Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Living in a Transitional Town

Redding is often described us a catch and release center. Every year a bunch of talented, creative amazing people come for revival, get infected and go back to change their worlds. I'm sure being a local is hard. Being a Revival Group Pastor harder still. You let people into your world who are only going to be there for 8 or so months before they leave. No amount of FaceTime or Skyping fills the gap of not seeing someone you've shared your life with daily for an extended period of time.

I get that. But in a world where we believe in an unlimited God, who can do the most crazy outlandish things, I don't want to limit him in my friendships or relationships.

It would be tempting as a local to take to shutting out out-of-towners or internationals from your circles or from forming deep friendships with them, let alone dating(!). You are responsible for you. Nobody has a right to claim your space or get in the middle of what you're building. I get the need to protect your heart, it's important to surround yourself with people who will be with you and your family for the long haul.

But, I also feel like I should encourage people to not limit God and not limit their hearts' capacity to grow and expand and heal. To not limit the depth of friendship that God wants you to experience in whatever season. Sure, a lot of special people pass through this town, and they'll keep coming. But, what if this particular special person had something so great to offer you or your group, that God had to send them from the other side of the world to give it to you and you missed it because you were afraid of the next summer vacation?

We pray for God to use us to change the world, but we ignore the guy from Slovakia living next door. I'm totally biased, but it just doesn't sit right with me. The exclusivity that belies a culture of community. I firmly believe if you help someone achieve their vision, you help yourself achieve your own.

Give people in transition a break, we didn't move across the country/world to break your heart, we're just trying to live our lives and it's scary for us as well. Speaking from an internationals' point of view, we have Uncle Sam on our back, living below the privileges entitled to his kids which is great. God willing, Mother Africa will be waiting with open arms for me ;-) I have a home. Uncle Sam's privileges are one thing, but we don't need to live below the privileges of love and connection entitled to all God's kids.

If we're doing this and we're in this thing for eternity, wouldn't I want to know the people I'll be working besides in the Kingdom? This is your chance! Covenant has to override distance and space. Bill Johnson and Randy Clark don't live in the same city, but are they still brothers? Yes. Kari Jobe and Brian Johnson don't live in the same town, that didn't stop them for writing "Forever" together. Brian Johnson and Ben Fielding don't live on the same continent, they wrote a song together too. Carl Lentz went to school in Australia and came back with an Australian wife to plant an Australian born church in New York City. The precedent is there. Distance doesn't break friendship. Laziness does. Not being intentional does.

In my opinion, as scary as it is to put your heart on the line, it would belittle God to live like I didn't believe He's in control of our seasons and interactions. It would be bordering on the edge of hypocrisy to believe God can raise the dead to life, but He can't make my life richer after mine or someone else's transition into a new season.


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