A Journey To Relationship
- 1 A Journey To Relationship
- 1.1 The Tipping Point (May 10, 2012)
- 1.2 Refocusing (May 11, 2012)
- 1.3 Crazy Love (May 12, 2012)
- 1.4 Prayer and Planning (May 14, 2012)
- 1.5 How Far Would You Go? (May 15, 2012)
- 1.6 Discovering Sonship (May 16, 2012)
- 1.7 Celebration (May 17, 2012)
- 1.8 Homeless (May 19, 2012)
- 1.9 The End is the Beginning (May 20, 2012)
- 1.10 Buy a Real Book!
- 1.11 Continue Reading…
Somewhere in between the morning of the last journal entry and 4:00 pm when I began to drive west, I made a decision that has changed the course of my life. Its implications are just beginning to emerge and its impact has not faded. The following pages describe a journey to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado where this book found its beginning and where I discovered the treasure it is meant to share.
Because of the love I had come to know over the past year, my life had completely changed. I had dedicated everything I had to serving God and seeing His Kingdom come alive in the world of business, or wherever I found myself working. There was nothing I wanted more than this. Even as early as 2010, my writing showed that I viewed myself as a servant of God. He was my employer, my governor, really my Lord in every sense of the term.
Acting on this understanding, I had developed a business that provided marketing services to Christian missionaries whose overseas livelihood depended on manufacturing or distributing some product or service. This was a huge shift from my goal of working overseas for a large corporation. I knew I wanted to serve the church in America, so I had created a company that allowed me to do this while still leveraging my interest in international business.
Experiencing the blessing of knowing God, I wanted to do something for him. However, my service of God was still separate from my spiritual life. This divide between my spiritual and my secular activities only increased as I attempted to rationalize my business. I wanted to pursue God with my whole life, but as I attempted to do this as I best knew how, I ended up pursuing God and pursuing business. I was able to find little places in which they connected, but these two objectives fought against each other more than they cooperated.
My objective of loving others was completely different. It was something I did through my pursuit of God. In the same way, I wanted to find out how I could pursue business through my pursuit of God.
I felt like the prodigal son who had returned home to his father, but instead of throwing me a party, God accepted my offer of work. I would serve Him, and in exchange, He would care for me. I knew that God would care for me even if I didn’t offer to be His servant, but I didn’t know of any other way to realize the truth of Christianity in the nonreligious aspects of my life. My pursuit of God did not seem compatible with the life I would live after college.
Driven by this frustration, by the inaction of my dreams, and by something that I can only describe as the call of God, I set out on a journey of 3,200 miles to a destination that I never expected. Along the way, I would discover a simple truth that no person should have to live without.
The following story describes the process by which I came to understand this truth. It is directly copied from the journal entries I made while traveling. They are unedited except for minor grammar and sentence structure changes. Certain names have been changed or removed, and some details have been added in brackets to make the story easier to follow.
The Tipping Point (May 10, 2012)
So the journey begins in this way. If there was one thing that would have kept me from beginning, it was my commitment to my business. However, my business partner was so gracious in his response that I did not feel bad about doing what I needed to do any more. He said that something similar had happened to him in the past, so he was more than willing to let me follow God’s direction in the same way he had before. [This was contingent on me giving up all ownership in the company we had started]. I think he was also excited about the idea of completely running the business as well.
In any case, I reorganized my car so that it would be easier to live out of and realized I had more than enough space to even keep my books that I was going to sell along the way. Just around 4:00 pm, I was ready to go. I said goodbye to my sister and began to drive. Since coming to understand what I had to do, I have been viewing my life almost as if it were that of another. I am watching something happen that I have always wished would happen to me, but this time it is really me.
It seems that I have always longed for this moment – to be free to follow wherever God leads me – but have never been willing to actually let it begin.
Now, I am just on the western side of the Indiana border [on I64]. I stopped to read through some of the Bible and continue praying at a spot in the woods by the river. I realize that for the first time in my life, I am seeking the Kingdom of God first and trusting that all the other things that I might worry about will be taken care of.
I have decided to follow to an unknown destination where I expect to meet the reason I came to LA [where I wanted to go] within a few minutes of being there. In praying about what to do, I believe I will have an experience like Abraham’s servant who came to the well praying about whom to meet, and very soon after met the reason that he had come there for.
A couple things that I worry about are bills for my phone, car, and insurance. I also wonder what to call the blog that I write about this on, and how I am going to stay in touch with everyone. One thing that I worry about less is yielding to temptation. Because I so desperately need to follow God, anything other than that would be inconsistent with the path I am on.
I am not sure how many days it will take me to travel some 2000 miles to get to LA, but I will be stopping in the Rocky Mountains outside of Denver on the way and spending hours of time in prayer. The fast that I determined to begin today has changed its focus. I know what it is that God wants me to do. I have received the answer to my prayer, the unexpected direction, the choice to enter the room with the three stairs or pull the sword from the water [a reference to my inaction in the stories of Zorah and Kyle’s training academy]. Instead of waiting, I am hurtling toward the destination realizing that the only way my wild adventure will work out is if I focus on God and watch Him work.
This is the kind of thing I have always wished that I would or could do, but never had the courage to try. Even setting out from Indiana, I didn’t want to leave because it was like tipping the scale just far enough that I would go all the way into the unknown. My life so far has been safe, but now I am looking for something more.
Interestingly, the passage I looked at last night about the adulteress woman has come back to me. In Luke, Jesus talks about those who wanted to follow him, but had to complete something first. They never actually came. He wants me to give up everything and follow him anywhere. That is what I intend to do. In fact, that is what I am doing.
There is no sense of time other than a slight urgency that my trip is not to be delayed pointlessly. I now have absolutely no goals beyond seeing the Kingdom of God begin to work in the city of Los Angeles. As I drive there, I pray that my heart is prepared to listen, love, and lead, and that I will find the opportunities God has prepared for me there.
Honestly, I don’t know if Los Angeles is going to be my final destination as that has changed so many times. However, I know that is the direction I need to go until I am told otherwise. I realize that this lifestyle of faith is one that could take me to exciting places I never imagined.
Right now, I have determined to drive 2000 miles across the country because I know this is what God wants. How do I know? It fits perfectly with the direction God has been leading me over the past weeks. Anything else I could wish I might do is not an option. Following God used to be one of many options, now it is the only option.
I have gone off the deep end into the world of crazy that few people experience, but that many wish they had tried. I pray that whatever I am to learn from this, I learn it well and am empowered to teach it to others who will benefit from my mistakes and successes. This is either something that is absolutely crazy and stupid, or something that is absolutely right. I feel that there is nothing that can possibly stop me as I follow what I know of God’s plan for me. My life has gone in one direction now. I cannot turn back. I am committed completely, and I am so excited to see what God is going to do. Now, I need to drive.
Every time I pass another option to turn north, I feel like my life takes a totally new direction. I can’t believe how much a person can change in one day or how fast a decision can happen. Like I wrote above, it is the individual decisions that define a person. I want my life to be defined by decisions like this one.
I am at a rest area just east of St Louis. In about 30 miles, I will be further west than I have ever driven before. I have, of course been to Los Angeles, Denver, Phoenix, Las Vegas, and El Paso, but I have always flown there for a short trip. This time, I don’t know when or how I’m coming back. I have enough money to get me to LA and then I don’t have any more.
Right now, I want to time my arrival with Sunday morning, but I may spend some extra time in the mountains of Colorado preparing for my work in LA. I’m not completely sure what it’s going to be yet.
A couple ideas that I have: First, I need to find a church that will allow me to meet with people for prayer every night. If I get a night job, then I can meet with people anytime during the day. The first time I visit a church, I need to meet with a pastor and ask for prayer for what I am doing. I need to ask people if they want to meet to pray for their city. When looking for a church, I need to check if there is a Risen King Bible Church. Tomorrow, I pass through Kansas City, Missouri. If that is where IHOP is located, I need to stop for prayer. [IHOP stands for the International House of Prayer, a prayer and worship ministry that had inspired the weekly student prayer meeting at my school].
I still feel like this is a dream: like tomorrow I wake up and find out that everything never happened – like none of my actions actually have the consequences that they do. I don’t think I have fully realized the implications of what I am doing…at least not the negative ones. I do understand the positive implication and that is what drives me forward. I know that I want to follow faithfully wherever I am called.
Refocusing (May 11, 2012)
Well, I guess that tomorrow came rather quickly. Sleeping in a car at a rest stop is just not as comfortable as on the floor. It is funny that I am kind of excited about the fact that I am sacrificing sleep for something I want. It is still the honeymoon phase of a new adventure. I will see how I actually like it when I get to next week.
I have found a theme for my vision: wake up LA. The wake up model applies to the church. I have much more time to spend in prayer.
[Written at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, MO]
After talking with Steven and Tina and Christi, [students at the IHOP ministry school] I was blessed to have them pray for me. Like with everything else people have said, [to encourage me] they mentioned nothing specific except that I was on a journey, it was very exciting, the movement was not just physical but also spiritual, and that I was about to encounter God in a new way. So far on this trip, all of that has been true.
When I first got here around 8:00, [this morning] I walked up to the building and as I neared the doors, smiled so overwhelmingly big that it was embarrassing. I was so excited to be here and meet with God. After prayer, hanging out, and asking what I was to do, I saw a picture of me putting together everything that I have learned into a big story using this trip as the climax and cliffhanger. I can build it off of the dream that I had. [In the process of constructing the book, I forgot about the outline, but noticed in the end that it matched the outline I saw in prayer].
Anyway, I will likely spend a week in Colorado writing the story. After it is done, I will continue my trip. For today, I need to get across Kansas, but on the way, I will go through a test. There is still something I need to give up.
It is now almost halfway through my period of fasting from food and water. I don’t know if I will be able to drive safely after tonight, but for now, I am ok.
One more thing about the IHOP…there is a stupor that surrounds this place…almost like one is asleep, or perhaps drunk. Maybe it’s just me being tired from last night, but it seems that everyone else is in this place too. It is not a massive parking lot and a warehouse type of building, but a grassy lawn with a lake and a fountain and birds singing with nothing to do but talk about Jesus and walk with Him. It is a lovely place and I would love to stop here for a while.
– [As I had been praying earlier in the day, I noticed a man sitting a few rows in front of me and knew that I needed to pray for his mother. After I did, he said that he was a director of the school of ministry at IHOP and would like me to learn with them for a while. So, the option of stopping was available] –
[But I cannot stay]. My dreams continue to spur me on. The first, [Zorah] because I delayed. The second, [Kyle] because I traded the opportunity of pursuing greatness for the chance to practice with a tool I was familiar with.
Honestly this second reason is stronger. It is not because I feel prideful but because my confidence rests entirely in God. He will show me what to do each step of the way as I run after him (that’s what this is called, running, not walking). If I chose to stay and receive training, I may once again trust in what I know. Perhaps God will show me a time when I need to take more formal training, but for now what I need is passion and action in the way that I follow Jesus. I am an academic. I like to be trained. I don’t like to go off of nothing more than a relationship, but that is what I am currently called to do.
I need to begin this blog before I get to Los Angeles. This is an experiment in faith, as my sister said before I left Princeton, IN. If it is going to have its full effect, it must be in public. I don’t believe God will disappoint as I truly follow Him and seek to do His will.
When a person is in love, it seems all the songs in the world apply to them. Well, in my case, it seems every song about God and being a Christian applies to me. It’s like acting on what I always wanted to do, but never had the courage to do. It is what many people talk about doing, but few of them actually do. I don’t know why or how this happened – same as in January – but I know God has something to do with it
When I was driving into Kansas I found the perfect description for IHOP. It’s like leaving a full meal, (like a Thanksgiving dinner) stuffed and satisfied, but wishing it was possible to fit more in. It’s like one can go back and enjoy that any time. Unlike food, though, the satisfaction is much different, and more…satisfying.
When I get to LA, I am going to stop in a neighborhood where I am led to and knock on a door and ask if there are any Christians that live around there. Then, I will go tell the Christians what I am up to and ask if they will keep me for a night. From there, I may move on to another place, but someone is going to ask me to stay.
For work, I need to ask the pastors of the five HOPE churches where the Lord needs work done the most and then I will help out there. If possible, I need to ask one of the leaders to be my mentor, so that I can continue to grow and change.
While I am working, I will likely find homeless people to take to lunch and hear their story. My job is not to help them out of their poverty yet, but to simply give them dignity and begin to understand their lives. I need to avoid credit card debt, but always be willing to share whatever I have with another person.
Ok, this is beginning to sound like a lot of rules. It is a list of some of the ideas that I’ve had so far, but as I am coming to realize, plans change.
When I get to Denver, I am going to be too weak from my fast to really do much on Saturday except read and pray up on the mountain. That is the purpose of the fast – to seek God’s heart. For the first time I can remember, I have found a conviction that is more important than my body and my stomach. This is something I can sacrifice food, sleep and comfort for because it is a goal outside myself. One that is divine.
