Friday, January 24, 2014

Next Big Thing

So why did I just spend four days of precious cyberspace to tell you the story of how I landed in the church I currently attend? Because it is from this foundation that I'm launching into my next big thing, which is creeping closer every day and still blows my mind. Without knowing the journey it's taken to bring me to this place, it's hard for you to understand, and for your jaw to drop with mine, that in a few short months...

I will be a seminary student.

Yes, this is really happening. The plan is already afoot. The details are in the making. I already have an acceptance letter. (And other applications out there.) And it's kind of weird to me, maybe. Maybe not. I think we live in a world where when you find a place you're comfortable with, you settle into it and just let it be. That's not the case for me with church. That's not the case for me with God. The more I know about Him, the more I learn, the warmer that seat feels on Sunday morning, the more I want to know. The more I want to learn. The more perfect it all seems that God could be God and God could be real, the more I want to see how far perfect can stretch, where it can take me, where it will lead me.

Fourteen years after I walked into this church to stay, God is still answering my questions. I find that I'm never satisfied; I always want to know more. I'm always asking, always seeking. It's kind of a circular thing. I was asking questions about God and all of a sudden, God was asking questions about me. And let's be honest - I never understood myself. Many days, I still don't. So now, I'm asking questions about me and I don't know how to answer them, and so I'm asking God questions about me and He answers with truth about Him, which reveals truth about me, which leads me to ask more truth about Him and on and on it goes in this never-ending revelation that absolutely feeds. my. soul.

It's incredible!

And the more I know about God, the more I know about myself, the more I know about myself in God and through God, the more I can trust God. Even if I still have questions. (I think the questions never end. It's so beautiful.) Which means, right now, I get to truth God for this next big thing, and many more things, and He shows Himself faithful, which leads back into my questions and on and on again.

For instance, I applied to the chaplain program last July, not knowing what it was in me that drew me to this opportunity. Except that God laid it heavily on my heart. Through the course of the program, He revealed Himself in me and even revealed myself in me, and I discovered some of the beautiful things He's created in me. And called me to.

I didn't know, at the time, how I was going to pay for the chaplain program. The tuition was one thing; gas money was another. That program was quite the commute. I live my life debt-free. I don't do things I can't afford. I will, and I have, let money hinder me from going to the places God sends me. For fear, I guess, of coming up empty on the other side. Because while I don't put a lot of stock in money, this world seems to run on it and I do appreciate eating and bathing and sleeping in a sheltered covering. But I got into the program, asked a simple question of the community in which I love, and within a week, I had tuition. I never earned the gas money ahead of time; it came one tank at a time. But it was always there, too. My 14-year-old car got an impressive 33 miles per gallon week in and week out, and gas prices stayed relatively low. God has shown Himself.

Now, I'm looking ahead toward seminary, still uncovering what truth is - about me, about God, about the world, about calling, about service, about love - and trusting God to make it possible. I'm planning on this. I'm not worrying about the details. I'm not stressed about it coming together or not coming together. I'm not even entertaining the idea that it won't come together. I have some applications out there. I'm looking at financial aid. I don't know how it's even possible that a girl such as me gets to this place, and yet, it's tangibly real. Because I can trust God to be here. And I do. And He is.

Faith is a weird thing. You never can tell where it's going to take you. You never can tell how you'll get to where you're going or how you got to where you are. It's a winding road and a weird journey. I think I've shown a bit of that this week. And that's just the tangible getting-to-church portion of the journey! Getting to God is a whole 'nother story.

But I think we as Christians, as churches, as communities of faith, put a lot of pressure on ourselves for the latter. We think we have to get people to God. We think we have to teach them who He is. We think we have to be the ones to have the answers, which is maybe why so many of us are hesitant to invite our friends to church with us. We know we don't have the answers. We can't tell you how to get your heart to God. We can't tell you how God is going to respond to you. We don't have the words for that nagging ache. The more we try, the more trite God seems and people run into the very thing they aren't looking for - preaching. Or blind faith. Or kind of that magic pill, cult-like God where we're just telling you it's okay because it's Jesus but we don't explain any of that.

If my journey is a lesson for anyone, let that lesson be this: stop worrying about having the answers. You're not responsible for another man's faith. You're not responsible for his journey. There will be people who walk in your doors and discover that's not the place for them. They may not be lost; they may just still be seeking. That's okay. Paul says he became all things to all people, but we're just not that good at it. We cannot be all things, not as a community, although we can have all things within us. 

There will be people, though, who will walk into your doors and stay. You want to know what makes that more like to happen? If they see that you're a people looking to God. If they see that you're a people more worried on what happens on high than any other distraction in that room. If they see you worshiping, teaching, preaching, singing, and looking to God. If they see you asking questions, raising your eyes because that's the only place from which the answer can possibly come. I think that's the key. Seekers are looking for a place to look to God. If they walk in your doors and see you doing just that, they're likely to hang around awhile.

And God will answer their questions. And question their heart. Then they'll question their heart, and then question their God. And He will answer. And He will lead them. And they will know who they are, and they will know who He is, and they will find a way to trust in who He is even when they can't lean on who they are. And faith will take them somewhere beautiful that God has created and called in them.

Maybe even seminary. You just never know.

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