I found myself this afternoon obediently, yet not entirely enthusiastically, aboard Flight UA227, from Kansas City to Denver. I'm heading to Denver in order to replace my lost passport before returning to New Zealand. Now, believe me, I'm stoked about getting back to my quiet Oxford home, stoked about fostering scholastic and monastic practices, stoked about getting to snowboard in New Zealand during what is usually summer for me, and beside myself with excitement about staffing this Discipleship Training School and leading a handful of dudes down a path similar to the one I undertook last year. My reservations are not about where I'm heading, but what I'm leaving.
I never thought I'd say this, but I'm finding myself drawn to Kansas City, the town where I grew up. And it's beyond the obvious facts that my older brothers and their wives are collecting babies like, I don't know, pogs or something. After several months of occasionally feeling stuck and stagnant during this transitional stay at my folks' place, I've discover KC to be . . . alive. Vibrant. Growing. And, I think, ripe for a holistic awakening.
This has been a slow work in my heart. Over the last 8 months, God has shown me brilliant communities the likes of which I never believed actually existed. I had my eyes opened to the possibilities of a true and genuine Jesus-seeking collective with my buddy Phil in his Dublin hometown. We breezed through an Acts-like, spirit-filled community of college and post-college friends of my friend Amanda in Sheffield. And I've made a second (third? fourth?) home for myself in Grand Rapids amongst the most renaissance, hands-of-the-gospel fellowship of my mates Jaclyn and Emrie and their people. These experiences have created such a thirst in me for genuine, authentic community, where people who may have little in common besides Jesus band together, hash it out, and wait for love to explode all over a town. And I feel God's opened my eyes to that possibility in my home town.
Well, not exactly my hometown. It would still be a sssssstrrrrrrreeeeetch for me to feel comfortable in the subrural surroundings of Stilwell, Kansas. There's a lot of Landrovers just to the North, and a lot of cows just to the South. And there's not much space between for people in my stage of life, where my most prized luxury is not owning a car or a phone (or a saddle, for that matter). But slowly, and without help from the non-existent public transportation, I've become connected to so many other pockets of gospel-in-action folks all over the greater city. Particularly a community called The Boiler Room. I can't believe I just found them, within weeks of leaving town. I just sigh thinking about it, and pray for trust in God and this path he has me on.
So, on the airplane this afternoon, I opened up to 1 Kings to continue my survey of Israel's history. I found the prophets' words jumping from the page, illuminated in full detail. The Baal-worshipping Kings in their detestable rebellion being winnowed from their kingdom, one after another. Faction after faction, and idols and alters to false gods tore God's chosen people from his embrace, and they find death's embrace in lieu. The prophets, Micaiah, Elijah, the Man of God from Judah, all crying out the word of the Lord as deranged lunes, dwelling in caves, crawling to the desert to die and waking to home-cooked meals by the hands of angels. How must cake from heaven and divine water taste after a desert death-nap?
As I drew in, I longed to know God so nearly, to have such a gripping connection that I orbit his presence to even sustain my breath.
I didn't even have time to pray this request before I was flooded with the reality that I do hear from God like this. Sure, every day and every moment I feel his creative pulse in the existence through which I walk, but he doesn't stop there. Infrequently, when I don't expect it or sometimes even want it, he shows up with such revelation, as a deafening inner voice or a traumatic seizure of spirit.
Just last Sunday, I was drawn by a series of ridiculously divine encounters to the second floor of a building I'd never visited. It was the Boiler Room I mentioned earlier. Jean, the guest speaker, illuminated in engaging but plain style, the developmental hang-ups of newborns and infants, and how even seemingly minuscule, unintentional neglect or mistreatment by parents or others can bear staggering repercussions throughout life and relationships. She opened up in prayer, at one point asking Holy Spirit to show us a picture of how our hearts look, from a divine perspective. Without even thinking, before I even processed the words, I had a picture in my head of a huge, growing, bursting heart, anatomically correct but caricature in form, bound by three metal bands. The heart strained against the restrictive bands, tearing its surface against the raw metal edges, spurting golden-red life over the edges. The bands began to snap, overpowered not by the strength of the pulsing muscle, but by the glory of a blinding light, their tension broken as if by wire-cutters.
I don’t feel this was a revelation to send to world leaders concerning battle or economics, nor does it seem to point in any particular direction for this next season of my life, except towards Christ. But it gives me a boldness, a certainty wherever I walk, of purpose, vision, blessing, provision, and readiness to love freely and without reservation and bleed this love of Christ crucified and risen.