I realize that for the first time in my life, I am in a place that requires God to exist and act. If He doesn’t, I’m screwed. This must be what faith is: putting myself into a place that requires God to act on my behalf. It is exciting because I don’t know how everything is going to work out, but I know Who is going to work it out. Right now, I stopped so I could write down what I was thinking about the beautiful sky that God has put up to shield the western sun and to try to impress me – or just to have fun because He can. It is a silvery haze that falls out into white clouds on the fringes. None of these clouds are alike, but demonstrate the essence of abstract while following a perfect sense of order. (Speaking of abstract, God really likes creativity in blades of grass, tree leaves, rocks, people’s faces, clouds, etc). A narrow band reaches across the horizon and leads up to a center cluster of clouds, which are tinged with a charcoal-blue color – kind of my favorite color of steel blue. In the center of this cluster, the sun is peaking through as a less yellow but more golden eye with silver lashes rushing out along the bottom edge of the cloud cluster to touch the ground. It is pretty incredible. Now, on with the trip…
Crazy Love (May 12, 2012)
Once again, this morning I woke up around 6am. I think it is the light that peaks through the car windows. It is great. I am going to sleep around nine, when the light goes out, and waking with it when it comes up. It was still very cold this morning, but I finally slept well for the first time on the trip.
I drove through the city [Denver, CO] fairly early in the morning and found it to be a lot more depressing that I remembered. As I drove up the mountains on the western side of Denver, I had the image of a place I wanted to spend the day, but I couldn’t find it. Instead, I drove to the top of Lookout Mountain where I couldn’t see anything through the fog. Even so, it was beautiful. Snow had fallen and covered the trees that morning and it was just beginning to drip off when I began a mile hike through the woods.
Three things really went through my mind as I walked through the fog with the sound of snow sliding off the trees. The first was the question whether I could trust God to take care of me if there were any wild animals around. The second was the problem I had to deal with later that night about money and security. The third was the excitement of noticing three deer lying beside the trail.
Later, reading through the last couple chapters of Crazy Love [by Francis Chan], I realized that I was finally doing what I had wanted to do for my whole life: trust God with my whole life. It’s weird that a book like that is a best seller and I still haven’t met very many people who actually live like that. Well, actually I am meeting more and more of them. God is working on His people to reveal the great gift they have received and the lifestyle that is possible through Jesus.
After driving for a couple hours and finding multiple locations that would not work, I finally found a spot to spend the last seven hours of my fast. These last hours were a difficult struggle as I fought with tiredness (I could hardly move), hunger, but especially thirst. Much of the time is now a blur, but I remember thinking about how I was going to push through with this, recognizing the spiritual battle that was taking place, and rejoicing that I was no longer serving my body. There is an idea of pouring one’s self and desires out in order to be filled by Christ. This was my way of beginning to do this.
Beginning to Fly (May 13, 2012)
For the past two Saturday nights, I have received dreams that corresponded to my life and guided me in some way. Last night, I expected something similar, but it was a throwback to ones I have had on occasion where I actually fly. The place I was flying was familiar, but I was the only one flying. I told everyone they could do it, but I was still scared to fly to high lest for some reason I would stall and fall to the ground.
[This morning, I drove into Denver hoping to meet with a Church I had visited a few summers back]. Because the church had moved its meeting locations, I didn’t find it for a long time and almost gave up and headed south. Fortunately, I found the location and met several people before the service who remembered when I had visited with a mission group from my home church in MN.
During the service I stood up to introduce myself as a guest and told everyone I was excited to see them all participating in the work God was doing. During an intermission, I met a woman named June whose husband later offered to connect me with his brother who has a church in LA – in Orange County. I talked with a guy named Steve who had recently met Jesus and had his life completely changed around in his late 50’s. I also got to say hi to the pastor and several others who were interested to hear what I was doing. I realized, though, that I was having trouble keeping from pride in my responses to interest in my quest.
The service was a recitation from the book of Revelation that was a blessing.
After the service, two men from the church prayed for God’s blessing on my trip and said it was an excellent place to be. Then I had to follow up with a guy named Joe who asked me to meet him afterward because we had to talk. This man introduced me to a guy named Shawn and invited me over to lunch with several other young people. I will write more about Joe tomorrow when he finishes his story [he never finished it]. For now, he is simply the reason I have a place to sleep tonight, had two great meals, and enjoyed a shower. I think I finally have begun to realize the blessings of hot showers, sit-down meals, and beds. Living out of a car is all right if it is for a reason, but it is not as fun as it might sound.
For dinner, Shawn and his fiancée had over several boys and a girl from the neighborhood. Shawn is basically these boys’ dad. He teaches them proper behavior, and basically treats them as his own kids. His fiancée is teaching the girl how to drive. It is really pretty amazing to see. Shawn is the guy who bought the house where Joe is staying and who plans to use the house to hold summer interns for the church. It was open for all sorts of people and he has been extraordinarily hospitable to everyone. It is part of what he calls living room ministry where people come into the house in order to see the Christian life lived out.
[Later that evening, I talked with Shawn and one of his neighbors, Devon, who is part of the same church, about their model of ministry in the urban community of Denver.]
Devon and Shawn talked about a church model based on personal mentorship that will transform communities. Shawn mentioned location-based ministry. God puts people into a place for a reason: for them to make things new and orderly there. Each person has a specific location that he or she is called to serve.
One of the ways their church is structured allows the individuals in the community to reach out to the people around them. Their mission field is the community they live in. It begins with the front porch, which includes everything that happens with neighbors outside the house. This is supposed to lead to a living room conversation where people see Christianity and hear it described. Finally, there is a basement foundation meeting of Christians in the location to study and encourage each other.
Once a week, all of the houses where this happens meet together in a big location for a Sunday meeting. However, most ministries happen through the houses.
The important thing to point out about this strategy is that the structure exists to promote personal relationships. Once people become Christians, they already know how a Christian lives because they have become part of that lifestyle.
I want to go pray with people, but there is an aspect to that prayer that should motivate and spring from time with God: spreading the good news about Jesus. This is done through obedience and living the way Jesus lived, sacrificing one’s self for the sake of the truth, and making clear that there is another Kingdom a person is living for.
Devon and Shawn seriously challenged me to seek out the right people to work with in LA. I need to find a mentor who can teach me, and other Christians who will run with me as I seek to fill my call. These are the people I have been praying to find since I left Indiana.
Tomorrow, I have decided to drive to Colorado Springs. There I need to set up my blog, sell my textbooks, and try to meet with some of the people who do ministry there. I also need to begin writing the book that I came to the mountains to write. I have about a week to get it done, and then I need to be in LA meeting with the people I know and looking for the next step. So far, I have been led, first to Chicago, then to Princeton on the way, then toward LA, but with a stop in KC, which showed the blessing of prayer.
Then, the most recent stop in Denver showed me several things: I don’t really know how to live as a follower of Jesus, I am inadequate for my call, prayer must lead to something, my goal is to know Christ, there is something to be said for duty, and true Christianity is radical and exciting. Really, my stop here was to give some structure to the work I will be doing down south, and some good advice for my process of getting involved in the work in LA. It also made me question the aversion that I have had toward Bible churches. I think I am beginning to realize that there is no perfect model of Christianity, but there is passion and life to be found in many denominations.
