Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Faith Experiment Update

And so, I've landed back in the United States. Still processing Africa, but still faced with dozens of life decisions I don't really feel like I'm qualified to make. I've pondered and prayed about how this Faith Experiment can continue, even outside of the incredible, life-changing experiences in Africa. But, just as I'm trying to define it myself, it continues to unfold before me.

As I've eluded to, I landed with a crash amidst a fog of transition in many aspects of my life. I'll spare you the personal details for now, but let's just way I knew my landing back in the States was not going to be fun. A brief stop in Denver was blessed with 5 days of incredible friends and family walking with me and pumping me up to face the decisions awaiting me when I returned to Santa Barbara. It was exactly what I needed to hit the ground running when I returned, instead of spending weeks or even months ignoring or prolonging the inevitable decisions. Yet another reward of following the calling my heart felt for Denver as I was preparing to leave Burundi. I am gratefully blessed for that time.

I still have no job, and having been "on vacation" for a month I returned without any real grip on my financial situation or whether I could actually afford to pay my rent in July. This is one among many huge and life-changing decisions that I'm faced with, but I landed feeling strongly that I still wasn't ready to face it and I still hadn't felt called in any particular direction relating to my career. It's amazing how, in these times, we are so prone to worry. Here on this blog I have written so many accounts of how provisions have always come in times of uncertainty. My walk in this faith journey is about exactly that - FAITH. Yet, still I worried about the job and was just about ready to accept the first offer that came my way. Then, sifting through a 30-day pile of mail on my desk at home, I opened an envelope containing a check for $1,850. It was restitution being paid to me from a fraud/theft police report I had filed 12 years ago when someone bought a computer from me with a bad check. As "luck" would have it, $1,850 just about covers exactly 1 month of my expenses. Now, read those last few sentences again and tell me this little "experiment" of mine is not still alive and well? I am speechless, enamored, and in awe of the continued promise and provision.

As with any true, scientific experiment, I started out with a question: What would my life look like if I followed the callings placed on my heart? My hypothesis, based on how I have grown to understand a loving God, was that my deepest heart's desires would be fulfilled. My biggest challenge, which had (and still has) a very large potential of contaminating the experiment, is fear. The way I've faced that challenge is two-fold: (1) I haven't ignored the fear. I've let it live and breath in real time and as a part of this journey. (2) I've brought everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, into my quiet times, my prayers, and my journaling. Those "sinful" thoughts that "you should be ashamed of" and definitely shouldn't be brought to someone as infallible as God or as holy as Jesus? Yep...ESPECIALLY those...I've brought it all into the open and dumped it in front of him.

In that complete honesty, complete authenticity, and a new ability to bring anything before God without self-judgment or fear of his judgment I have been granted this beautiful vision. I'll share it with you here via an excerpt from last week's journaling:
I picture, comically, Jesus and I standing side-by-side in waiters drudging through this mess that is currently my life. But on his face, I picture a giant, loving grin. And it is that warm, loving smile that fuels me with motivation to keep shoveling. It's that smile that brings me hope. And we laugh together - digging through the bullshit because somewhere in there he knows there is a gem. And I believe it. So we dig together and smile together and laugh together at how ridiculous the mess has become. But, together, we will clean it up. And, together, we will find that gem.

He promised me. And I believe him.
Yeah, I'm not going to lie to you, things are a little messy right now. But my focus on his promise has kept me in high (and even jovial) spirits despite everything. It is looking like my hypothesis is shaping out to be proven.

How lucky are we to have promise? What's yours?

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