Right now I'm (John) writing from my 80 year old Grandmother's laptop, which is a little incredible in itself. I wanted to take a moment and share some of my experiences from the last week and a half. We're currently in suburban Chicago, which I reached by way of 550 miles of pedaling. My friend Brian invited me to join him in "Cycling With a Purpose" along the Mississippi. Laura joined us for the first few days, then returned to Minneapolis for a week before taking a bus out to meet me here and visit with my Grandmother.
It has been a real pleasure to be able to simplify life and lifestyle again for a season and focus on serving others and sharing the hope of the gospel. One of my goals for the trip was to humbly advise Brian on how to better utilize his navigation tools to be able to complete his upcoming solo sections efficiently. This sounds relatively straightforward, but the reality of life is that we're called to empathy and compassion in everything we do, and there's really very little overlap between the engineering process of optimization, and the Spiritual journey of service. Although I'd considered this tension before the trip, walking humbly in the Lords descernment of when it was time to "optimize" and when it was time to "empathize" never got easy. It wasn't easy to switch gears in my head, it wasn't easy for Brian and I, as well as we know each other, to communicate about the transition between the two, it simply wasn't easy. But, it was absolutely beautiful. God used the fact that we needed to face practical issues to reveal underlying Spiritual issues. He solved practical issues with spiritual answers. Most importantly, through it all he saturated a frail, sin-beset human process with an overflow of Grace in humility, love, patience, and faith. I want to take these lessons into my marriage, into our ministry, into my "normal" life.
I am so thankful for seasons in my life where everything in my life from the time I wake up till the time I go to sleep serves as a reminder to focus on the Gospel, in my love and in the words that pass through my lips.
Pulling your nasty bike shorts on in the morning: "I exist to spread the Gospel!"
First stiff, painful pedal strokes of the day: "I exist to spread the Gospel!"
Up the long hill: "I exist to spread the Gospel!"
Looking out at the panorama at the top: "I exist to spread the Gospel!"
Stopping to ask for directions: "I exist to spread the Gospel!"
With other customers at the bar for dinner: "I exist to spread the Gospel!"
As you introduce yourself to the church who's hosting you: "I exist to spread the Gospel!"
I have a hunger to grow in my ability to treat every day this way. I also have a passion, if the Lord wills to use us for this purpose, to help the Church see every moment and every human relationship of every day this way, to the Glory of the matchless name of Jesus.
What we, or I, have done recently is not very important. Rather, what the Lord is calling us to do next, for his Glory and the furthering of his Kingdom here on earth, is very important. Please pray for us that we would have descernment and courage to follow him into what's next, even this coming week. As we wrote last "Forgetting what lies behind, and straining forward to what lies ahead, [we] press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."