Happy Anniversary to me or how I'm learning to love beyond fear

Sunday, December 19, 2010
In one week we will be celebrating our third Christmas here in the Field. Three Christmases. Two years. In one respect the time has flown by. I thought that the other day as I was lifting up a child that wasn't even born when we moved here, and now he's running around on his two little legs like he's been doing it forever.

And in another respect, the single moments tick by at a slow pace. Life is slower. Less gets done because it takes more to get it done. But life is fuller. You are doing more, it just doesn't look like it from the outside. That's one of those field-isms that I'm working hard to make peace with. It just is.

We enjoy the quiet, the field people are great, and life, when we can just relax, is good. It is good and I could see us choosing to live in a context just like this, for a while anyway, in our own space and time. We like it here.

But I find myself loving so tentatively, so hesitantly. Somewhere inside maybe I don't want to love it here too much because I know that one day down the road, we will have to move away from here. I don't know these things for sure, but the truth is that I am here for the work, living in somebody else's home and you just know that chances are that one day, five or ten or twenty years down the road you're gonna have to pack up and move. And so some part of the mind says to love lightly because then it will hurt less when it's time to go. The rational part steps in at that point and tries to grab the emotion by the scruff of the neck and drags it along as we go on our way, choosing to love people in spite of how we feel.

I was such a simple man so many years ago this very day when the church saw gifts and calling in me that they wanted to recognize and call forth and so the way they knew how to do that was to Ordain me to the ministry. And I more formally set aside my choices and a few dreams to obey the One who made me and shaped me and called me forward. Laying down stuff like choices where to live and what kind of work I would do. Finding greater value in following after and obeying the One in whom I found fulfillment, the One in whom I found eternity and the One who alone spoke the words of life.

I remember the internal struggle back at the beginning. The desire to do something worthwhile with my life, something that might count for something in the end. Even if it didn't look like anything and even if there weren't titles or recognition at the end of it all, if I could just know that my life had meant something in terms of someone changing their opinion of ministry or God or even just their neighbour, that would be enough. If I could be a part of redirecting people from moving away from God, to at least moving towards Him, then that would be a life lived well. That's what I thought, and that's what I still think my life is to be about.

But still this struggle to obey. It does get easier in some very real respects, but as I age the more I realize the cost of it. When I was young I told myself that obedience in this ministry-ward direction was probably only temporary and that I could give my best, my strongest, my most zealous years to ministry while I was young. As I age I see more clearly the cost and the value to me of giving up my agenda for this work that I do

Maybe all I'm trying to say is that even after all these years in ministry, I'm still surprised at how hard it can be sometimes to lay down my will. Yeah, that's it. Sometimes I don't want to do what God wants me to do and like a child I want to do what I want to do. I can be quite selfish sometimes.

So God calls me to a Field to love the Field People, and I'm scared because it could hurt and I don't want it to hurt. Funny how even after years and years of ministry the basic struggles are still the same.

The comforting thing is that now I can admit that to myself.

Only one more week till C-Day. You better get your shopping done quickly.

Night. From the Field.


  1. Step 3 - Made a decision to turn our will and our life over to the care of God as we understood him.

    One - I can't. Two - He can. Three - So I will let Him. Lessons so hard to learn, but once they sink in they remain for life. A perfect sermon on turning it over. Letting Go and Letting God.

    You've come a long way to hear God's voice speak to you and to others. I knew this day would come for you, sooner or later. The field still has lessons to teach us. As long as we free ourselves up to be able to listen. And I think you get a lot of time to do that there in the field.

    I know that Henri Nouwen has a lot to say about listening. A whole chapter on it in fact. I think you have the same book I do.

    We love hard, but hope harder. The lessons this Advent season ... from the 4 candles, The first is Peace, the second is Faith, the third is Hope and the final one is Love.

    Whether we stay or we go, the relationships we build today will continue into the future and you never know where your lessons will fall upon someone and show up in a child down the road.

    Pondering the going while you stay is futile, while there is work to be done. Stay in the day and do what you are called to do so well.

    Turning it over and staying in my day were some of the hardest lessons I ever learned, but they are the most important.

    Merry Christmas

  2. Those who love the most, hurt the most. And there is no way round it. That's why God's love for us is such a miracle. Every Blessing in the field.

  3. It occurred to Marc and I a few weeks ago that by the time we're done at seminary we'll have been here only about 6 or 9 months less than the time we spent at Gateway. And I think of the huge impact and life relationships we made at Gateway and the ones we are NOT making at FCC (b/c of, like you say, the temporary-ness of our stay here) and it seems strange.

    I guess it's all about your perspective. We didn't know our time would be limited at Gateway and I'm glad we didn't and that we embraced that community. Maybe part of the FCC is just logistics (being 45 min away) b/c we're investing in many great friendships here on campus and know they're only temporary. But, yes, perspective is interesting and loving is hard sometimes.

    Enjoy the Open House. And, yes, the thought popped into my head today, "I could hop a plane to Edmonton in the morning and be back here tomorrow morning!"

  4. You said, "if I could just know that my life had meant something in terms of someone changing their opinion of ministry or God or even just their neighbour, that would be enough. If I could be a part of redirecting people from moving away from God, to at least moving towards Him, then that would be a life lived"

    Hmmm. I can guarantee you've done that.

    You've also taught me and maybe some others that it is most important to choose to love, even if it is hard and even if it means hard and hurtful sad times lie in that choice.

    Thanks for being so willing to serve God.

  5. Thank you Randall. Blessings, peace and all that good stuff to you sir.


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