I’m back from a weekend in Phoenix that was wonderful and challenging, and I’m resting in a puddle of thoughts and heart. I got to spend time with my Phoenix family and even got coffee with Friend Melissa, who I haven’t seen in a good, long while.
And now I’m thinking.
I’m thinking about everything that happened and where things are headed.
Friday evening, I went to something called Quarter Life Night, which is a new ministry that’s trying to figure out what it is, what God is using it for, and how to do what it’s called to do… a little like each of us is trying to figure those things out, eh?
At Quarter Life, we discussed community, which was good and thought-provoking, but it’s also a topic I’m getting a little tired of because it feels like everyone talks and thinks, but no one actually knows anything about community. I know some pretty smart people who study community and even get paid to oversee communities… but they don’t seem to know what they’re doing. From what I can tell, communities are built by God, and no matter how clever we are with planning, engaging, loving and caring, communities are built and dissolved by God’s power, will and grace. It would be personally gratifying if there was a direct correlation between human effort and success (because I’m perfectly willing to work hard), but one of my favorite pieces of advice is never to be satisfied with the successes and manifestations of the flesh, but to strive for the fruit of the Spirit. It seems like whenever I set out with a plan to build anything, I turn my eyes from God to what I’m building and my plans for building it… and I forget how powerless I am. I think others have that same problem. I think we get focused on what we need to do to build an awesome community and we forget to love and honor God. If we do that, I think community ends up being a natural outpouring of what’s in our hearts.
On Saturday, I took Shasta to the airport, which means that I’m all by my lonesome in our apartment for the next few days, but I drove up to Phoenix to spend some time with the Johnsons, so I wasn’t even home for one of the nights she’s gone for.
When I got to Phoenix, the Johnsons hurried off to a baby shower, so I spent a few hours hanging out at their place, enjoying the last little bit of cool weather until they got back. It was a good chance for me to reacclimate because no matter how well I know that the Johnsons love me, it always takes a few hours for me to believe they’re real.
Once they got back, and we caught up a bit, I started to realize all of the things I didn’t tell them the last time I visited, probably because I wasn’t sure that they’re real. I think I’ve been scared that everything I do somehow disqualifies me from their lives, which I realize is stupid, but I can’t get myself to stop being stupid. It’s probably a reflection of how completely I misunderstand the gospel, because the Johnsons have so consistenetly modeled grace for me, but I still don’t get it.
I was reading 2Corinthians today, and came to chapter three, where Paul writes, “You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hears, to be known and read by all. And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”
That verse made me think of this weekend and how I (and a ton of my friends) are the Johnsons’ letter of recommendation.
Isn’t that a beautiful passage? I’ve never paid much attention to the first part before, but it’s really lovely and convicting. “Tablets of human hearts” is a phrase that’s always captured me, but the whole thought is too beautiful to be ignored.
It makes me wonder about my own letter of recommendation and if there’s anyone to write it.
Dave preached on Sunday, about Barabbas being a “type” that’s representative of all of us who deserve to die, and it was fabulous. It reminded me that we’re all guilty and deserve to be left to our own devices, but were (and are) offered grace because an innocent died in our place. I don’t know why that’s so hard to remember and believe, but it is.
Something else the sermon made me think about is the mystery of speaking the same language as others.
Dave was my pastor for five years or so and has been a second father to me for about that long, and listening to his sermon stirred my affections towards God in a way I’ve dearly missed in recent months… and I think it’s because we speak the same language. I think there are people who shape the way we talk about things and think about them, and that becomes our native language, so others may present the gospel in a completely true way, but it will never resonate with me the way it does when someone who speaks my language presents it.
All-in-all, it was a wonderful weekend, and I’m sad it’s over but enthusiastic about the things coming up this week. I’m going to see the Schneiders’ house for the first time tonight, host a passover dinner thing, and enjoy church and fun stuff at Lisa’s place on Easter.
I hope your weekend was as good as mine and that you’re looking forward to the week as much as I am.