February 13, 2010
Warrior Camp Update
I wasn’t planning on doing this today. In fact, some days I deliberately avoid it, because I know my tendency to turn Warrior Camp Updates into a marathon email or blog that you avoid reading (cause it’s novel-length) and which ends up being so thorough it burns up my time like a candle marinated in gasoline. (Looks like this could be no exception!). Ever get that feeling that you really want to do something, but you procrastinate and even wince, cause you know what it will require to pull it off well? Yeah, that’s me.
Or maybe I should say, that’s me…normally. Today though seems different, like now the timing of the “Warrior Camp Update” wasn’t something I jotted on the calendar, where I give everyone a heads up on what God has been doing in the ministry. This time God’s been whispering, preparing me for this moment, and gently prodding in a new direction. Something more personal. “Do it now.”
I could create another video update, where I get to share how Warrior Camp is now poised to debut in Central Virginia this Spring, on one stellar 162 acre location, complete with the best of all worlds: field, slopes, forest, and pond. That alone is a great story, massive praise, and a huge answer to prayer, and one that leaves me speechless, humbled and unfathomably grateful. It would also be a great kickoff as the first Warrior Camp Update for 2010. (I’m practically still pinching myself, wondering when I’m gonna wake up!). On Thursday, I even got to go sledding at my recently discovered and properly named “Kamikaze Slopes,” where it takes every ounce of will power to override your survival instincts. Then and there, one run was officially coronated as “Speed Demon” and the other “Orbital”. (I’m sure you can guess why). One allowed me to single-handedly be the first man on a tube to break the sound-barrier, and the other enabled me to catch a glimpse of Mercury before finally cratering back on Earth. Somehow, the fact that I even write this blog from the farmhouse (rather than ICU) is a miracle in itself. (For those of you who pray for me, don’t stop!).
But honestly, the update I had in mind and really wanted to share, involved all the exciting Warrior Camp ministry opportunities that await here at “The Farm” this Spring. I have a blizzard of stuff circulating around in my head right now to share, and realistically, I probably would have fired up the Webcam before the end of the month to relay all the good news and answered prayers. (And maybe we will go there in the near future). But now, God has something different in His mind.
At the risk of being anti-climactic, it all began yesterday as I was cleaning my room (not my favorite thing to do, ever since I was a kid). I was listening to a song on my computer, cause I still hadn’t retrieved my stereo out of the attic/labyrinth at the Finn House. The Finn House or, “Finn Legendary” as I call it, is my old house, whose land-lord was so busting-proud of being from Finland that he built a sauna in our basement, and many of whose 7 roommates share a common thirst for the epic. Life at the Finn Legendary could inspire movie directors. Blow-Gun wars, food fights, strategizing together against “Gordo,” the grotesquely obese and garden-pillaging gopher, huge and popular Saturday breakfasts dominated by plates of pancakes and followed-up with reading from God’s Word, miniature castle-siege games on the floor, pranks on the sister house, comic retaliation from the sister house, romances with the sister house, snow-battles, snow-ins, house church, movie nights, Wii tournaments, crazy group dances to the adrenalized pulse of a strobe light, guns, sledding and zip-line adventures, camp-outs, bonfires, invincible bonds of friendship, lessons in survival, combat, and girls, spiritual growth and discipleship, and the authentic, immortalizing brotherhood in the sauna at 1:00 a.m. I’ll always consider myself a proud member of our epic Christian bachelor pad, no matter where I lay my head. It’s a chapter in my life story which I’ll cherish forever.
That was before we took Warrior Camp on the road to Washington this past summer in July 2009. Now, for the first time, upon my arrival back in Virginia, I actually had the chance to fulfill my boyhood fantasy and live in a farm house…on a real farm! (The only rain on my parade occurred during the move, when I saw I would have to rescue my desk and book-shelf, which, along with the yard-sale appearance of the backyard, were at the mercy of the rain and the notoriously invincible red Virginia mud).
Now, a little over three weeks later, I found myself almost completely moved in, and reflectively organizing my new room while listening to my favorite band play through my nasal laptop speakers. The last few weeks had been a roller-coaster of peaks and valleys, a swirl of emotion. Leaving Idaho, and 2,500 miles later, finding yourself in Virginia. It feels like you’re being transplanted like some uprooted tree, hastily dug out of your native soil in the middle of the night and already Fed-Exed before sunrise. A reluctant good-bye to family made more difficult by endearing time, and at the same time, a joyous reunion with close friends after a long separation. Who would have thought it would be this way? And then, sometimes in life or ministry, you’re surprised to find that things you thought you may only dream about, have now been afforded you. Then a wise saying comes to mind: “To whom much is given, much is expected.” It reminds me of Jesus’ parable of the talents, and His encouraging endorsement to the worthy servants, namely that “You have been faithful with a few things. I will put you in charge of many things” (Matthew 25:23). Then, amidst God’s blessing, with integrity, diligence, gratitude, prayer, and laughter, you want to show yourself faithful, and flourish before the Lord amidst the undeserved favor of Heaven. I think that’s how it should be, how God intends it.
