About Me

Phoenix, AZ, United States

Friday, May 23, 2008

Thinking out loud.

I couldn't have asked for a more perfect day in terms of the climate. It's cold, deeply overcast and sprinkling rain. It reminds me of my short time in Seattle and I remember again just how much I loved it there.

I woke up this morning in a strange mood. My initial feelings were that of disbelief. That somehow my ambitions for the career I had set out were really not going to pan out and it put me in a good deal of unrest. I used to dream about being on tour and performing night after night... I even had specific cities and venues in mind... and all of these visualizations started pouring into my mind...only I knew that they were in vain now. I've talked about all this before, so this is nothing too new, but the experience was different somehow.

It's difficult to describe...but I suppose we have all known our share of disappointment in this life. You can love something (or someone) so sincerely, so intensely, but that in no way insures any amount of permanence. Life will shift like the colors of new seasons with or without our permission.

My friend once told me that I was a boxer forced into early retirement... and though I find myself a million miles away from the ring, though my gloves have long ago been hung on the wall to collect cobwebs, I am still a boxer at heart... and I have to imagine God made me this way for a reason. But why...?

At the moment, I'm considering a substantial move, to a foreign country. This morning I imagined what it might be like living abroad, and playing my tired old guitar in coffee shops...filled with strangers, singing my tired old songs. And I thought for a moment that things would be vastly different, not perfect by any means, just different...but I feared at the same time that they might be the same.

If I do leave...this home that I have known for well over a decade what would I be leaving behind? And what exactly would I be going to? It's scary to think about, but maybe that's a good thing. On my recent camping trip, we ascended a mountain that put a real amount of fear in me and my company... but the journey was amazing and reaching the top felt indescribable. And maybe life affords us these opportunities to plunge into the unknown...and we will make of it what we will. We can shrink down and resign in fear or we can face it head on...

The better part of a year has passed since I began my involvement in a ministry here. Something relatively minor, leading a small group and I have seen God working through it. What he has done is nothing short of a miracle, in fact...but somehow I feel at a loss now. I wonder if this is really what I am meant to be doing...I guess my doubts come in because I feel displaced and probably more alone than I have ever felt. Maybe that is ok or all just a part of it...but maybe not?

I find myself in a bit of a bind... longing to be a part of something meaningful and real, something that will make real use of the way God has designed me before he laid the foundations of this world... I want to feel God and celebrate the destiny he has imagined... and maybe I'm doing that in differing ways now...I don't know.

I know that I don't want to runaway from anything...

I do dream of a community...a community that I have not found here so far. Of people who are intense about changing the world. People who aren't content with simply enjoying their lives and carrying about business as usual... I want to live side by side and co labor with people who want to fulfill the call in Isaiah to "loosen the chains of social injustice and to set the oppressed free" to watch over "oprhans and widows" as the book of James defines authentic faith. And I want to be inspired...challenged by the dreams of others...

But I'm starting to question whether I will find that here... and I don't mean to be critical and I realize that I haven't met even the majority of people here... but when sociologists, psychologists, doctors and statisticians conduct surveys they use a sample to represent the populous... could that apply here...for surely it isn't possible for me to meet everyone in town. Based on my sample, the general attitude among most people here is to live a good life. Get married, raise a family, get a job that affords you to live comfortably, furnish your house with IKEA and go to church on Sunday mornings...and I'm not saying there's anything immoral or intrinsically wrong with those ambitions...but it just doesn't tug at my soul as an imperative. I find no amount of passion or deep desire for that way of life.

Last night, my small group went through the 1st epistle from Peter. And we talked about how Peter says "The end of all things is near." This was in the first century, I think like 77 A.D. He felt an urgency as did Paul and James, and John... we are nearly 2000 years removed now...and I wonder if it shows in our general attitudes...

I guess people are people where ever I go... and this is more a problem with modern man...not Phoenicians or Americans... and so I need to be reasonable about this. It is a problem within my own heart too... but at times I feel the slow, calm pace of Arizona starting to wear on me... and I find it easier to resign to this way...Arizona is like peacefully floating down the Salt river on an inner tube on a warm summer day.... but I think I might be looking to face wild, feral rapids...to fear for my life and experience sheer reverence... I think I may be looking for more.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Interesting place you are in brother. Very similar to my own. Will be reading and praying in the interim.

jon said...

Profound. I won't try to sway your thinking one way or another, but I have been undergoing a bit of the same lately, and, as you may know, I am heading into the unknown as I move internationally in July. I don't know why God does the things he does, but I do know that I wouldn't have the guts to go if I wasn't forced to by the Fulbright commission, so ultimately I am being forced to risk. What I am trying to say is that I don't know what the right thing to do is, but selfishly it would be cool to see you there.

timuthee said...

always praying for you...

Joe said...

redwinegums,

Your prayers will be much appreciated and I will be sure and keep you in mine as well as you journey through the uncertain.

Joe said...

Jon,

I really appreciate your comment. At times I wish I felt strongly compelled either way or any which way by something...be it a scholarship, but I guess I would have to apply for one to find one and so I see that even in your application for the Fullbright you took a step of faith. Maybe I'm wanting the decision made for me in some regards because I'm a scared little girl... or maybe I just have no idea what I want anymore...? God does work mysteriously doesn't he? I'm glad you have the resolve to venture out I'm sure it will be to a great end.

p.s. it would be funny if we all ended up in korea wouldn't it?

Joe said...

Tim,

I know and thank you it means so very much to me.