God has managed to wreck my life...yet again! I am approaching two years since my marriage ended in divorce and have finally sorted out the mess and began putting the pieces back together. Not too long ago there was a peace about how everything was playing out and I was really seeing what God was up to. I know very well what the devil intended for harm, God is turning into good. However, since that peace had set in I had basically been in coast mode. Granted, not everything turned out how I would have liked it, but I had faith God was doing something. And a majority of the time, I was comfortable with that. At least that's how it was until I made a trip to Chicago with the leadership team from the church. A group of us took a few days off work and headed to the Willow Creek Leadership Summit, which apparently was the motivation I needed to think through some things and to begin making some changes. It was this point God stepped in yet again, turned off my coast mode and shook things up.
Let me give you some snapshots of my highlights from the conference:
Bill Hybels started the conference on a high note (of course). What he said that stuck with me the most was that, "Leaders rarely learn anything new without having their world rocked." This statement put much of the last 2 years of my life into perspective. Well beyond the shadow of a doubt, I can say my world was rocked to the core 2 years ago in the form of a note on the kitchen counter. That note was the first sign my marriage was falling apart and heading for divorce. But, like Hybels said, there are many lessons I wouldn't have learned otherwise. To begin with, I learned to trust God more--it's kind of necessary when you don't have much else to cling to. It also gave me an opportunity to re-evaluate what was most important to me. There was a lot of time I got to spend getting comfortable with the real Jordan and finding out who he is and what makes him tick. To keep this brief, let's just say there was a lot I learned from having my world rocked by the dissolution of my marriage.
Len Schlesinger, the president of Babson College, gave a rousing discussion on what to do in the face of unknowability. And for me (and everyone else), there is nothing more unknowable than the future. His advice was so simple and logical, "If you can't predict the future, create it!" That sounds like a great idea to me. I wrestled with that idea and how I had been coasting and not creating my future. In case you were wondering, that is completely unacceptable. So, let me lay out some of his advice to create your future. First things first, take small steps with what you have in hand. Small steps tend to limit your risk and helps build momentum. Next, it's important to quit letting the fear of failure dictate the trajectory of your life (which I have been doing with some things for the last 4 years). Failure doesn't mean game over! Failure only means it is time to try again with what you have learned. His last and most timeless piece of advice: take action! It is impossible to get anywhere just by thinking about it. Do something, but always keep in mind, there is no guarantee for success! All of these were things I definitely needed to hear. So far, Willow Creek is up on Jordan two to nothing.
Next we have the mayor of New Jersey, Corey Booker (he definitely didn't disappoint). He shared some of his struggle to bring beauty to one of America's most violent cities. On several occasions he made the statement, "Do somethin'!" This tends to fly in the face of what some of us have been taught in the church. We are told to pray about it and wait on God. Sometimes we fail to see the danger in just waiting. Now don't get me wrong, it is important to pray and wait on God. If we are going to do something, we definitely want to make sure he's in the midst. But, far too often we play the waiting game and use it as a crutch. We fail to act because "God hasn't opened the door," but we fail to see that while he may not have opened the door, he hasn't closed it either. I wonder how often we miss out on what God is doing because of our inaction. If only we would take a step of faith, then he would make it apparent to us (whether that means we fall flat on our face or move on to bigger, better and more challenging things). More often than not, we need to approach the door and turn the handle. (Alright God, I get it! I will take some action and do somethin').
Steven Furtick really rocked the boat for me. "If the size of your vision isn't intimidating to you, chances are it's insulting to God." Thanks, Steven! I have already been wrestling with the vision God has given me for my life. I know very well it is going to be a stretch and will require the miraculous. I'm not comfortable with the vision because I cannot do it...on my own. As if the guilt of that wasn't enough, now you have to tell me I am insulting God. Awesome! According to all of the speakers so far, I really don't have an excuse to not pursue the vision God has given me. I guess I had better set my audacious goals like Furtick suggested and start asking God to make them a reality. Afterall, if he called me, he can equip me and make it happen. If you're keeping score, like me, that's four for Willow Creek and a big fat zero for me!
Another speaker I had the privilege of listening to was Erwin McManus. I have to admit, this is the guy I was most looking forward to hearing all week. Everyone of his books sits on my shelf at home. Numerous times I have read through them and lent them to friends and family. Seeing as how he was finishing off the conference, I knew whatever he had to say was going to be a kick to the face. During the conference he made such a simple, yet profound statement. I have been mulling over for a while now trying to process it and do something with it. McManus said, "No one is born ordinary, unfortunately many of us die ordinary." (Yep, that was definitely a kick to the face). While I have not died yet (obviously), I have allowed some of my hopes and dreams to die. For some time now, I have settled for the mundane and the ordinary. Why? Because ordinary is easy. Orindary I can handle all on my own. The ordinary isn't challenging and doesn't require God's help. Living an ordinary life allowed me, at times, to remove God from the equation. (I'm not saying I lost faith, I just wasn't using it unless absolutely necessary).
Alright God, you win! I guess it's time I take some risks and start pursuing your purpose for my life--yet again. Afterall, I know I will be miserable until I do so. I've seen it play out like this every time I decided to run from you before. I'm not going to be so dumb as to do it again. So, here I am! I don't have all the answers. I'm not ready for all of this. But I guess I'm willing to step out in faith and watch you work and provide as you always do. Just stop wrecking my life for a little while!