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Telling Secrets

faith, fatherhood, and culture

THE WHITE MAN'S BURDEN

Thursday, April 13, 2006



















So, what am I supposed to do?

Russ challenged my complaint that my horizons often feel too big by saying that with Jesus' promise to always be with us "to the end of the age" and that "through him we can do all things", there should be no such thing as a horizon that is too big. In fact, he says, we all too often castrate ourselves by not dreaming the impossible and then proceeding through faith to accomplish it.

I realized that I never actually believed that I could do all things through Christ. So I put it to the test in January with the "State of the Union" address party, which was successful and served as a catalyst for some major changes God worked in our church.

Then I got involved in the restructuring/revisioning of our church and have worked hard on changing the feel of the church through images and a movie about what people on East Colfax think about Christians (you can download the movie from http://www.masterstoday.com/). After working ferociously, I got myself and my family sick for two weeks.

Now, the design and image stuff is cooling off as more dissatisfaction with my approach is surfacing by other members of the congregation and as they are becoming more involved in that work. Which is fine by me in some ways (I was spending way too much time on the projects and was starting to burn out) and not so fine by me in other ways (I'm concerned about losing momentum and returning to the way things used to be in the church).

Meanwhile, Angela and I continue to lead our community group and are shaping it to be a welcoming place for our neighbors to come hang out while also having a "service" orientation, probably in the form of adopting a refugee family from the Denver Rescue Mission.

But as things continue to cool down on the church front, I have this deep ache telling me that I'm not doing something that I need to. Should I let my leadership in the church cool or should I restoke the fire? Angela told me this past Sunday that she doesn't feel like we're in this church leadership thing together, that it's just me and the guys shaping the church. So if I fan the flame, how can I make sure Angela and I are equally invested?

Is the ache from the fact that I didn't take advantage of whatever momentum was there from the "State of the Union" thing? I was encouraged by so many leaders in the city to keep going with it, and to be completely honest the scenarios I dreamed up of what could happen were so big, I became paralyzed. My disbelief won out again.

Then I read emails from our friends Joel and Elise Vestal, who run Servlife Ministries, about how they are once again in the middle of a major world catastrophe. Last year it was the tsunami aftermath in their village in thailand. This year, this week, they and their two kids (3 and 1 years old) returned to Nepal where they do most of their work to find the country actively collapsing. Why did they return when they knew the danger? Because they have two orphanages, buy young girls out of the sex slave market, support indiginous pastors, and work for women's rights. If they left, there would be no one else to do this work, no one else to preach the peace of Christ in the midst of Maoist oppression and terror.

So...what am I doing? I'm caught in the "white man's burden," the middle-class American Christian angst of knowing how privilaged I am and how trapped by it I can feel. I do firmly believe that my family takes priority, and that is currently where my focus is. I want Angela to be a midwife before 5 years is up. I want Malachi and the girls to have a solid foundation of love and support on which to build their lives. I want them to be drawn to God and know about what Jesus did. I have no problem, really, staying in my current super-easy job 5 minutes from my house in order to provide the means for these things.

But the ache is still there. My friend Keven thinks I should exegete scripture so that I know it extremely well and then use that knowledge in conjunction with my heart for the poor and oppressed to mobilize the church to more fully establish God's Kingdom on earth. Maybe he's right. How can Angela and I do that together, like Joel and Elise in Nepal?

Questions, questions, questions.

  1. Blogger Keven said:

    White man's burden-perhaps. Impatience with Gods revealed will-likely. Great thoughts Caleb about the process and reality that believe is every bit an issue for the believer as it is for anyone else.
    I was sharing with Russ last night that I think I finally understand what Paul means in Galatians 5:12 when he wishes those who unsettled the Galatians would emasculate themselves. It’s like saying “If you’re not going to gird up your danglers and get on track with what Christ is doing for your freedom, then I at least wish those effeminates who told you to go back to the misery of the law would get their junk cut off so they could be seen for the eunuchs they really are.”-KIV (Keven International Version)

    My guess is the ache you are experiencing is directly proportional to the degree to which you feel "cooled off" by the church. Let me reassure you that dissatisfaction that a very small minority is experiencing is a sign that God is using you in ways that others could only hope. the 1st century disciples received only two things for their hard work: converts and stones being flung at them.
    What has happened in the church is essentially we have gone to the china hutch and started shaking. Some of the fine china fell off the shelf and is no longer with us. Others are dangerously close to falling and are requesting we stop shaking. But the reality of being missional is that our church is not a museum and china is eather a plate being used or it needs to be broken on the floor. We were told by Russ to put our cups on cause we're going to take one for the team, I think the words of Paul would concur.

    Angela, like my wife simply needs more time and mileage under the ministry until she sees the area for which God is calling her to be missional. Don't forget, God is in this, so He's going to provide what they need.

    But back to the ache. This ache is a wonderful thing. It grounds us and reminds us that God is driving in our hearts. We yearn for something beyond ourselves, and when examined closely it is the soul's cry for freedom. Like I told russ last night we are the William Wallaces on this frontier. Trust me, God has put this in you for a purpose that is soon to be unleashed. And it is our need to trust and believe that will allow us to heat up all those who have been cooled off by the useless bone china of the past.
    "Every man dies, but not every man really lives!" Let's go shake the shit out what's left of the china hutch.
    Keven

  1. Anonymous petra said:

    I really like this blog. It is honest and I hear your true voice in it. I agree, of course, that the ache is painful and yet a good thing. I think this kind of ache keeps us searching/yearning for the right path, the "way of righteousness". and since we are who we are, sinners, we'll all (hopefully)continue feel this ache. Maybe when the ache stops is when we need a kick in the pants to start moving forward again. I say that b/c I think I've been ignoring my own ache lately, and it is associated with me being particularly lackadaisical lately.
    Again, I like your questions.

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