“I will remember these things as I pour out my soul: how I used to walk with the crowd and lead it in a procession to God's house. “ Psalm 42:4a (GW)
I went to my blog today to add a blog of the Senior Pastor of Vineyard Church of Ann Arbor, which I’ve interacted with on an occasion of serving the homeless shortly after I had returned from the Bowery Mission in New York with my-then girlfriend and ministry partner, Shannon, who led me to it. It was shortly before I moved to A2 myself with the family and so the city was totally new….but the ministry to the homeless, ingrained by the impact of the Bowery, wasn’t. Things have changed since those days of March.
In many aspects of my life, my faith and my direction.
When I arrived at my blog, there was a ‘unmoderated’ comment by a young woman from Virginia whom came across my blog posting of the Bowery Street Mission in Lower Manhattan, New York. That, in and of itself, is not new…. Somehow in the course of investigating various topics and interests there have been those who have been directed to a comment I’ve made or a blog post I’ve written. I’m not saying that to boast, it’s just the nature of the research engines to bring odd things to the surface as you search….or not, dependent on your engine and your ability/desire to dig. She had experienced the Bowery too, an unique connection that defies age, culture, and location. Once a Bowery-changed person, always a Bowery-changed person.
She left a nice comment and I went to her blog. After reading it, I posted it to my list of blogs and sites (renamed from Sites I visit). I recommend, even if I don’t always agree with what’s posted, these blogs….. we are a vast, unique and wide body within Christ’s family and I believe none of us have everything fully right except for the foundational truths that binds us together as brethren under the blood.
But that’s not the energy that runs through my fingers to write about today…… Not even the Bowery Mission, which is forefront on my mind each day as I sit down at this desk because of the apron displayed with the signatures of the men I met my first time there that my eyes fall upon as I ponder the Word, think about God, and feel for the direction He wants me to take in my humble offering called posts. Anthony Johnson……Marvin Campbell….Cuba Edy….some names written big, some small…..like the Constitution of the United States signature section at the end. A connection to a world that I skirt the edges of each and every day as the unemployment continues.
“I may have glanced in a mirror at the man who walked between those two red doors if I had but known that I would never see him again. Then again, I may have not.”
I think now that I wished I had, glanced in a mirror at the man who walked in the doors of the Bowery so that I could compare him to the one who walked out. I don’t know if I would’ve still willingly, though with some reluctance, walked in those doors because the course of my life was inalienably changed that week and even as I walked away from it with new feelings in regards to those I loved, those I was responsible for and those whom I would’ve counted strangers in the weeks before……I didn’t know the path I would be traveling and the havoc it would play upon my emotions, my feelings and my faith.
I walked in the doors of the Bowery uncomfortable because of the painful connection it had, even in its total newness to me, to my life that lay in devastation behind me……. I walked away from the Bowery uncomfortable in the perceived direction and emotions that lay exposed in my life….. and as I sit here in Ann Arbor, I realize in this moment as I think again and again of the past year that I have been unemployed, that I have never been comfortable since.
And I fought against it like a horse against the reins or a child against the rules. Which made me more uncomfortable, which made me more uncertain and which made me sit at the campfire in the darkness of this journey far too long because I didn’t want to answer the questions posed by the stirring of my uncomfortableness or listen to the only Truth that such questioning could bring. God has ebbed and flowed in this place, much like a faithful friend who coaxes you from the safe and the comfortable by walking away and comes back when such efforts don’t seem to move you. My beliefs have cried out for untapped boundaries even as my faith quails in failure to support such reaching….. I have been driven both by my human fear of the unknown impossibilities of God and my spiritual fear of God, the push and pull of the tide of my beliefs bringing me to the point of drowning in the immensity of God because the lifesaver of my faith fails to support the dead weight of my body.
I don’t believe I was meant to be single, but singleness is the only seemingly constant in my life……….
I believe I was meant to preach, but the inadequacies and impossibilities of such an endeavor seem to be insurmountable…..
God has called me to impossible heights of His glory and grace even as I realize that I am not worthy (and never will be) of such elevation……..
I want to be comfortable in the environs and community of the Family of God; to be respected, to be loved, to be a powerful force of truth and change even as I am changed by association. I want to be everything that I am supposed to be within His purposes and His kingdom………..the talents lay in my hands, the gift of my Master as He departs for home to prepare for His return…….
To invest those talents means to live on the edge constantly and forever uncomfortable even in comfort, joyful even in sorrow and loving even in the painfulness of community.
I remember those times when the world would wander away and God was real and present with me at the campfire……those times when the gifts given were used for Him in the immense uncomfortableness of doing what He has called and purposed me to do……..