|Our "Family Portrait", taken at Vancouver YVR airport|
Three months ago, something extraordinary happened within a small group of friends whom I have known for some time from C4C @ SFU and attend the same church with. Over the last year and more, I had gotten into the habit of going to the same church service, sitting together, having meals, watching movies, talking, fellowshipping and sharing everyday life. Noticing long-standing patterns of interaction within our group dynamic (which only amplified over time) we gathered one Sunday afternoon to talk and address them. Some matters were touchy and sensitive, others controversial. Quite a bit of it had to do with me.
I still have trouble expressing what happened at that gathering. I don't think anyone anticipated what happened, least of all me.
We voiced concerns, grudges, emotions, sensitive matters, memories and processed them together. I had a lot of stuff to disclose, confess and repent for; so did everyone else. We vented, argued, rebuked, cried, shared, forgave, laughed and prayed together. It was strange and in some ways awkward for me, as I'd never done something like that before.
But in the process, we experienced a very tangible and powerful bonding. I remember some of us talking about it days later and reflecting how we'd never seen or been part of something like that before. In many ways, we felt very much like a family, and some of us said so.
Above all, I believe we saw the restoring power and grace of God through His Gospel brought to bear upon a community of fallen people. In his latest book "Has Christianity Failed You?", Ravi Zacharias makes a powerful observation:
"Human beings will always find ways to divide and create hierarchies. Such is the plight of the human heart...This is the first clue to transcending ethnicity. One may call to Jesus out of his ethnic and cultural distinctive, but one's ultimate transformation comes in that personal dimension of trust apart from any cultural elitism...The call of Jesus is an invitation to freedom and trust. I am free only inasmuch as I can trust my fellow human being. If I cannot trust those around me, I am not free...The vision of God for humanity is that we might see his claim on us as an invitation to live and love, transcending all ethnic and cultural boundaries, not because Jesus is David's son, but because He is the instrument of power over all other power, of essential worth over political ideology, of human need over ethnic arrogance. He has eradicated every barrier of race and culture and position in life."
So why am I writing this now? I stand at a fork in the road of my life, a turning point with a critical decision to make. I look around at those closest to me and see them looking back. I am moved, even unnerved by the depth of affection that I see in their eyes. Maybe I am forced to confront the possibility that I have assumed myself to be unlovable by anyone, and shut everyone out for years with that one assumption.
More often than not, we fallen human beings don't appreciate what we have, or the people God offers and makes available to us. Sadly, history will testify that the only way we realize value and are forced to grow is by losing and reflecting on what could have been. As the popular saying goes, "you don't know what you have until it's gone". From Genesis to Revelation and our own personal lives, we all have enough and more of those moments to remember and reflect on.
To my Family and "Family": thank you for loving me in spite of my vacillation, moods, stubbornness, silence, stupidity, sullenness, bickering, sharp tongue, sensitivity, insensitivity, ingratitude, unkindness, and moments when I've shut you all out. As I realized a couple of days ago, I have nothing good to say about myself and everything good to say about my God.
I love you all very much.
- The Wisdom Seeker