I let the question hang while I thought about it. I was sitting on a sun-soaked park bench just off the Bethel Church parking lot. Bethel’s the place of which I’ve dreamed for over a year. My bench is just outside a prayer room with an indoor water fountain that gurgles to the outside, spilling water into a pond full of multi-coloured fish. The church sits at the top of a big hill at the end of a long avenue lined with flags from around the world. California is beautiful. The people are kind. It’s not hard to feel like we’ve made a good choice.
The question came over the phone from one of my closest friends. We’ve been through a lot together. He’d been my boss but our relationship evolved a long time ago into something much deeper. He knows it’s been a tough transition for me. He’s concerned.
“That’s a good question,” I say, biding myself time.
It’s not that quitting my job, selling our house, spending our life savings to go to Bethel was an impetuous decision. It’s that it was such a monumental choice that it’s hard to boil all the emotion and logic down to a short answer.
I’m sure a lot of people in my life asked a similar question when they first heard our plans. Some probably think we’ve been tricked into living on some whacko religious compound. Some chalk it up to a mid-life crisis. Others think I’m smoking dope.
I muddled my answer, which often happens when I tackle that question.
But now, in our hotel room with the sun setting and the kids doing their homework, I’d like to try again.
- I’m here because more and more I can’t read the gospels anyway but literally
- I’m here because I need God more than I need a nicer house, a better car, or cable TV
- I’m here because God called us here in a very clear voice.
Believe me, I’m not boasting. I’m a sinner saved by grace.
Maybe that’s the real truth about why I'm here. I’ve been low. I crawled to God and He lifted me up. God loves me and I want more of Him. He is Lord. Of course I’d sell everything for Him.
“I love you man,” my friend said before leaving me with other parting words full of grace.
I love him too.