Prayer and Planning (May 14, 2012)
It is now my third day of Mountain Time. This morning I am starting to get over jet lag, so I actually slept in until my alarm went off at 7:07 am. It was a good eight hours. I woke with two questions on my mind.
The first, why did I choose to indulge in a few more minutes of sleep when I woke slightly earlier? Sleep, and perhaps laziness, is one of the indulgences that I will have to fight in order to find success. I need to take care of myself, but sleep takes away time from the day and is not where I want to invest most of my life.
The second, and perhaps more significantly pressing, is a question of love versus service. I find myself, in some regard, caught between two extremes. There is a reason why I really liked what the church in Denver was doing back in the summer of 2010 when I came to visit. It makes sense and can really be boiled down into the idea of serving people.
Being plugged into a community to make a difference does seem to be the call of the church – the church, which is made up of individuals. It also leads to personal mentorship and transformation of people’s lives. All this is good. But who does it?
Any group can do what this church is doing for the sake of ‘the cause.’ In this case, the cause is the good news of Jesus and is one worth fighting for. They are obviously seeking God’s help, spending time in the Bible, and praying. But when it comes to who receives the praise for what is happening, it seems the answer is the system, the church structure, and the philosophy of life.
The answer I expected to hear was God’s work in my life and the lives of others.
Here’s my problem: God uses people to do His work, but this was a conversation about miracles and lives transformed. This is something people can’t do.
On the other hand, I believe that my philosophy may be one in which I try to do nothing and let God do all the work. I believe that even if I didn’t accomplish anything great, but simply enjoyed time in His presence that He would use me to do work in people’s lives. My focus is on Him only. Whatever work He does through me is simply a blessing and a way for me to know Him more fully. This does not preclude me from work, but directs me from a different aspect toward what should be the same results. If God’s heart is revealed in the Scripture, then as He aligns mine with His, I will be reaching out and serving my community in a way that looks very similar to what happens here.
So on the one hand, they have a lifestyle, a community, and a way of living that is set out in the Bible. In order to live this effectively, God’s people must ask for his help. On the other hand I want a lifestyle, a community, and a way of life that is instilled in one’s heart through prayer. In order to be effective, a person must check his growth against the Bible, but nothing can happen if God doesn’t do it. The end of the first is accomplishing something for the Kingdom of God. The end of the second is knowing God.
To put the difference most starkly in the terms that scared me back to God, Jesus told the goats who had worked all sorts of signs and wonders in His name, “I never knew you” (Matthew 25:31-46). On the other hand, the sheep, who had served other people, were welcomed into His joy.
Writing this now, I notice a fine line appearing between doing things in Jesus’ name, and doing things for others. Between serving the action, and serving the person. This line, in fact, looks like it could work both ways to check what I believe and what the church here believes. Perhaps the question comes down to one of obedience to what God has shown people to be their individual roles as Christians.
To put this question personally to myself, I wonder if I am continuing to hide behind a shroud of religiousness (though of a different kind than before) in order to avoid doing the work that God has called me to.
I know my faith is strong, but I don’t believe this means God always fights all my battles for me. Sometimes, I have to struggle through them.
I think I will find as I continue to study this, that both paths can lead to legalism and are actually much more similar than I might have imagined. Action requires prayer. Effective prayer leads to action. Faith without works is dead. Works without love are worthless.
When I first got to Denver, I did not like it at all. Leaving it, I have the feeling that God loves the people who live there even if they are not people I am passionate about. I hated the sin that led to the destruction of the city. “God it’s terrible to see everything falling apart: buildings, roads, and people’s lives” [I prayed]. On the outside of the city, the story looks a lot different with new buildings, beautiful architecture, wide roads, and shiny cars. It’s like leaving one world for another. The second world is the one I want to live in, but I must be careful of doing so. It is a vanity fair of sorts where what looks appealing is nothing more than cheap plastic.
It is a different kind of ministry that takes place in the suburbs. It is harder for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God.
Is this why Jesus always went to the poor? I constantly consider that my trip out here may have a purpose of showing me my interest in academics. My curiosity over the work of God combined with more experience in writing may serve to inspire more people toward the lifestyle I have discovered. However, that is a comfortable route for me, not necessarily one of faith.
I am going to seek out the work of God, but have been challenged to find the way that He wants me to participate. I don’t know what this is yet, beyond the idea that I must be praying with people and introducing them to God so that He can work in their hearts like He did in mine.
I have received advice that who I work with in LA is going to be very important and have begun to think of stopping in Colorado Springs for a couple months of preparation. I don’t want to stop from lack of faith, though. If God wants me to keep going after I finish the book, I will need to continue. For now, it looks like the next step is getting a temporary job so I can pay for the rest of my trip, fly home to see the family, finish the book, and find who I want to work with in LA. The advice to find a mentor has been coming from everyone. Now I am in a quandary. There is an urgency with which I must take this trip, but a patience that I need to have.
When I pray about what to do, I feel a peace about going to LA with a complete trust in God. When I try to plan in advance, I become worried about things and feel like I should stay away until I have a plan. On the other hand, it is quite a bit cooler to expect God to work things out than to try to put them together myself. The question is one of whether I will listen and follow.
Part of the struggle I face is that of every college student: life is different now. My life has changed multiple times as I have travelled the world, so I am not afraid of what is new. What I am afraid of is getting stuck in an unfulfilling rut of working, sleeping, playing, and eventually retiring. I don’t think that will ever be a problem for me anymore after taking this trip. I do wonder, though, whether I had to choose LA, or if that was just arbitrary. I am open to not going, but feel like stopping would be choosing what is easy over what is right. I want to learn to live by faith, not just smartness.
The question that everyone keeps asking is why I don’t just stay there. [The church in Denver asked me to stay and work with them – just like the school in Missouri]. I guess the answer is more complex than “because I’m going to LA.” What I want to do can really be done anywhere. I don’t really know what I want to do besides seek God and pray, so I am not limited to LA. I am really able to go anywhere I choose. I chose LA for its strategic location, current darkness, potential challenge, and weather. I am going to be faithful and watch God wake up the church. Besides this, I have no real agenda. Do I need to plan something?
Right now, I have to be faithful with two things. The first is writing this book – finishing it this week as much as possible. The second thing, though, is actually getting to LA and beginning the life that is waiting for me.
I remember my conversation with my friend Zak about God’s providence in determining the things that have happened in the past; “Everything happens for a reason,” I said.
My faith in God is one that almost makes life lack any sort of free will. It looks like I don’t have the power to choose. However, I don’t think that is the case at all. I think that the power to choose is mine, but the results are not up to me. This is not simply a cause and effect world, but one with input from the outside.
