Well, it’s happened. I am engaged.
I didn’t quite have an idea of what I was talking about, earlier this year, when I wrote that things were stirring in the air. But, quite to my surprise, I met a girl — a World Racer at that, beautiful and passionate, who loved Jesus, who challenged my assumptions about women, who made me ask questions I’d never asked before. And she got me, she understood my weirdness, and my questions and my yearnings and my heart. And she decided to love me. And I loved her. And two weeks ago today, I asked her to marry me, and she flipped out and said yes.
So, it’s happened.
Now!, a whole canyon of new possibilities yawns open before me, full of questions that I’ve never wondered before, and ambitions and promises and risks and hopes. Rocks that I’ve never bothered to overturn before. Seriously. I am a man who, prior to this year, has given perhaps 2 hours’ thought to what he wants his wedding to be like — cumulatively, in my whole life, that is. And the wedding is just the first day. There are things to begin to consider here, now, that I’ve never thought to even ponder.
… Also in that canyon of possibilities are new dreams and desires that I didn’t know were latent within me. For instance, we’re quietly weighing the choice of renting or buying. Mind you, we’ll very likely rent, at least in the beginning. But wrapped up into that dialogue is a whole track that stretches forward by years. And I begin to catch myself hoping for things that I’ve never worried about before: that we can live in a nice neighborhood where we feel safe and there’s low crime, and that we can connect with a community of pleasant neighbors, and a nearby church of other believers, and have cool places within walking distance, and have a nice porch-swing and a well-kept storage shed, and a medium-sized flat-panel TV hooked up to a Roku … and that we’ll have stable incomes to support our happy, settled, home-owning lifestyle.
And then I’m like: wait a minute. Mere months ago, I was ready to drop everything and follow Jesus into the middle east, for who knows how long, living on presumably a shoestring budget and swallowing the pill of leaving all the comfort and friendships that I’ve ever loved. Now, with marriage entering my timeline, suddenly my future-storyboard is filling up unexpectedly with desires that look suspiciously like an echo of that old American Dream.
Hear me out here. I don’t think the things in the American Dream are bad. A safe place to raise children, a good home that’s not falling apart, a beautiful tree-lined neighborhood, an income to support all that … there’s nothing evil about any of that. Indeed, I hope the Lord makes those blessings available to me, in some season of our lives, sometime before I die.
But those things are not Jesus. They are not why I’m here. They are not a worthy goal.
And when those things become the goal … instead of following Jesus … then I’ll start to grow sick inside. We will start to grow sick inside. I know it because I’ve done it before, in bits and tiny spurts through my 20-something life. I know because I know that I, and we all, are engineered to be connected to a very specific power source, running a clean-burning fuel called the Holy Spirit, with the freedom of the gospel pouring through our lungs.
What I advocate, then, is not mere asceticism, or a spartan way of life simply for the sake of spartan-hood. Instead, I want what many many believers before me have also wanted: a life that is simply in pursuit of Jesus. If we encounter feast or famine along the way, then good! I will of course not actively seek the famine part … but if at some point I see that there is Jesus, clearly beckoning us toward a season of scarcity … I hope to follow Him there, and be grateful even there.
… If you followed me through all that and you still don’t think I’m nuts, then good. What I mean by all this is simply that I’ve noticed the Dream(s) of our culture — whatever they may be — are haunting and persistent. The enemy will use every conceivable opportunity to bring them back up, in the hopes of distracting us from the true call of our lives. I presume this will happen at every major juncture. So here I am, at a major juncture. And I will try, as I can, to choose Jesus instead.