I’m at a point in my life now where grad school is in my rear view mirror. After studying across an 11-month window, I completed my final language placement exam for German last May. I passed (again, thanks for your prayers!) and received my Master’s Degree and Diploma soon after. I joke with friends about how 2010 will my first year since kindergarten where I haven’t had more academics hanging over my head like a thunder-cloud! And while I wouldn’t want to change a thing about my education (besides adding more recess) I’m certainly enjoying my new found freedom! And yet one thing that is beginning to strike me as a profound mystery is this: as one chapter in your life story concludes, another begins, sometimes with surprising speed. Sure grad school is done, but now should I quit being an East-West pin-ball and start thinking about where to put down more permanent roots? Sure, I don’t have papers to write or finals to study for, so how can I use that extra time to the max for spiritual growth and for Warrior Camp? Then, for movie night at the sister house Thursday, we watched Braveheart. If that doesn’t hit you in the chest like a sledge-hammer and confront you with the reality of what you’re doing with your life, nothing will. And, with Valentines (aka “Single Awareness Day”) approaching, it’s either time to contentedly lock in as a bachelor, or to entertain the feminine mystique. Question of the year: God, where am I going from here?
The song lyrics strike a chord, giving artistic life to the soul-searching saga that stirs,
The surf and the sky and the Sunshine Coast of gold
Floating on a long board, life on hold
I never know the way, but you always take me there
And I need it now, like the Mooloolaba air
We’ll roll with the next wave, boys
We’ll sing out, we’ll make some noise
God is alive and my magic is no good
And He’s called me out on this walkabout
He leads me to water and traces each song line
And I know to know His ways are higher than mine
So roll out the road rig, boys
We’ll sing with a grateful voice
Let all tears turn to gold
And the hell that’s raised
Lord, let it fade away
As Your glories unfold
Give us a part to play
Grant us another day
Let all tears turn to gold
And all the hell I’ve raised
Lord, let it fade away
As Your glories unfold
Give me a part to play
Grant me another day*
These are exciting times in which we live. When college and grad school are over, and you’ve taken your last exam, that’s when I’m realizing my newest (maybe greatest) adventure is just beginning. Big decisions. Big stakes. Freedom. Uncertainty. The thrill of the unknown. Lots of prayer. Nothing to hold you down. Time to do what you’ve always wanted, and squeal the tires on the way there! I think that’s alot like what Abraham, Moses, David and the apostle Paul felt, when God rocked their world with a huge green light to join an epic adventure with Him. I definitely don’t have all the answers. In fact, the more I think about it, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want them, even if God offered them to me on a silver platter. Would you? Where’s the excitement, faith, or adventure with God in such a life? Our favorite heroes from the Bible didn’t live like that. They lived their lives by faith, listening for God’s voice, and trusting Him. They seemed to live in the present, with hope for the future, because of what they had seen God actively do in the past on their behalf. Someone once said, “The Christian life is probably both less glamorous and more epic than you’ve been taught. But who would want it any other way?”
Looking back, it’s exciting to see the big picture of where God has walked with me, and probably where God has walked with you too. Where He’s brought you from. The valleys and peaks, the defeats and the triumphs. Men are forged in such ways. Wallace’s tragic loss of Murron and Scotland’s victorious stand at Stirling seem to be somehow connected. Luther’s daring posting of the 95 theses, and the reformation that rekindled Christ’s church. Israel’s 400 year bondage in slavery, and how their deliverance concretized their hope for the Promised Land. A man's finest hour often occurs on the heels of his most grueling crucible.
I don’t know exactly what’s next, and in some ways, I feel like I can relate to just “floating on a long board”, with life on hold. But more than almost anything, I desire to play my part in God’s unfolding epic. And God’s been telling me to look at the kind of man I wanted to be when I was a young boy. I praise God that I am that man. That’s a win on God’s score-board, and it should be on mine. “Look at what you wanted to do when you were younger?” I thank God that I’m doing what I was made for. “Look at the things you’ve prayed for.” I give Him glory for His abundant and unmerited provision, that He’s a big God! “Look at the joy that is rightly yours.” I can praise Him more and more for His gifts of love and laughter.
“Where am I going from here?” Perhaps sometimes, there’s a better question we’ll want to ask. “Where am I this second?” And rather than always scanning the horizon with our future-obsessed binoculars, hopefully we can lay those down once in a while and also look at the road behind us with a smile, and say, “I’m where He wants me to be.”
*”RSL 1984” by The Newsboys