One year ago I was on my way to the D6 Conference in Texas, along with our new lead pastor and another pastor friend we picked up along the way. I was attending the conference both as a “Pastor of Family Life”, but also as an intensive study course personally administered by the president of Wesley Seminary toward completion of my MDiv. It was a great week of learning, dreaming and praying over what God had in store for a church family I loved with a new pastor I was blessed to also call a friend. I ended up being able to share a spoken word I’d written as part of my coursework with the entire D6 Conference! As we went home from that week – we had no idea what would happen in the year ahead. We certainly didn’t imagine the year we’ve had. 🙂
This year we’re traveling to the D6 Conference in North Carolina, along with our spouses. The four of us look forward to some great time praying and casting vision over what God has in store for this church family that we love – and we’re blessed to all do so as friends. But my wife and I are also attending as a couple on the edge of launching into full-time missionary work in Gyor, Hungary! We’re scanning the topics, and trying to figure out what seminars/speakers might equip us for the work on the horizon as well as the work we’re aiming to finish well.
This past year I’ve finished my MDiv, something I never thought was part of my life plan. It seems when you hand God your life and ask Him one step at a time “What would please you here?” – He actually seems to suggest things you may not have imagined. Not in an anxious “Oh my goodness, I’d better not miss out on any tiny decision that God may have an opinion on….” But more in a mode of living toward receiving and responding to the flowing Love of God out into and for the sake of His Kingdom announced and arriving in the world through changed lives, people set free and restored relationship.
All this to say, the past year has brought some changes for sure. The year ahead seems to be filled with quite a bit as well. We’re going to be selling our home soon, and moving into a short-term rental. Then we’ll move to Hungary, and learn a new language both literally and figuratively as we learn to join the living Word in a new context. Thankfully, we’ve been shaped for years already by the Word who became flesh. So #D62018, 2019, and beyond…here we come…
(If you haven’t already, check out our website for the family missionary adventure that has already begun!!)
In class this month, we’re studying theories of the atonement. It’s really big worded stuff (actually a great book) about why smart people think Jesus did what he did the way he did. It’s easy to shrug it off as unimportant, but as I spend time reading the words about theories like “Christus Victor”, “Penal Substitution”, “Healing View”, and “Kaleidoscopic View” – I’m struck by just how huge a thing God has accomplished, and continues to accomplish through Jesus. Sin has actually been defeated. Death has no victory. Jesus has suffered, and we no longer need to. We have been reconciled with each other, creation, and most importantly – God. There are great reminders from each of these theories – each of which is humanity wanting to know God more fully.
It can be done wrong, when it’s a quest to assert our position as “The One” that’s right. When we’re trying to formulate an argument or assemble evidence toward our opinion of the divine. It can be akin to Adam and Eve wanting to assert their own knowledge in the garden as superior to Gods’.
But it can be done well, also. I love my wife. I want to know everything about her, and the motivations of her heart. I want to know why she chooses certain things and certain ways. I want to know – not because I want to possess knowledge or control, but because I love.
I think this is why the new song by Waterdeep connected with me as I listened this morning. The words of Mary in response to what God is doing through Jesus and through her. It’s vulnerable. She seeks to understand, even as she’s honest about her vantage point.
In the midst of writing academic papers, and using limited words to discuss the divine – I want to shove it all aside and sing. To hear song. To recognize for a moment that this right here is a vital part of “doing theology faithfully”. I doubt I’d get an “A” if I submitted an mp3 instead of my next paper, but I can certainly hum this as I click “submit”. 🙂
I hope it finds your heart and life this week, as we begin the Advent season preparing our lives & homes to receive Christ anew…