Shannon and I had a very safe existence for many years as “Christians”. We were very involved in the church we attended. We sat on the front row or at least front row adjacent. We tithed and even gave above our tithes regularly. We were living a very safe, very comfortable, very controlled Christian life.
I was very much about growing the church we attended. It was very comfortable inside so that the people we were “trying to reach” could be comfortable. We had padded seats in a tastefully designed room with air conditioning and lots of creature comforts like coffee and video screens to help keep our attention and keep us from the annoying inconvenience of finding it in our own Bibles.
I had a very successful management company that worked with some of the top names in Christian music. It was awesome. We worked like rented mules, but there were lots of great perks. I had a great vehicle that talked to me, had a back up camera, and made people look twice at me when I got out of it. When I accelerated and the engine roared it did to me what chocolate does to my wife.
We were by no means rich, but Shannon and I didn’t have to worry about things like making our mortgage payment or clipping coupons if we didn’t want to. We had the security and safety and the prestige that comes from working in an industry that is very desirable from those looking from the outside in.
As I was walking through hot and humid Haiti today I realized that this really and truly was not in the plans. This wasn’t the life I had dreamed about and planned for. What happened? I had completely lost my life. I don’t know how it happened. It seemed to happen in slow and steady steps, but it also seems like it happened all at once.
The truth is I haven’t seen my life in a very long time.
I don’t have a dependable job. Shannon and I are not only clipping coupons now but we are cutting back on every possible expense we can think of. It’s been very stressful and the lack of security that comes with this level of risk is pretty high.
I do have a nice vehicle, but it’s very pragmatic in nature. I would’ve never chosen a red pick up but we needed something to be able to pull the trailer from week to week at the Church. It’s nothing to complain about, but it’s no Denali and it’s for sure not the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon with giant tires that I dreamed about.
We’re not in a great facility for our church. It’s always too hot or too cold and the chairs aren’t comfortable. We have to get there early and stay late to load in and load out gear every week as we set up in a cafeteria that smells exactly what you would expect a facility to smell like that serves low quality food in large quantities.
I’m writing this from a developing nation, on a lumpy cot in a semi climate controlled hotel room where I just got done taking a shower under a trickle of cold water. I’m laying here sore, tired and borderline dehydrated after a 10 hour day of shoveling dirt, lifting heavy cases, and feeding hungry kids. I sweat so much today that I smelled bad enough that only the Hebrew language could have a word that could possibly describe the odor. I’m sure it’s in Leviticus somewhere and it’s an abomination.
But here’s the kicker. I’ve never been happier. I’ve never been more fulfilled. I feel like I had spent the first 20 years of my Christianity sleepwalking. 5 years ago I was minding my own business, trucking along thinking I was “doing something” for God and then BAM! Here I am.
As I fall asleep tonight in the same room in Haiti with my 13 year old daughter who gave up her Fall Break to come here I know that Shannon and I made the right choice to walk away from everything and do this.
It’s at best counter intuitive and illogical but I wouldn’t want it any other way. When you think about it, it’s exactly Jesus. In Matthew 10:39 Jesus said “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
It’s not comfortable or secure and is arguably quite dangerous. The Bible promised that every good and perfect gift came from the Father. It didn’t say comfortable. I’ll never again confuse comfortable and good as being synonymous.
I’m realizing for the first time that this isn’t necessarily a metaphorical statement. We are living it out quite literally. I lost my life, and in doing so I found it. I lost my life of comfort, security and control and gained a life of peace, fulfillment and satisfaction.
I haven’t seen the old life in a while. He almost feels like another guy that I can write about but is foreign to me. If you ever see a safe, in control, comfortable Darren would you do me a favor? Kill him. Jesus asked us to take up His cross and follow him. Paul said that He was crucified with Christ. The Old Darren, he’s lost. Dead.
The new Darren isn’t perfect, doesn’t have it all figured out, and certainly isn’t any better looking. But he’s found. And there’s something to be said for that.