The day started out chilly and overcast, but then the sun made an appearance and brought forth a warmth that invited me to take a walk around the path at Anneberg Park. Last week at this time I was returning from my trip to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where my father and I visited the charming little campus of Chatham University for the open house of the creative writing program. This three-day adventure (which felt more like three weeks) of planes and rental cars and maps seemed more about breaking down my fears of navigating through enormous unfamiliar airports to make connecting flights, of learning how to rent a car and of driving in the dark in an unfamiliar car in an unfamiliar city than it was about whether to accept Chatham's offer to study creative writing.
The theme of today's sermon was "Go and grow. And then grow and go." It seemed to directly address the last remaining drop of doubt I had about whether to undergo an mfa program in creative writing. As followers of Christ, we need to understand the reciprocal relationship between going and growing. The pastor was talking about the big scary word "evangelism," or just simply sharing your faith. This is done through relationship building by fulfilling a need. It could be as simple as helping an elderly neighbor or shut in rake leaves or shovel snow, or as dramatic as relocating to another country. Both situations are the mission field and are equally important. It's not supposed to be scary or overwhelming or cause us great distress. The point is to simply make yourself available when an opportunity presents itself. Upon further reflection, however, maybe making yourself available is not always so simple or easy.
I experimented with breaking down this not-so-simple process into a grammar lesson. Go and grow are verbs that mean action.
Step one: BE. Followers of Christ must first learn to be in tune with, in prayer to and available for service to others. We have to learn how to recognize golden moments of opportunity when God gives them to us. This can take a lot of work and transformation just to reach the BE phase.
Step two: GO. on your feet, move, walk, travel. Walk two blocks from your front door. Drive across town. Fly across the country. Don't stay in stagnant waters.
Step three: DO. Service. Action.
Each phase is extremely important and can be thought of as cycle with no real beginning or ending. The BE phase is as active as the GO and DO phases, but can be challenging for extraverts or individuals who thrive on a lot of stimulation. I would have a tendency to get comfortable in the BE phase because I'm a natural analyzer and reflector. Sometimes we need still waters. In still waters, we can see ourselves in the water's reflection. Sometimes God wants us to examine ourselves because internal change might be required before DOING. That's never easy or fun. What's most important, I think, is movement. It could be emotional, physical, mental, geographical, or all four. It is through some type of movement that we are transformed into all that we were intended and created to be.
I believe my "still waters" of healing and renewal has been Manhattan, Kansas. Perhaps God is gently pushing me back into the current flowing downstream. Perhaps a time of "white-water rapids" is looming just around the next waterfall. A golden opportunity at Chatham University.