There is no reason why I have to be in LA to do what I have been called to do. Is my ambition for going there one of pride?
For a couple hours, I have been typing up here on a mountain and now I just met a guy named Mike who has lived the American Dream. He has worked three careers, never been out of a job, lived in the same house with the same wife for 30+ years, raised three kids, and now enjoys ten grandchildren. His mindset is one that his membership in the church changed who he is and the kind of life he has lived. His encouragement was to seek for the truth in everything. He recognizes an element of truth in Baptist and Catholic churches, but has been a member of another religion since his early 20’s.
His life philosophy is one of doing good and of influencing those who are around him. It is a long-term goal that focuses on teaching those people to do the right thing and doing it oneself. It doesn’t affect tons of people, but it does make a difference. He says that people need to fix up their own lives, and then they can help others.
That is a challenge many people have given me – to find my call [fix up my life]. For the longest time, I have imagined that I don’t actually have a call. I have no specific passion toward any type of work except that of the church. This may perhaps be the most freeing thing of all if I look at it as my opportunity to live life focused on a direction that is not of this world. So then, I am free to have Jesus as my end goal, but to work toward Him in whatever way suits me best.
But then there is a choice. Not one of Who I will serve and focus on (which I have now come to understand is not my career), but one of whether I choose a life of adventure and excitement or one of quietness and peace.
Well, as a Christian, I can have peace in whatever I do. What I refer to is the matter of living in one place or moving around a whole lot. How much risk will I acquire? What kind of reward am I looking for? I am looking for the reward Jesus offered to the servants who doubled the talents He had given them (Matthew 25:14-30). It is the thought that the works God prepared for me to do are not the kinds that allow me to live a stress-free life.
How Far Would You Go? (May 15, 2012)
[When I woke up on May 15, I knew what my final destination would be, and would spend the rest of the week fighting with it].
Charles, it didn’t matter where I went, I always took me with me. Why LA? Just because you go to a different place doesn’t make you a different person. God has given to each person a specific area where he or she is to take what is broken and fix it – where he is to create, grow, and care for that part of the world. Find out what area it is that God has given you to do this.
These are some the things Shawn said in the course of our conversation in Denver.
When I set out toward Los Angeles, I knew there would be several stops along the way and that the purpose of my trip might be adjusted.
I have turned my eyes away from the needs that are right before me. My grandparents are going through a difficult time of transition, my brothers need me to serve as a godly example, and the church that I have been looking to serve is my home church, or something like it. I don’t want to go back to Minnesota as it means accountability for what I say. It means that people will think of me as they did when I was a little boy. It means that all the excitement and adventure I hope to have is boiled down to a small group of people that I need to serve.
I would prefer to ignore the needs that I know and to confront larger ones that I don’t understand, but God calls me to be faithful in what is least so that I can be faithful over much. He calls me to take up my cross and follow him. To go to a place where I do not have the respect and reputation I could gain with a fresh start. To go to a place where I have to struggle with old habits, manners and relationships. To confront the life I once had and watch Christ work His transforming power there as I submit to His will. It is very easy to drive toward a large goal with faith. It is much more difficult to have faith in the little things.
If I turn around and drive north when my book is finished, it will be a matter of submission and sacrifice.
Just moments ago when I decided to check how far it is to Burnsville, Minnesota, my GPS showed exactly 777 miles from here [I was parked on a random dirt road on a mountainside near Colorado Springs, a couple blocks from where I had spent the night]. Minnesota is a place I do not want to be, nor would I ever choose to go there unless specifically directed. My call to LA was a call to follow God that has set me on a path that may lead me to my home state. I desire to go to the city of Los Angeles, but I desire more to follow God wherever He might lead me. If I had to come all the way out here to get my heart in a place where I would listen, then I am thankful I did.
Before I make the next step, I need to ask for more wisdom from my leaders and godly peers. To tell some of them I am not definitely going to LA is going to be embarrassing. I think I have already begun to struggle with pride in the mission that God had given me. I think this is part of the reason I didn’t want to share it. Now people expect something of me, and I am driven by this to complete something. Perhaps I should learn to say, “If the Lord wills…” (James 4:15) before any of my plans and make clear that my only intention is to follow Him wherever He might lead me.
I walked into a prayer meeting at the World Prayer Center [part of New Life church in Colorado Springs] just as a guy began to share what God had been teaching him…it was John 8! This passage about the adulterous woman keeps coming back. The following meeting reminded me of God’s love and repositioned me to remember the promise that I have in Jesus. In prayer I have been given peace that my focus is now corrected. It is on following God, not on going to any specific location.
I just had a conversation with a couple girls that are part of the leadership and ministry preparation program at this church. One spoke of a struggle with God after which she finally came to the program instead of going to the college she had a scholarship for. It sounded incredibly similar to the struggle I am having. When she talked of her call to work as a missionary in Cambodia with sex-trafficking victims, I was able to see her being effective in her work. It was almost like a pre-deja-vu where I travelled to the future and was looking back at today realizing that I had no idea just how much God was going to do with this girl.
Between the last post and now, God provided me with a place to stay through Friday night while I finish writing my book up at the church. I will be with a friend named John who was introduced to me by a woman I met at the prayer center that works together with him in a ministry to handicapped individuals. John knows of several people in LA and introduced me to a church that he visited while there. It is weird the way that I no longer feel comfortable with the idea of going to LA, but have my sights set on Minnesota the way I had them on LA just two days prior. Unlike LA, Minnesota is not a place I imagined going.
However, as I have learned more about what it means to follow God as a Christian in the past few days, I have really clarified a couple things. First, God’s love for me is unchanging despite what I do or where I go. It doesn’t matter where I go, God will bless me as I continue to seek His Kingdom first. Second, God often calls me to a place that I don’t actually want to go; often that place is right in front of me. My job is to live every day as a brand new day, holding loosely to my plans so that God can use me however He wishes.
For now, I know that I am supposed to be writing this week. So I am going to get some sleep.
Discovering Sonship (May 16, 2012)
Between the outline and the notes that I have collected over time (less the ones in my journal), I now have 105 pages of material from which to construct the story of what God has done. My goal is to produce a story that will communicate the work that God has done in bringing a person through the church and into His Kingdom.
I am spending the day fasting once again in order to seek clarification of what God is asking me to do. Like the past couple days, I joined the prayer meeting of the students here at the church and was reminded once again that no matter what I do, God will bless me as I seek His Kingdom first.
