Raw from the vault of 2008November 11, 2013
At this point I have no idea where I’m going. Totally clueless.
I do not know what I will do. I have no job, no role, no career, no reliable plan. I am disoriented and trepidacious. I do not know if the people in these parts are friends. No one is walking at my pace. They pass me by. Eyebrows raised, heads shaking, puzzled looks.
I used to describe the unusual twists and turns of disappointment, closed doors, surprising opportunities and new beginnings in our life as taking ‘the scenic route.’ Even though we weren’t moving very directly, there was a sense of direction. But right now I can’t even claim that. I’m not sure that I’ve come to a stand still, quite, because I remember yesterday, I’m sitting in today and I anticipate tomorrow. But I’m just muddling around.
On the one hand I have a great sense of passion and vision for a place where people of all ages are fluent in the languages and culture to celebrate God in each other’s lives from the cradle to the grave. That those who provide the safety (pastoral care) and structures (liturgy and mission) to enable this will have confidence in the power and passion of God evident in the lives of all people. For years I have looked in hope towards that horizon, and shared the signposts and landmarks I’ve discovered along the way with others who seek the same.
But on the other hand I have been so rabidly criticised for seeking this horizon, the accusations are deafening and disorientating, spinning me round and round on the spot.
“You’re a fool*it won’t work*we tried that in the oh-so-embarrassing-seventies*the statistics show that mission must be age specific*you are too creative*too poetic* too honest *too different*too team-approach*too community oriented*you take emotional risks* you’re given to relationship* you believe in reconciliation* you’re too inclusive*it will exclude those who are single*so get with the program*sit at your desk more*tidy your desk*pack things up*the bible is really for adults* the bible stories are just for kids*you’ll undermine people’s confidence in the Bible* people won’t like your style… ”
The criticism has fallen and fallen and fallen like hail pelting down for so long, that I feel frozen on the spot. Can I thaw out and keep going?
Praying is hard, because I’m not sure what to pray for. I used to ask ‘What are you doing, God?’ and ‘How can I help?’ But now I’m terrified to ask this – because the answer might be “be a fool, be creative, poetic, honest, different, team approached, community oriented…”
You get the picture.
I used to pray ‘bring in the kingdom’ and I thought I had some idea of what that might be.
A mustard seed that would grow.
The worldly wise lad who’d grown too big for his boots falling back into dad’s arms and becoming a young child again.
A round-up of the hungry and needy to a fabulous feast that was just starting, and was never going to stop. No one was going to be thrown out at closing or told to go home, because they already would be home.
So I’ve planted mustard seeds and dropped off invitations along the way. But I can’t go back to see what’s grown, or who’s replied. Talk about a ‘faith’ journey.
And reading the Bible is hard, because it is full of the stories I’ve lived and loved since before I could walk. I placed all my bets here. I’ve staked my life, my character, my ethics, my allegiances, my desires and my failures on this stuff. I believed that these words were enduring, that they would last my whole life, that they weren’t just for a particular age –childhood or adolescence or adulthood or old age. These are the words of the living God, surely they are robust enough to last the journey and not wear out. They are my tread, and I was counting on them lasting like the sandals of the Israelites.
I’ve staked my purpose, my sustenance, my story, my identity, my destiny on this stuff. And now I realise, I can only know if it is true, that the path goes all the way round, if I follow it all the way round. Is there no other way? What other road could I possibly have been thinking I would take?
‘Where else have we to go? You alone have words of eternal life.’ John 6:68