Friday, June 22, 2012

Steps On the Water (at least a River Walk)

If You Say Go...

I had searched all week for a cowboy hat. I was a thin, goofy-looking kid with glasses and big feet... but I had the heart of the west beating in my chest. My heroes even then were John Wayne, Indiana Jones, Davy Crocket, and Ronald Reagan. Real men wear hats. The air was oppressive and entered my lungs only with effort and a long drawl. This was San Antonio, International Youth Convention 1992. It was a time and place that forever altered my path.

It was the summer after my senior year in high school, and life hung in wonderful tension. The past was neatly buttoned up with a diploma and the future was full of unknown promise. We were a band of 40 youth set loose in an enchanted city. My first girl-friend was with me nearly every daylight moment of the trip.

Everett Planck was my chaperone, and Bobbi-Jo Planck was hers. Each night we would steal kisses in the hallway and then I would stand and watch as the door latched into place and ended the moment. Each of us would then blush and deny kisses to our respective Planck. We fell in love this week.

These were the first heart pounding glimpses of our steps into the unknown. We felt desperate to hold on to each other as we faced the yawning questions of forever. Life for these moments reached perfection. I found my hat, and I found my girl.
San Antonio with my girl ~ 1992

Again... we find ourselves walking along a river in San Antonio. Our minds naturally are drawn to the memories of our first time here. Kellie mentioned to me that we had agreed that we would one day return to this place. We smiled at each other as we realized that we were able to keep this promise. Life is funny sometimes... when we are willing to go where we are meant to go, somehow the good gets honored.

These past two years have exceeded every expectation that ever fired in our cognition. How can it be that a short-term mission trip to Guatemala was the catalyst to slam our lives back on track? Our captivated hearts have led us back to where we first found love. San Antonio... 20 years later, to complete our training and commissioning as missionaries.

How is it that this city is the pivot point for our lives.... twice?

San Antonio with my girl ~ 2012

And so... what does it mean to live a life called by God? This is a question that I now am living to answer. So far I have learned that it is a life full of convergence. Nothing happens by chance. There is significance in our walk... and it is placed there to mark the influence of God. Kellie and I walked along the path of the Guadeloupe River with the sun shining down and warming us in the gentle afternoon and we quietly discussed the flow of our lives. 

When you first see desperate need... it is soul-arrestingly painful. And you learn to give through the pain. You understand that the need is greater than your discomfort. You begin to notice the individuals who stare into your eyes as they find comfort in your company. Slowly you understand that the joy of the one finding her way home is greater than the pain of the world. You recognize the significance of a life pressed on a life. You comprehend the power of actions guided by truth.

Lately I have been transfixed by the early church as recorded in Acts 2. It tells us that the people were filled with awe because God was evident in their midst. They sold what they had and gave it to those who suffered. They met and worshipped together. God blessed them and supported their efforts with more people. They were happy and they were sincere. The Spirit of God lived in their hearts.

This week as I read this passage I wept openly and without shame. This verse had never meant anything to me in the past, but now God used it to capture my gaze. At some meager level... God has worked in our lives to accomplish this. We have sold our goods and possessions. We have given to the poor (we always received more than we gave). And now... through tears of humility, understanding, and thankfulness... I see that God adds to our numbers daily.

I have not walked on water... and yet, my eyes have been twice fixed on Jesus as I stepped onto a river walk. God has stunned me again... His promises are true. Yeah... we hear this, but when it is experienced it is forever life altering. 

We just spent a week 61 miles outside of San Antonio in Kerrville, TX with Commission To Every Nation, our missions agency. We were able to rub shoulders with couples who had served as missionaries for 30+ years, as well as many others who were being commissioned alongside us. It is incredible to think that our little group has already dispersed to every major continent.

God has a plan for us. God has a plan for you. We all have stories if we open our eyes to see them. Kellie and I have twice walked on the river. We extend our hands to you.

(click it and partner with us today)

Check us out. This is an invitation to join us in God's mission. He has called us, and we believe that He has also called you. Together, we partner to fulfill His commission. 

Our Mission:

We go to take orphaned and abandoned infant girls into our home, and to connect them with their forever families.

And, yes... I still have that cowboy hat (and, of course the girl).

CTEN Missionaries ~ June 2012
If You say go, we will go
If You say wait, we will wait
If You say step out on the water
And they say it can't be done
We'll fix our eyes on You and we will come
-Vineyard Music, 2007

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