Everyone is meant to live a meaningful life, which implies that my life is meant to be meaningful. The question really is: how much do I want to limit myself in achieving the ubiquitous meaning to be had? I realize now that, to have made it this far, it doesn’t make sense limit myself in any way. I know, without a doubt, the sort of impact that is possible from my life, and to bury my head in the sand would be to knowingly rob the world of hope.
We all have that potential. Often, we are the hope that we fail to see. As one of few who realize this, I must die to myself daily and preserve the diligence that comes from knowing that this isn’t about me. I now write with my audience in mind, not the 10 people who click on this through my facebook, but for those, decades from now, who desire to gain traction from the footsteps of a fledgling revolutionary. It’s a revolution that started 2,000 years ago, and though it seems to lose traction, I intend to leave the breadcrumbs that mark my journey, making the intangible, tangible.
24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
How much can a person change you in two weeks? I’ve never been changed so much by one person in such a short period of time. In retrospect, it’s mainly due to the fact that I didn’t expect it. I mean, in the last 2 years, I’ve started to find people who are beyond what I expected them to be and (more alarmingly) unafraid. This story is a most potent and elegantly beautiful exchange that resulted from the overconfidence in my own stoicism and the woeful underestimation of what a person is capable of unlocking in 2 weeks. I’m sad for you, who is reading my blog right now, because you may never meet this person.
The simple explanation is that: it was God. This is the prompting I had prior:
- This person should experience and be connected to a collaborative musical event with my other musician friends
That was easy, I simply asked him to lead one of the songs we were planning to do. Unfortunately, I’d never had a conversation with him before, which makes even me uncomfortable to ask so much from a stranger. I mean, he was quiet, seemed selfless, and very giving to the point where I felt like I needed figure out his boundaries of what he could commit to (b/c he wasn’t the sort to put his needs first).
HE POPPED THE QUESTION
Coffee on a Sunday marks the beginning of this two week friendship. I never even really knew he was a worship leader, he just didn’t seem the type. Other than that, the only peculiarity, besides his somewhat disassociated mannerisms, is on his first visit to the house church, he helped lead someone to God. “What?… HE did that?.. Really?..Him?.. but he’s so quiet.” It was with an unusual sincerity that only he was capable of. My personality is far stronger than his, but even I’m too afraid to pop that question much less in a new place surrounded by strangers.
Later, I asked him what made him comfortable asking someone to accept Christ as their savior, and he said, “I could see it in his eyes, that he was searching for something, and I knew what that was… So, I had to connect him to what he had been looking for, what he needed so badly. I knew the answer to the question.” Wow, that story alone has seeped into my heart… What an uncanny awareness of the things that truly matter. Makes me realize that I wasn’t so wrong to expect more from the Christians I’ve known. If only they could meet him.
This leads me to further promptings from the Lord:
- He has a unique message of hope
- He is the answer to what I’ve been praying for in regards to my hometown
- He is the missing piece of the puzzle
HE’S NOT WELL EDUCATED
I admit that I may, once again, be underestimating this person, but considering that I am in school for a PhD and I’m constantly traveling to learn about people and movements, that I have the clear advantage over this self-proclaimed meek and quiet person. I’m building relationships with the most well-educated future big influencers of the world, and I don’t even think he finished community college.
Now, it’s absolutely not all about education, but that he’s so unintentionally non-diplomatic. Who has typos on their facebook? A simple correction is all it takes to not seem as careless. I remember bringing it up, and he said, “you would notice that.” He just doesn’t care. Well, I mean, he doesn’t even care to learn how to spell and use correct grammar. He no reason to, I suppose.
Even though he’s older than me, a 5th grader probably has better grammar and spelling than this person, and yet, his words have changed my life. I’m telling you this, so you can understand how I possibly found myself hustled. The whole time, I thought I’d just have my way, instead, I’m the one that got “sheroled.” (Being sheroled was something people used to describe the sweeping of individuals off on mini-adventures back 7 or 8 years ago).
Simple people, or people who live in simple worlds, are easy to understand and quickly become uninteresting. Complicated people are usually pretty arrogant, exclusive with their thoughts, or manipulative (cuz these are my pitfalls). Simple people are far more sincere and genuine. This person has the sincere outlook of a simple person, yet with the elaborate introspection of inaccessible complexity.
Conclusion: There is no way for me to read a person like this. I can’t predict how he’ll likely react to things, to which he responds, “good, I don’t want you to.” Seriously?… How do you understand someone like that? (Then again, how can you understand someone in 2 weeks?) One of the first questions I ever asked him was, “do you do anything weird?”…. He struggled to come up with a response and stated, “Uh, I read the Bible, that’s pretty weird right?” Haha, he’s so weird, he doesn’t even know what makes him weird.
