I just read Andrew Jones’ post, “My 20 Year Pilgrimage” (yes, every word, Andrew, with interest as you’ll see) and he’s thrown me for a bit of a loop today.
My day started somewhat mired in sh** because, well, everyone has days like that. Sometimes it’s not hard to hose yourself down and move forward, but 20 minutes of Third Day on CD in the car didn’t do it, nor did my string of “Oh God, have mercy” as I drove in to work. A nice hug from my oldest daughter when I dropped her off at school helped somewhat though. Normally it would take less than that, but that’s the kind of day it is. If I can make it to the end of the day, I can go see Kingdom of Heaven with friends who become more dear each time we meet. That is, if I still have $6.50 to my name by then, the bills keep pouring in… actually they already outweigh the cash on hand right now, but an event like this gets prioritized. But I digress… the point was just to say what kind of mood I was in when approached Andrew’s post.
Firstly, it resonates with me because in 1987 it seems he was, instead of smuggling Bibles into Eastern Europoe, doing what they call “line-up” (getting things ready in the next port) for one of the ships (MV Logos) in OM, where he met his wife. In 1987 I did a summer in Hong Kong with Campus Crusade, between my first and second years of Bible College (having given up on the gainful employment I had previously). After the team left, my best friend at that time and I stayed around for two more weeks, hooking up with Open Doors to make a second trip into China carrying literature. I say second, but we only made one trip with Open Doors… let’s just say that Campus Crusade doesn’t “officially” smuggle literature and leave it at that. Anyway, this is a whole other story (and a good one) for another time. This friend had previously done “literature transportation” in Eastern Europe. At that time I was intending to do the whole missionary thing on a long-term permenant basis… which jived well with my now-wife when we started dating the following year. The thing which interested us was OM, with whom we had talked a little and where I was very interested in doing line-up, the job Andrew was doing at that same time. btw, for those who don’t know, OM had a reputation as one of the most radical shoestring mission operations out there… probably where YWAMers go when they get too comfortable. At least that was the impression at the time.
The last book I read before I got married was Floyd McClung’s Living on the Devil’s Doorstep, which talked a lot about the work they did in Amsterdam, radical stuff which impacted me quite deeply… and which reflected the kind of life I wanted to have. My wife and I got married in 1989, planning to take a year and pay off the college debt before “going overseas” (we just didn’t want to stay here). That was 16 years ago, and we never went. Now I’m reading Andrew’s celebration of 20 years and wondering what might have been for us. Don’t get me wrong, we engaged with all that we felt God put before us over those years, and I don’t at all consider it wasted… but there’s still something in me that just never quite got satiated. All of this is leaving me a bit wistful and somewhat envious of my good buddy RobbyMac, who is dragging his family off to do a DTS with YWAM. I have other good friends who are going with their two kids to teach English in China for most or all of next summer… I’ve been there and again, colour me envious. Maybe guys like me with families in tow aren’t too old yet after all.
For the time being, I want to give a hearty “congratulations” to Andrew: my brother, I wish I could sit across the table and buy you a brew in person… and should it ever work out, I will. Thanks for the encouragement your blog has been to me today and in past months as well.
I also want to echo Andrew’s prayer… though for now I feel I probably have to start with the second sentence:
Thanks God, for letting me do what is in my heart to do, these 20 years. Thanks that i am still standing, my kids still love me and my wife still talks to me. Thanks that even though i dont have the energy or the time or the radical enthusiastic craziness i used to have when i was younger, that you still like me and have use for me. Help me figure out what to do with these next 20 years, so that i dont waste them, so that i will worker smarter and find more enjoyment in what my hands find to do. Amen.