Awakening

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Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

The talking heads are endless. But what I find interesting in my nomadic childhood is that cleaning, basketball and writing have been common denominators as others try to get me to do what they what me to do. Jesus will always be the greatest denominator, but what I mean is that Jesus has continually worked through cleaning, basketball and writing to get my attention.

I think what is happening is that I’m having a second awakening similar to the times I became a Christian, experienced the crisis of my brother Jason spending some time in the hospital after a car accident years ago when I was in college and many experiences there are too numerous to list since I finished grad school.

I took an extended hiatus from blogging, not because I planned to, but because some stressors led me to make that choice, but now that I’m back writing again I sense a strong pull of the Spirit to examine my heart and really answer some life changing questions for myself. God’s pursuit of us is hindered because He does not force Himself upon us. I write that, and I look back over it thinking that sounds ludicrous, but it is a true statement. I know there are those who would argue from a Calvinistic theology, and I’ve argued the same argument, but how can anyone look at life on this global village and say there isn’t freewill at work? We could talk about God’s knowledge, but it’s futile to discuss, much less comprehend something we get wrong more times than not. This is not a scholarly blog, and so the popular level I bring is of course not seminary or Ph.D. kind of material. There are plenty of websites, blogs and chat rooms for that kind of dialogue. As I’ve said many times this blog is for my own drivel as it crosses my mind. There’s no research behind these posts. There is a life experience behind the knowledge and wisdom, but I don’t fact check the “facts” or opinions I express before I click that little pink publish button I’m looking at right now to my top right. My friend Caralyn puts much more work into her writing, and many of you do as well, but dear Daniel shoots from the hip! If I write my memoirs as my brother Jason wants me to do I’ll have to develop a better protocol for production.

It’s remarkable Jesus never wrote a single book, but of course he is the reason behind the entire 66 book canon we call the Bible, and it’s no accident it’s the best selling book year after year.

I’m trying to put a finger on what it is that I’m experiencing right now, and I know it’s God, but I’m trying to lather that with more context as I look upon my existential questions. I know part of it is the conversation we recently had with Chris Nichols about the youth ministry at Cross Point’s downtown campus. Our daughter is going to be a ninth grader, but they do not have high school programming on Sunday or Wednesday at the downtown campus. Christ invited her to be a leader with the middle school on Sunday morning, but he also said that he’s working hard to create a Young Life model for high school students at the downtown campus. Through the emails and conversation we had with Chris I’ve been reliving my years as a youth pastor, and it looks like we will be getting back into youth pastoring. That’s been the crux of the matter, and the Spirit has not wasted anytime waking me up. It’s been delightful, stressful and peaceful. Pastoring is what I was formally trained for, and it’s what I know, but the material pull of becoming wealthy through my business of course has been a factor as well. I remember my friends Russ and Justin talking about pursuing both, so of course that certainly weighs upon my thoughts.

Vocation is an important subject we talk a lot about. It’s one of the first questions we ask someone after we meet them. Jon Acuff has made a living writing books about vocation. So have many others, but as you know I’m a huge Jon Acuff fan. He gives me hope, and as I continue to build my Career Savings Account (Do Over by Jon Acuff) I think about calling from my talents and God’s call for devotion to Him. We have to filter everything we do as Christians through those two things. Os Guinness talks about those things in the context of Primary and Secondary callings. Primary means choosing to follow the Judeo-Chrisitan God we call Yahweh as expressed through the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The second is what we choose to do with our hands to earn money. Many people figure out that early, but some people take an entire lifetime and never figure that out. They think somehow that happiness is found in what makes them the most money, and sadly that can seriously backfire. You have to grind sometimes to do now what you don’t want to do in order to do what you want to do later. I understand that. Life is not fair, and everyone has had to do things they didn’t want to do. Jesus being completely human had to do things he didn’t want to do till the time came to do what he really wanted to do, make disciples and bring glory to the Father.

Don’t bury inside you what your primary calling is drawing you to do. I don’t think God wants me to suffer as I go about my vocational calling. Bringing glory to God should produce joy. God created work. We could conjecture whether or not it was a result of the fall, but my theology tells me that work preceded the fall. God gave Adam and Eve a honey-do list, and what happened after the fall is another Sunday School lesson. Not once in Genesis did Adam and Eve complain about the work God gave them to do before Satan deceived them.

God’s love was embedded in me since before I was born. He obviously continues to pursue me, and I dare say He continues to pursue you as you read these words. His healing touch and power are evident in our world even when we face the darkest of days. That might sound like a platitude, but I have found it to be true. All of us have hard things to face. We’ll face hard things till the day we die, but as a believer I know there will come a time when suffering will end. That drives me forward. It gets me up in the morning. It drives me as I clean Nashville homes. It drives me as I gain strength from His presence as the Cross Point band leads us in worship on Sunday morning. His presence leads me as I write these words to you my dear readers. I want to close and offer a prayer for all of us.

You know us all by name dear Father. You know the number of hairs on our head. You knew us when we were in our mother’s wombs. You know the day we will die. You are constant in a whisper that we are safe in your presence. There are bad things that happen everyday in each of our cities or towns. There are also good things that bring you glory because you created good. You are light. You show us hope when we are in the middle of despair. You lift us continually, and may each one of us seek you. You tell us that we will find you when we seek you with our whole hearts. We believe that, and we lean into that because we’ve seen evidence of it through all our sufferings. Turn our nation back to you Father, and may your mercy be shown to those who harden their hearts against you. In Jesus name amen.

 

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