(An open letter to my family and friends at Clovis Hills)
Life is weird. It’s currently 5am on a Sunday morning (that’s not the weird thing. That’s normal). I’m sitting outside on the concrete at the foot of the cross. It’s not very comfortable, and there are plenty of more comfortable chairs indoors I could be sitting on.
Four years ago, I began a new chapter. Still reeling from a failed college experience, strained family relationships, and a general confusion as to where my life was heading, I took a part time job as an AV tech and started upon a journey that changed my life. I don’t know if I expected to make it as far as I did. It’s been a rather wild ride. Four years, countless Red Bull-fueled all nighters, a trip to the other side of the world, new friendships gained, old friendships renewed, nine camps, seven missions, a couple hundred or so worship sets, thirty bonfires, two broken ankles, 6,000 pictures, and so many other adventures. I went from an 18-year-old kid with a part time job making videos to a 20-year-old kid with a full time job turning knobs to a 22-year-old kid making music to…wherever it is I am now.
Somehow, I had this idea to write about “lessons and things I’ve learned in ministry”. I don’t know why, because I don’t feel that qualified. I can share a list of things not to do, probably. Don’t do your worship nights on the roof. Don’t forget your keys. Don’t set off the fire alarm on a Sunday morning because you think the fog machine is directly correlated to the amount of the Holy Spirit in the room. Don’t forget your keys. Don’t build an office on the second floor. Don’t forget your keys. Don’t get the cops draw guns on your Nerf fight because you forgot to turn the alarm off. Don’t forget your keys. Don’t change lightbulbs at 2am and fall off of ladders. Don’t forget your keys. Don’t do set changes alone and get stuck 30 feet in the air on a scissor lift at night because you busted the safety cable on a lighting truss and lowering the lift would almost certainly cause some damage. Don’t forget your keys. Don’t lock your keys in your office at 3am and then drill through the lock to get your keys back. Mainly, don’t forget your keys I guess.
It’s fun to look back on those moments; not because they were good ideas (they weren’t), but because in each of those stories, I remember exactly who I was with. I remember what was happening. I remember what we were trying to accomplish. Every stupid story and dumb idea had a relationship attached to it. To me, that made it worth it.
I’m starting to learn more about how intentions aren’t a real form of currency. People seem to care less about WHY you did something, but WHAT you did. That’s not a knock on anyone; if anything, it’s a knock on me for taking so much time to realize that. When people saw insanity, I saw art. Have you ever operated a jackhammer? I haven’t. But I know how they work: they can be powerful tools for accomplishing new construction or implementing foundations, but they make a ton of noise and leave people with headaches, coughing on concrete dust. I became known over the last four years for accomplishing big things, but leaving a big trail behind me. The line between chaos and creation is hard to define sometime, because it’s such a big give and take. I’ve always been willing to sacrifice sanity for the sake of art, but when you’re leading a ship and don’t tell people where you’re going you’re not leading that ship well.
I’ve always been blown away at what I’ve been given. The idea that God gives me, this ridiculous, messed up, flawed canvas a chance to glorify Him is a crazy thing to think about. It’s the most illogical part of this adventure called Christianity, but also the best part. A year ago, I wrote about grace and why it still blows my mind. That’s something that I don’t think we’re ever truly supposed to get used to. It leaves some wonder in the mystery. It’s easy to abuse that grace. It’s easy to translate that into, “Let me do what I think I need to do and hope everyone will just understand.” It’s hard to expect people to understand what you mean when you don’t even get it yourself. I’ve abused that a lot. I’ve fractured friendships over it. I’ve alienated myself from people over it. I’ve lost things I’ve considered dear to me because of it.
And so, four years later, I’m ten days away from another chapter. It’s one that I am excited to open, but have trouble with because I’m starting to feel the weight of closing this last one. I’ve never revised anything I’ve written before, and that’s stressful because I didn’t like the ending of this last chapter. I never pictured this moment. Or, maybe I just thought it would look different. I thought it’d be more of a “great commission” type of moment, rather than a “dust off your shoes” type of moment. I’m going off into a new chapter and hoping that I have enough ink. I don’t know what it’s going to look like.
When I was at camp last month, I really started to feel a conviction that worry was a much bigger sin than I thought it to be. But it is the heart of most of my shortcomings. Worry leads me to search for approval. Worry leads me to make dumb decisions, or sometimes to make no decisions at all. Worry teaches me to keep secrets. Worry fuels my anxiety. Worry is the reason I didn’t want to write this, and why I failed at school the first two tries, and why I get scared of it happening again. I’ve started to see that there’s a reason Jesus always says “fear not!” and “do not worry!” I’ve spent the last month trying to grasp onto that truth and hold to it for dear life.
And so, as this chapter closes, I write this to everyone that I’ve come in contact with at this church in the last four years: everyone I’ve worked with and worked for, every student that I’ve spoken to or hung out with, every friendship that was forged here, every worshipper I’ve stood in front of on a Sunday or Wednesday and tried my best to lead, everyone I’ve had the honor of baptizing, everyone who I have either served under or who has served alongside me.
Thank you for taking your chances with me.
Thank you for driving me to the hospital at 2am.
Thank you for sharing meals with me.
Thank you for singing along.
Thank you for sharing your joy.
Thank you for voicing your concern.
Thank you for travelling across the world with me.
Thank you for giving me a platform.
Thank you for understanding when I made a fool of myself on that platform.
Thank you for letting me learn from you.
Thank you for letting me teach you.
Thank you for giving me space to fail.
Thank you for pushing me forward.
Thank you for talking.
Thank you for listening.
Thank you for the Red Bull.
Thank you for the shoulder.
Thank you for giving a kid like me a chance to try big things and do whatever I thought I could to push Jesus forward and for believing in me when I didn’t believe in myself.
Everything ends someday.
Thank you for making this a chapter worth being a part of.
Everything begins someday.
I’ll see you soon.
Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God;
may your good Spirit
lead me on level ground.
Psalm 143:10 NIV