My Dad recently passed away. Shortly before Thanksgiving we had a small graveside ceremony to bury his ashes. Here’s what I shared with my family. If Dad were telling this story it would start with a date. So, it was October 1, … Continue reading
Jane, my roommate, has a room stacked with books; which only makes sense for someone who has a masters in Comparative Literature. Often when I present Jane with something I’ve been thinking about her response is, “here, read this book.”
This past fall I felt like there was this intangible shift and I was thinking a lot about what it means to follow Christ, what it means to belong, and what it means to do life in community. Jane recommended Henri Nouwen’s book, Reaching Out. In it he talks about hospitality in light of community. He says:
“Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place… The paradox of hospitality is that it wants to create emptiness, not a fearful emptiness, but a friendly emptiness where strangers can enter and discover their own languages, dance their own dance; free also to leave and follow their own vocations.”
That simple paragraph framed what I was thinking, feeling and desiring. There was a change happening in me, and much of that was highlighted in my time with The Table. I love the people there. I love their heart for North Brooklyn. I know that God called me to be part of The Table and that he used that experience to bring me to New York. However, as they were moving closer together, it felt like, as much as I tried, I was speaking a different language and dancing a different dance. Things that once seemed to fit no longer felt the same.
Most of the fall I sat in that peculiar place not knowing what to do about it. I talked to God and told him that I would stay at The Table for as long as he wanted me there. As I continued to say that to God, I kept hearing back two things.
The first came from Isaiah 43:18, 19: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” I had this unshakable feeling that God was doing something new in my life and that the former things were no longer the things of the future.
The second comes from Galatians 5 where Paul says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” So many people were asking me what it looked like to live in freedom. I couldn’t give them a good answer because I didn’t have a good answer myself. What is the pathway between perseverance, commitment and freedom? What do you do when things aren’t bad, in a lot of ways they are very good, but they no longer seem right?
With these two thoughts in mind, I began to ask God if he was calling me to something new, what freedom looked like, and if that involved leaving The Table. I began to see how in many ways God was using my gifts and talents at Restore NYC, how he was giving me a ministry and a larger heart for the work that we do (rebuilding the life intended for foreign national victims of sex trafficking). Not only that, but he had opened up a way for me to work there full-time. The salary I was getting from raising support to work with The Table was becoming less and less necessary.
I saw how God was calling me into relationships, community and ministry outside The Table. Though my heart for the people at The Table and my desire to see God grow and use that little community hadn’t changed, it seemed the direction God was calling me in had. I felt like saying yes to God meant saying goodbye to The Table as my church community and my place of employment and giving more time, talent and energy to the new things he was placing in my life.
In the end, I decided to do the thing that seemed the most freeing and the most inline with how I believe God to be leading, which is to transition out of The Table. The interesting thing about this change was that it felt familiar. I had the same feelings I’d had when I said yes to moving to Australia after college, or when I said yes to working at Hope Community Church, or when I said yes to moving the New York. None of those things felt comfortable, but they felt right, and ultimately, they were right.
I’m not yet sure of all the details of what’s next. I know it involves Restore. I know it involves getting plugged into another church community. I know it involves the greatest commandment of loving God with all my heart, mind, soul and strength and loving my neighbor as myself. Lastly, it involves watching, waiting, finding contentment in the here and now, learning to a greater extent what it means to have freedom in Christ, and trusting that as God does a new thing he will reveal to me where the next adventure lies.