Saturday, September 29, 2012

Running in Circles

      The devil is in the details, or so the saying goes. I would agree with that. Details are not my favorite thing. I prefer to dwell on big ideas and concepts, to dream and imagine what has never been thought of.  
       But I am continually faced with details. This past month especially, as I've been preparing to leave.  For a while it felt like I added 5 items to my to-do list for everyone one I completed. One of the biggest tasks, has been completing the editing of the projects from this summer. Approximately 80 hours of work. By itself not that difficult but when you add in all the other work and the pressing deadline, it came down to the wire.
       And so through a series of events far too complicated and exhausting, I found my self running around Dubai International Airport trying to find a courier service to mail out the last edited piece of this project.  Misinformation was the name of the game. First one person and then another gave me the wrong information and so I would have to back track and try a different route. In the space of about 90 minutes, I walked the length of the Dubai Airport 3 times, took a taxi to the offsite cargo facilities, walked back to the airport on the side of the superhighway, went through at least 6 security checkpoints, and still made it to my flight on time.  
       And somewhere in the midst of all this running back and forth, I thought, "How pointless this all is. I'm just going in circles, not really getting anywhere. I should just give up." I didn't of course, but now as I look back I see an interesting lesson.
       Some people love running. They love the planning, the preparing, the reading about strides and diet plans, the sweat and the pain of exhausted muscles. I'm not one of those people. I don't like running, but I do it because it's good for me. I do it because it gets me in shape for days like today. I do it because it helps me get where I need to be. 
       Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own... But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12+14 ESV)
       So I keep running to reach my goal. I keep working at the details, crossing each item off my list, and always learning how to take the next step. The running in the airport this morning wasn't pointless circles, it was circuit training for what lies ahead. 

Life Story

This past week, as part of getting to know the Journey Corps, we've been sharing our life Stories. It has been very cool to hear and the stories of how God orchestrates the moments and events of people's lives to bring them to Bouake, Ivory Coast.  

I got to share my story this past week. You might think since I call myself a visual storyteller that I would have been excited to share. For me it was nerve racking. As I prepared, I kept thinking how do I do this? What parts of the story do I use to tell who I am? What events do I leave out? Will people really get a grasp of how God has molded me and prepared me from the very beginning? How do I reveal His subtle impressions and guidance over 27 years?  Can I my whole person be wrapped up in only a few minutes?

The good news is that I will continue living with these people over the next few months. They will not know me just by the story I told that night. They will get to know me by the stories I tell along the way, each day sharing with them a little more of my life, and even adding new stories as we experience them together. 

I think this is what community is really all about. This sharing of life stories. This hearing each others stories, accepting each other as we struggle together with a common goal. This overlapping of many lives to create new stories. Perhaps this is what Acts was talking about when it says that all the believers were of "one accord." Perhaps, this idea of community is what Christ intended for all of us in the Church

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Sending

    September 2nd was my last Sunday with my Church, Ravenswood Evangelical Covenant Church in Chicago.  It was a holiday weekend so many people were missing.  Ideally I would have had time to meet with everyone, but with my sudden departure plans this became the last chance for me to say thank you and goodbye.
    This was the hardest goodbye I've had to say so far.  For the past 3 years this community has been the closest thing that I have had to "home." With all the travel that I do and jumping from place to place, I always felt like I was back when I walked through those doors and was greeted with the smiles of people who love me. It was hard to look at them and realize I wouldn't see them for... I don't know how long.  With tears in my eyes, I said, " Thank you for loving me. Thank you for caring for me. Thank you for investing into my life. God has used you in my life to prepare me for this project."
    As is the custom at Ravenswood, the whole congregations surrounded me and laid their hands on me to pray for me as I went out. According to Wikkipedia the human hand weighs about 3/4th of a pound.  So there I stood with about 30 lbs of hands laid on me, and instead of feeling pressed down with the extra weight I was lifted up. I will not easily forget that feeling, and when I am third and fatigued I will remember the strength and support I felt with their hands pressing on me.
    It was there surrounded by my Christian "Family" that I understood Hebrew 12:1

 " Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely and let us run with endurance the race set before us."
My paraphrase goes like this.
Because you are held in Gods grace by so many faithful believers in the church let no sin, or fear, or obstacle keep you from doing with diligence all that God has given you to do.