So, I'm turning 50 today. Not as old as some and lots older than others. My fifteen year old daughter told me yesterday, "How old are you gonna be Mom, 50? Dang! ...That's not so old." That about sums it up. Age is relative. It is one's relative place in their journey of life. And as I turn 50 today I'm thinking about the journey of my life, the journey of driving diversity in Christ's church, which is a huge part of the call God has placed on my life, and about journey's in general. Can I share these thought with you? .
We are all on a journey. It starts the day we are born and ends the day we enter eternity. As the old poem says, “Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.” Like life, living out God's kingdom on this earth is a journey. In my work training and coaching leaders to partner with the Holy Spirit to see God's kingdom diversity in their local Christian communities, I stress this element of journey. We all begin somewhere, we are all at different spots on the journey, and we all need to keep moving forward. These are simple thoughts, but essential ones none the less.
1. We all begin somewhere. When I was 11 I had a friend who took piano lessons. I wanted to take piano lessons too but I thought I was too old, so I didn't pursue it. Sometimes we talk ourselves out of starting a journey because we feel we are already so far behind, there is no point to starting it now. Here is the truth. God's will for his people is unity and holiness. A segregated church is a contradiction in terms. It doesn't matter that you haven't done anything in this space before, start today! It is never too late to partner with our Father in something he desires. This is actually our job as his servants.
2. We are all in different spots. I don't know why, but our relative places in the journey of kingdom diversity is often a point of contention, judging, and frustration. Sometimes, those who are farther ahead look at those who are farther behind or haven't started at all with very little grace or kindness. This hinders the progress or start of these individuals. If you have a passion for God's kingdom diversity, I beseech you to let that passion drive you to bring others along with you. Pray for the stubborn or those who don't see it or get it. Prayer is powerful. Share, encourage, entice, challenge, teach, beseech, in other words, let the Holy Spirit use you to minister to his people where they are and move them along to where HE wants them to be. After all, they are not our people to judge or get frustrated with. In my fifty years, which like my daughter said, "that's not so old" I have seen many brothers and sister who didn't seem to care, suddenly start the journey and become heralds and advocates. Unfortunately, sometimes they too will fall into the trap of criticism and frustration; perhaps because this is what was modeled to them. Love is ever hopeful. Let's love each other in this way.
3. We need to keep moving. Before we had kids, my husband and I used to backpack. It's an interesting experience fraught with good life lessons, the simplest of which is, if you just keep going eventually you'll get there. Simple right? It is simple. Diversity in God's church is not easy. It is a battle. Mostly it is a battle of dying to self, denying to our preference, privilege, and power. It's work. It's more than we think it will be when we start. The important thing then is to keep moving forward. If you just started, move forward. If you have a beautiful multi-ethnic community, move forward. If you have a beautiful multi-ethnic community with profound, authentic, transparent, loving relationships, keep moving forward If you have a beautiful multi-ethnic community with profound, authentic, transparent, loving relationships that is working together to manifest God's kingdom of justice in your larger community, keep moving forward. Basically, there is always a next step. We provide the diversity development rubric to help leaders learn the fulness of God's kingdom diversity and how to move forward in it. Yes, it's work for a lifetime, but you can get where our Father desire's you to be, if you just keep moving forward.
Today is my birthday. They'll be celebrations and gifts (my kids put them on the dining room table last night). Tomorrow, will be another day. I won't be celebrating the milestone of 50, but I'll be moving forward none the less, hopefully I'll have influence in somebody's life in some way as I choose to walk in his kingdom ways. That's really all I can do in this journey of life.