Thursday, May 4, 2017

Going Back Home!

Chris and Carol Green

Opinion-Editorial

 A couple of days ago, Carol and I had the most profound conversation in our relationship, since the time we made a pact that saved our 6-month old marriage. It was all about going back to just being ourselves and getting out of the maddening quest for significance. 

When you know that you have a purpose in life, it’s very easy to start down the path where you try to build a platform from which you can successfully reach out to help people. But after several failures and finding ourselves facing, yet, another critical moment of decision, we needed another one of our heart to heart moments to talk through what must happen in order for us to continue working and serving in this region.

I had just wrestled all night in prayer and my plea went something like this: 

“God, I ‘m still struggling with all the Charismatic, Evangelical and Faith teaching that has reduced You to a formula. I’m supposed to speak certain words, take a certain position, quote the right scriptures, face the right direction, tilt my head the right way, block the wrong thoughts, allow the right thoughts, loose this, bind that, and follow a laundry list of steps, decrees and declarations. To be honest, I can’t do it any more!  In fact, I don’t get it!  Since You’re my dad, why am I going through all these steps?  I’m an earthly father and I don’t require my sons to jump through hoops to get me to help them.  The truth is, they barely have to ask because I’m their dad and I want to be there for them.  I want to bless them.  I want to do all I can for them.  And it’s all because of my unique relationship with each one of them.  I thought this was how it was supposed to be in my relationship with You. It’s not supposed to be about pushing the right buttons and quoting the right phrases. You’re my Father, not a formula!”

This prayer was still in my heart the next morning when Carol and I sat down together to talk about what we needed to do next in Harrisburg, PA.  Imagine my surprise when my wife revealed that she had had a dream the same night I was crying out to God.  She said:

“I dreamed that we (including all of our sons) were caught in  a major snowstorm while driving in our SUV.   We got stuck. We could not move. It was snowing so heavily that I got out to clear off the front windshield. I realized the snow was up to my knees and started to get back in the SUV, but decided to clear the back window off as well. When I finished, I got back in the SUV, but Chris, instead of moving forward, started backing up. I asked him what was he doing?  When he backed up to the adjacent street, suddenly it was spring. He had backed up into a beautiful sunny day with all the trees blooming and green.”

Of course we were wondering what was the significance of going backwards into a spring season. Did it mean going back to work on regular jobs? Did it mean going back to Missouri? Did it mean going back to our roles as pastors? As we talked about what I had prayed about, we realized Carol’s dream was about US going back to that which was our foundation when we first moved to Pennsylvania in 2004. Everything we did and said was always about our relationship with one another and our relationship with God.  So we stopped in that moment, held hands, and prayed. We pledged to God that we would GO BACK home.

Shortly after that conversation, I came across a photo from our home city of St. Louis, MO. That photo was a reminder of who WE are as well as, where we come from.  It was a reminder that our value and worth is not in any titles or accomplishments. We have received many awards, honors and acknowledgements, and over the years, it became easier to identify ourselves with those things. We fell into a trap. It was the trap where you lose your identity in your effort to fulfill a destiny.

We have had a fresh revelation that we are simply a couple from St. Louis, MO that moved to Harrisburg, PA to rebuild, restore and renew hearts and homes. We were not sent to build a platform based on personal successes, religious qualifications, impressive titles, or jaw-dropping academic accomplishments.  Our only platform is our relationship with each other, our family, and with God.  If that is not enough, then nothing else will be.......

All that matters is that we have a genuine relationship with God; that we have a solid relationship with each other; that we have strong relationships with our children; and that we have loving relationship with our family and dearest friends. From all of these relationships, we were given an assignment.

We are simply a husband and wife, dad and mom, son and daughter, uncle and aunt, nephew and niece, brother and sister, cousins, and now grand parents.... who are out in the community trying to share with others, out of the bounty and beauty, from which we have lived.

This photo reminded us of where we come from; who we come from; and why we are here in south central, Pennsylvania.

So when we say that we're going back home, we don't mean we're physically moving back to St. Louis, MO.  We mean, we're going back to who we were, before and beyond the "Calling", the "Ministry", the titles, and the accolades.

No more fighting and struggling to prove ourselves. No more striving to get God to bless what we’re doing. No more struggling to convince anyone or even ourselves, that we are legit. 

We're going back home to Chris and Carol.

Chris: "Hi Carol! I'm your husband Chris. I've been gone for a few years, searching for the stuff that is supposed to give me significance and qualify me to speak or bring a healing message to a city or community. But I realize, all I really needed was God, YOU, our children, and all the relationships that are part of who I am today. I'm back, and it's good to be home."

Carol: "Hi Chris! I'm glad to have my husband back. I also realize that all I needed to take on this family-healing assignment was God, YOU, our children, and all the relationships that are part of who I am today. I'm here with you, and it's good to be home, together."