Friday, May 29, 2009

CHAPTER 12 The Here and Now:On Being Stretched and Marking 20 years in the Body of Christ.

For the Prologue and Chapter 1-11 see the archives to the right.
So I'll be 38 in a few days. but just 3 days later I'll celebrate the 20th anniversary of my Baptisim. If you had asked me at my high school graduation what the next 20 years would look like I would never have been able to describe the journey across oceans and continents. More importantly I would never have been able to predict the kind of person I would become and what experiences, good and bad, would shape that person. 
I feel like my present and future are balanced on a thin strand and events could fall any of several ways. Some moments I feel it like the way some people can smell weather coming or feel it in a familiar spot that aches before rain. And I confess it makes me more than a little afraid.
Some days my doubting heart fears that the imminent changes will be catastrophic failure. 
Not that I'll be crippled in an accident. Not that I'll lose my job. not that I'll end up homeless. Not that my health will fail.
I fear disappointing God and my church family. 
Like not being able to get to 100% and help with disciple-making and church planting in France.
Like mis-managing Missions @ CUMC so that people are less inclined to go than when I started. 
Like never maturing into the kind of man somebody's daughter will want to marry. I look at the global fame of people half my age and think "that's success."
Then I shake my head at my own follow and remember that God's definition and man's definition of succes are totally different. More than fame glory or riches to one day hear 11 powerful words...
"Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into your Master's joy!"
The truth is that I would be a failure 10 times over in the eyes of the world if only Jesus will hold me near and squeeze into this thick scull that He loves me and will never give up on me.  As a single guy, who understands aloneness better than he'd like I can say that rejection doesn't frighten me. Except by God Himself.
That's what keeps me in the Word and in prayer. The constant need to get as close as posible to the source of my faith and the pilot of my heart's vessel. Nothing feels more like "success" than seeing need where HE sees need and being able to participte in His plan to be glorified by providing.
I'm better at the being weak so that He be shown strong part than I am at th being convinced of His goodness minute by minute.
I will say that my faith is the srtongest where it has ben tested and stretched by adversity and having no other  option than to TRUST Him. 
I wish more of our leaders and community of faith would talk about how they fight off doubts and despair and how often. I'm always about halfway in before I remember to remind myself that I've ben here before and that even the worst Satan can do would be worth enduring for Jesus who endured THE WORST for me. I pray your commitment to give and endure everything you can to make His name famous will grow and be challenged, even if it's uncomfortable. Soli Deo Gloria.
PS. To celebrate my Birthday I edited and repost here a not from Facebook that I wrote a few months ago. 
I recently discovered through love language literature that I have a lot to learn about myself and about other people…this is a beginning.
One for every year I’ve been alive.
2-Words of Affirmation and Touch came in a distant second and third. But the other 2 languages (Gifts and Acts of Service) got ZERO love with me. I can truly say that the thing that honors me is the time it takes you being thoughtful. I'd just as well spend that same amount of time hanging out with you than have you spend money to show me you care...unless it's supportin me for France.
3-I love to read...fiction and biographies and autobiographies especially of spiritual giants or little-known missionaries...but I have to know what the characters or subjects are thinking.
4-I would rather be blind than lose my hearing ; I would rather give up food than music and y'all know this heffuh loves to eat!
5-As easy as it is to teach and speak in public...I am very self-conscious/not confident with my looks/body image. That's why I hate photos. They tell the truth and they are never kind. So even though I tease folks a attention and you'll notice I never tease about things that people can't change like their looks or their weight. Never. Not ever.
6- I only tease people I have decided to like.
7-I don't know how to be half a friend..unfortunately it's all or nothing. Why waste time just bein acquaintances and forget that probationary period...Full Access Now!
8-I love blue. I don't mean I like it...I mean I love it...especially intense blues like the ones god blue and the blue of tropical waters. Not dark blue tho.
9-I wish I could go to school year-round as my profession. Get paid to read/learn/study and talk about it with others who love it too...that would be the life!
10- Someday I will record at least one serious album of music that I like and might even write some of it. Just for myself to prove I can, and so my god-children will at least know "my voice."
11-I have a lead foot.Still. even though I had my license suspended twice in my life because of it. Doing much better now but so tempting to speed. Help? 
12- I hate to mop and I loathe washing dishes by hand.. I can't wait to get to dirt-free heaven with its metaphorically perpetually shiny streets.
13- I have almost every card or letter you've ever written me and I read them at least once a year to refute the lie I still have trouble with {that I don't deserve to be loved or that no one "really" loves or likes me}
14- I cry when I'm sad AND when I'm happy. So I love sappy songs and movies.
15- I want to be "made" into a tennis player. Not famous but good. I found a coach so we'll see what happens.
16- I hate white chocolate, and mint-chocolate, and chocolate with fruit usually... but I have a serious addiction to milk chocolate...hersheys is my heroin!
17-I speak English, Spanish and French, but I'm also working on Arabic, and Italian is next.I also plan to learn Aramaic and Greek.
18- I love LIVE trees. Especially the big green fluffy ones that look like what kids draw.
19- I am an auditory learner and a verbal processor but I like to have time to work on my ideas until i'm sure they say what I mean.
20- My second dream job would be Literary Editor. I love to read and help figure out how to make it say what you really mean. And I never need spell check. Except with the plurals of tomat and!
21- I'm terrible at staying in touch.
22- I can't swim yet...workin on it..but Kim says I look like I'm drownin when I practice.
23-I hate takes me months of secret grieving before-hand to not sob when the time comes to really say good-bye. It always feels like death to me because I know the quality time is over.
I even cry when the journey with characters in a new bok are over...but it's why I love sequels.
Heaven is our sequel and it NEVER ENDS!
24- By the end of this year I'm gonna move to France and help revive the fires of faith and passion for Jesus there for the rest of my life.
25- I love kids. I want 10 or 12 of my own someday and would love to be a stay at home dad for a year or two for each of them.
26-I fear growing old...alone.
27-I love the harmonica. Wish I could play.
28-I open and download every cd I buy, even gifts...but you are always the first to "listen" to it. It's sharing : )
29- I liked Harry Potter and Twilight, I read comics when I get a chance..but my favorite stories are Ruth from the Bible, Cosmic Christmas(Max Lucados nativity from the angels' perspective) and the Giving Tree. I share/read them to every class I teach.
30- I hate change but I love to adapt. I like routine but I crave variety.
31- I hate the cold but I love to ski!
32- I am discovering that in consumption I love great matter what song or style. 
33- I'm competetive; I am stubborn and I love to win.
34- I love to play games but laughing is the best part.
35-I am the richest man on earth because I have friends like you!
36- Snoopy. Coolest dog ever. Hobbes Coolest "cat"...ever..(well maybe Skeezus too)
37-Heroes, Fringe, coolest shows..ever.
38- I am writing again after 20 years. Follow me on twitter at Ricardo33AD .

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