I was looked into Genesis where Adam and Eve spent much of their time working, but walked with God every day. I do not expect my life to be one of simply prayer, but also of responsibility to do whatever God has asked. Adam walked with God in the garden in the cool of the day. The rest of the time, he obeyed and enjoyed God’s blessings through work and life. This was the perfect order. To follow it, I will order my life in that manner. In this way, I seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. Whether my work is for the church or someone else, my first goal is to be faithful with my task and walk with God. In this way, I am prepared to promote the Kingdom. The truck driver, businessman, designer, and missionary all have the same job: to worship God.
I was encouraged by a guy who prayed for me to once again know God’s love and direction. He reaffirmed that God was gently pushing me in the right direction, but did not say anything to the effect of which way that was: North or South [I still hadn’t decided between MN and LA. Even though I knew what I was going to do in my heart, I still fought with the decision in my mind].
Participating in the program here has showed me something of how I hope to follow my call to prayer. A couple of ideas I have are first: morning meetings for students and professionals to meet for an hour of Bible study and then some time of corporate prayer and worship every day. Second: are evening prayer and worship sessions.
After another day of fasting and prayer, I have finally gotten the message that I had to come out to CO to hear from God. Whatever I do, my goal is to live one day at a time completely focused on the Kingdom of God by loving Him and loving others. However, God does not require perfection, but love. He wants me to give Him my heart and come to know Him more. That’s all. My job as a Christian is to know His love more deeply and fully and to let that influence how I live my life every day (John 15).
The destination of this trip does not matter. I can go wherever I want to, or even stay here and I will be right in the will of God. Psalms 37:4 says, when I delight myself in God, He gives me the desires of my heart. When I am in a position like the one I am in right now, I cannot make the wrong choice.
I have had a view of myself that was far too big. I went outside to stare at the mountains and prayed “God, how can someone like me think I can do something for Someone like You who creates mountains like these?” By myself I can do nothing. My thoughts of doing something huge for God have come from my thinking that I have to accomplish something for Him.
In the 6:00 evening prayer session, I finally realized that the responsibility I think I have toward God doesn’t exist. His grace is too perfect and complete to require anything of me. The obligations that I think I have are those that will tend to lead me into pride for either accomplishing them, or to misunderstanding my relationship with God by reason of my failure.
At this new task I have been given, I cannot fail. Wherever I want to go, I will live daily in the pattern that Jesus set out. I do not have to go to any location to accomplish this.
Thus, in a state of perfect and complete freedom, I wish to finish writing this book. I may get a hotel for a couple days next week. I will continue to pray with the students here and rejoice over what God has shown me. I will pray for them to discover what He has shown me in the time I have spent at the World Prayer Center, and love them as I hope to always love those who are near me.
When the book is done, I will return to Minnesota, go on a camping trip, search for a job, and begin to practice the lifestyle I want to define my life – one of prayer and of love. I do still want to go to LA, but I will do that for college or for something specific in the next couple years unless the work I am doing in Minnesota requires me to stay there.
With this new perspective (or clarification of an old perspective and letting go of my old self), I can fully adopt the adage of “plan like you will live forever, live like there is no tomorrow.” It is the combination of wisdom, action, and freedom that I have been hoping existed.
This place I am in is so incredibly happy. Because I know I am perfectly loved by God, I am not influenced by what any other person might think of the decision I make. I simply do what I desire, which is to know God, in whatever place I wish. It is strange that I wish to return to Minnesota after spending so much time wanting to never go there. However, putting aside pride and the fear of man, I wish to share the love that God has given me with those who have been closest to me. At the same time, I will always hold my plans loosely with the idea that, Lord willing, they will be disrupted for the purpose of learning something new about Him.
This is what I finally understand. My role as a Christian is not to accomplish something. That would be going back to a works-based lifestyle. My role is to love God and as a natural result, love people.
Right now, there are many students around me asking questions about where God will lead them next. I hope that I will have the chance to encourage them with what God has shown me through them and through prayer.
Celebration (May 17, 2012)
It seems like it was around 4:00 am or earlier when I awoke twice from my sleep in a pitch-black room. I could see absolutely nothing and had the experience of being absolutely alone. At this point, I began to pray saying, “Lord, You are all I need. You are enough.” Both times this happened, I woke up very happy to realize that I had nothing except Jesus and repeated the same prayer.
Since yesterday, the story of the prodigal son has continued to come back and remind me of my relationship to God. “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father’” (Romans 8:15). When the son came back to his father, his idea was to ask to serve for mere survival. However, the father was not content with that. He did not want the service in exchange for life. Instead he wanted to celebrate the restored relationship between himself and the son he loved.
[This morning a friend gave me the following note:] Jeremiah 29:11 “for I know the plans I have for you declares the LORD; Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” I just felt like the Lord was saying wait upon Him. Even though you have been for a while continue to wait on Him. Don’t make a decision yet.
Just wait. Seek His wonder and beauty. Learn to love Him for Who He is. Learn to sit and rest in His presence. Learn to enjoy Him. He desires your heart and not your works. Jeremiah 31:3 says, “The Lord has appeared to me of old saying ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore with loving kindness I have drawn you.’” He really loves you. Learn to seek Him with all your heart.
[At the same time she was writing the note above, I was writing the following message. I had joined the students for worship that morning and we were spending some time listening to what God had to say about how He sees us].
“I love you as a son. Not for what you offer me, but because of Who I am: your Father. Like the prodigal son who came home to serve, you desire what I have to give you: life.
But I want to do so much more than just feed you. I want to put fine clothes on you, a ring on your finger and shoes on your feet. I want to give you the best of what I have. I want to celebrate and rejoice over you because you came to me.
You were frustrated by the dream as your background says you must work to earn my favor. You don’t. You cannot do my job.”
[In the dream of Zorah, I did not go back through the tunnel to rescue others. I stayed and enjoyed time in the King’s Country (a symbol for the Kingdom of God). This was unnatural for me because I felt an obligation to go do something. Now I understand my obligation is one of rest and love, not of work].
“Apart from Christ, I am nothing, but I can do all things through His strength. My pride would like to say I can accomplish something for God and then my life will have been worth more (well-invested). However, Jesus commended Mary who was content to sit at His feet (Luke 10:42). If I am a sheep, my job is to follow the shepherd and enjoy where He leads me.”
I am made perfect by the work of Jesus.”
Whenever God gives an impossible dream, it is a promise of what He will do, not a challenge for me to overcome. As I am faithful to trust in the Lord and do good, He will bring it to pass (Psalm 37). Psalm 110:1 says Jesus sat at God’s right hand, while God subdued His enemies. My desire to follow God and find out what He is doing will come true. Sometimes, He will even do the work through me.
My desire to serve God is in the process of being replaced by a desire to love God. Those who love Jesus will keep his commandments, but His commandments are not burdensome (1 John 5:2-4). I have been challenged to simply live each day one moment at a time looking for opportunities to love.
