Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A New Adventure

I've been thinking about starting a blog for several months now, but a couple of recent email conversations have convinced me that now is the time. One of the things I was having trouble with was a name. Anyone who knows me will understand that it was important to me to find a name for this thing that represents it's purpose. And so, after much deliberation, I made my choice. Unfortunately, my first two choices, "Twinkie Puppets" and "Flying Monkey-Junkie" were taken. Just kidding- Convergence really was my first choice, for two really big reasons. I guess I could just tell them to you, but what fun would that be? This is a blog, after all.

When I was growing up, I loved to go on bike rides. I think it was a basic hunger for adventure that motivated me more than anything else. At the age of twelve, there was nothing that compared to the feeling of riding just a little further than I'd been before and finding something new; a little bit of woods that I'd never explored; a bridge that crossed into a neighborhood where I hadn't ridden; a trail that I hadn't taken- yet.

I could never have described it then, but as I look back on all the incredible adventures, I think those feelings were stirred because I was at a point of convergence (see above definition). For a moment, there was more in front of me than new woods, or a new bridge, or even a new neighborhood. For just a moment, everything I knew was colliding with all that was unknown to me. I wanted to see more of this place and know more about it, but what I didn't know made me hesitate. As these two realities met, they generated those feelings that exist together in the paradox of choice that walks us all through life.

Can you feel it? Adventure and Excitement long to move ahead, but Fear is pleading with them to reconsider. Safety is tugging at the sleeve of Risk, reminding it of all the unseen dangers that may be waiting just out of sight. Doubt whispers in one ear, "You probably can't" and "It's probably not worth it," while Hope whispers in the other "What if you can" and "What if it is?

As we grow up, these "convergence" moments continue to happen, but begin to carry greater weight. Worthwhile journeys and epic adventures are rarely easy and often include some real pain. If we look at our lives as journeys, I think it's reasonable to expect that challenge (and yes, pain too) will be a part of what we experience. Not because of fate, or destiny, or random cosmic chance, but rather because God created us and understands what needs to happen in each of us to help our lives become the epic adventures that He envisions.

James 1:2-4 says, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be complete, not lacking anything." (NIV) Because He loves us beyond what we can imagine, He won't give up on us. It's just not in His nature. "...if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself." (2 Timothy 2:13, NIV)

I don't know about you, but there are quite a few things coming together in my life right now that are either reminding me of God's faithfulness or testing my faith to develop perseverance. "Convergence" is a word that perfectly describes where I am finding myself these days, and serves to remind me that the collisions in our lives are often the very tools that God is using to develop in us the potential that He sees.

In Him We Live,


p.s. - Yup, I know I only gave one reason. Stop by next week for the other one!


Cheryl said...

What a great start...and can't wait for the next installment. thanks for starting this Pastor Jeff, can't wait to begin studying The Word with you again.

Amy said...

My soul took flight. Thank you for being the brother you are. What a happy 'collision'. Thank you for this banquet.

Ali said...

Cool illustration...what a preacher boy you are now!

I personally take credit, though, for the flying monkey...after all, it was me that tormented you with the song "The Monkey Who Wanted to Fly" during camp team...remember that lovely little ditty?

mike_and/or_kara said...

I'd like to volunteer to run sound for this ministry.

Kathy said...

Albert Schweitzer said:
"Sometimes our light goes out but is blown into flame by another human being. Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this light."

Jack Kerouac said:
"The only people for me are the mad ones; the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles."

I say: "Thanks, Sparky!!!"

Laura said...

All I can add is...AWESOME. It's great to read your words and you are right, pain is a part of God's purpose for us sometimes. I just remember what Paul wrote, "I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me (Phillippians 4:13).
Finally, (as Paul wrote), I give thanks for you everyday! Can't wait to read what you have to say next week! You are an inspiration!

Connie and Charlie said...

Mike and Dorothy are visiting with us right now. Thanks for the blogosphere, Jeff!

whooper and whoopette said...

I read your blog for Feb. 12. I may be 5 days behind but I thought it was appropriate for my current state of being. Here, in Rockport, Texas it snowed on Thurs. Feb. 15, 2007. I walked out to put some materials in my car and let it warm from the chilling weather. As I walked toward my car, I thought, “Oh. It’s snowing.” A few seconds passed. “OHHHHH!!! IT”S SNOWING AND IT”S ROCKPORT, TEXAS!!!!!” finally hits my frozen brain. It has been extremely cold here with day after day of overcast weather. It is the coldest winter in Rockport in over twenty years they say.

This cold has matched my brooding mood. On Feb. 28th it will be one year since we decided that God wanted us here. I showed up on Mar. 1 as a permanent resident and my husband showed up on April 1. I think you all remember that weekend, right?

So, we thought God wanted us here and that He wanted us “to wait”. And wait we have. And for what, Lord? We haven’t done anything that I can really see. He hasn’t revealed anything to us so far. So, we continue waiting. How do we occupy our time meanwhile?

I am working at the best teaching job I have ever had at school that just received notice that due to the work of the reading interventionists and other teachers at the school, our school is in the top ten this year in charter schools in our state. Little children smile up at me with shining eyes and say “I love you.” and I reply, “I love you, too.” They learn to read and love school and learn to trust that teachers are people who care about their school work and about them as individuals.

My principals are dedicated to the school like none I have ever seen. Yes, I occasionally wish they had had a different decision about something or other but I know they make it that way because they care about kids and teachers. In fact, they set up a program with a university to come to our campus and teach masters level courses so that we all could get our masters degrees and our master teacher certifications. All the while the school is paying our way with tuition and books and supper every Tues. before class. Now they are coming to our school so that we can possibly learn how to get our doctorate. My husband thinks I should do it. I had been trying to think of how I could teach at the university level and this might be the way to do it.

We are making good friends with our neighbors. They are kind and sharing with us. Art just brought us homemade gumbo.

Our church asked us to be involved with the VBS program this summer. Our congregation runs about 330 people. It is ½ over the age of sixty-five and they are winter Texans who give generously to the collection while they are here. They began building a debt free church some time ago and every quarter collect money above and beyond the regular weekly collection. In Oct. they collected $79,000 in one Sunday.

My husband is learning many things from his job in Corpus and is mostly learning extreme patience with people who exhibit symptoms of bi-polar management disease. Dale Carnegie would be a good course to have about now. Each day he says to me on the cell phone, “I have arrived at the job that God blessed my with.”

We are learning to live in very small quarters and what of our possessions are most important and what ones are not. We are getting to observe and revere God’s creations on the way to and from work each day since the migratory birds either come through here or roost here. We are learning about how to be intensely connected because we have none of you to rely on, on a daily basis (face-to-face). We have learned to keep on praying when it seems that we get no answer.

We attended a Dave Ramsey Debt-Free University and have been able to really do well with it to become more debt free at a higher rate than we had been able to do.

We have had visits from some of you to go see the whooping cranes that God brings this way every year.

We went to Italy in Dec. with our children and our granddaughter for a trip of a lifetime. It has changed their lives and ours forever. We saw Christ almost everywhere we looked in Rome. We saw Him even in the Coliseum (Colosseo Roma) because the Christians were what made it so famous in modern times. St. Peter’s is the most fantastic thing we have ever seen and we’ve been to fifteen countries. We saw the Pieta, the Sistine Chapel, and built wonderful memories that only Alzheimer’s could take away.

But we keep on waiting for God and he hasn’t shown up yet. Any suggestions?