Saturday, June 24, 2006

Why?

Today, one of my fellow DTS-ers, Anne (from Alaska) asked me one of those questions that brings you up short.

We were hard at work in the first few days of the Outreach portion of our DTS at YWAM Okanagan. It was really hot, and we were all covered in sweat, dirt, and insect bites.

"Dude, can I ask you a totally personal question about something? You don't have to answer if you don't want to," Anne began. 

I could only laugh at her choice of words, and waited for the question. At 22 years of age, Anne was the youngest student in our group, and had already gained a reputation for asking very intelligent (and often uncomfortable) questions. In short, her "Spiritual B.S." radar was always in play.

Anne got serious immediately. "You and Wendy have been through a lot, in church situations. How do you keep doing the stuff? What keeps you going?"
Wow -- a huge question, especially in a dusty yard filled with junked autos and other household debris that we were removing (four industrial dumpsters filled and counting), and as we dodged the occasional black widow spider (three so far).
Not the kind of question you want to answer glibly or off-handedly.

We chatted about it for awhile, off and on, in between gathering up broken glass, finding auto parts and tools in the grass, tearing out dead bushes, removing stumps and old logs, and battling (squishing underfoot) the afore-mentioned black widow spiders.

It was one of those "why?" questions that lodges in your brain cells long after the original conversation. As I've continued to ponder Anne's question, here's some thoughts that have come to mind:
  1. While going through tough times at the hands of churches and leaders can really take a round out of you, whenever I read the "Hall of Faith" (Hebrews 11:36-38), or St. Paul's resume of pain (2 Corinthians 11:24-27), my own journey seems carefree by comparison.

  2. A few weeks earlier, one of our instructors, Roger Helland, gave us a new metaphor for "vision": a beachball (it keeps bobbing to the surface, no matter how hard you may try to hold it down). For Wendy & I, our vision/passion of ministering among the emerging generations just won't go away. Trust me, there have been times where we've wished that God's gifts and callings were negotiable! But as long as we call Jesus "Lord", we don't really have the option of opting out.

  3. Honestly, it's people like Anne that God uses to keep us "doing this stuff". They have often been wounded by church experiences, but they still possess a flicker of the flame of the Holy Spirit within. They are looking for like-minded people to journey with, and we consider it an honor to be a part of their stories.

    Younger people who are needing spiritual mothers and fathers
    (1 Corinthians 4:15). We just cannot ignore how many are leaving churches in frustration and/or disillusionment; we are simply unable to sit by and do nothing.

    People who have emailed us or taken us out for coffee to talk about their own post-charismatic journey; friends like those who gather in a pub to work through their disillusionment as they are detoxing from church, and dreaming of seeing the Body of Christ acting like, well, the Body of Christ.

    And last, but certainly not least:

  4. Where else could we go (John 6:66-69)? Who else could we turn to? What would we do with our lives if following Jesus didn't matter? If His Spirit were not inside us, prodding us to action and steadily moulding us into His likeness?
I hope that last one doesn't sound like a trite, religious bit of Christianese-inspired spiritual jargon. Because it's not. Not to me, anyway.

We follow Jesus, who instructed us to focus our absolute unmixed attention on two things: loving God and loving our neighbour (Mark 12:29-31). And ultimately, it is Jesus who enables us, calls us, and equips us to keep "doing the stuff", in spite of the bumps and bruises along the way.

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