The Use of Being Sick

I don’t get sick very often. When I do, I act a little bit like a baby. I’ll whine a bit, I’ll waffle about whether to go to work or not. More than anything, I have trouble thinking about anything other than the fact that I’m sick, and how icky I feel.

Well, I’m sick today. Low-grade fever, sniffles, sore throat, lack of appetite, and inability to focus my energy on anything useful or enjoyable. It’s a head cold, and this will all be over soon, but meanwhile I’m feeling quite sulky. I limped through work and came home early. Napped through most of the afternoon and still not feeling much improvement. Not interested in chatting with my roommates, or reading, or buying groceries or doing laundry, or being with the Lord, or doing much of anything. Yeah, bored and morose is what I am.

But one thing is useful here, in the midst of this little sickness. Suffering.

In the course of my fairly-ordinary middle class American life, I suffer very little. I’m also single, healthy, living below my means, and supported by a wide network of friends and fellow believers. I am probably near the bullseye for suffering least in this world.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not interested in self-flagellation. The experience of pain and hardship isn’t necessarily good as an end in itself. But suffering is good if it’s encountered in the process of doing something worthwhile. Jesus endured the cross “for the joy set before him” and all that — and we are invited into that with Him, as believers. The apostles were invited into that, as they were abused and betrayed, beaten and eventually killed, as they propagated the Gospel across the ancient world. And I’ve looked at those stories with wonder, wanting somehow to share in the bond of those sufferings, but knowing that my present existence is characterized by so little occasions for hardship.

But tonight, I have a small opportunity. I’m sick, and therefore don’t feel any instinctive kind of joy or excitement. Not about God or anything else. But tonight we’re gathering together this nascent Argosy community in my home, and my roommate is cooking dinner, and we’re going to pray and listen and talk together about how this collective of ours can gain some direction, some mission together, as we journey forward. It’s an occasion that should fill me with anticipation, but since I’m under the weather, I would rather just limp through the evening in a monotone, and speak only as much as is necessary.

And so instead of letting this hardship rule me, I will choose to choose joy, tonight, and remember that it is a gift to praise our God amidst our own weakness. Tonight I am weak, but God, you are strong.

 

Project SearchLight

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.
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A Missional Community

The following is a cross-post from The Argosy Project, a community of believers that I’ve helped start this year.

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It started as just a small whimsical hope. It was January 2011, and I knew soon that I would be leaving Hampton House, the motley community of believers that had become my only true home since I had returned from the World Race. I knew it would be time to move out soon, but the outlook for post-Hampton life looked bleak.
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Groundwork (pt. 3)

By the time I arrived at Volusion in late November 2010, I knew that my years of running from full-time labor had been subtly misled. The road that eventually wrecked my house of cards had also taught me something interesting: that aimless leisure time can actually be toxic.

This idea was surprising to me because I had never confronted work through the eyes of Scripture before. Instead, I had only used the eyes of my culture. And from the Enlightenment on down to the 4-Hour Work Week, our culture has quietly grown obsessed with working less and earning more. Even while the average work week has grown longer, our civilization has fixated more on the vacation time, or the retirement — the season when finally we can kick back and live. Continue reading →

Groundwork (pt. 2)

Pedicabbing felt like it was the job that finally actualized my long-held ideals of freedom and flexibility. So, when things turned sour with the pedicab lifestyle, I started rethinking. My free time that was supposed to be so creative and fruitful had become aimless and wasteful. I lacked focus. I lacked mission. I didn’t really know
what I was supposed to work on. After a few months, I knew that I needed something to direct my energies toward.

Suddenly and perhaps for the first time in my life, I understood that a full-time job didn’t have to be slavery; I realized that it could be a good and fruitful way to simply work. Continue reading →

Galilee

I wrote 4 weeks ago that I’d be returning to Austin, after a stint in the mountains that suspiciously lasted exactly 40 days. Like Jesus post-desert, I’m back on my home turf now. Unlike Jesus, nobody’s tried to throw me off any cliffs. Not yet, at least.

I’m again leading Fight Club, that earnest group of college boys who have become the great loves of my life. My ‘leadership’ is almost unneeded now — these men have been blooming and transforming, and are now definitely building each other up without my help. God’s also moving now among some old friends, guys I’ve known since the early days of college, people that I’ve prayed and cried out for. Now, in this new season, I’m suddenly getting to watch the Spirit open up their hearts! Continue reading →

Return from the Wilderness

Most of you know by now that I’m moving back to Austin.

It’s funny–6 weeks ago I was sure that the Lord was leading me into new calling and a new home base somewhere up here in the mountains. I was convinced that Austin was no longer my home, and I was hungry to chase after bigger things and newer places.

Now, with the internship drawing to an end, after much prayer and counsel . . . I’m about 98% certain that Austin is still my home–the only one I have right now–that my community is still there, and that the Lord is going to lead me into all the new calling and the bigger dreams that I could ask for, right there in my home town. Continue reading →