"Back to school. Back to school, to prove to Dad that I'm not a fool. I got my lunch packed up, my boots tied tight, I hope I don't get in a fight. Ohhhh, back to school. Back to school. Back to school. Well, here goes nothing. ~Billy Madison"
It has been almost 10 years since I graduated from college and at this moment I find myself mentally preparing to return to school and begin work on my masters. Mostly I'm excited, but there is a little apprehension simply because it has been so long since I have listened to a lecture, written a paper, or highlighted the heck out of a book. I also wasn't the best student ever, taking short cuts or doing what was just necessary to get the grade I was after. Nevertheless, I value my bachelors. I was 3/4 of the way done with a degree in Psychology/Sociology when I realized I wanted to go into Children's Ministry, so instead of starting all the way over, I finished up in Sociology. It felt like it was more of my ticket to be done with school and get married to my high school sweetie, but all of the counseling classes and studies in how people interact and systems work has been more helpful to me than I would have imagined.
But there is something pushing me now. Maybe I'm (a little) older, wiser, more mature... But I think having a goal and a vision is my driving force. It's been 7 or 8 months since I first had the vision of helping start a church or being a part of church that breaks down barriers. Since that time I've had conversations with people from all over, almost entirely started by the other person (sometimes not even directed at me). I've heard story after story of how the church has let them down. How we've missed the mark. I've also heard stories of how we've gotten it right. It has all stirred this passion inside of me. This desire to help create a place where ANYone can come and be loved on, regardless of skin color, income level, background, denomination, lifestyle, appearance, etc. They can all come and learn and grow at their own pace and experience God's love and saving grace. I want it to be a fellowship of believers. I want us to love on our community, not just a couple of times a year because it gives us a warm fuzzy feeling, but because we've been called to love our neighbor as ourselves. I want it to be a safe place where people can share their struggles, their problems without being judged, but so they can find hope and healing. It won't be totally pretty or perfect, because when you get down in the dirt, you get dirty. I know in my mind it is very idealistic of what this church will look like, but that is how it should look in the day dreaming phase, shouldn't it? :-)
But this vision, this passion, drives me. I believe this degree in Evangelism and Church Planting will give me some of the background I so desperately need. Basically it's the next step on this path to seeing my vision carried out.
So here's to 2012! As it brings lots of new challenges, new journeys, and new opportunities, to carry out and see passions and visions come to fruition, may we press forward and stay faithful. May we not become content in the same old thing, but find joy and peace in living out loud! May we look back on December 31 and see awesome things that God has done for us and through us! May this be the year to see change! Amen.