"Living by faith includes the call
to something greater than
-JRR Tolkien, The Hobbit
What a week it has been. The wrestling and doubting. Feeling the tension between faith and the very real present. Trying not to hold offense when I thought I knew what God was doing, and I was wrong. Fear seized thoughts being handed again and again to the One allowing the dross to surface. Allowing it to surface because He knew it was there all along.
I think of all the times we could have played it safe. Taken the path that would have lead to something different than this. I still have moments when I am quiet certain that would have been easier, more responsible, less the risk with more the security. "We don't have to do this" I find myself saying to Jeff. "I could teach full time, you could build houses, we could try normal life for awhile, get our footing." He says he knows. We sit in silence. Saying it feels good, like we have options, a choice. But we both know we will not trade this life in.
Luke at age six or seven asked me why Jeff was always talking to High school kids. Why when we went to the park, store or out to eat he was always talking to them. I told him that he loves them. And because he loves them he wants them to know God created them in even greater love and with a purpose. "What?! So WHO do they think made them?" Luke was shocked. I told him they think their mom and dad made them, that is it. "Well, then what do they think this life is about? Just to make money and buy stuff and die?"
I replay his words in my head again and again this week. Right now, in this moment of not knowing how this will end gracefully and how we will begin the next chapter with confidence. And when the dross of fear and doubt appears I offer it to God. Knowing the dross is sifted and I am left with more of Him. Jeff has lead us well. He is a man who trusts God to provide and protect year after year. The leaner seasons filled with substitute teaching and building. Provisional bookends that happen before and after Young Life. Today I found a poem written about Jeff by one of the first Culpeper High school guys he worked with. It was written long after we shared the last of the high school years with him. Here is just a piece of it:
... the young lives who do not just imitate his humor,
or that throat-clearing before the bomb drop,
"Here's the thing guys..."
but young lives that imitate who he is imitating,
this, a line dropped from heavenly booth-
a calling-and not just a static call, but extended (call-ing),
extended like an arm out of the clouds, meeting the finger at just one atom,
and he is not impersonating, but following some invisible pathway,
is always in a constant state of arrival-arriving,
meeting each new challenge with faith
the kind of faith that trusts,
and we can't help but trust Him in turn."
"Remove the dross from the silver ,
and out comes material for the silversmith."
"For whoever wants to save their life
will lose it,
but whoever loses their life for me
will save it."