Saturday, November 7, 2009

Inner Thoughts Part 2

You know what is great about education? It drags things out of you that you did not know existed. It inspires you to learn and grow. Have you ever been speaking and you say something that you needed to hear? Like it has been inside you, but you didn’t have the words or mental capacity before to articulate it, but for some reason in that moment you say exactly what you needed to hear. Or maybe someone says something that you needed to hear. Maybe someone asks you a question that requires you to dig so deep to answer that it actually drags something out that you need to know exist within you. I just finish writing two final papers that did just that. As I read and spoke about them I felt my heart leaping with joy again, I felt passion and peace in my life. Here is the second question and my response. I hope maybe this can inspire or encourage you as it has me.

The Question: Write a two to three page paper on “My Life Mission Statement.”

I am convinced that turning in 3 pages with 1 word a piece on them (I- Don’t- Know) would result in a failing grade, but simply put, “I do not know,” is the answer to my life’s mission statement. I have long yearned for an articulate answer to this question and through nearly 5 years of being a Christian filled with many changes, pains, joys, accomplishments, set backs, and a plethora of other circumstances a specific life mission statement still alludes me. Maybe the re-defining the term life mission statement will aid my journey though. In typical Westernized Christianity a life’s mission statement is summed up in phrases like, Serve AIDS infected orphans in Africa, Help recovering addicts break their cycle of addiction, become a pastor at a local church, etc. I find no place for myself in these definitions of life mission statements; I do not believe I have been wired to think in specifics, but more holistically. I have tried to squeeze myself into an identity that fits within the typical mission statement response, but am always left bewildered and frustrated. These frustrations have led me down a path that is leading me toward a more ambiguous life mission statement and require a new mindset towards the general idea of life mission statement. I suppose my journey trying to follow Christ has left me more disillusioned with the Western religion of Christianity than I expected therefore it is foreign to me to choose a specific mission within its context.

Jesus set forth several principles that a follower/disciple is to live by and act upon:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it. Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments (Matthew 23:25-26).”

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen (Matthew 28:18-20).

Love and pray for your enemies (Mathew 5:38-48).

It is my desire to follow these principles to the best of my ability, dependant on God for the strength and knowledge. In a recent reading of 2 Peter additional His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:3-9). As I have read and studied the Bible I have come to more of an understanding that it is about holistic lifestyle than specific calling. I know people who have moved from their homes to go across the ocean to minister the gospel because they felt called. I cannot speak for others callings. I was born and raised in Jacksonville, FL. At the age of 21 I started following Jesus and at 22 I moved away from Jacksonville and took up residence in Indianapolis Indiana. I felt called to move here and help start a church. Everything I knew at the time was pulling me and making my bones ache for the city of Indianapolis. 4 years after this move I now find myself in the same city feeling a different calling, if you want to call it that. I’ve been on a journey for several months recently trying to rediscover my calling, trying to understand what a calling is. The one scripture I can never shake when thinking of my calling is found in Isaiah.

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and
exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were
seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two
they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to
one another: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is
full of his glory." At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds
shook and the temple was filled with smoke. "Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined!
For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and
my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty." Then one of the seraphs
flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the
altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, "See, this has touched your
lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for." Then I heard the voice
of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said,
"Here am I. Send me (Isaiah 6:1-8)!"

The general idea here is that God revealed himself to Isaiah, forgave him, broke his heart for something, and then sent him. This is a very simple principle that I have wrestled with for years now. What God broke my heart for 5 years ago is much different than what my heart aches for today. The reality is that I find myself sitting in the same coffee shop on the same block downtown, surrounded by the same people, but feel much different than I did before. No outside factors have changed, but everything is different. This leads me to believe that the difference is within me. I have come to an awareness that callings change. I allowed guilt to haunt me for months because I did not understand that a calling can change. I felt called to move to Indianapolis to start churches, but felt myself falling further and further from this passion I believed God placed within me. The guilt was that I thought I was dishonoring God or had fallen away and become so far from God that I no longer even felt called. Operating from a fixed calling principle does not allow for adjustable factors. I wonder how many people continue within their calling when passion has become a distant memory and the calling feels empty. I wonder how many people are aimlessly active physically, but paralyzed emotionally, spiritually, and mentally? I have listened to a watched many men on Sunday mornings preach who feel called, but you cannot feel a bit of passion in them. Their messages do not seem to be empowered by anything. These men continue to follow their calling when it is possible that God may have changed their passion or calling. I’ve also offered counsel to friends who long to escape their current circumstances to serve God. They feel like they must flee from their trivial life in order to serve Him. I I think that specific callings are not life long and given more in seasons. That opinion makes it difficult to answer a question intended to reveal a life long mission statement. The traditional definition of a calling, a specific act or ministry, suffocates my own understanding and application of following Jesus in a holistic way.

My life mission statement is to follow Jesus in a relevant way where He calls me to act. The circumstance may change, what my heart aches and longs for may change, but He will not. Love will not change. Jesus calling me to love others will not change. I suppose my life mission statement is simple, follow Jesus the best I can within the context I find myself in. It has taken me a while to get there, but I find comfort in that ambiguous calling, that vague mission statement. I thank God that I am able to say I can follow Jesus and know Love and because of that I live my life in response to Him.

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