People always ask how we got to this place. What in the world would make us want to give away almost all of our possessions, leave a good paying job (and insurance) and risk “everything.” Looking back the past few years, Jamie and I see God’s hand at work, guiding our way through some pretty rocky terrain, but we think “the beginning” of this adventure was probably eight years ago. During that time, life was crazy. We were expecting our fourth child and I spent most of my time at church.
I served on the worship team and outreach committee, volunteered as a preschool teacher, folded bulletins and cleaned up the nursery with my kids on Friday afternoons and participated in two small groups. Simply put: I knew the day of the week based on my activities at church. Yet, despite my involvement in church life, something was missing. I couldn’t put my finger on it and unfortunately assumed that doing more at church would correct the problem. But, it didn’t. In fact, the opposite occurred. Ironically, the more “church things” I did, the more disconnected I felt. It gnawed at me causing a wrestling in my heart that would eventually consume me and, like a wrecking ball, create a profound amount of destruction in my life. (Most of it good, but not all of if… and I’ll save that for a later post.)
The turning point came one night when I decided to revisit the book of Acts. For the life of me, I can’t remember the reading plan I was following, but that night I was in two passages: Acts 4:32-37 and Luke 14:25-35. I was also about 9 months into a year-long blogging experiment, going page-by-page through Crazy Love, by Francis Chan, wrestling through his words and challenging myself to test some of his more “radical” assertions. Despite my familiarity with the books of Acts and Luke, I read over those passages with new eyes. Dumbfounded by the thought of living my life is such a radical way in the name of Jesus. For the entirety of my life, up until this point, I read those passages as simple, historical narratives… not blatant, modern-day imperatives. But, what if it was just that? What if we had been missing the point this whole time?
I stayed up for hours that night, pouring over scriptures, pulling out concordances, and cross-referencing commentaries. I became consumed with the very real possibility that the “missing piece” in our lives wasn’t a piece at all… it was the-whole-dang-point! Even as I sit here, eight years later, I can feel the adrenaline pumping through my veins, my heart-rate increasing… for two distinct reasons. #1) This moment was PIVOTAL in our walk with the Lord. I truly get excited every time I think about it. My life forever changed that day. #2) That moment also proved to be the catalyst for a lot of struggles down the road with church leadership and as this story unfolds, you’ll see why. But, for now, I will say this: More times than I care to count, so many in the church have been quick to offer lip-service when it comes to following Christ, but not so quick to back up their words with actions. (And I know James would be quick to speak into that!) Some in leadership even told us that church is no longer lived out as it was in Acts. (I would, unfortunately, agree with this, if it was simply a statement of fact… but, their intention was to imply that we no longer are EXPECTED to live like the early church.) And, quite frankly, that makes me a little angry. (Just kidding, it actually makes me down right furious!) BUT, I’ve learned to be thankful, despite my frustration, because we wouldn’t be where we are today without these past experiences…resolute in our calling to ACTUALLY live out what we read in the New Testament.