As we have been going through the past year working on building our support team, we are well aware that our enemy wants to keep placing lies in our minds that we should give up. Thankfully, most of this time God has allowed me to persevere and to use my gift of Faith to constantly remind myself of His promises and the call we believe He has placed on our lives. But this past January, I allowed myself to start making agreements with some of the lies – especially as the month of January came to a close and the time we had been praying for God to send us to Florida quickly came and passed us by. Not to mention all of the additional stress of leaving our home in Arizona, moving often and living in transition, hitting support “bumps” here in Colorado, plus a whole family with the flu at the same time.
But right in the midst of all this going on, God was doing something I didn’t even notice. This is not extremely unusual as there are many times I am oblivious to the work of the Mighty One in my life, especially when I am right in the middle of it.
God was gracious to bring what He was teaching me more to my attention as I started to discuss my thoughts with Michelle in the car one day. I feel so loved when I see God teaching me a certain theme in so many venues: personal study, church sermons, small groups, even radio shows and memories of past life lessons and journeys. After this very stressful time, I finally realized what God was doing through the month of January in my life: He was refining the vision and call He has given me in regards to the ministry He is preparing us for.
What was happening was, I started to see some of the passions that God built into me when I was young in a new light. This passion I am talking about started with an affinity for Walt Disney, the Theme Parks he created, and ultimately his idea of an Experimental Prototype City of Tomorrow – you may recognize it better as EPCOT. My interest in these things as a kid, turned me to the degrees of Architecture and Engineering that I pursued in college. As I studied these fields and learned more about Walt’s concepts, my desire to create better communities grew. I know that this was a big part of my attraction to all of these areas of interest, the idea of community and creating a better community. The idea of changing the world through building communities.
|Conceptual Rendering of Walt’s EPCOT|
As I pursued the dream to create communities from a physical stand-point, it felt like it was a dream that could never be achieved, but I didn’t understand why. I used to think that if I just built the right city, with well-thought-out buildings, well-planned transportation, an attractive look, a desirable amount of vegetation, and other aspects, that it would automatically create that feel of community that I longed for. I thought if it had all the right pieces, it would attract people to be engaged in it, and lead those people to create healthy community together. Again, as I grew and learned more in my fields of study and employment, I began to recognize the futility of this dream – the reality that for some reason in this world that wouldn’t actually work, I couldn’t just create spaces and places and expect it to have that kind of effect on people.
As God allowed me to lay down those dreams and pursuits and give them up to Him over the first few years I was out of college, I also began to grow in a different way – in my knowledge of God and in my desire for Him and His kingdom. Because of how God worked in my life and on my heart, I became open to the call He placed on my life to go in to full-time ministry, and ultimately to this specific mission field that He prepared for us to return to Walt Disney World.
So you are probably wondering at this point what God was starting to make more clear to me over the past month, well it was how all that history and that passion for community in my life ties now into the call to this specific ministry He has given me. You see, all through childhood and into college, I was pursuing this idea of community from a perspective of building it, of creating a scenario that would prompt people to just automatically have community. This in itself is not a bad idea, but it is not complete and doesn’t work without a major ingredient: Christ. Over the past decade since I graduated college, God has over and over again been reminding me of this idea of community, and then He constantly brings me back to His desire for community. He allowed me to grow in this desire, I believe, so that as I grew in Him, He could refine that desire for community. I thought the College Program internship that Michelle and I went to do at Disney was to get my foot in the door at Disney so that I could become an Imagineer and ultimately work on the projects that Walt started, with the hopes of creating community. Instead, God allowed me to see how empty it all is without Him. The 5 months we spent at Disney, without a community around us, allowed me to see how great the need is for Christ-centered community. Without Christ at the center, the pursuit of community is empty, because it ultimately doesn’t work.
I am so thankful for the past several years that God has been working in my life and on my heart, and am so thankful for how He has been more specific in this area for me this past month – to remind me that there is a need in Florida that Michelle and I experienced. He reminded me that the experiences that I had in the design industry were not a waste, but a process that He brought me through in order to be ready for the greater vision He has now given me. He does desire for me to create communities, but the communities I now am getting ready to go be a part of starting through God’s lead, are truly sustainable in every sense of the word. The communities I now get to build are real communities where lives, countries, and the world will be changed. But all this not because of me, but because of the amazing, transformational and restoring power of Christ and the good news of what He did for all those who believe.
|Pizza Night, a weekly gathering that is a part of Cru at WDW|