"We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner! I can't think what anybody sees in them." - Bilbo Baggins
“I have held many things in my hands, and have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that I still possess.” - Martin Luther
"Was trying to find me something but I wasn't sure just what/ Funny how they say that some things never change"
- 'Sweet Carolina' by Ryan Adams
Three months. Ninety Days. Thats the amount of time I have been at my new job as Director of Student Ministries for Southpointe Community Church. I love to reminisce. All my life long I have been a sucker for nostalgia. Not sure what it is about the past that I find so compelling. I could chalk it up to being a history major, or being a decent storyteller, or the fact that in spite of the brain cells I lost in my teens and twenties, I have still been gifted (or cursed) with a steel trap for "toasting the good times". A beat up old Braves hat sits on my head. A picture of my roommates from college hangs on my wall. I spent the weeks leading up to my move from Charlotte back to Middle TN receiving multiple texts, emails, and phone calls from fellow Nashvillians anticipating hanging out once again. A Continuation of the "good ole days". An "on ramp" to the social pipeline. A place to step into the river midstream. As the third month begins, there have certainly been a few lessons I have already learned. Some easy and fun. Some difficult. All a part of the story being woven by a Loving Creator who will not relent to nostalgia or any other idol. A Father who will not relent until I look like his Son on that great day.
One: In both moments of ease and moments of difficulty, Christ is all I have to offer.
I get to have lots of conversations during the week. Some of them are lighthearted and fun, some are sad, some are hard. All of them require something of me that I simply can not give. It is in these moments that Jesus increases, and I decrease. It's also one of the hardest things to do. I'm a fixer. I don't like to see people hurting. Sometimes its wise to say things. Other times its wise to stay silent. The most important, and most loving things we can do is listen, pray, and appeal to Scripture. Whether its a confused high school kid, or a beleaguered parent, we must point them to a listening Lord, who not only speaks through his Word, but listens with his ears.
Two: Moving is tough and so are friendships.
I wasn't prepared for the loneliness that comes with a new town. It was loving of my friend Brent to warn me of this. Brent married my friend Alissa. They both did well. When meeting with Brent the first time I mentioned that the ebb and flow of being in a new town is weird. Early on days were fast and crazy. At night they came to a screeching halt. The anticipation of the weeks leading up to the move was met with unmet expectations. I really wanted to just see familiar faces after the whirlwind of new introductions. I struggled with knowing that maybe, just maybe, there wasn't room for me in the lives of my established friends. Life grinds on, patterns are established, disruptions and change aren't readily embraced, and circles are tough to break into. It's the sad reality of life on this side of Heaven. However, in light of this I have seen the beauty of God's church, namely the local congregation in which I work. SPCC has surrounded me, overwhelmed me, and spurred me on to righteousness and holiness. Members have had me in their homes and let me sit with them at sporting events. They've shared wisdom on everything from finding a date to finding videos of exploding hogs and tannerite. Tim Keller speaks of how our generation is the best and worst at community There is nothing like transition to expose your idols. There is nothing like the insecurity of an exposed idol to push you to Jesus.
Three: Hold tight to things that cannot be shaken.
A couple of weeks ago I couldn't hold tightly to anything. I went to throw a frisbee and couldn't. 2 days after that I went to pick up a 15 lb dumbbell and wasn't able. The next day I was simply picking up my laptop bag from my passenger seat and it was as if someone was whacking me in the forearm with an extension cord. I've always prided myself on being sufficiently strong. I like lifting heavy things. I like flipping tractor tires. I like working outside. Last year in seminary my friend Matt and I literally paid the bills by moving furniture. I knew that it likely wasn't anything serious, but I began to wonder "Who am I if i can't pick up things?" I had to come to a place of realizing that, much like the relational woes, if this was something God was wanting to take away, then I trust His decision. It wasn't an easy conclusion to reach but while looking back on a lifetime of His faithfulness to me, the things of earth always grow strangely dim. Therapy and rehab may repair the damaged nerve. I hope it does. I enjoy being able to do things without it nagging me. If it doesn't, I can still look to Jesus as the one who purchased my redemption. I can remain hopeful that we inherit a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and offer to God acceptable worship in reverence and awe of all that He has done.
Surely there are lots of lessons in store for me in this new adventure. If they are share-worthy I will gladly pass them on. Come visit. Oh and I've gotten to speak a couple of times Listen here. here, and here. Seriously, come visit.