Late fall 2002, as the sun came up on the other side of Montreal "Jesus Generation" by Hillsong United was playing on the tape deck of our '98 pink Neon. It's a moment frozen in time for me. I LOVE worshiping the sun up... especially while traveling. My wife of 2 years was sleeping beside me as I drove through a part of the country we were discovering for the first time. It was both hopeful and sadly empty at the same time. I was feeling both emotions for the wrong reasons.
See, we were leaving Brantford spend a week with someone we were planning on working with in Fredericton New Brunswick. We were planning on coming back only to grab our few earthly belongings (most of which were wedding gifts we had never used and never planned on). We had returned from Africa as "missionaries to Canada" to our hometown that seemed as destitute as we remembered. We had had enough. We were CALLED to help ignite this "Jesus Generation" and an associate in a new place was offering us a fresh start and a new challenge.
As the sun came up on the other side of Montreal, God was "Emmanuel". God with us. The next week was awkward but we knew we'd grow into our new Eastern life. We went to churches... that were similar. We talked about struggles... that were similar. We left with... similar financial and personal unassurances. A little bit disappointing really.
We drove back into Brantford feeling like the place we knew so well... was different suddenly. It wasn't our "home" anymore. We both looked at each other knowing that Fredericton didn't feel that way either. We felt homeless. We didn't hear much from the East after that. We began to meet with others who felt this way. We talked about moving to other cities. We once legitimately considered the idea of idea of buying an old high school in another Ontario city and moving our young families in there to be able to afford using the building as a ministry centre to see the kind of radical community transformation our hearts felt... as a response to God's heart. Because how we ARE collectively right now... isn't GOOD enough.
We chose Brantford. Because why not. We were already here. This might sound unspiritual to some. But I think it's far from it. I believe God's desire is for ALL to be saved, changed and given the gift of freedom in prosperity. Here, there and everywhere. When we venture on short term missions of anaerobic spiritual activity, we often become aware of the longing God has for His creation to return to Him. This is the state of the world's (plural) we're living in. The intersection of physical and spiritual as His Kingdom aches to come.
But wanderlust doesn't change cities. Investment, commitment and work does. God waits for us to partner with His heart. A life of touring, gawking, hoping and pontificating assures the journeyer an ineffectual life. Even if it's with the admirable goal of enlightenment, youthful zealousness/ignorance often forgets that such wisdom cannot be gleaned from a distance. We DO get to participate in eternal bliss. Heck... the last thing John, in clear anticipation, wrote in Revelation was God's message of:
"I Am Coming Quickly He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all Amen"
But it was AS he was working at changing his surroundings BY good INTO good in accordance to what God was saying to him. I'll never forget that time the sun came up on the other side of Montreal... but a decade of learning and work later, the reason I remember it is for vastly different reasons.