The final prompting I got was this:
- Have him share his message
THE FULL PROOF PLAN
I have less than two weeks, with someone I’ve only gotten to know in the past few days, who, I believe, had never spoken in public, nor has any interest and would probably want to avoid that attention. I consulted his closer friends and my pastor about whether they thought he’d be able to speak at our music event. I saw the opportunity, and I signed him up without getting his permission. I know, I know… I sort of violated his boundaries, but I figured (1) I could convince him to be a speaker or (2) I’d come up with a full-proof plan even if he doesn’t want to speak.
As I think back, this is one of the first times that I really trusted God wouldn’t let me fall flat on my face, but even if I did, I have to risk the embarrassment for even the chance that God will use the desired outcomes. God doesn’t force people to do things… People force people to do things. As much as it depended on me, the message of this person had to be shared, yet without violating his own free will on the matter. Those were my constraints– that it was ultimately up to him to freely choose what he’d do.
I didn’t even know what message he’d have to share. He’s not quick to share his opinions. On his facebook says that he doesn’t talk much until you get to know him, and after a long conversation that I recorded on Google Voice, I realized that this person talks a lot. Like, if I even tried to talk as much as he did, we’d be on the phone for 10 hours. He reminded me of me… haha, he reminded me of how passionate I was, yet I used to make no sense (this is no exaggeration) when communicating my passion. I’ve worked so hard to “make sense” that what he lacks in communication is so obvious to me… but yet, such an unnecessary pursuit for him.
That was my plan, that I’d record what he had to say, then type up the words and all he’d have to do would be to read it infront of everyone. How hard is it to read? At first, he didn’t want to read something that I wrote, so I made sure that these were HIS words. If he wouldn’t read it, then I would. Either way, HIS message was discovered and shared; the plan was FULL PROOF (so, I thought). I seriously believed I was so clever to come up with this.
NOT SO FULL PROOF
The event was remarkable, so many good speakers, so much amazing music, and unity like you wouldn’t believe. People from different churches coming together to make a statement. I was coordinating so much, and I’d stayed up for hours typing up 6 pages of his words (verbatim) earlier in the week. I’d forgotten to even prepare my own message for the event. What I failed to realize in the hustle was that this wasn’t just his first time speaking at the pulpit, it was MINE TOO.
I had the outline of my talk based off of his transcribed words that are now imprinted in my brain, figuring that if he didn’t read it, I’d read it; either way, it’d get read. He didn’t mind that he was on the program, as I told him that he didn’t have go up, if he didn’t want to. Moses had Aaron, after all. I could be the Aaron who speaks on behalf of Moses.
So, it turns out, he does go up, but he doesn’t read the transcription. He just wings it, and I realized that I didn’t take into account the possibility of it NOT being read. So, when it came my turn to speak, I read much of it, and then spoke for like 40 minutes on what was supposed to be a 10 minute message.
That evening, I fell in love with leading worship, but I also learned how humbling it is to speak at church events (the hard way). Man, every time I think I’m running the show, I get schooled.
I was shocked at how naturally this message flowed out of the conversation that I recorded. I uploaded the 3 page version where you can see for yourself the unusual way he talks, yet how potently his words ring with truth. It’s so natural that I probably understand this about him better than he does. I bet he doesn’t even think about himself introspectively in that way. He introspects on how he feels about God, people, music, current events, but I’d be surprised if he’d even considered the broader impacts of his destiny.
At one point, while talking about the injustices, he stopped because he was getting angry just thinking about it. You don’t know how refreshing to meet someone who, with no agenda, just naturally responds to the needs of this world. First, this person couldn’t be self-centered or he wouldn’t even notice; second, he can’t be selfish or he wouldn’t care. In contrast to him, there are so many Christians who are just numb and dull.
His words changed me overnight. I’ve been reading books, watching talks, attending conferences, meeting some of the most influential Christians in the world, yet he is just as influential as the Heidi Baker’s, Mike Bickle’s, and Bill Johnson’s for me personally. I’d suggest reading the 3 page PDF, because it marks the beginning of a man’s unique message for hope.
WHO HE IS
The reason why it was only 2 weeks was because he was leaving town. I really was just some random person he was hanging out with 2 weeks before he’d moved away. He invited me to his sending off, which I declined, b/c I don’t know anyone who’d be there. What eventually got me there was that opportunity to play some music 🙂 I’m such a worship noob, haha (I play too many notes).
After some awesome jamming, some serious prayer time, the floor opened up for a very emotional sending off. Honestly, the whole time I was shocked. You can’t pay people to say the things that was said about this person. How does someone so un-intrusive make such profound impacts on people?
