When I was in high school I lived elsewhere. I don’t mean that I lived somewhere other than where I live now. I mean that I lived wherever I wasn’t. I was constantly dreaming of and dwelling in the future. I often thought of other places, almost in every area of life.
With church, I always listened to podcasts and read books by others. I felt like my church wasn’t real because I devoted myself to these other churches. With ministry, I started my own online bible studies instead of simply devoting myself to the church where I was. With romance, I dreamed of marriage. I know that seems odd, for a dude to be dreaming of marriage. But I really was. I began thinking of it early on in high school. I was silly because instead of devoting myself to the one woman who would someday be my wife I dated a bunch of girls in hopes of finding her. It is foolish to become romantically entangled with so many. With school, I dreamed of college. I was bored with my classes in high school and couldn’t wait for the day when I would study the things I wanted to. With location, I dreamed of Abilene. With life, I dreamed of leaving my home and creating a home for myself.
I always lived elsewhere. I was never present. I used my phone so much because I could never enjoy the place where I was. I had to text someone who was somewhere else. This is who I was. This is where I dwelt.
When I came to Abilene and began going to Beltway, I remember thinking, “Wow, this is a real church!” What a prideful thought (and I don’t mean to demean the churches I went to growing up), but it was a breakthrough at the time. And, while I began to become present in the reality of church, I was still dreaming of everything else. That first year here I was in a long distance relationship and so much of me lived in the vacuum of late-night phone calls and I devoted myself to dreaming of the next year when she would come to Abilene to join me. This became the foundation of our relationship. And because the foundation of our relationship was only hope for the future, it fell apart when she actually came. We didn’t know how to be present.
After that break up I began living in the present.
A few weeks ago there was a gathering at someone’s house to hear from Carl Gulley, the college pastor of Antioch Community Church. This guy and this church have shaped Beltway’s college ministry like no one else. I was so blessed to be there to hear and learn from him. But while I was there I began looking around and realized just how blessed I really am. I was sitting in this room with some truly incredible people who I have learned much from and come to love. Jeremy West, Byron Rogers, Phil Dosa, Lucas West, Joey Ellmore, Matt Davis, Eric Presley…just to name a few. These men, either directly or indirectly, have challenged me, taught me, mentored me, discipled me, and encouraged me.
As I was looking around at these men, I began to realize again, “This is real.” That reality began to sink in. So often we dream of doing church, we dream of wonderful friends, we dream of incredible mentors — but I was able to look around and say, “It’s happening. This stuff is really happening.” We think of Paul who discipled Timothy and fantasize what that would be like. We think of John who pastored a church and dream of the future. But I was able to look around and tangibly see, These are the ones who have dscipled me. These are the ones who are doing life and ministry together. This isn’t just some kind of dream. This is real. This is the present!
I realize that this blog entry is poorly organized and somewhat haphazard. But I simply had to write it as a means of declaring how thankful I am to walk along such incredible people to learn from them and share this pocket of life with them. And secondly, I want to encourage you to live in the present. Don’t dream of your destiny — DO it! Don’t wish you were somewhere — GO there! Don’t imagine the perfect world and then complain about how the present doesn’t measure up. Take those dreams and make them reality. Take those wishes and carry them out.
Don’t just sit there looking out the window. Go play.