I find myself somewhat frustrated in prayer as thoughts sometimes plague my mind that what I am doing is implausable. I have to admit that talking with the Creator of the universe does seem a little far-fetched. However, it is one of the things that I most enjoy doing.
Instead of thinking about the decision I had to make, I made a deal yesterday with two friends that I would pray for their decisions if they would pray for mine. I received the message about being sons instead of servants and one of them received a message of simply waiting and enjoying worship. That is what I am doing today. Not thinking about what is going to happen next, but simply living as if Jesus was coming back later this afternoon.
This has been another incredible day. I am wishing I could say that the rest of my life will be like this. Actually, I believe it can be. As I follow the pattern of life that I have discovered in my trip here to Colorado, I will be constantly surprised by the way in which Jesus appears and pours blessing into my life.
Though I was able to finally create the rough draft of the book in between prayer sessions, I found myself sucked into the prayer room multiple times. There I really found myself reviewing everything that God had done throughout history and in my life. Once again, I am addicted to prayer, but the practical outworking of my heart change has only just begun. I also got to prayer-play the piano because the worship team had been called to a meeting for about half an hour.
One of the ways I have been challenged on this trip is to learn to love those who are the most difficult for me to love. As with most people, this means those who are closest to me, know my flaws, and have certain expectations of how I should or should not live my life. However, they are also the people who I care about the most.
I have no fear of going to Los Angeles, and feel a strange sense of excitement about the idea of finishing my journey in that direction. But I also feel that my pursuit of God is leading me in the other direction. For a season, I have been called to love those whom God has given to me already. In doing so, I will discover the way that God will use me in LA.
None of what I wish to attempt now is possible without prayer or the work of the Holy Spirit in my life. Therefore, it is very important for my first priority to always be on my relationship with God. I cannot let the demands of life cut into the time we spend together. I must find people who will run in the same direction with me so that we can encourage one another in our pursuit.
This has happened here in Colorado Springs as I have connected with students in the leadership program. We have been mutually encouraged in our faith through conversations and activities with each other.
Today I was able to spend several hours in worship with Austin and later join his team for an outdoor picnic. While there, I met many of the other members of the group and was encouraged to hear of the work God has done in their lives. One girl was especially happy to share her story of what God has done and may be willing to use her skills to help me finish the book I am working on. I was very happy to see the inside of the group for two reasons. First, it showed me that even in a program like this, people are not perfect. Second, though, it showed me the incredible way that God can work through imperfect people to accomplish His objectives.
After the food, we decided to do an ‘encouragement circle’ and gathered around a table where one person at a time had to sit through a number of others in the group calling out his or her strengths, gifts, and character. It was so encouraging to hear the way that God had used each person in the lives of the others and to watch how they were lifted up through it. It was so much fun that the whole group moved back to the building to continue later into the night.
Before I left, Austin asked to encourage me. He and several of these people who I don’t really even know spoke up and talked about how God had used me to encourage and inspire them through the work that He was doing in my life. Simply being with them as an outsider who was following God alone through the world wherever he was called had challenged their faith and strengthened them. Paul, one of the guys, had been praying for how to encourage me and he spoke about Abraham and the blessing that waited for the one who was willing to abandon everything to follow God. Several others spoke words of blessing and inspiration. Then, my friend, Crystel, ended the circle with two words for me: God is my Rock and Sustainer.
Shaking with excitement, I asked to pray over the group before leaving to Manitou where my host would be going to sleep shortly. When this was over, I left the building, but while driving away continued to pray for their unity. I realized that my coming in from the outside to encourage them might actually spark something of a revolution in their faith. I have given them an example to follow and challenged them to grow in their faith. I almost wish I could extend the length of the trip so that I could meet with more people. However, the story remains, and the change God has done inside of me has equipped me to encourage more people.
Talking with John, who gave me a place to stay, I asked why he thought most people had ups and downs in their spiritual growth. It seems that for most people, fast growth is followed by slow growth. There is an unlimited amount of growth that can take place, so I wondered why people slowed down and even stopped. He said it was likely because they got too busy with life and struggled with sin. He further warned of the difficulty in being surrounded by people who have a completely different focus in life. It seems that the vision of faith becomes clouded unless it is continually strengthened.
Though it is not yet today, I believe my time in Colorado Springs is coming to a close. I have learned the lessons that God sent me here to acquire, and have a 120-page memoir of the transformation God has done in my life over the past three years. I also believe that my trip is coming to a close. Unless I receive clear direction otherwise, I will be driving toward Minnesota on Saturday.
The next period of time in my life is going to be something of a wilderness as I learn to love people. I have already begun the process, but need to mature. I have grown in my love for God, but I now need to see that practically worked out through a growing love for my brothers and sisters.
This includes my spiritual and physical family in Minnesota. I need to let them see the transformation that God has done and the way that He is leading me to live for His Kingdom. If I simply go far away and report on what has happened, I may never have the chance to return and share with them the process of change. If I go to Minnesota, one of my goals will be to meet many, if not most, of the pastors and leaders of ministries in the area. I will share with them what God has done in my life, but more importantly ask them to share the story of what He is doing in theirs.
If possible, I would like to create a nonexistent job that allows me to travel across the country sharing about the work God is doing and encouraging Christians in their faith. I want to breathe life and encouragement into churches that do not see the big picture of the significant role they play in God’s Kingdom. The role of the church is more than simply giving money to missions and meeting on Sundays. It is the body that is in place to encourage, strengthen and support Christians in living lives of faith and love that can transform the communities around them.
As I come to see my identity in Christ more clearly, I can share this with others. As I dedicate my life to prayer and loving others, I can ask others to join me in it and even lead them in the process. I will not have long to be in Minnesota if I do go there. I feel that it will simply be a time of preparation. However, it is one from which I can leave a changed environment and the start of a work God is doing.
Love the Church (May 18, 2012)
I want to spend my time in God’s house, but His temple is inside me. Strategically, I need to consider how I can work as a pastor. I am willing to serve the church in whatever way that I can, but the church is made up of people who must actively pursue knowing God. I will practice my gift of pastoring by encouraging one or two people in this pursuit. To do this, I must have a pattern of life that they can follow. Most people do not work for the institution of the church. At the beginning of my work, I may not either. The two areas I am most interested in are music and clothing. I should look for work in one of these two fields if I cannot find something within a local church.
My call is to love people. As I follow that, I will discover how to serve them. I cannot let the work I do for others come between the relationship I have with God. He has set before me an open door that no one can shut. As I am faithful with what He has given me to do, He will guide me into the path I am to follow.
Once again in prayer, my mind was brought back to the story Jesus told about the person with a log in his eye that thought he could judge the speck in the other person’s eye (Matthew 7:3). Even still, I approach the church with this attitude. He has called me to love, but I continue to condemn. If I am to love like Jesus did, I will look past all the problems and serve wherever I am led.
