Dear Fountain of Life Church,
I am writing this letter to you with a whirlwind in my belly. Sometimes I’m resolute, and sometimes I’m scared. Sometimes I think I have wings, and sometimes my heart feels so heavy a stone, I would certainly fly like one. Whatever I feel, and whatever I do, I know I am always going to love you. The day Lindsey and I walked through your doors, you were there embracing us as if we were your children coming home from college. In a blink, you became like proud grandparents, nuzzling our children, carrying carseats, diaper bags and sleeping babies, three times over! It went so fast.
Somehow when I became one of your pastors, my heart grew ten times too big and too quickly. Like The Grinch, who hears the little town of Whoville singing and his heart expands so violently that it hurls him to the ground, was I that night of my calling and impartation.
As we grew together, we shared stories around your tables, how we met and married, had children, changed jobs, changed lives, and how we were awakened to an all-saving, loving God. We played bags together while our children drank root beer and ate watermelon. We devoured countless hotdogs and fries, and deep-dish pizzas together. We raked leaves and shoveled snow and served the poor. We lifted our heads and our voices as one! We sang our ancient faith anew together, danced this dance together, broke bread and passed the cup together, cried our tears, fought, forgave and started over together.
Finding gifts and calling I never knew were in me, I laid our youth beneath waters of faith in the name of the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit. I still tremble at the significance of lowering them beneath the line only to know they’ll be raised again, with all our hope and trust in the light of Him, that no darkness would ever hold their bodies. We had to watch some dear ones go beneath those dark waves, and so I sobbed with you as we lost precious ones we wait to see again.
We will see them again.
But along the way, I was hurting. A death in me was coming in order for resurrection to take place. I don’t even know what it is yet, or what it will have taken with it by the time it’s done, but I’m learning God is a wild one, mysterious beyond our ways and imagination. He keeps whispering to me something, I know not yet what he’s saying exactly, but it feels like something I knew once, a distant shadow of a childhood memory.
It was in the blowing of the wind when I flew my kite as a boy, in the melodies I crafted atop the mango trees in my parents’ backyard, in the rhythm of waves beating the bow of my dad’s boat when we’d fish deep ocean waters late, late into the night.
It sounded like, “Don’t be afraid.”
So I’m letting go.
You see, I held onto my position, because I believed it meant something. It doesn’t mean anything. Some men want to be called a thing, but I’ve met many wiser who cared less if I knew their name, let alone their title.
I held onto my hurt and grievances, because I believed they mattered. But they only mattered to me, and to God, so long as they persisted to poison me. The moment I let go of them, like dust, they flew off, distant, small, inconsequential. While I had held them, they had instead kept me small, justifying my own smallness, my own mourning and crippled beliefs.
“Take up your bed and walk,” feels like an insensitive thing to say someone who has years of evidence stored up to believe they cannot. But if love waits with bated breath for the eyes of the blind to open, the ears of the deaf to hear, the lame sons and daughters to rise and take their place, then love must say “it is possible,” when we say it is not.
And what seems impossible to me is that letting go of my salary, my position, and my title could ever have been a wise decision with three babies and a wife for whom I must provide. But I summoned whatever courage I had left within me from living fearful and trapped over the last year, and ..let go.
And grace came flooding.
There is only grace, and it always floods! Grace without caveats and adjectives. Grace without walls and limits and restrictions. Anyone who has experienced grace, knows it needs no exceptions nor exemptions, because anyone who has truly tasted waters from that living well knows they could never abuse it, knows it is a fountain of life from which you drink and never thirst again. And I found grace in your hearts when you embraced me and my sweet family. I found grace when I released the tight grasp I laid hold of being perceived as successful, noble or profound. As Thomas Merton said, “The tighter you squeeze, the less you have.” I want more of whoever I am in Him, so I’m letting go.
Always with love,