Frontiers

 

I haven’t been writing lately.

Actually, haven’t been doing too much beyond the essentials:

– praying
– working
– sleeping
– being with my family
– running

(That’s not a bad list of “essentials”, come to think of it.)

But, yeah, not too much on the output side of things.

For one thing, I think I have to go through these clarifying seasons: why do I actually write?

Is it to become famous? (I hope not, because I’m failing fantastically at it.)

Is it to get a “platform”?

(I pretty much have a weekly platform because of my calling, so I don’t think so…)

Is it because there’s a fire in my bones, a prophetic burning that isn’t satisfied unless I trumpet and call out for justice?

(There’s probably a little of that, actually, but I tend to handle my prophetic calls in a more subtle nature, one person/life at a time.)

In short, I’m not sure why I write, which is why I haven’t been doing it.

(Not to mention that all the cool kids are SO beyond blogs now, and on the podcast train: seems anyone with a mic and a few hours on their hands can post a 1 hour podcast that has AT LEAST 8 minutes of substance in it…)

All that being said, in a deep corner of my heart, I daresay hidden in my “true self” is an awareness that somehow I am actually CALLED to this. I have little doubt that somehow words and books are waiting for me, but I’m winding my way towards that destiny in a serpentine (and hopefully serendipitous) manner.

It will come when it will come.

The other reason that I haven’t been writing is that for about 10 weeks now I have been going through a sort of vocational transformation. I started having some conversations with the leadership at my church, and it became apparent that I was being called out of my little “niche” of ministry (mostly musical), and into a different arena (oriented around more preaching and providing leadership to the organization).

Consequently, a significant amount of my internal resources—temporal, emotional, spiritual—have been going towards that transition.

There a LOT of details.

To sum up: Over this summer I will be leaving behind a world that I’ve come to know very, very well: that of “temple musician” (as I like to call it), where each Sunday I stand up in front of a group of people and try to facilitate an encounter with God.

(I also stand up in front of a group of musicians each week, trying to forge a unified expression out of different abilities, influences, and musical visions, which is its own challenge and reward.)

I have been a worship pastor for 18 years now. I’ve done it in so many arenas: mega churches, tiny startups, festival stages, etc., etc. Over so long a time, it’s become second nature to me, and it’s tempting to say it’s my “identity” (after all, men still do tend to over-identify with their careers).

But now that I’m leaving it behind, I have to acknowledge that somehow, unbelievably, that season of my life is ending. I am ceding that space to someone else, a “player to be named later.”

Don’t get me wrong: the space I’m moving INTO is significant, and gives me a tremendous amount of life. In fact, I believe that in some many ways God has been preparing me for this move for years; what’s been missing in the equation for so long has simply been the courage, on my part, to embrace it. I’m excited and blessed to consider the possibilities of shaping a community people through word, action, and sacrament.

(By the way, in case you are wondering: No, I’m not worthy of this. It’s called “grace” for a reason.)

So I know what I’m moving towards is another aspect of my “calling”, my “vocation.” I have no doubt.

But it is still a bit odd to be saying goodbye to such a long-term, “reliable” part of your life.

(What am I going to do with all these guitars now?)

But regardless, I am in the “in-between” state. (Or, as a friend puts it, “the lame duck session.)

I haven’t left the old space, and haven’t yet fully entered the new space. I can see it, but I haven’t walked into it yet (by the end of August, I think, I will be there).

This is what they call, “liminal space.”

It’s the threshold. Neither here nor there.

The thing about thresholds, they tend to be creative spaces: because you can’t rely on either the old world OR the new one, you are open to unexpected possibilities that you hadn’t considered.

But that doesn’t mean it’s comfortable.

Actually, it is ephemeral, and is vaporous. You really can’t find your “sea legs,” or a stable place to stand.

(Between you and me, this is actually closer to reality than we care to admit: we tend to buy into the illusion that we have stable, established lives, but our stability tends to be built on a life that we can see and purchase and control. It only takes a phone call, or an illness, or a breakup to call our attention to the fact that we really AREN’T in control. In THIS respect, liminal space is a welcome wakeup call to the true nature of life.)

So, yeah, this is where I’m at. Overwhelmed by the grace of a God of “Ultimate Mystery” that allows such a busted up fool to be placed in a position of service, and yet also having to figure out a way to mourn and say goodbye to a pattern of life that I called “home” and “normal” for almost 20 years.

In so many ways, I haven no idea even how to go about this process, but I know that I have been prepared for it: I monitor my feelings, the Spirit living in me, the movement of God in my life.

And after that, I take step after tentative, searching step.

That’s the way we live life, isn’t it?

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