A piano that is out of tune can still make a sound, but it is not beautiful to those who listen. If I am a piano, I must spend time with the ‘tuner’ who will tighten each string so that I can bless others with the music He has given me. It is the same concept that service without love is pointless. So, playing an out of tune piano does not create music.
This was my last day in Colorado Springs. Tomorrow I leave on a journey toward Minnesota. I don’t know if there will be stops or interruptions on the way, but I am confident that God is leading me in that direction. I am not sure of any details besides what I will be doing for the Kingdom of God. I know two things. First, I will pray. Second, I will teach others the lifestyle of faith and seeking God that I have found.
In many respects, I am sad to end this journey. I wish in some small way that I might have ended up in Los Angles for a more exciting ending than simply following God where He leads and being faithful with what He has given me. Furthermore, I am going to have to explain why I did not go all the way.
However, aside from my pride and fear of people, there is no doubt that I am following God’s lead to go love those who are closest to me and to commit my former life to Him even as I return to it. I have been asking for a companion to pursue God with me when I reach Minnesota and tonight after the meeting, I received the answer.
God has left a remnant of those who truly seek Him in every place. When I get to Minnesota I will meet some people who have seen God do a similar work in their lives to what He has done in mine. Even at the church meeting here, in the middle of all the people, God led me to a person who was as excited to hear about the work God had done as I was to hear about his story. I may never see James again, but his encouragement has made me confident to pursue God’s call.
It was rather sad to say goodbye to all the students I have come to know and care about over the past four days. Learning, growing, praying, and playing together has been encouraging. Talking with a couple of the leaders about the principal lessons God has shown them while they studied here has reconfirmed what it is that God led me out here to understand: First, God wants my heart, not my service. Second, the dream is huge and the goal is impossible, but the action I take to get there is simple. Love God and He will love people through me. When I seek God before everything else, He will accomplish His purposes in my life.
After watching Pilgrim’s Progress, I was reminded of the difficulty in following God. Yet in the middle of the difficulty, there is hope and peace that passes all understanding. Right now, I am not sure what is going to happen in Minnesota, but I am excited to see God work.
I believe my stay there will be short as it is simply an opportunity from God to show His love to those people I care about most. After that, He will likely have me continue my journey – either to LA, or to some other destination. Either way, I am content to live faithfully following Him one day at a time.
To end my last day in the prayer room at the World Prayer Center, God gave me the chance to lead worship for an hour with the piano and a set of prayers for the church. I was able to pray, sing, play, read through the material, and enjoy a time of worship. The ending of this trip is almost as dramatic as the beginning, but now instead of the frustration that surrounded my departure, I am surrounded with peace. In prayer this afternoon, I found myself staying for close to three hours simply soaking in the love of God and remembering His love for me.
If I am going insane, this is the kind of insanity that everyone should wish for. It does not contradict reality, but rather opens ones eyes to see the true beauty of life. It is not a retreat from the world, but the beginning of a lifetime of adventure.
I have discovered my calling and it is simple, easy, and incredibly enjoyable. It does not preclude me from any career possibilities, but gives me the freedom to go and do whatever is put on my heart. By many standards, it does not make sense. However, by the standard of losing one’s life to gain it, of selling all that one has to obtain the Kingdom, of trusting God instead of anything else, it is the wisest choice I could make.
Practically speaking, though, I am not sure of the details of what this looks like. I know I will be leading prayer meetings. I want to begin a morning Bible study and time of corporate prayer with several individuals to start the day. I hope to have a place of my own so I can invite people over to pray, eat, and have a good time. I hope to network with all the churches and leaders in the area to find out what God is doing and encourage them. Most importantly, I want to spend time with my home church. I want to pray for my brothers and sisters there. I want to pour love into that church and see what God can do with it. Along the way, I am confident that God will provide someone with a similar vision who can support my walk with God and my work for the Kingdom.
Homeless (May 19, 2012)
Last night, I woke up from another dream. I was driving my car when a homeless boy swung at a baseball and just missed the windshield. I stopped the car and got out to talk with him. He didn’t want to talk because he said I had no idea what his life was like. I responded that actually I did know. I know what it’s like to wonder where my next meal is coming from, if I’ll be able to sleep the night without somebody kicking me out of a certain location, where to find a bathroom, being too cold to sleep, and waking up incredibly uncomfortable. Not that I have really experienced being homeless – I have had a car and money to purchase these things in an emergency – but the world is incredibly hostile to people without a home or money to buy a temporary one. Because of the past few days, I now appreciate the luxury of a shower and a flat, warm surface to spend the night on. I also know what an impression it makes when people take a stranger into their home or welcome him into their group.
Sleeping under the stars for the days that I travelled has taught me a few lessons that forever change my perspective on homelessness. It has also shown me the hopelessness of trusting in anything other than God for basic survival. In some ways, it has taken away the fear I have of losing everything.
After asking the question [which way to go] once more, I turned my car northward and began the final stretch of the journey. I needed to know that my decision to go to Minnesota was one of trust, not fear, and of excitement to see what God could do. I recognize, though, the difficulty of starting a new lifestyle in a place of old habits and acquaintances. People are uncomfortable with change.
The End is the Beginning (May 20, 2012)
Three thousand two hundred miles later, I am incredibly thankful for a fuel-efficient car, but even more so for the lessons I learned on the journey.
First, God was able to get my attention with the quest for LA. Though I still want to go there someday, the real challenge of my faith was whether I would follow Him anywhere. The challenge I face in Minnesota is the same, if not harder than what I would encounter anywhere else, but the potential for change is also great. If this story can inspire other people to test God and see what they will discover, it was worth the adventure.
Second, understanding God’s unchanging love has given me the freedom to do whatever I want to do without the fear of losing His acceptance and without the need for approval from other people.
Third, loving other people is what gives value to my actions as a Christian. Because love is not something I do naturally, I have to spend time with God so He can put it into my heart. This means that the way I can change the world is through spending time in prayer.
Finally, I have encountered a life that is worth sharing with other people. Beginning to live in a way that assumes the Kingdom of God and the return of Jesus, I have encountered the joy and the peace that I have spent my life searching for. The perfect love and forgiveness of God that makes this possible is a message too good to keep from sharing.
As I develop a post-graduate lifestyle of faith, I expect to mess up. However, what matters is that my focus does not change, that I continue after it, and that I am ready for God to work in my life and in those He has called me to serve. Above all, as I learned from the journey, I cannot attempt to do something for God. I am called to know Him. I am not His servant; I am His son. All He wants is me. The work I do for His Kingdom is motivated by love, not by fear or requirement any longer.
Though this ending is not as glamorous as what I expected, the truth is that my life has changed. And the adventure is not over. Each day brings a totally new set of challenges and my dreams remain impossibly great.
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