Thursday, April 11, 2013
A few years ago I was introduced to an author by the name of Donald Miller in a class taught by Dr. Laurie Thompson. Blue Like Jazz. I hated it. I told Laurie that the only reason I didn't burn the book was because I paid good money for it. To me it seemed that Miller was so self-absorbed that even the best psychotherapist would not be able to lure him out of his innards. Imagine my distress when a few classes later, Laurie asked me to read the same book. In spite of my high regard for Laurie, I refused...so, Laurie proposed a compromise. Why not read another one of Miller's books? Reluctantly, I ordered Searching For God Knows What...I have been sold on Miller ever since. I have read all his books (although I admit I have never reread Blue Like Jazz), I went to a live lecture he gave in NC, I am on his email list, on his FB, I am a subscriber to his blog, and I've seen the movie. Hook, line, and sinker, as they say.
In his most recent post on Storyline (see here: http://storylineblog.com/2013/04/11/what-happens-when-you-risk-it-all-to-live-by-faith/) he writes: "I'm big on vision. I believe people are more healthy when they are heading somewhere. One of the main questions I ask people is, “What do you want to do with your life?” If a person has a solid answer to that, I know they are more likely to be healthy."
For years, Louise an I have been distracted from the life we believe the Lord gave us to live. No, we haven't done wrong things...we haven't even really lived for ourselves. We have poured our lives out for others...for our children and for our parishioners and others - our neighbors and our friends...and, by God's grace, I hope we have served them well. But in the process I believe we slowly drifted away from the original call God had placed on our lives...the call to global missions.
In fact, the very reason we came to the States in 1996 was so that I could work on getting the degrees necessary for me to return to the mission field as a teacher at a theological training center That was 17 years ago. However, let me hasten to add, that neither Louise nor I think that these were wasted years. Both our boys have benefited greatly from our being in the US. Not only do they have a good education, but they have the best wives any parent could hope for...and they are happy and fulfilled. We have a beautiful grandson who has a future...a future many children his age in the majority world countries do not have. And we have touched the lives of many and they have touched ours. The Lord has worked deeply in our hearts, chipping away at all those many things that tend to get in the way of total obedience to His will. In my case, God has had to deal with the sins of pride and self-centeredness among many other flaws and failures...and I know He is not done yet.
But now, as we stand at yet another set of crossroads, we know that there are certain essentials we can no longer ignore. The Holy Spirit has gifted us with abilities that are uniquely suited to our future work in Gambella, Ethiopia, and our reply to the call can only be a resounding 'yes'. There is no doubt in my mind that this is where the Lord would have us go from here.
But it is not the destination I am concerned about. We all know that those who walk with God always reach their destination...we know this so well it is a hairbreadth away from being an irritating cliche. No, rather it is this interim period that bothers me...it is the time between now and August 2014 that troubles me. True, we will be occupied with the many things we need to do in order to be ready when the time comes, but having the fulfillment of a dream so close and yet so far has the potential of creating all sorts of tensions. In many ways, this will be the greatest test I have ever faced. My only prayer is that God will keep me so busy doing the things I ought to do and need to do that I will not have the time to think about all the many things I will do once I am where our hearts are calling us.
So, today I find Miller's words comforting...spiritually, Louise and I have never felt healthier. So, thank you Donald, for your timely words. While you may never know it, the Lord has spoken through you this day. Bless you...and Blue Like Jazz.