Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The God who Runs, in 3 parts, part 1

There is this "thing", book, whatever that I've been working on. Previous posts have included parts or aspects of it, so this shouldn't come as a great shock to some of you. I'm at the point where I can say with great (wavering and uncertain) confidence that I'm almost done. After letting it sit for a few months I came back to do the "final edit", or as final as it can be before I start the next one. In any case, the next few posts are sections of a chapter I was happy to read for a gazillionth time, so I figure you might like it:

Chapter ? The God who Runs

Several months ago I found myself in a small hotel room in downtown Kampala. It was the start of an extended mission trip, and up to that point I had spent a few days seeing the city, visiting a friend, and waiting to see what came next. I had plans to meet up with a ministry in a nearby town but the final contact hadn’t come through yet. This hotel room became the venue for the culmination of a long emotional journey towards the heart of God.

Ten years before, during my senior year of university, I told God I was ready to go wherever He wanted me. I didn’t care where it was as long as He was there. I was ready, I grew up in ministry, I was about to earn my business degree, I had no debt, and I was unattached. In addition to a genuine desire to serve God, I figured the timing was right and things were going to happen.

Things did happen, but not the ones I anticipated. Over the next ten years I traveled around the world, took advantage of opportunities to serve God, worked with Churches and ministries whenever I could, made friends who will be in my life as long as I’m breathing, started and graduated seminary, and drew closer to God, but I never found my “Calling”. The place where God’s plans and my desires collided in an official “This is it! This is what I’m doing, this is who I Am.” realization, never materialized. How I prayed and where I looked never seemed to change the result.

The surface of my life was peaceful and full of life, but there remained a deep current of unrest and unsatisfied desire. It seemed I was always looking for God, always looking for where He wanted me to be so I could start the rest of my life. I never took serious jobs, always preferring to stay flexible and available for the next step. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was also the reason I only rarely pursued serious “relationships”, and why the ones that I did start didn’t last long. In both of these circumstances, work and women, I always knew there was something else. For good or bad, I wasn’t willing to settle for the things in front of me to the forfeiture of what was to come.

As my years accumulated and the practical aspects of my life remained unchanged, the deep unrest went from a youthful turmoil to a matured melancholy. I found a strange balance of searching for God while walking with God. I’m not sure if these descriptions make sense but they are about as close as I can get to describing where I was.

More than a few friends, who seemingly had no interest in ministry or missions beyond building trips in Mexico and helping out on Sunday mornings, heard God’s call and were on their way. Other friends found their carriers, got married, bought houses, started families, etc. I was grateful and happy for all of them, but these moments brought with them their own confusions. I can honestly say I’ve never envied my friends’ lives, but I’ve wondered at the contrast with my own.

I knew I could force the issue, but it never felt right and I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I found myself in a strange balance between trying to be patient while at the same time attempting to avoid passivity. It was on this foundation I found myself under a mosquito net in a small sweaty African hotel room, a bit tired and confused, reading a book and looking for God.

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