So about 4 months ago I promised 3 posts on the recurring themes popping up in my life. I only wrote about one. Unfortunately I don't have any intention of actually writing three seperate posts, mostly because I know I'll never get around to the third, so I guess two will have to suffice. But on the bright side it means those of you reading will get LOTS of information on what's been going on in my life lately.
First things first:
The next two things I planned to write on were 1) Matthew 25, the sheeps and the goats passage and how "Christians"* need to be able to live with other "Christians" as well as those who are not. And 2) the quote that goes something like "Your are ment to live where your greatest passion meets the world's greatest need."
As for #1
The Matthew 25 passage just keeps coming up. Well at least it came up a lot in Nov/Dec and now that the 30 Hour Famine for my youth group is this weekend it's come up again. The passage is all about the sheep and the goats and how God will seperate them. It's also the passage about when I was hungry you gave me something to eat, I was thristy and you gave me something to drink, etc. And how if you did any of these things for "the least of these" you actually did them for God Himself.
I don't remember the exact quote from the book I'm reading through, but the author said some very profound things about how although we will be seperated in the end, while we are here we must live together (the sheep and the goats that is). I really liked that because I had also just watched Amish Grace which is a beautiful story of forgiveness but did not like the idea that the Amish were living completely seperated from the rest of their surrounding community. (I really don't have a huge issue with Amish people, please don't read to much into this. The movie really just got me thinking about how I should live in this world.) It made me reflect on myself and my values and how I want to live. I came to the conclusion that I don't want to be sectioned off from other people. I want to get to know people, I want to help them, I want to be able to be there for all people. I believe that that is what I and all people who believe are called to do.
In December I also went on a few dates with a guy who was a self proclaimed atheist. We had fun, it didn't go anywhere, but we enjoyed each others company and had some good discussions. If I were still in high school I would have NEVER gone on a date with someone who didn't have the same faith values I do. However I learned I could have fun and although in the long run and in my heart of hearts wish to finally end up with someone with the same faith values as me I didn't need to completely shut out the option of those who don't. It was a good growth experience for me.
The moral of this tale, in short, is that the idea of being able to live with all people whether they believe the same things I do or not has finally settled into not only my head but my heart as well. God can do the dividing when it needs to be done, but until then I am meant to live with all people and strive to live my life and serve God to the best of my ability no matter what.
Now, thought #2 (which I guess is technically thought 3)
The idea that "you are meant to live where your greatest passion meets the worlds greatest need."
I love this idea. Too many people I think believe that to truly be serving God you have to be completely out of your comfort zone, be willing to do things that you don't necessarily think you are good at and work where God tells you to no matter what. However this idea is that, yes, God WILL call you. And He may call you out of your comfort zone. You may be equipped by him to do things you never thought you could. But at the end of the day you are called to serve where your greatest passion lies.
For someone who loves camp and the outdoors this is a wonderful thought. For years I thought summer camp was just something fun to look forward to when school was out. Then I decided to major in recreation in college and was bombarded with people telling me there was no livlihood to me had from such a career path. Well I am here to tell you that I truly believe that people need to get outside more. I wish church people would read the creation story again and realize that God is not only a Father but a CREATOR and that He created nature and wants us to enjoy it. I want to help people learn how to take care of our world. I think the world needs to learn to be more responsible with what we've been given and thus my greatest passion meets with what I see to be one of the world's greatest needs. Voila!
*I put "Christian" in quotation marks because I am really trying to not refer to myself as a Christian anymore. Not because I have stopped believing in God and Jesus or gone off and started my own thing, but becuase I've found that that term holds a lot of negative feelings for a lot of people. I don't want to immediately have people write me off or be concerned that I'm going to judge them when they find out my religious affiliation. At points I have started saying I'm a follower of The Way, in reference to the story of Paul when he was still Saul and how he said that he would kill anyone who was a follower of The Way. There are a few other prospective terms, but I haven't really found one that I really like yet.
What does all of this mean for me?
Well it means that I started thinking really hard back in the fall about what I really wanted to be doing with my life. Was I truly happy where I was? Did I think I was following God fully? Was I on the right path to getting to where I ultimately want to be someday?
The answer was a little bit of yes and no all mixed together.
I know that the past 2 years I have been where God wanted me to be. The children and the youth I serve in Eaton are great. I would have never put myself there. We've come along way together to build a great program, and they even took their first mission trip last summer. However I felt that perhaps God was now calling me to a different place.
After much prayer and introspection and conversations with amazing friends and family I came to the conclusion that perhaps it was time to start looking for something else.
So I started applying to many camp jobs and then found a 3 year mission program through the United Methodist Church.
Right now I am finishing up at the church who has recieved my notice and will be there through the end of April. Then I will go back to camp for the summer and be the Program Director, a position I have wanted for a while.
I also just recieved word that I've been invited to New York to interview for said Mission Program. (VERY EXCITED I AM.) If I get into the program I will be placed abroad for 18 months with a faith-based social justice organization and then placed for 18 months with a faith-based social justice organization here in the U.S.
My long, long term goal is to eventually find a way to merge my passion for recreation/nature with my passion for serving others. I think that a long-term mission experience will be invaluable on my way to doing that. Mission trips that incoporate camping/adventure elements is just one possibility. We shall see what we shall see I suppose.
The exciting part of all of this is that I finally just let go. I took some giant leaps of faith in applying for various positions and am very excited/anxious to see where the next adventure is going to be.
I'm also greatful that I am getting both of my feet operated on and healed NOW so that when I do find this next great adventure I will be ready to run, jump, play, hike, climb, walk and dance relatively PAIN FREE.
It almost feels symbolic to me to have my feet corrected right before this next adventure, it's like they are being prepared to "be the feet of Jesus." Not that they couldn't be before (or haven't been), but this way they won't hurt as much. Maybe it's just me being silly, but the timing seems just about perfect.
Hope you made it all the way through. Even if you didn't I feel better that I've gooten that all out. Whew.
Happy St. Patrick's Day!