As 2012 comes to an end and 2013 begins, I am convinced last year was the year of crossroads for me and a number good friends. A crossroad is that defining moment in your life that will forever alter the days that follow. Some crossroads are easy to recognize. They have flashing neon lights, sirens and immediate consequences–good or bad. It’s visiting someone we know we should be staying away from. It is leaving a community or joining a community that will have emotional, relational and spiritual impact. Then there are the subtle crossroads. They seem small and insignificant, but when we look back over our lives we can clearly see it was that subtle moment that changed the course of our lives. 2012, without hesitation, was the year of crossroads.
I am not one–since college anyway–to hide the fact that my mom has had a drug problem since I was five and that dad is an alcoholic and not a Christian. That isn’t baggage I carry around “all of the time,” but it is present with me. As I have learned to say, “It isn’t my fault, but it is my problem.”
My mother’s arrest for drug possession in January of 2012 coincided with something quite tragic happening to some good friends of mine–all in the same week. Her arrest-turned-mandatory-rehab and walking with my friends through what is easily the most difficult chapter of their lives (and in case you’re curious, I can’t share it) produced something in me that I wasn’t expecting–a deeper faith. For the time first time in my adult life, I truly came to the conclusion that I had to trust God with my mother, my friends, our future, our very lives, because I/we were not in control. The mirage of control I thought I had in 2012 slipped through my fingers like water. Not a bad lesson to learn right before my 30th birthday.
The three items that produced, watered and matured that faith were: Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster, practicing the disciplines he actually talked about and The Gospel Luke. I felt like I was working on my core–like when you’re in the gym. When your core is solid, the rest is easy. This was about rebuilding my core, and it has been a blessed journey.
It is exceedingly difficult to lead in two ministries. Since my journey into full-time ministry began, I had been leading both at InterVarsity and my church. The end of 2011 saw a painful departing from a church that I loved after a painful period of brief employment. I spent much of the beginning of 2012 questioning my calling to ministry and healing from that difficult departure.
Proverbs 16:9 says, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” What was painful for me was providence for the Lord. There isn’t enough time to write down all of what God has done in me and through me since rejoining InterVarsity–everything from confirmations of calling and effectiveness, godly supervisors and pastors that have been instrumental in my healing and uprooting deep planted mis-truths, to working to plant new ministries on new campuses throughout the region, giving me my dream job that I love that I thought was only a dream, etc.
But it was a crossroad. I would not and could not have become a Regional Coordinator for Black Campus Ministries for my region if I would have remained where I was. God needed to provide conflict, departure, soul-searching, renewed vision and His breath on these dry bones to breath new life into me and into what I believe will be new life in the lives of Black college students in Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma.
Have you ever had a moment when you said, “I get it.” Stepping back into InterVarsity’s world to work with staff and students again, with new/old wisdom, I realized something. I have said for years as a student, a volunteer and as a staff, I poured my life into people based on principle. I did what I saw, what I was taught. I majored on what to do. My effectiveness. What needed to be produced or accomplished.
And then, 2011 and 2012 happened. God took me up to 30,000 feet. I saw followers of Jesus, pastors, teachers, doctors, students, IV staff, parents, friends, mentors, CEOs of companies, generals, athletes and others major in what they did, not in how they did it. God let me peak behind the veil of it all. People from every walk of life producing so much and losing it all. Generals discredited. Pastors with huge churches and huge tempers. CEOs that run a business but home is a hot mess. Dennis Rainey, Eugene Peterson, Tim Keller, Andy Stanley, Richard Foster…one by one, God raised up one prophet after another to give warning to hidden agenda of the culture: kill yourself at the office and don’t worry about home. Pour your life out in your job, not in your children. Preach new life to people all the while your own is crumbling.
It reminds me of a picture I saw not too long ago of an 18-Wheeler that delivers gas parked on the side of the road. The driver was sitting by the tire with his head in his hands. He ran out of gas delivering the gas.
It’s a generation where we preach to others and are being disqualified from the very prize we preach for (1 Corinthians 9:27).
I saw a fresh as a pastor not simply to preach and teach, but to be and live. I must compel people to practice patience, and when I leave the pulpit, drive the speed limit when I am in my car.
My sermons must be crafted to where people will remember Jesus more than they remember me. I must preach from the saucer (the overflow) not the cup of my own soul where God is at work.
I must take the medicine I prescribe to so many others.
I hate being late. It makes me anxious all day and then I am angry and “off” all day. To teach my students not to be anxious, I must cease being anxious. For me, I need to leave and arrive early to every place and appointment.
Among other things, it also means, I must swim in the ocean of grace this great gospel I believe in declares.
2012 was without question the year childish ways got put behind.
Robert Frost said it best:
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.