After escaping the Colorado snow storm we traveled back to a place that has now become familiar to us, the Homestead Heritage. For those who have not followed closely, let me quickly summarize our previous time there. In late February we stayed at the Homestead Heritage for 4 days, quickly followed by 2 additional days. Then, after spending about two weeks in the Kansas City area, we spent another 9 days there in late March. Now, after just completing a 12 night stay at the Homestead Heritage, we have, in 2 months, spent 27 days of our 10 month trip in one location. At this point, I (Josh) could flood this blog post with endless details and pictures of events and activities of the last two weeks (and maybe I will in a different post). But that is not the purpose of this post today. Today, I will attempt to summarize how our visit to the Homestead Heritage has become a turning point in our lives.
Now before anyone jumps to conclusions, I want to start by saying that we are planning on coming back home in June (as we had originally planned), and are making no plans to move to Texas. We have had a few close friends and family concerned about such ideas, so let me put your mind at ease so you can hear the message I am attempting to communicate without filtering it through preconceived fears.
When we originally set on this adventure 9 months ago (yes we have been gone that long), many asked us what our reasons or purpose for this trip were. We were still sorting through our own thoughts, emotions and actions at the time. It was easy to talk about concrete reasons such as adventure, family bonding, learning history, and even growth for our marriage. But what was a greater challenge to explain was a feeling that was seated deep within us that words struggle to express. Below, I will attempt communicate these deep-seated feelings.
In the days leading up to our departure from Seattle, a heart felt stirring in us for something we did not understand was beginning to bubble within us, so much so that it was overflowing and making itself known to us consciously. I speculate that it was the same feeling Abram (Abraham), from the Biblical Old Testament, felt when he first heard an unfamiliar voice in his own heart, compelling him to leave everything he knew to explore “a land I will show you” (Genesis 12:1). In our day in age we have an advantage over Abraham to read the accounts of those who have came before us in the Bible. Abraham, though, was a pioneer of faith (called the Father of Faith) because he had no Bible to read in order to decipher this strange new feeling that was bubbling up inside of him. He followed this feeling in his heart and, as we now know from the account of his life recorded in the Old Testament, he discovered this voice to be none other than the One True God, revealing himself to Abraham.
In the same way, as we began this trip, we also followed a stirring emotion within us, that we struggled to understand. But now, as we have nearly completed our trip, I am confident that this stirring was the same stirring that Abraham felt. I presently believe that the primary purpose for our trip, lead by this stirring, was to allow us to discover Homestead Heritage. Not necessarily to leave everything we have and move there as was the case with Abraham, but to lead us to a place and show us something that would forever change our lives.
What is it that we have been lead into that we have discovered when we followed this stirring in our hearts? The answer to this maybe be just as difficult to express as the stirring I have just explained above. We discovered- not a physical place such as a community of farmers in Texas. No, we discovered something that transcends physical location. In my limited understanding, it has been revealed to us a deeper experience of the spiritual community of Christ than which we have ever experienced before.
A community of Judeo-Christian believers who, I believe, demonstrates the power of God working within their lives in greater evidence than I have yet been familiar. A community that follows the teachings of Christ more completely. Not a perfect people, yet not either through legalistic adherence to a set of man-made rules, but a community that follows Christ’s words and example to “Lay down your life for one another.”
Let me ask the reader this, have you ever experienced a community of people who demonstrated a sacrificial love for one another? Who do not compete to be better than others as is the social norm that I find all around me? Who define greatness with their actions by cooperating with each other to serve one another? Who lay their lives down for one another? Maybe many of us can say, including myself, that we have experienced such a love from a mother, father, family member or friend. But have you ever seen a community of people doing this together? I have not.
If then, your answer is yes, than nothing I am saying here today will have any amazing value to you. But to me, I have not, and this experience may forever shape the way I see life. I have not just read about a theoretical lifestyle that Christian believers are supposedly to live by. No, I have experienced first hand, the Body of Christ in action. I have experienced a model for life that has real value and meaning to me and I, in the presence of everyone who will listen, commit myself and my life to following this example which has so clearly and powerfully been shown to me. A life truly surrendered to God.
These are the words that I use to express an experience and an emotion that are, for me, beyond the realm of human language. I hope these words to you have not come across as meaningless babble, but that you might understand even a sliver of what has happened to me. My prayers are with you all and I look forward to soon seeing, in June, those whom are back home in Seattle.