I remember mentioning to a friend of mine, after seeing his sending off, that he didn’t seem to have many close friends, especially, not his age. The friend laughed and said that it’s kind of messed up to say that, but true that this guy is so humble that he could hardly promote himself, even if he was moving away from his home of 7 years.
By the end of the 2 weeks, I had changed a lot. It’d take me weeks after his departure, before I’d fully digest all that I’d learned in such a short amount of time. (1) I’d never met anyone who was right where God wanted him to be, yet, his timidity seems to stifle his passion, and I can’t help but see him as potato-like. On the other hand, I’d never met anyone who (2) God could change in an instant. Grant it, through him, God did change me in an instant, but I believe that he walks such that the instant response to God’s direction is innately his lifestyle.
That last night, I could hardly fathom any real loss for myself b/c (1) I don’t miss people, (2) I don’t respond to my emotions, and (3) I hardly knew this person; however, there was this greater sadness that I managed to extract:
Me: My heart hurts for the people u are leaving… those kids that only got to know u for a moment… I wonder if this is how Jesus felt, everytime he left somewhere. For me, my sadness is only 2 weeks deep. Additionally, I even feel sad for people who didn’t get to know u while u were here… wow that’s a big compliment coming from me, u should receive it… haha… 12:22 AM
Me: I’m sad that there aren’t more people like u in the world… sad for myself, which is very rare, but mostly sad for all those other people… I’m not just trying to flatter you, but I’m really just trying to deconstruct the emotions Im experiencing right now. 12:32 AM
Me: Its so good that ur message was shared to my friends… I’m glad my friends got to meet u before u left… I’m glad that I was so determined to know u in such a short time… although, knowing u more makes me more impacted by your departure… I often wonder if what I do is worth it or if I should just do what everyone else is doing… it would save me from my emotions and make life far less exciting. 12:42 AM
WHAT HE DID – HOW HE CHANGED ME
He changed me in three ways:
- I now understand why I need to submit to authority
- I now realize that I don’t need to be recognized for my abilities
- The ways that people have hurt me in the past are no longer painful
Also, I can now magically play the guitar (just kidding!)
My pastor called this impartation, which is when you acquire the gifts of others through association.
1. SUBMISSION TO AUTHORITY – Remember the previous posts on hijacking retreats and being all vigilante? I now see what I hinderance to the leaders were trying to run the show. As I’m becoming more and more a leader, the words and example of this person demonstrated to me, the folly of my own rebellion. He said that Jesus came to wash our feet– that washing our feet doesn’t make the slave greater than the master. My blindness to the pride in my own rebellion is now gone.
My pastor said that this guy gave the best testimony of them all. When I asked this guy about that, he said these very impactful words, “the pastor said to give a 10 minute testimony, so that’s what I did. I always try to follow the direction of the pastor, because he has the responsibility to steward the vision.” WHAT?! It’s so true, yet I’ve never heard anyone so selflessly comply. When we were giving our testimonies, everyone wanted to make sure that all the important details were disclosed from their life. My testimony was like 1 hr long. Wow, his statement made me realize how much I wanted people know I’m cool, disregarding the vision of the pastor.
2. NO NEED FOR RECOGNITION – In his message that I typed up, he makes vivid imagery about doing the small things. In all things we do, we do it for God, even if it is a simply as wiping windows. When we serve God, we get to embrace our father, shine His boots, and straighten His tie. “You don’t get burnt out serving the Lord. Who gets burnt out serving the Lord? We GET TO serve the Lord! (typed from memory)”
I want to build sky-scrapers, erect cities, talk to kings and emperors… He’s content just wiping windows for God. “When you do it for God, you give it your best.” In those two weeks, I saw how seeking our glory hinders the greater work at hand.
3. HEALING FROM THE PAST – He was so sincere that all these memories of the being misunderstood and taken advantage of faded in significance. Somehow, knowing that there were people like this, made me more understanding of why people can be such jerks. This understanding gave me peace.
It makes sense, because, in the absence of believing that selfless people exist, our past experiences can reinforce despair. Knowing someone, who is not only loving, but healthy and secure in himself, turns me away from that despair, towards hope for anyone who’s wronged me.
“No hope for humanity” is what many back home in Delaware claim for themselves. I figured that when God said he’d be the answer to my prayers for Delaware, that his message would address that. Instead, a lot of inner healing happened. 2 weeks after he left, I got an email, sent by a stranger from Delaware who is visiting Santa Cruz this Summer. Even after all that healing, it was my gut reaction to ignore the email. Second reaction was to say hello and drop him off at Vintage Faith to get sucked into their flashy seeker-friendly hipster culture. What ended up happening was a realization that this email was a token for the opportunity to have direct impact on the friends in Delaware.
