Thursday, November 26, 2009

More Lessons in Landscaping, or Miracles in Mud

I've been feeling a bit numb, and a bit down in general lately. I think it's mostly just travel-withdrawal, so I haven't let it bother me too much. There's been moments of really cool revelation, and moments of trudgery in being "home", but in general it's just been kind of a slow winding-down. I like to think I'm gradually decompressing in the context of good family-time and good Homeboy-time out in the field doing my landscaping.

The other day I was cleaning up some newly planted trees, ankle deep in mud soup in the rain. It was a pretty crummy day for work, but I really wanted to get this job done before leaving for Grandma's farm for Thanksgiving. I was complaining my butt off to Homeboy about the job, the place I'm in, the stagnancy, the finances, blah blah blah blah blah, and really just saying If you love me, prove it. I'm such a whiny baby sometimes. What do I do, God? What am I here for? Where are you taking me?

After a while, he was like Beau, you already know this one. Start singing my name and worshipping, man. That's why I made you. So I started off just organizing ideas for some arrangements as I went about my work. Not much else to do out there anyway. I started singing How He Loves by John Mark McMillan, which brought me back to this story. Please watch at least the first portion where John explains the origin of the song.

As I played this out in my head I just started CRYING and CRYING and CRYING, and singing through the verses, letting them hit me in light of where it came from, and in light of my OWN seasons of mourning, and God was totally just ripping off the hard crusty stuff that has caked on in the last few months -- the stuff that builds up over the life he puts in us.

I was clearing this muddy soupy dirt off of the grass around the trees, and I was like FLETCH NO, I will not let you cover over my RIGHTEOUSNESS. I will NOT let you bury this life born into me with your displacement, lies, and bull. It came at too great a cost, and in Jesus' name, GET OFF. I began to ask God for help to keep me RAW, to keep tilling and hoeing and keep me muddy and messy and just please please please don't let me get too far away.

I feel like I sort of lost consciousness in this place for a while and started seeing myself in the heavens, worshipping and singing and shouting to armies marching forward. He told me somewhere in there that I already know the next step. I know who I am and why I was made, and I don't need to worry about the details of the hows and whens and wheres. I just need to start living it. NOW. He said NOW, and I just kind of snapped back to real life. Surprised, I was almost done with the trees and it was some 3 hours later. I couldn't even feel my arthritic hand, and the job was very nearly done.

The next day I was listening to Thrice on my iPod while finishing another job at South Haven Baptist Church. I paused the music to take a call, and when I turned it back on, it was somehow, inexplicably on a Bill Johnson message called He Tore The Heavens Open that just totally affirmed everything - the whole message from the day before. Entirely. Specifically. This is perplexing, because I don't even have this message in my iTunes. I'm sure Phil snuck it onto my iPod during our travels a few months ago. I've said it before, but God is totally in my iPod.

As I was packing up to leave, I walked across the parking lot with a shovel in one hand, the other hand in the air. I guess I was kind of shouting and actually feeling Heaven open up and invade the neighborhood, even while the people were probably peaking out their windows looking at me like I'm some freako, screaming with my hands in the air. Then some dude in a Jeep Wrangler and offered me a red Slushee from QuickTrip. Of course I said yes. I don't think I've ever bought myself a red Slushee before in my life, but it was SOOO GOOD. He turned out to be the youth pastor of the church, just showing hospitality to the landscape guy. We got to talking and he's having me visit his youth group later this month to share stories. Goes to show - when I conscientiously rest in God's goodness, he's pretty quick to give me opportunities to share it with others.

So, that's all fine and good. But here's what I think it means practically for me over the next few months. I think I'm going to record some of the mashups I've concieved over the last year (i.e. Three Little Birds/I Have Decided and Shallow Grave/How He Loves). STOKED about this. These songs really breathed life into my walk and into my traveling community over the last 9 months. I also hope to flesh out some of the stuff I've written on the road. I've started doing research for a good School of Worship through YWAM sometime over the next year. I've been really resistant to the idea of returning to YWAM, but I now think it would be a great way to get over my baggage about not trusting people and not liking corporate settings, and to get over thinking I'm no good. I want to get over all my crap, because that's all it is, really. And you're supposed to leave your crap in the toilet, flush it and walk away. I don't want to carry my spiritual catheter around anymore.

When it comes down to it, there's certain things about worship that I need a lot of work on. Like being able to do it, and being able to lead it, and letting it be a celebration and a declaration of God's goodness instead of just a groaning in our human depravity. It can start there, but again, I can be such a whiny baby sometimes. So I'm just approaching the possibility of another school as a natural way to walk towards my identity as a worshipper. I've not entertained the idea until now because A) it just seemed too logical to be legit and B) It would require me to leave my catheter behind, and that will undoubtedly require some uncomfortable soul-work.

My buddy Mark Parker talked about communication from the Holy Spirit in an interesting manner. He kind of made this weird gesture where he kept placing the palm of one hand on his head. He'd push it off with his other hand, but it would come back and rest gently on his head again like some strange, heat-seeking alien octopus. His point was that ideas from God can keep returning to your consciousness. They rest gently and return every time you refuse them.

I guess that's kind of how I feel about this idea of getting back into the YWAM paradigm. The few struggles I've had within their ministry structure have mostly just resulted in clarifying and rehabbing my own insecurities. And frankly, I believe my buddies and former leaders when they say there's no better way to go deeper in Christ than to continue down the road of discipleship.

In a lot of ways, this step is similar to my decision to leave my home, belongings, and the life I knew and loved in Nashville a year ago. I'm in the early stages of setting off on a new and uncertain adventure. It will require logistical and financial support that I can't provide for myself. Essentially, I have no ability to do this without God's direct involvement. Last year I was an anxious, apprehensive, tightly-wound basket case. This year I feel pretty well resigned and confident. I think it's his will. Ask me if it's happened a year from now, and I'll be able to tell you for sure.


  1. its so good to read your blog. lots of gold. and gold is encouraging. i miss you, i love you, be blessed. Daniel.

    p.s. i want in on the mash-ups!

  2. I just want to say that I feel for you. I am in a place much like yours...the one where we just want God to PROVE how much He loves us....because if He did we would be set and living high off the hog right? Well, what I have learned is He has already set us up for ultimate GLORY and it is during the time of our broken-ness that we will appreciate what He is doing and has done when we eventually see the masterpiece He has been working on for quite some time. He isn't just gonna do a quick job on something He truly cares about....OH How He LOVES US! Be Blessed in the waiting,

    P.S~ You SING your heart out!! I will too! :)

  3. Beau....God has gifted you with the expression of words...everytime i read your blog you articulate what i long to express well. you are a mighty man and God is doing a great work in you...and He always are precious and i believe you are going to change the world...even more than you already have. blessings dear friend.

  4. Love you all. Thanks for reading and feeding back. Good, good manna. (: