One of the best euphoric Christmas rushes every year is the drive home after leaving the last day of work early. I cranked up Paul Simon's fabulous "Getting Ready for Christmas Day," basking in the beauty and contentment this season bring and began to think about this past year.
I didn't blog as much this year, because I quietly struggled personally more than other year of my life with an extended period of time that I can only describe as depression-like. This might be a surprise as I only told 3 humans that I was anything but totally great.
Ministry wise, this year has been incredible! We're beginning to see some of the results of ten years of hard work laying the foundation for something special to happen in Brantford. Somehow Captain Kindness has turned into a quasi-mascot for the city and we're seeing more families, individuals and students than ever are catching the vision of worshiping & serving the city with us at Freedom House! This year I've rekindled old friendships, my marriage is thriving, my kids are smart and growing, I've been a part of the team that led our local MP to a whopping victory and since been placed on his fabulous board of directors. I've had doors open to speak into so many unexpected areas of influence. 2011 has been GREAT and the things that I REALLY want to happen... ARE happening more than ever!
But for half of the year, peaking around my 35th birthday, I had a hard time getting out of a funk. Worship was a trudge. Prayer dried up. Hope (regardless of the actuals around me) seemed far off. And for the first legitimate time, I toyed with the idea of being mad at God. I felt a bit like Joseph in the pit KNOWING that I'd done what God had wanted and KNOWING that His plan was unfolding but wondering how long I'D have to wait down here personally!
Much of it circled around my 35th birthday. I've never once EVER struggled with aging. I'm always actually annoyed that I'm not older than I am. Youth and it's inevitable baggage of ignorance bugs me. But the midlife questions that everyone seems to go through at least once in their life hit me like a ton of bricks.
"I'm not making enough money am I? Have I done enough? Am I positioned properly for the second half of my life? I've sacrificed for ministry... God you know that right? YOU'RE my retirement plan right?"
I'm not a big party person. I would rather not have a birthday party or receive gifts. I don't really WANT much but more-so, I'm not good at receiving or asking. But this year, on my birthday, I was in messy place of isolation. I even made my wife make up a ridiculous lie to fake why we couldn't even go out with friends for dinner while I ranted around the house in a self-centered tantrum. I left the house after the kids went to bed and sat out on a bench swing overlooking the Grand River and had it out with God.
Did you know that God's OK if you have it out with him honestly. If you read through most of the Psalms, it's the story of David verbalizing that life is tough and people are attacking him. Then the tone begins to change. Half way through it's like God begins to remind him of who HE is and who DAVID is too. Then by the end... David is singing God's praises again. That's what happened on the bench swing overlooking the river. I was honest. God was honest back. Worship began flowing out of me for real for the first time in MANY months and I felt like I could breathe again.
That's all He wants... you. This life is about a relationship with your maker who loves you so extravagantly. It's got ups and downs. Press on with living. When you include God in your life... there will always be a path out of the valley. You should read my old blog about CS Lewis's "A Horse and His boy" about how 'the lion' watches out for us during these times. Lewis's word picture is powerful.
Driving home for Christmas; I felt full. I've got a smile on my face and I've got 4 walls around me like Great Big Sea says. Dreams are coming true in this city... including mine. The difference between earlier this year and now is that my passion and focus is (in practice... not only in theory) on others instead of myself. Once you begin down that road of living your life for OTHERS as an act of worship, when your insides turn from it, your whole life wobbles perilously like looking down walking a tight rope. I never stopped it in practice. But who you are on the inside means more than what you do on the outside.
Merry Christmas. I pray that 2012 is a prosperous new year for you, your family, your marriage, your city, your church, your business and your life.