I’ve been holding out on you. I’ve been keeping secrets. Isn’t that awful? In this postmodern era of cultural transparency, authenticity, the death of privacy, etc., and being a blogger to boot, I haven’t been disclosing all the things going on in my life. To a certain extent, it’s been because of two reasons, nay, three — first of all, I’m wary of coming off as a narcissist. I’d rather let my actions speak louder than my words. Second, this is a public blog, potentially read by family, friends, co-workers, church goers, and enemies alike (not that I have any, of course). I write a little something here, I literally shout it out to the whole world, so I need to tread carefully. Last but not least, I’m always mindful of valuing and protecting the revelation that God has given me, and I’d rather err on the side of quiet stillness before God than flippant boasting.
That being said, I finally feel like I’ve got the green light to begin to unveil and unpack the general thrust of the spiritual journey I’ve been on. This will take a few posts to get through, but once it is complete, I’ll be prepared to make some substantial announcements about the direction of this blog as well as the upcoming launch of an exciting Web site project. Piqued your interest yet? Read on…
The best place to start is a couple of years ago. (For more personal backhistory, read this post featuring my testimony.) In the summer of 2006, I attended a local photography workshop taught by a couple of itinerant photojournalists. These guys traveled all over the world at the behest of various organizations and missionary groups interested in arts education. In our case, some friends of mine got a bunch of people together who knew each other mainly through a Bible study/fellowship. At any rate, I knew these guys were Christians, but I figured I was attending to learn how to take better photos.
I definitely got my money’s worth on that score, and my photography skills were noticeably improved, but the most important thing I got out of the sessions had nothing to do with art. They explained to us that they saw their work as photographers as more than just a livelihood or an opportunity to express themselves (the typical artist shtick). They felt that God had called them supernaturally to fulfill a higher destiny, and their art was simply a bridge to reach out to people, to enrich lives, to share the love of Christ, to make a difference in the world. These men weren’t just floating through life trying to stay above water — they were living intentional lives of divine adventure, of radical obedience, of crazy devotion to God as His beloved children. To illustrate just how crazy these dudes were, when we were out on a field trip taking pics, one guy got a phone call from an orphanage down in South America somewhere. It wanted them to teach several hundred kids how to take photos. Since their calendar for the next couple of weeks was clear, they said “sure, you’re on!” And that was that. Crazy.
During these sessions, we learned the art of taking photographs, but we also learned the art of living. We were challenged to give ourselves fully over to God’s will for our lives. We were exhorted to live lives of purpose. We were entreated to pray and ask God to show us what He desired for us, and then go after that destiny with zeal and passion and holy surrender — no matter dangers might lie ahead, no matter what the odds.
That was the beginning of a sea change in my life, a change of heart and enlightenment that sparked a fire within me. I began to feel like all during my life prior, I had only been sleepwalking. My eyes were beginning to open. I was filled with a holy discontent, a longing for something greater than I was experiencing. I wanted to feel like I was “on safari” like those nutty photographers, leaving the safety of the ordinary for the thrill of the unknown. I didn’t want to live for my own pleasure anymore. I wanted to live for God, to live under the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit — wherever He might take me.
The next phase in my spiritual journey was October 2006. Banning Liebscher of JesusCulture graciously came down to our church and put on a mini-conference which we called Infusion. To say we were infused with the fire and Spirit of God during this time is a gross understatement. It utterly transformed my life. Ever since I have attended both the winter and summer JesusCulture conferences in Redding, CA, and every single time I have encountered God and left a new man. No matter what happens in my life, good or bad, this I know: I’ll never be the same again.
The main thing I got out of Infusion was this: being a Christian isn’t saying I believe in some doctrines written in a book and that I believe that this man called Jesus really was God and saved me from sin and death through the crucifixion and resurrection recorded in said book. Being a Christian means being radically in love with God, crazy in love with my Father in Heaven, totally on fire for Jesus, ready to lay down my life for a Savior who lay down His for mine, pressing into the supernatural dimension of Heaven to bring God’s glory down to earth. His kingdom come, His will be done on earth as it is in heaven. That idea of a Spirit-filled, supernatural walk with God filled with hope, power, love, daring, adventure, romance, and ultimate fulfillment was breathtaking. Could this really be true? Was this really what the Bible was talking about? How could I have read it wrong all those years growing up? Was Banning nuts, or was I ignorant?
I was already fed up with my Christianity-in-a-Box and my dry, powerless approach to relationship with God, so Infusion lived up to its name. I walked away infused with a new sense of spiritual empowerment. God really cares about me, and He really has a plan for my life. A wonderful plan. All I need to do is seek Him out and embrace all that He has for me.
I was baptized for the first time in November 2006, even though I had accepted Jesus when I was, like 5 years old (probably in 1987 or so). I believe I had already been baptized in the Holy Spirit for a while prior to my water baptism, but when I came up out of the water, I spoke in tongues! That was a huge step forward for me, because it gave me a new spiritual tool I could use in my pursuit of God. To this day, I can’t imagine spending any length of time in prayer without speaking in my private prayer language. I value this gift more highly than gold.
By the time December of 2006 rolled around, I was feeling more and more the weight of God’s calling on my life, and something in me just couldn’t shake the feeling that everything I perceived concerning myself and my destiny was going to change. I had always seen myself as an artist and a computer entrepreneur. But those are gifts. They’re not assignments. God was getting ready to give me an assignment.
In the waning hours of 2006, on December 20 to be precise, I made a decision and wrote about it in my diary. I had been reading Mark Batterson’s book “In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day” when, all of a sudden, something just clicked. I knew, I knew that God was ready to set me on a new path, a new trajectory in my life, and I had to make a choice to accept or reject that call.
I’ll tell you what happened in my next post: Behind the Curtain: Future Unveiled. Thanks for reading…see you then!