Tuesday, 29 April 2014

The beauty in the becoming

I know that things will never be the same. I know that this is as good as it gets. I know that there is suffering to be met and it may be more than we now expect. But the fact remains, ever since we returned from the sub-Saharan, there hasn't been a day where we haven't been in prayer for the ones we've carried and the ones Love will carry us to. For the last couple of years that we've been home, it's been a humbling journey of grace upon grace, surrounded with community, purpose and providence.
It really has been as good as it gets.
And now after all the prayers, tears and time on our knees, we have our one-way tickets to Uganda. Just as humanity's first invitation into the kingdom coming, our hearts are forever sealed in surrender to "leave our nets behind" and follow Heaven into the corners of the earth. To live the rest of our lives upon Love- broken like bread, poured out like wine and laid down for the least of these.

Leaving life as we know it hasn't been without it's fears and questions. Even as the days draw near, the reality of my insufficiencies and insecurities become more real. I'm left scared staring at a countdown into the unknown and the nets I've left behind at the shore. Who am I to lead my loving wife into a life of sacrifice - to dream with the outsiders, serve the sick, and befriend the poor- being the uneducated unqualified uncool college dropout that I am. For someone as ordinary as me, I'm thankful that the foolishness of the world is the wisdom of the Cross. And all to the grace that I've received, I'm honored that I'm not alone in this. That as the mystery of agape, Heaven's heart toward me is also personified in a human being I get to grow old with. My wife is not simply an accomplice in the purposes of Heaven in me, or the third-wheel tagging along the journey- but everyday she draws me closer to my Creator and who He has created me to be. That against the tension of a plastic society which screams unoriginality and ascribes my worth to success, she is always a voice of wisdom whispering to me that life is about surrender. That there's no cost too great, no sacrifice too grave, no injustice too beyond, no neighbor too distant from the cup and cross we live from. Reminding me that love is all we have to give, and all we have to gain. The way her heart cares, searches and stops for the one inspires me to take every step by faith, and to live and move and have my being in Love. The story being written isn't about the both of us- but with every page we are humbled that we get to see the Face of God disguised in the least of these, and in each other.
I still feel like I'm only beginning to understand the Christ I confess after twenty something years of knowing Him. During my younger days, I lived by a conviction of living for my faith. There is this derived idea of discipleship where you just want to be a martyr for what you believe, save puppies and babies from burning buildings, and ultimately die at 27. But the older I get, I'm drawn less to the romanticized notion about going gloriously to an untimely grave. Instead, I'm drawn deeper into the very nature of Life Himself and living in a grace on this side of the grave.
I realize that it's not about living for my faith, but from it. Because the former is another form of religion where life gets easily tangled in the dos and don'ts, a set of rules to measure up and placate to a higher power. But love sets us free from religiosity and binds humanity in a relationship between the Creator and the created. Relationship is about living from my faith. That's where spirituality can't be demarcated into the secular or the sacred, and our identity isn't watered into a "calling" or a "commission"- no matter how noble it may be and how selfless it may seem. Nope, I'm not living for Jesus anymore; I'm living from Him. And in that place* of relationship with Love Himself, I become more human(e) and begin to see this world through Him where all the broken pieces of humanity can be made beautiful.
Because it's so much more than praying that I live to love, but that Love is alive in me- love is more than the action, but also the being. It always starts at the altar when I'm living from love.
Every breath is a journey between death and rebirth. With every day we are drawing closer, pushing nearer, and closing the gap between the world we know and the world we want. In a postmodern society marked by wars and rumours of wars, it's easy to accept the fallout as a second place trophy. It takes much more imagination to be human than to succumb to the system, writing off the way things are as the way it's always been- as the way the world spins. But Love always restores humanity to itself and believes in a better narrative. From the cries heard between the silence of war, to the innocence lost in the darkness of brothels, to the dignity destroyed on the cold concrete of homelessness - our humanity is bound to Love's restoration and everyday we rewrite what it means to be human. From that place*, my paradigms are reversed, my prejudices are undone and my life is sold out to something that can't be bought. That's when being fully human becomes about loving my neighbour, as myself. That's when Christ is all I have to give, and Christ is all I have to get. That's when there's no price too high, no place too far, and no person too different- but I see myself in the stranger, the orphan and the widow. Against an age that has made beauty objective into what is seen in the mirror, Love reminds me that it's rather the lens in which I see others. In that light, every breath becomes lived out as a prayer and Christ is the very the lens through which I see others- and I see the image of whom we were created after in everyone.
I'm not sure if there's such a thing as being ready.
Some circumstances in life are such that we are led to believe in certitudes and our false sense of control. It's easy to bank our trust in the idea of permanence and find our stability in the temporal. But we can never be ready as life happens. Whether it's the diagnosis of a terminal illness, the loss of an unborn child, the headlines of heartbreaking calamities, the horror of unjust realities... we are never really ready. The frame of our human condition comes face to face daily with grace and demise. As prepared as we can be for the peripheral, there is always something that shakes us out of our skin. In a world that sells us security neatly packaged with a monthly premium, satisfies our every comfort with a piece of plastic and promises us eternal youth with every pill, I'm choosing a better way- surrender. Because the power on our life is not how much we understand, but how undone we can be in the unknown and trust in the unseen. The beauty on our life is in the being and the becoming. That's where freedom begins and trust becomes the testimony of our story. Abundant life meets us outside the borders of 'as good as it gets', where we have liberty to leave our nets at the shore and believe that there's purpose in deeper waters- to press on to take a hold of that which Love took a hold of us.

As we prepare and pray for what's to come, Francine and I find ourselves homesick for a place we haven't been yet, belonging to people we've never met, and holding onto ones we've never held. It's a constant wrestle for the release- tethered between now and the next, the tensions of tomorrow and the promises of past, the fragments of who we are and the fruition of who we hope to be. Our prayer is to be emptied out until Love is all we have left to give, and Love is all we have yet to gain. Everything that we are is alive from Love Himself- our pursuit, our providence and our promise. The beauty on us is in the becoming- because Love sees us as we are and who we are going to be. Love sees the world as it is, and how it is going to be- where there is good news for the poor, healing for the broken, freedom for the oppressed, beauty instead of ashes, laughter instead of despair, joy in place of suffering, Heaven (be)coming to earth.


  1. Where are you guys at? If you are in Toronto, Tim & I would love to meet up with you guys sometime soon. If not, it'll have to wait until Uganda. Want to share heart & vision with you on this! :)
    -Emily Everett

  2. Beautiful words. Thank you for the transparency of your hearts. We left a piece of our hearts in Uganda when we were there. We have plans to return July 2015. I hope we can continue to correspond until our return. Please feel free to use us as a resource. I look forward to your future posts and the opportunity to "see" Uganda through your eyes.
    -Scott Tate
    "lost in Him, never to be found again."

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