canton. More times than not, we’d set off on our mini-travel adventures later at night. I guess we thought we’d look less suspicious this way. I don’t really know. Those adventures produced some fond memories, and generally entertaining stories.

Lately, I’ve been feeling as though I’m again on one of those late night wandering adventures. At least spiritually speaking. As I really can’t pinpoint a moment in time this all began, I’ll just say for a while now I’ve been wandering around the spiritual landscape of who God is trying to lead me to be. I say “trying” not to suggest that God is struggling to lead, rather I’m not always apt to going in the ways he directs.

Lately I’ve been finding that my perspective on things is shifting…

Lately I’ve found that the pool of like minded people I swim with is less and less…

Lately I’ve been looking at the whole of life differently, wondering about what’s truly important and what is not necessarily so…

Lately I’ve found my nose in books I’d never given the time of day just a year or so ago, but now I can’t read them fast enough…

Lately I’ve been spending my time thinking about the way things are and the way things ought to be according to the true dichotomy of God, verse the dichotomy of God we produce of our own making but claim as his…

Lately I’ve found myself challenged in my thinking, acting, speaking and living, and to be honest, I’m not sure what to do with it all…

Lately I’ve been trying to find any good excuse to not share the journey, but I continue to come up empty in the excuse department; thus I share…

I realize this may seem a bit abrupt. Truth be told, I think I’ve been using my Project 365 as a way to avoid a deeper level of sharing. After all, blogging is such an interesting bird. I’m someone who needs the space to process out loud, and I like to share and explore within community. It’s how I learn best. Yet, there is something that seems so very narcissistic about blogging about myself, my thoughts, my feelings, my processing.

I don’t know what the right answer is. Or if there even is a “right” answer. But I do think the days of keeping my thoughts mostly to myself or more behind me than anything else.

So I’ll leave you here with a quote. These words are the whole reason this post and likely many others even exist. These are the words that have pushed me over the edge.

We live in a culture of sickening consumption and self-indulgence, that masks the starvation of our souls by filling us up with things that will never satisfy but keep us from realizing our desperate need for the true Bread of life.

-Jamie Arpin-Ricci in The Cost of Community

I just can’t read a statement like that and continue on about my day as if I’m somehow no different than I was a moment ago. I can’t possibly keep those words from making a scar on my heart. I can’t keep my mind from jumping straight to the things cluttering my Christmas Wish List. I can’t help but think about my Compassion child who I’ve not written in months. I can’t be the same person I was prior to reading those words. I don’t want to be that person, but now what? What’s the next move? And the move after that… and after that?

What a wondering journey of sorts I find myself on.