A young family was on a mission trip to give clothing to impoverished tribal Indians in Arizona and just across the border in Mexico. Circa 1969. Hot. Endless desert. Parched dirt, cracked like lips which had never seen Chapstick, nor water for many years. The miles wore on, seemingly without end to my young eyes. At only about five years of age, I don’t remember much about the trip, except for the preceding image and the bundles of clothes.
I do remember stopping by the Grand Canyon, a wondrous place to search for petrified wood, and to run and play. The grandeur did not impress me nearly as much as the bugs and rocks.
My oldest brother–ten at the time–remembers it differently. After all, he is the one who took off after me at a dead sprint, apparently diving and catching me before I inadvertently launched myself off a 1,000+ foot drop. There were no guard rails at the time. Thankfully I was stopped less than ten feet from the ledge. I have no recollection of the incident, but through my family lore it is part of my story, and part of theirs.
As the years have continued, sometimes like endless miles of cracked dirt, my memories collectively conspired to form a rootedness: parents who loved Jesus and who strived to teach their children to follow him all their days; years when resources were scarce, yet love was plentiful; turbulent growing up years, so many stories full of delight and heartbreak, joy and grief, confusion and clarity. And a reverent love of the Bible and Jesus.
Early on I nurtured dreams in my heart. As a little boy, the longing someday to be big and strong like my dad, with a wife and family of my own. Each Christmas morning I wished Jesus a happy birthday. Both then and now I love Jesus with all my heart. I developed an interest in world cultures, which my mom and dad cultivated by buying coins from all over the world for me to collect. As a teen I held a world globe in my hands, spinning it around, looking at the countries and comparing them to the coins in my growing collection. And I wept. For people, especially children, in poverty. With no representation of the gospel in their communities.
And now I find myself in a world which has changed. No longer is the world only elsewhere on other continents. It also is here: the people surrounding me in my local Starbucks; my neighbors; my work colleagues; my friends throughout the city; my young basketball friends in Lents Neighborhood. The world has come, calling attention again to the dreams which I long have nurtured to follow Jesus anywhere in the world, even if it means staying right where I am now.
Recently I wrote the following to a dear friend who is a missionary in Europe:
My desire is to connect with unreached people young or old who will never step foot inside of a church building. It’s taken a lot of brokenness to bring me to this point. I’m so thankful for God’s grace and patience with me. I just want to do life with the unreached in ways that lead them to Jesus. Whether its the homeless, the wealthy, the young or old, I want to spend my latter years making a difference among people who are completely alienated from God and the church.
Much has changed in my life. Many of my dreams have died. But one dream remains true, that I should remain in Christ and he in me, so that he may be glorified and others may come to know and follow him.
What about you? What is your dream?