“This life therefore is not righteousness, but growth in righteousness, not health, but healing, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it, the process is not yet finished, but it is going on, this is not the end, but it is the road. All does not yet gleam in glory, but all is being purified.”
10 January 2005, the day that my life in the flesh ended, and my life in Christ began. Like Arthur Dent hitch hiking the cosmos with the destruction of Earth behind him, or Bilbo Baggins leaving the comfort of his home without even a handkerchief, I took the first step on a journey, a journey I am still on today. After years of fighting and struggling, doing it whatever I wanted, experiencing everything I could, looking for fulfillment in everything but the one thing that would fulfill, I decided to live a life in pursuit of God. If gradual could sum up a person’s entrance into the Christian life, it would not sum up mine. Upon Christ being put into Christopher, I found myself homeless with no idea of where I was going, or what I would do. I remember having a certain peace, a particular joy, and even a kind of excitement overcome me as I said aloud to my newly found Savior “If this is how it has to be, so be it.” At that moment I made a pact with myself and a resolution to God, to pursue truth even if it killed me. That moment an adventure far beyond anything I could have ever hoped or expected began. So here I am, ten years later, still walking with God, growing in Christ, and continuing my pursuit of truth, whether it kills me or not, and someday it might. The road has not been easy, but it has been worth it.
“Whenever one man, for whatever reason, has the opportunity to lead an extraordinary life, he has no right to keep it to himself”
As I look back I can do nothing but be in awe of the ways in which God has worked in my life. There was my first year, the year that I lived in my car, in the back of a van, scattered throughout dorm rooms, constantly seeing His provision made, moving me along to where He wanted me to be. He may not have always provided what I wanted as I wanted it, but He always provided what I needed as I needed it. That first year I experienced truths, that while I did not know the theology to them at the time, I lived them, whether I always wanted to or not. In that year I saw God provide in tremendous ways, from an abundance of pants, to something as tiny as a toothbrush, He knew where He wanted me to go, and sustained me so I could get there.
“An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.”
– G.K Chesterton
After that year life changed drastically, moving to a Bible college I knew nothing about in Wisconsin, meeting people, becoming a part of a community, all of which still have impact me now. Still, it was not all glory. My passion for theology was dim, and that first semester was nothing more than a seed that would one day become a mighty oak. I failed quite a few classes that year, even Hermeneutics. HERMENEUTICS! One of the subjects I love most, and I failed it. Years later I would make a solid A in the subject, which is funny how these things turn out, passions change, priorities develop. I left New Tribes after one semester to return to Tennessee. In my mind and from my mouth I said I would never return to Wisconsin. Three months later I returned to Wisconsin. Over the next couple of years my growth halted to a snails pace, even that is being far too gracious, but seeds, faint glimmers or hope, were being planted that would eventually sprout into wonderful fruit. God bless my roommates those years. They showed me grace and what it meant to truly walk in the Lord, strengths, weaknesses, the good and the bad. This was not without great bumps and trials in the process. During that period, life was about doing what I wanted, and searching for fulfillment in everything but the one thing that would truly bring it, God. Like Ephesus, I had lost my first love, but still He waited, arms wide open, for me to return. Eventually, being a believer, living a life in such a manner will bring you to empty, and empty I was brought to. After a series of not so hot events, I decided to go back to Tennessee once more, resuming homelessness, leaving Wisconsin behind, resolved never to return again. One month later, I returned to Wisconsin again. Maybe my motto should be never say never? That month I had to depend on God, in ways which I had not since first finding Him, with my desire to grow in Christ being restored. My life was changed, and the pact I made to pursue truth if it killed me was renewed. I was ready to follow God no matter what the cost and I have been following ever since. Those seeds that had been planted when I first started out, were finally rooted and began to sprout.
“Not all those who wander are lost.”
This lead me back to New Tribes, my grades were great, and a passion for His Word was blazing in me like never before. I would become friends, close friends, with a man who had not wanted me to be a student in the first place, building relationships with people in that place, who are still important in many ways. It was during this semester, my relationship with camp began. Never having worked at a camp before, I decided, to give it a go. So I found Village Creek Bible Camp. Little did I know the relationships that would start at Village Creek, the opportunities it would one day provide, what ministry it would give, and most importantly, the growth in my life it would produce.
“Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods.”
Here I came to another big crossroads in my life, as it was finally time to deal with having Bi Polar Disorder. Symptoms were becoming apparent to people around me, and so with much effort, and God’s provision, the diagnosis was reached. For months upon months I prayed God would take the disorder away. He did not. As the symptoms became worse I realized, that if He has not taken it away, maybe there was a reason He allowed me to keep it. Safely, I can say that more good has come from having Bi Polar Disorder, than any bad, because not only do I have to depend on Him for the material, but also the immaterial. While Bi Polar did not define me, it is a reality Christ has used to refine me.
“You live and learn. At any rate, you live.”
– Douglas Adams
The road has been long, feeling at times rough, impossible even, but here I am today, a senior at Emmaus Bible College continuing my pursuit of truth, as I devote my life to not only knowing Him, but making Him known. Ten years feels like a long time, but a whole life feels even longer, and my hope is that till my very last breath, I will still be walking with Him until death. He has brought me through so much, and I know that He will bring me through that much more. It blows my mind being where I am, writing these words, thriving, surviving, and living to tell the tale. He has brought me through suicide attempts, removed bitterness, healed my heart from all the abuses, and made all that was wretched in my life into something beautiful. All I can say is, His plans for my life, are far better than any I ever made of my own.
The key to walking in Christ has been nothing more than taking one step at a time. Had I seen the full scale of His plan, and what was to come, I might not have ever pursued it, as it, would be have been so overwhelming, all one could have done is run. Because I had no idea of what was to come, all I could do was keep walking in faith and knowledge that He did, and that was good enough for me. If you want to make excellent plans, write your plans down on a piece of paper, in detail, elaborate fully. Then take that piece of paper, folding the sheet nicely and place it in an envelope. Once you have placed the plans in an envelope, rip, burn, or throw them away, because how ever good you think your plans may be, His are far infinitely better. That is how you make good plans.
“There’s not a word yet, for old friends who’ve just met.”
I have no idea what is next, I never do, all I can do is keep moving forward. The Christian life, it is about faithful service, not visible results, so all one can be responsible for is to continue serving faithfully regardless of the outcome. What is awesome, is I have not had to walk this journey alone. Everywhere I have been, everything I have done, God has placed some stellar people in my life. I may not have a biological family, but the spiritual family God is given me, sure as heck makes up for it. Christ has worked mightily through many of the friends in my life, and for that I am blessed in a way that I cannot even find a word that expresses how blessed I am. Each and everyone one of them has brought something wonderful to the table. My friends, mentors, and people I look up to, have all been people who genuinely walked with the Lord, living their lives as authentically as possible, teaching me to do the same. They inspire me, challenge me, and have often been a nourishing source of my growth. If I had to choose what the best part of me is, it would be my friends.
“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”
– Ernest Hemingway
As I continue this journey, my prayer, is that I would continue living the Christian life, not build a Christian lifestyle. It has been a wonderful ten years. Sure, most of it was not easy, and there have been as many tears as smiles, but it has been worth it. What is hard for us and what is good for us are often the same thing. If it were easy we would not have to be dependent on Him, because we could depend on ourselves. While it all looks good on paper, I have had just as many failures as successes, but the brilliant thing is that God often teaches us as much, sometimes more, when we fail than when we succeed. Success and failure may describe what we do, but Christ defines who we are. Thank goodness His faithfulness is not dependent upon my faithlessness!
Ten years, what a ride! In ten more years will I say the same? What is to come, I cannot say, all I can do is follow the Lord in the day to day. I do not know where I am going, nor what I will do when I get there, but He does, and there is great security in knowing nothing, when you know the one guiding you knows everything. The Christian life is just as much about the journey, the process of getting to where we are going, as it is the destination. The roads of life may be long and hard, but if you have to walk them, which all of us do, we might as well enjoy the scenery as we travel through.