Some might know that the Palmer’s lives are about to change. I planned on writing up a full explanation for you all, but haven’t had the time to do so (though, I hope to sooner rather than later)
I wrote this for a young adults blog on which I regularly contribute. I thought I’d share here, also. You can find the original post, here.
Last May my wife and I made a decision that would change our lives and our situation for the better- though, definitely not the easier. We have always felt strongly towards community and intentional ministry with a focus on discipleship. Our hearts beat for those outside the church’s sphere of influence; the ones that don’t talk the right way, or believe the right way. We spent the last couple years living in South Korea, and loved every minute of it. It was an amazing experience, one that made Elizabeth and my life all the more rich because of our time here. But, like all good things, it is time to move on.
Last spring, a friend and pastor back in the St. Louis area got in contact with me about the possibility of partnering with their church in helping to launch something new. When we heard his vision, there was never a doubt in our minds that this was the “right” next step for us in our life. It struck right at the center of where our passions and the worlds needs met. It was our calling in the flesh.
As for what “it” is, the pastor and I will be working together to start-up and launch missional communities in the St. Louis area. We have many plans, and even more enthusiasm and anticipation, but the reality of it is that, no matter how exciting this new life will be, at least at first, it will not be easy. And it may never be comfortable.
Life in Korea was fun, and it was safe. We had good jobs, and we had healthcare, as well as no real financial stress to speak of. We were comfortable. As long as we were here, we didn’t have to worry. As long as we were here, we didn’t need much faith either.
So, while our time in Korea has begun to come to a close, and as I reflect on what is to come, I’ve found myself thinking a lot about trust, and about how our faith in Christ truly is (pardon the cliche’) a journey. We work hard to develop our relationship with Him. We tell Him there is no place on earth we wouldn’t go, and we would follow Him blindly into the unknown. When we think about it, though, we still manage to hold on to comforts. We hope that the darkness God calls us to will still have a nice paycheck, and a comfortable (possibly exceedingly so) living space. We want prestige and we want recognition for the things we’re doing.
Though, the reality is that life rarely works like that.
And, God rarely works like that.
The truth of the matter is that I don’t want to have to trust him. I just want to say that I would trust him. I want the best of both worlds.
We all are living a story, and we have no clue how, when the last page is flipped, and the back cover presses against it, the book will end up. Our calling and our ministry is a beautiful story filled with infinite possibilities and outcomes. There are thousands of plot twists and cliff hangers. We can’t be assured of anything, except that if we finish the book, our lives will be all the better for it.
The fact that I have a wife and baby girl and am moving to a new city without a job, to start a ministry that does not yet exist, should not worry me. God calls us to participate in a great “epic,” and no epic has ever been created without hardships and difficulty- with a great deal of faith and perseverance thrown in for good measure.
A quote has been crossing my mind a lot these days. It’s a quote from one of my favorite books of all times; The Lord of the Rings. In the second book, The Two Towers, the hero Frodo Baggins and his traveling companion Samwise Gamgee are in a situation where the outcome seems bleak. They have little reason to hope. But in this darkness, Sam offers one of the greatest monologues in the entire trilogy…
Sam: It’s like in the great stories Mr. Frodo, the ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were, and sometimes you didn’t want to know the end because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end it’s only a passing thing this shadow, even darkness must pass. A new day will come, and when the sun shines it’ll shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you, that meant something even if you were too small to understand why. But I think Mr. Frodo, I do understand, I know now folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going because they were holding on to something.
Frodo: What are we holding on to, Sam?
Sam: That there’s some good in the world, Mr. Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for.
So, in closing, I want to ask two questions.
Do we believe the world is worth fighting for?
Are we willing to make the difficult journey, to sacrifice and to persevere to see the end of our personal, spiritual epic?