A great story to start the week: "Just love and willingness"
A reader writes:
I'm a 25 year old middle American guy. I prayed the sinners' prayer at 7 years old and really had a pretty good grasp of what I was praying and who this Jesus guy is. Of course, over the span of many years this has developed, changed and grown. At the age of 17, I felt the pull and the excitement to full time vocational ministry. But as sometimes with God's call, we hear, but don't want to respond. I argued with God that I wasn't the right man for this job, I wasn't good enough, i didn't have the right education; and with the state of the church and it's members, I wasn't even sure I wanted to be a part of that. So off to college I went, working odd jobs, and eventually getting a nursing degree. All the while, that call to ministry was still in my heart and I tried to suppress it all the more. I finally started to admit to myself, whatever I set my hand to in terms of work didn't feel "right". I was walking out of step with what God had intended and called me to do. But even at this, I would spend the next 7-8 years wandering, half heatedly committed to Jesus.
I'm still not even sure how I stumbled upon your writings, but I did and it has totally invigorated, renewed, and rebirthed the call to ministry on my life. I read Church on the Other Side first, and it was like a lightbulb went off. I realized church could be a safe place. A place where 20 and 30 something's could come, just as they are and go on a journey pursuing Christ. Since it was written in 1998, some of the very things in that book have come to pass. Some it would seem are waiting to break forth. Either way, it totally rocked my world. I also started really digging into the Bible with major study and prayer time. I got active in my local church and started having discussions, not arguments, about Jesus with anyone who would take the time to talk. A New Kind of Christianity further rocked my world. I realized, as Jesus commanded we have to rethink everything; no really, everything! in order to be a part of the kingdom and what Christ is doing today.
So I write all this, Mr. McLaren, to simply say thank you. Thank you for being someone who believes so passionately and so wholeheartedly in communicating this Jesus. Thank you for being willing to boldly proclaim the need to examine why we believe the things we do. Thank you for being a fresh voice that says its o.k. to not have all the answers and to humbly leave room for mystery. Thank you for teaching that us vs. them is really overrated, and we need to simply love one another as Christ called us to. Thank you for being an inspiration, a great teacher, and someone who has truly helped to change the path I was walking. You helped to take my heart and connect it to the heart of God's so that now I'm excited about the future God has planned. I now realize a kid from Missouri can be used of God and doesn't have to be perfect or have all the right answers. Just love and willingness.
Keep up the wonderful and important work,
Thanks for this encouraging note. Your next-to-last sentences would be a good take-away for everyone who reads this blog:
A kid from anywhere can be used of God and doesn't have to be perfect or have all the right answers. Just love and willingness.