It has been an interesting three weeks. There are times when you are led to a vague suspicion that God is active in your life.
And then there are times when it is blatantly obvious. About three weeks ago, I finally took the plunge and decided to begin serving again by teaching kids large group at our new church in St. Charles. I used to teach at our old church, and fell in love with it. I stepped away for too long, and it was time to re-engage. So I did. I checked out the program, and it was literally exactly the same program I taught before. It felt like a bit of confirmation that I was doing the right thing.
Then something happened that pulled the rug out from under everything. The thing that had inspired me to teach in the first place was a year-long process called CRHP that I went through six years ago. And I formed incredibly tight bonds with the men who shared that experience with me. Calling it transformational doesn’t begin to do it justice. Well, four days after I went to check out that teaching opportunity at my new church, one of my CRHP brothers died while working at his desk. He was only a handful of years older than me. I’m the guy who always has words to say. And I had nothing.
Without over-analyzing things like I normally do, I knew after about ten minutes what I needed to do. I needed to see my CRHP brothers. Trading emails wasn’t going to get it done. Mike was gone. And when that happens, you go back to family. These men are my family. We sat together through the service. One of the leaders who pulled us through that year long process gathered us together after the service into a circle, arms interlocked. I had honestly forgotten this ritual from our weekly meetings. And he prayed the way he always did. Like he knew he was talking to a God that listened and cared.
My amazing wife and I decided that it was time to surrender to the fact that this was our home, regardless of the 45 minute drive it would take to get there every Sunday. This was home. And that’s it. And something happened that I hadn’t expected, and had almost forgotten. There was a time when I would experience waves of inspiration, ideas, almost all of the time. I would call it “chatter” and I was fairly certain these were words I was receiving from God because they weren’t things I would normally think on my own. And they clicked and made sense in ways my own thoughts simply don’t.
The second week back at our home church, the chatter returned. With a vengeance. As clear as it had ever been. Then later that week I very randomly met an incredible man who is 1000% sold out on living for Christ despite a genuinely tortured daily existence battling PTSD on a daily basis. He has huge plans to literally end veteran homelessness, and needed my help. Then, on the same day, even more randomly I ended up having lunch with a 23 year old street preacher who quit his job about a year earlier and literally picked up a microphone and started standing at Adams and the river in Chicago to tell his witness in Christ. Every day.
All this is happening at the same time. And I feel more alive than I ever have. But something else has been dragging at me harder than ever as well. The opportunity to become mired in vicious debate has reached what may be a all time peak with the faceless communication platform that is social media. Combine this with the most volatile political environment of my lifetime, and I was slipping back into a habit I had dropped years before. I was entangling my mind not within the strong desire to make disciples. No. My commitment was to do nothing more than break people down to the point that I would win an argument. And that victory is very much an illusion. Especially when gained through social media.
I’m not sure why, but tonight I found the script of the witness I delivered to a room full of amazing men five years ago as I had my chance to lead others through CRHP the way I had been led the year before. And chills coursed through me. These words were not written by a man who was trying to win a political debate. These words were written by a man who was absolutely obsessed with the singular goal of making disciples of other men just like me. Flawed. Damaged. Filled with sin. But disciples none-the-less.
And then at the end I read the scripture I closed with that day, and it snapped me out of my self-righteous persona I had taken on in Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. I encourage you to read these words as well, and let them sink in. I hope, after you do, with the boldness of a street preacher or a veteran surviving PTSD, you’ll seek and receive your own singular obsession and pursue it relentlessly and even recklessly. Perhaps this Lent season isn’t about what you’re giving up, but about who you will serve. Because that is what Christ did for us. An I had forgotten that. While the politicians rage on in their attempts at shallow victories, Christ chose to wash our feet. While the crowds screamed to convict him, he laid down his life. So that we would not only be saved, but learn how to save others. So… let’s win less and follow more. Debate less, and serve more. Collect fewer victories, and make more disciples. The way Christ did:
John 13:12-16 – “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.”