Friday, December 31, 2010

A Reflection on Faithfulness

New Year's Eve brings out the introvert in me more than any other day, I think. I'm not a huge party person to begin with, but New Year's Eve is the last day of the year I would want to party on. For me, it's a time of solemn reflection, thankfulness, and preparation.

On the whole, 2010 was rather uneventful for me. It was definitely an inbetween year. Nothing stands out as a huge landmark experience, at least compared to previous years. There was a whole lot of just normal life. School, work, family, church. In some ways, it's been a really hard year. It was much harder than I expected transitioning home from Semester. But it has also been a good year. It hasn't been exciting, but it has been good. Though it's hard to see along the way, I know I've grown a lot this year. My heart is in a much better place than it was last December. And I thank God for that! It is only by His grace.

If I had to pick a word to describe this year, it would be faithfulness. Again and again, I have seen the faithfulness of God. He has blessed me abundantly, and I am so grateful. I think this year was also about me learning what it is to be faithful. The vast majority of life is not about the beauty of the mountaintops, but being faithful in the valleys. Though the valleys are not always the most pleasant places to be, they make the mountains what they are. And for that I am grateful.

I've been thinking a lot the past month about what Stonestreet talked about in his last lectures at Semester. A lot of his material about going home well applies again to me as I look at beginning a new year well. I need to ponder on my loves, loyalties, longings, labors, and liturgies. I need to create space and schedule time for the things that really matter.

So here's to a new year. I have no idea what I'll be doing this time next year, but one thing remains sure: the faithfulness of God. He is good. And that's all that matters.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I have a dream...

I had a weird dream last night. It was definitely a dream, because there were some bizarre things about it, but it was very realistic in a lot of ways. I remember it very vividly, more so than any other dream I've had.

I was speaking in the sanctuary of our church. I'm pretty sure it was at chapel - it seemed like they were CCA kids - but it also had some elements of youth (the youth pastor's wife was speaking right before me) and YIM tour. I'm not exactly sure who I was speaking to - these were the dream-like elements I'm fuzzy on.

What is really clear though, is what I said to the audience. I had three main points, which are somewhat connected but not exactly - yet I remember smoothly transitioning between each point. While it's possible I might need to share these points with some one or some group in the future, right now I need to preach them to myself.

Enter the Great Conversation
- not just our generation and our issues
- realize the great wealth of church history and tradition
- read old books!
- interact with older, wiser people

- record what God has done
- set up standing stones
- record and track progress of personal growth

Doubt Well (from Ben Williams)
- freedom to question and doubt
- don't be a skeptic
- terrible two year old perpetually asking "why?"
- seek the truth, not just questions
- doubt in community
- rely on those who have asked questions before you
- be real and accountable with people
- realize that like love, trust is often not an emotion - it is a decision and act of the will

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Leaving Part Two

I left Summit Semester and Snow Wolf Lodge for the second time today. It was much smoother than last year's departure. Saying goodbye to the staff and the lone remaining student wasn't fun, but it wasn't anything like the near despair of last year.

Being back at SWL was slightly overwhelming at first. There are so many memories that I will forever associate with a particular group of 27 students I call my Semester family. But it was also good to be with the class of 2010 and get to know them briefly. They are (were?) a great class, and I pray they transition well back into the real world.

It's possible that I may have soaked in more of this year's graduation than I did last year. Last year, I was so obsessed with getting the slide show video done that I didn't focus on much else for the last few days. Graduation was filled with high highs and low lows with the success of the video and the goodbyes that quickly followed.

This year was different. I had a week to process all the emotions of leaving, this time with a year of separation. In many ways, I want to treat this as a second chance to implement the lessons of Semester into everyday life in practical ways, such as intentionally making time for relationships, scheduling my time, and limiting media.

It was so good to again be at Snow Wolf Lodge and Summit Semester. It was different going back, kind of like Narnia. It will always be different, but it will be good. And like Narnia, trips to Snow Wolf Lodge are important in of themselves, but ultimately, the real test is how life is lived in the real world. It seems simple enough, but it much harder to live.

May I study well, live well, love well, and be faithful, for Christ and His Kingdom.