Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Into the Dark

As a youth minister, I was way more on top of modern culture than I am now...and that's not saying much! Ha! I'm not what you'd call "culture savvy" sometimes. However, there was/is a particular movement among youth culture that I absolutely could not handle: Emo. Ugh! It drove me insane. "To be great is to be misunderstood" Congratulations! You have achieved Nirvana! I do not understand you at all. But make you great...we may disagree on that conclusion.

As a youth minister I was constantly encouraging the teens to think through the consequences of that illogical goal. What was the ultimate end of attempting to make sure people don't understand you? But I digress. I don't need to get on my soap box about illogical, emotion based youth movements. Chances are, if you read this, I'm preaching to the choir anyway.

Of the many throw-away creations from that movement, there was one song that stuck out: I Will Follow You Into the Dark. It is a terrible song! If you listen to the lyrics you realize this artist is totally rejecting Judeo-Christian beliefs of the afterlife, presumably based on a bad grade-school experience and his inability to conform to the idea of fearing God as the beginning of true love. So, instead, he offers his significant other a third option instead of heaven or hell. Whenever she dies, he will also (kill himself?) and they will just hold each other in the nothingness forever.

If you know me, you must be wondering why in the world I listened to this song enough to even know what it's about. Because besides being a terrible song, it is a beautiful song. It has one of the most haunting melodies I've ever heard. The melancholy longing and the passionate "give it all up for you" love spoken in the lyrics is unmistakable.

After I heard this song, I spent months trying to put other lyrics to it. In the true spirit of Christian music, I tried to replace the words with Amazing Grace, and found if I used "The Steadfast Love of the Lord" as the chorus, it worked out perfectly! Ha!

Ironically, that's not what has been most applicable to me lately. When Jonathan first came to me with the notion of church planting, I rejected it immediately. There was no way I was walking away from my dream job. I had worked too hard and prayed too long to be a youth minister to give it up and chase some crazy idea of planting the Gospel elsewhere. I wanted to plant the Gospel in my teens. I wanted to teach awesome Sunday night devotionals, have true, heartfelt worship with new songs, play stupid games and go to camp. That might sound like a Japanese torture chamber to some of you, but that's the life I love and I wasn't going to give it up.

But God had other plans. Slowly and painfully, he began prying my fingers off of my life. He was gentle but insistent. He claimed that I had given Him my heart and my "yes" years ago, and now He was calling in His marker. I remember nights of weeping and wailing (yes, quite literally) at Jonathan for this transgression of "bait and switch" he had pulled on me. I had married a youth minister and now he was going to be a pastor! I was going to have to give up my hip faded jeans and American Eagle waffle shirts and wear flowery dresses and white pumps and sit on the front row! That's what a pastor's wife did! Ugh! I didn't even know how to play piano!

But as God began thawing my heart (and sometimes with a blow torch), I began falling in love with not only Him again, but with His vision for reaching lost people. I had no idea how to plant a church, how to be a pastor's wife, how to support my husband and raise our 3 kids, how to raise support or even how to ask for help. But I did know Him, and He who called is faithful!

I remember the night I looked at Jonathan, nodded in assent and said, "Ok. I will follow you into dark" I didn't mean it emo. I wasn't going to slit my wrists. But I was going to surrender to God, submit to my husband and hand-in-hand we were going to walk off the cliff trusting God to make the tight-rope appear that He had called us walk on.

I find myself saying that a lot to God these days. "I'm following You in the dark right now, Lord" I'm not sure how we're going to sell this house, find money to move, leave our friends and family and strike out into the wild blue yonder, but I know we won't be doing it Alone. I know we're following the One who called us on this journey and is leading out ahead of us.

We're still following Him in the dark, and Jesus' love hasn't failed us yet.
"Thus far as the Lord been faithful--Ebenezer"

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