As anticipated or hoped for, the Spirit has begun a new song with the start of this new year.
The week at AIM headquarters in Gainesville GA was stupendous. The occasion was a seasonal event called SearchLight, which is a week-long conference (of sorts) that aims to provide World Race alumni with inspiration, hope, courage, and a swift kick in the pants — all for the purpose of getting us to move on toward our goals, or our dreams, or at least to come under the dream of somebody else for a season, in the interest of receiving further discipleship, building further character, eventually homing in on our own respective calling(s). There were about 100 Racers and staff there, comprising mainly Race alumni from who knows how many different squads. There were teachers and leaders and pioneers in various industries, and recruiters from various ministries and from AIM itself; the week passed by in a blur of new faces, rising hope and excitement, networking and brainstorming and dreaming, truly fantastic corporate worship, and long happy nights of storytelling and laughter. I fell in love with the faces, culture, values, and leadership of this organization called AIM, and I was amazed at what an excellent week they had put together for my benefit. It was just awesome.
Some highlights from the week:
- Seth Barnes laid out his understanding of the big-picture journeys of our lives. The 20s are for experimentation, for growing under others’ leadership, for cementing identity. Grace for ourselves is important for this phase that we’re all in — the great labors of our lives, and the great works of leadership, can come later. This message emphasized the goodness of the road that we’re on, rather than the destination. And that last bit is a challenging message for my generation, but a relieving one. It brings freedom.
- Clint Bokelman and Andrew Shearman invited us into another world with their powerful words about Jesus. I felt drawn into the cosmic drama, the heart of God, the character of Christ; and commissioned, authorized, in-breathed with courage and hope for the truth of this mission that He’s called us into. To my eyes, Shearman in particular seems to have this revelation of the Kingdom that is so rich and glowing that I somehow want to get that revelation and burn it into my bones so I never forget it. There’s going to be more about that further down this page.
- Jimmy McCarty introduced the practical to our week, and urged us into true decision-making. But this wasn’t dry stuff — Jimmy revealed himself as a truly sharp observer and problem-solver. He’s seen hundreds of Racers come home from the field and has picked out the telltale patterns. We come home with such a mess of ideas and hopes and brokenness in us, we hardly know where to turn. It seems to revolve into two camps: A) Some people launch full-speed into a bold dream that they’ll bootstrap themselves into, but they soon find that they haven’t the necessary character, maturity, training, or support to sustain their skyscraper ambitions. That accounts for a few. Many of the others B) are so overwhelmed by the staggering array of options for ministry, for service in the Kingdom, for changing the world, that they’ll sit and wait for the single perfect next thing to reveal itself — all the while burning time and likely settling into a half-lit existence, caught in limbo between the past rush of the Race and the imaginary perfection of this future calling. These Racers in the (B) pattern are at risk of staying waiting for a long long time, because they’re deeply afraid of choosing the wrong next step, and then getting stuck in that. In the meantime, they’re likely to take a job at Wal-mart or Sears, etc., because those jobs are the easiest to leave when the hypothetical moment of epiphany later comes. But mostly, it doesn’t come. So, Jimmy was speaking to our hearts here, and trying to show us the narrow path that cuts between these two wide roads of destruction. He authorized us to just pick something and risk that (yes!) there will be some difficulty and some learning and some adversity and discomfort to face with this choice (with any choice) — and that’s okay. It’s okay in this phase of life to risk giving 6 months or 2 years to something, even if you’re not sure it’s the earth-shattering calling for your whole life. Who knows that by now, anyway?
There were many other good things that happened at SearchLight that are worth cataloguing, and plenty of other great nuggets of teaching and impartation. But, this is just a taste of what it was. It was awesome.
Now … the next steps for me, that I resolved upon by the end of the week:
- I’m going to go to Andrew Shearman’s discipleship school, G42, and see if I can’t get some of that revelation that he has. I’ll also learn from a battalion of other wise old leaders and teachers, who come to the school from around the world to teach on various topics throughout each year. I’ll be going there in October 2012, in time to begin the Missions / Church Planting track, which will last for 6 months. It’s going to be wild.
- After G42, my plan is to get out to the middle east as soon as it makes sense to do so. I’m not sure I understand the call on my life to this region, and I don’t know yet how long I’m supposed to be there — whether it’s just a couple of years, or perhaps most of the rest of my life. But, I know that I must go. I am certain enough about this call that I cannot not-go. So I’ll go.I’ll likely join a small team from some sending body, and start off by teaching English, quietly making disciples, and experiencing the life of a missionary. This could be attached to AIM, or somebody else. It will be a while before we get there, so I have some time to think and pray and see what arises.
There’s more going on in the background, more things that are growing and maturing in me that I don’t understand, or the Spirit has yet to explain. But for now, this is enough.
So yeah, SearchLight was amazing. A great big thanks to AIM.