the journey of a wanderer…

Often times I feel like a wandering messenger…one who doesn’t know the meaning of ‘being settled.’  Sometimes that feels like a blessing, other times a curse.  It is a weird feeling, to be full of joy when you land on a new shore, but to also be just as full of joy, when you set sail from that same shore.  I don’t even know where to start…maybe very systematically…let me take a step back.  When Emmaus merged with ANC, I had told both Brandon and Dennis, “in seeking my life journey, I feel like I see a scattered puzzle in front of me, and each piece of the puzzle is clear, but I have no idea how they come together…maybe that’s God’s point, maybe he wants me to stop worrying about how they come together, and just live in the now and trust Him to bring the pieces together as I just stay on the journey he lays out before me each step of the way, as it is him who created the pieces in the first place…”  Now let me paint the picture of each piece:

I guess the first time I realized I was really on a journey came from a word in a cafe: The year was 1993, and I was sitting in an old run down cafe in Moscow.  I was simply taking the time to reflect and pray and read.  My main focus during that prayer time was to simply ask God, “why am I here…why did you need to bring me all the way over to Russia…”  Throughout my trip I had simply been asking God about his plans for my life.  I think I realized that while some people may come to faith through our ministry, that it would have happened with or without me on that trip, so my question for God was self-focused yet God focused…at 17, I didn’t want to live my life as floater…I wanted my life to be lived for the Glory of God, thus I wanted to know how he wanted me to live my life.  I just knew that trip would not affect any Russian for the rest of their life, but it could me, as God, for 30 days, took me out of my very small town paradigm into the unknown…for what, I wasn’t sure…But what I know, is that after leaving that cafe, and leaving Russia, I wasn’t sure of much, but I knew that I knew that the dog-collar for my life was Proverbs 31:8-9, “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.  Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”  Along with this, I have had other ‘visions‘ (my apologies to the cessationists) about this. Anyway, I had no idea what that meant or who these people were, but what I did know, was this was it…

The next stop in the journey was, the desire for His Spirit over Success: While I had the Proverbs text tucked in the back of my heart, I was still an eighteen year old boy with desires of any small town guy – finish high-school, have a girlfriend, not think too much about tomorrow and expect happiness to just happen.  That idea got rocked when my parents got divorced and we moved to Austin.  I went from an 18 year old boy in a small town, to an 18 year old man in a city.  I went from living in a home to living with my mom and brother and sister in one bedroom in a trailer.  I went from worrying about when I got to see my girlfriend next, to wondering how I was going to make a check for me and my family.  From being a big brother, to a poor excuse of a father figure.  My life was truly turned upside down (I’ll spare you the details) and life was no longer going the same way I had planned.  Emotionally, the only kind of verses that spoke to me were verses like, Job 4:3-6; Isaiah 41:13 and Nehemiah 2:1-2 and I lived in the book of Job and Psalms and would read and place my hope in texts like Psalm 27:4; Isaiah 58:11; Psalm 32:8-10; Job 11:5-6; Job 42:5.  And while this may seem a little dramatic, for this 18 year old it was the center of my reality.  All of the sudden, my life was no longer planned out, success was not even an option, the only comfort I found was in God’s presence, and for me that was the new success – to be in God’s presence – Exodus 33:12-18

The next real stop on the journey was, The Girl from Morocco: At the age of 19 (1995), I took another trip, this time to a very different part of the world – rather than going to the oppressive country of Russia, I went to the Islamic country of Morocco, and fell in love with – the culture, the people, the food, everything.  The truth is, my love for it may have simply come from the escape it was from my reality, but I don’t think so…for the first time I experienced community, mission, and God in a way, I had never thought possible…and for the first time in a very long time, peace. One night, in a beautiful little town, I was sitting on a very small edge of a tall hotel, in fact on June 24th, this is how I recorded that night:

Last night as I was sitting on the edge of the roof between safety and death, and stared in amazement at the wonder around me, I felt peace like never before.  Looking towards the west wondering what was happening in Texas on Old Lockhart Road.  I wondered if they feel the peace I felt that night.  It was peace that is indescribable a peace where death and destruction cannot place fright in your mind, a peace were God’s arms are around you, that is the peace I felt that night.

It was there in Morocco, that I began my distaste for the American church.  Way before I had heard of words like ‘missional’ or ‘incarnational’ it just made sense, that church in the west didn’t make sense, and that we were a little too cozy in our plush churches while the spiritually, emotionally, and physically starving really existed in the rest of the world.  I didn’t get it, but I knew this couldn’t be God’s way.  However, beyond all this, there was another seed being formed.  I met a girl, and she was on my team, her name was Sarah.  I told one of our friends from that trip, “One day I’m gonna marry that girl…”  She didn’t like me (in that way)…again, to spare the length of the blog, 15 years later, she is my favorite ministry partner, my best friend, and the mother of our four kids…

The next stop in the journey, came in a very expected pit stop – Fight Club: yep, you read that right, Fight Club was the next piece…I had no desire to be involved in the church…I saw a huge disconnect between the church, masculinity, and mission.  In fact, one of the opening scenes of Fight Club is centered around a group of “men” sitting in a therapy group that just so happens to be taking place in a church…do you know what this therapy group was for?  Men who had lost their balls due to testicular cancer…So, what you had was a group of men, getting all lovey-dovey, and huggy with each other, discussing their feelings and only focusing on their own problems – lost masculinity!  This was the best picture of the church I had seen to date. But then the movie begins to move from there.  One of the guys who was lost in this oblivion began to think differently, and in short he forms this group of MEN who are straight up nuts, and set out on mission.  What they set out to accomplish is irrelevant to this post, but the point is, it was in this movie that I had my first positive thought about church, “What if church could be about this…”  So, to spare all the detail, it was here that the idea of re-engaging the church began to be revived in me…

So, I guess I would say the first four stops on the journey were:

  1. A desire for the oppressed, the voiceless, and broken – though I didn’t know who they were…
  2. A desire for God’s presence and glory over measurable success and man’s idea of accomplishment…
  3. A deep desire for global missions specifically Eastern Europe and Islamic Countries…
  4. A new kind of church, that didn’t suck the masculinity out of men, but rather empowered the masculinity inside of them to go, be, risk, and do, by calling out of them that which they thought was dead…a new kind of church that exemplified community like we see and dream of, not manufactured bible studies…

So, where does this lead me?  I don’t know.  But it keeps me searching. It keeps me walking.  It keeps me relying on the direction of the Holy Spirit.  It keeps me relying on Jesus.  It keeps me in the word, and as I look back at my entire life, it helps me realize, my job is best done and my life best lived, when I am NOT trying to make something happen, but rather focusing on the scriptures and my relationship with God and being obedient in the now, and trusting God to do what God is going to do, as long as I keep my self open to his plans, and ready to launch out from this shore to the next when I hear His voice call…

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2 thoughts on “the journey of a wanderer…

  1. Pingback: Journey of a Wander, pt. 2 « Emmaus Life

  2. Pingback: …visions of a new kind of church… « Emmaus Life

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