Love conquers a multitude of sins, but I am too far away to love my friends in Delaware. My life has moved beyond those circles of people, but God sent me a little brother that I could bless. The answer to my prayers for Delaware would’ve been too painful to bear, had I not recovered some hope for myself.
The reason I gave for wanting this guy to be a speaker at our music event was because God had said he had a unique message of hope and how this was an answer to my prayers for Delaware. Who knew that two weeks after he left, I’d find myself appropriately equipped to have direct interaction with an ambassador of my own hometown? (Uh, God did.)
THE MISSING PIECE OF THE PUZZLE
Halfway through the Summer, I attempted to have another vision party. Through that, I feel God showing me how impossible unity is. It was comically difficult that night, as people just aren’t willing to extend themselves. I was encouraged that the Lord was with me, yet my heart hurt from how disconnected we are as one body. We’re too self-centered to embrace unity, and I began understand how God graciously withholds revival in the absence of unity. Such impact would only divide a body if one part takes credit for glory that only belongs to God. To be unified is to be so humble that we have no opportunity to see ourselves for more than what we are.
Everyone wants the same thing to happen, but they think their way is the only way to make that happen. God tells us we need to love each other, and I get so frustrated trying to communicate that to all these Christians burning themselves out joylessly and with little fruit to show for their efforts.
Fruit. My pastor said that this guy (who moved away in the Spring) had the fruit of the Spirit:
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
A pastor in Delaware once said that he doesn’t find me worth listening to because I lacked the fruit of the spirit. Indeed I was tireless, yet bitter and frustrated, of course no one wants to listen to me. I always want to point out how the leadership is doing things wrong. I never stopped to realize that “we don’t get burnt out serving the Lord. Who gets burnt out serving the Lord? We GET TO serve the Lord; we don’t have to.” Maybe I don’t have any impact, maybe I just wipe windows. Would God rather me complain throughout my walk, or insignificantly enjoy doing things that I take no glory for (either by choice or by nature of the thing I’m doing).
As I closed the vision party with the passage in Zechariah on not despising the small beginnings, I felt a bit of what it must’ve been like for Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, trying to rebuild the temple, as the angel declared that the mountain before him will become level ground. Afterwards, I asked myself, why is unity so impossible?
It’s because we are missing a vital piece of this puzzle.
HE IS THE MISSING PIECE OF THE PUZZLE. He has the fundamental ingredient that is missing from the hearts of God’s people necessary for unity, and the unity that will ultimately bring about a love that is greater than the most hopeless situations of our world. Unfortunately, your guess is as good as mine as to how you propagate something that, in its very nature, does not impose itself on other people.
The same transformation that happened for me needs to happen for others. We need to learn how to wash each other’s feet, as he would say. We need to learn submission. We need to thrive in the absence of recognition. We need to have the hope that overcomes our past wounds.
To this person, I still wonder… “Who are you?” Why does God give me so much to process in such unexpected packages. I thought I was to push someone outside their comfort area, and he just went along with it like he is no big deal. You can’t help but feel hustled after all of that.
Was he just a symbol to help me understand the next steps that are necessary to bring about God’s purposes? Is he a key player in all that will happen in the next 10 years? He doesn’t have to be my comrade, because I just want to know that he’ll always be my friend. It’s a friendship that can only come from those qualities, missing from the hearts of just about everyone else I’ve ever met.
Man, I’m tearing up in the Safeway cafe, but you gotta ask yourself, “do you want to limit yourself from the purpose and meaning of your existence?” Are you a comrade? There’s no hurry to find out. From this friend, I’ve learned that we’ve got to be healthy, secure, humble, and willing. Let’s work on those things in the meantime, while being right where God wants us such that we are free to take his direction at any moment.
I tried to pull the whole parable of the talents on this guy, implying that he needs to be more efficient with his time and resources. To which he responds, “What did Solomon say at the end of Ecclesiastes?” Uh, I don’t know my Old Testament that well, yet. I read it the next morning and I got schooled AGAIN.
This is my best attempt to, once again, put this guy on blast, and shove him into the limelight against his natural tendencies. A mutual friend said that this guy is humble to his own detriment, which is why it’s even more important that this story be told. It reveals the pandemic of our own dysfunction. The cure is, unfortunately, not nearly as contagious as the disease. A cure that’s shown me things I didn’t even know to hope for, and, from now on, I refuse to function out of bitterness and frustration.
I wrote this, b/c you may never meet this person, and I don’t know how else to capture this rare and integral part of our big picture. For me, it felt like squeezing 10 years of a really good friendship into 10 days.