There is a lot swirling around in my heart today and to be honest I'm not exactly sure how to process it all. I'm just going to type it out and see where God may use it... (caution: this post will be long, and opinionated)
* * * * * * * * *
First of all, my biological father died. I actually found out this news on the first Sunday of May even though he passed away on April 22 after a battle with cancer. I met my biological father, David Swain, for the first time in the summer of 2000 when Kaitlyn was two years old. Michelle, Kaitlyn, and I flew to Buffalo and stayed with my uncle. The time spent with him, visiting Niagara Falls and relaxing at his home, was both strange and pleasant.
I won't forget the quiet breakfast David and I shared one morning. It was then we talked about the hard realities of not meeting until I was 24 and the estranged nature of what it meant to be a son of man I had never met. There, over pancakes and omelets, I told him of my faith in Christ and the power of the gospel. It was a good morning.
The days that followed that visit didn't really produce much more an on-going relationship than we had before the trip to Buffalo. The both of us tried a little, but time, distance, and the stranger-ness of whole idea seemed to be too complicated. Before long the calls stopped.
Now, 14 years later, I have some regret over not pursuing it more as well as disappointment over not being pursued myself. But mostly today I am just overwhelmed with a deep and foreign sadness. I would have loved to have had one more conversation with him before he passed. I would have said something like, "David, I'm so sorry," "cancer sucks," or "I wish there was something I could do to take this pain away." I know he'd rest quietly and nod in agreement. I can imagine a lot of unsaid things about the past would continue to go unsaid in the heavy silence.
It would be difficult to witness his suffering, but as much as I hate death, I would have been there. Without a doubt I would ask to pray with him. I would have done my best to share the eternal hope and peace that only Jesus can give. Unfortunately that didn't happen. I didn't hear of his pain, didn't get a chance to talk, and I'm left now to unpack my emotional baggage.
It's been difficult. There is a part of me that feels severed and I'm not exactly sure how I should feel. Today the feeling is sadness.
Secondly, I'm wrestling with the power of the Kingdom of Heaven. Don't get me wrong I don't doubt the reality of the Kingdom or its power. I simply feel desperate to see it, in an overwhelmingly real way.
Now, I don't mean I want to see another mega-church movement. I don't want to hear about people flocking to buildings for trendy talks and Christian rock anthems are abundant. Let me be clear: I want to see people healed or true terminal illness and handicap erased. I want to pray the dying alive. I want to hear of angelic appearings where people received visions of the future from God. I long to witness miraculous deliverance from addiction without years of taking "the steps." I want to see the poor and powerless, the oppressed and overlooked given place of prominence in the church. As I heard Hugh Halter argue lately, may we return the tithe to the hurting. May the 10% be used to run the church and 90% be used to minister to the broken instead of visa versa. That's all I want...
Some of you might be chiding my utopian mindset right now, but that's okay because I fight that same cynicism too. I'm just so tired of letting my skewed realism and religious cynicism overrule my faith. Therefore, I'm praying big prayers right now. Yes, they are selfish prayers, but only in the fact that I want others to see God's kingdom power in such a way that it's undeniable who I love and follow. I know the greatest sign for the world to see is the resurrected Jesus. That is why I'm asking for those I know and love, and yes even those that bug me, to see miracles of Holy Spirit that awaken people to the truth that the resurrection is real!
I'm tired of blasé cultural Christianity and the consumer model church service that serves the wants of people and doesn't proclaim the powerful glory of God's advancing kingdom. I'm praying for pentecostal breakthrough in my day... oh, and the faith to keep believing my prayers.
Finally, I'm bothered that it's okay to have an agenda that proclaims the right to stand bold in open sin while those who desire to be fervent believers are intolerant. Why is it that my holy conviction is judgmental to those who desire to live absent of any?
Part of me wants to be mad at the agenda's banner carriers or the carnality of the culture. However, when I settle my heart and truly reflect on what may be the true problem, I am humbled. Maybe, like Abraham praying for Sodom, the problem is not the abundant wickedness of the world, but the lack of vibrant righteousness of the Church.
Maybe the very desire for the visibility of Kingdom power I mentioned earlier is the problem. Who wants to be part of a lifeless, puritanical, powerless subculture? Not me. Nor do I want to invite people into one. So, instead of being upset with the agenda of others I'm praying God create in me a life worthy of the gospel good news. I want the Christian subculture haters to see my life and question their stereotypes and prejudices about God and the His people. I want my righteousness to be a magnet for my Heavenly Father-- that people might see my "good deeds and glorify our Father in heaven."
That's where my heart is today-- it's full. And although it's trapped in a body that wants to settle for a lesser story, it contains a soul that craves, unquenchably, for a life more epic, meaningful, and eternal.
Any of this resonate with you?