It is 22 years, 1 month and 25 days since I met my Redeemer, my Certain “Yes” among all the maybes, my Home, my Treasure, the One who gives my life purpose. 22 years is a long time, and all together no time at all.
I am, at my core, still that wild, independent, passionate girl who first encountered her Life in an ancient worship-drenched building on a rainy Sunday in Oxford. I still long for the same things. I yearn for significance, for a life well lived that matters, a life that serves greatly and leaves this beautiful place better than I found it.
From that first day of redemption, walking along with Jesus has revealed over and over how He has crafted us for lives of service. The long, low, slow work of living Kingdom soaked lives that transforms us and the world around us. The low way of Jesus is a paradox of power under control, of love in the face of indifference, of presence in an age of distraction.
Following Jesus will lead you into places where you are ill-equipped, where dependence on Him is your only resource. When you let His desire to let Light shine in the darkest of places, He will join you to the shadows for you to dispel darkness in His Name.
I can almost hear you saying, “Yeah, yeah, but seriously, what does that look like? How much darkness does he expect us to take? I mean, aren’t we promised life abundant? Where does that part come in?”
I can only respond with my story.
As those insatiable first days of heady gorging began to wane, a restlessness grew in my soul. A deep knowledge that there were those for whom the banquet was no more than a myth, a fairy story at best, a weapon used to shame and humiliate at worst. As I was filled up, I began to search for a way to release that which I had been so lavishly given. For me, a born nomad, this meant the first of many moves, the beginning of a wandering life spanning almost a decade and three continents, 11 homes and uncounted plane rides.
Southampton, the first port of call for this wandering girl, drew me to her. Looking back I can’t really remember how I got there, the city just kind of seeped into my soul as the next step. Initially without a clear direction, I enrolled in university, as much to keep the parental freak-out to a minimum as anything. There I made great, lifelong friends, played lacrosse, sometimes, and learned to walk in my newfound life. I joined Southampton Community Church, and showed up, a lot. Known as Sublime, the student group packed out the church weekly, spilling out of the ancient Central Hall into the city bars, pubs and clubs to invite, to gather, to show Love to a city lost to itself. Monthly we gathered for worship led by Martin Smith and his Cutting Edge Band. We learned how to lean in to the Presence in worship. We danced. We prayed for hours. We longed for depth and Presence.
As I soaked in the Presence of God the pull of my old life began to fade and I began to discover the purpose of a life poured out at the feet of my Beloved. The erstwhile values of “usefulness” and “qualifications” began to fade as I looked deep into the eyes of the One who loved me, wholly, knowing all and declaring More over me. The more I looked deep, the more I meditated on the Words of Life, the less the BA in Marketing I was ostensibly pursuing seemed to be on my path. My path, once again deviating from the expected, seemed to lead through the deep dark woods, out of the sunshine of societal approval and normalcy and into a dangerous land of uncertainty.
Uncertainty in the eyes of a results driven world is dangerous. We are foolish to squander opportunity. Childish naïveté will lead to destruction, the voices tell us. Tow the line. Do the expected, be secure, be safe, be normal.
Uncertainty reflected in the eyes of the Certain “Yes” is joyous adventure. We are wise to drop everything and follow the way of our Servant Saviour. Childish joy leads to discovery, the Living Word tells us. Follow Him. Challenge the expected, be redeemed, be brave, be abnormal.
The Certain “Yes” became my path. His proclamation over me that he has called me to “preach good news to the poor, proclaim release to the captives” became my identity. A community of the brave, redeemed and expectant formed in a Year of Training program. We dug in with mentors whose wisdom and words were deeply watered into the dry soil of our souls. Mentors whose words became my roots, my foundation, and ultimately, my wings. A dozen young men and women from all over Europe were gathered, drenched in Jesus and then sent out; a rag-tag group of no-count servants, with the Certain “Yes” blazing in our souls.
I still remember the fiery passion with which we embarked on our Journeys. The sent-out ones, the ones for whom the Word was enough. The ones with the Certain “Yes” blazing in our souls.
20 years is a long time, and all together no time at all.
… To be continued…