This post is coming when I am a) sick b) tired and c) introspective. This means it will be disconnected, possibly incoherent and swing wildly from sadness to joy. Let's begin...
Lately, I have been missing Michigan. I miss Portage. I want to go up and see all of my favorite landmarks. I want to eat at Sweetwater Doughnuts. I want to walk behind the public library and see the snow falling. I want to be around people that have similar accents and don't make fun of how I say "egg" and "leg" because they all say it weird too. I miss hanging out with people who enunciate every syllable in a word. I miss the Michigan sarcasm. I miss the way people let you into their hearts up there...even if it took a long time. I miss the awesome syrup. I miss the strong Dutch influences. Heck, I miss wooden shoes and clogging. I miss Plainwell ice cream. I miss feeling like it was really Fall and it was really Thanksgiving. I miss the Detroit Lions (I still don't know why).
I think honestly, I miss the memories. I miss being a kid sometimes. I miss the walks to the park with my mom. I miss going on nature hikes with my dad. I miss running around First Baptist Church of Portage with my church friends, thinking we were warriors and explorers. I miss the safety I felt during the holiday season. I miss the feel of fresh snow beneath my feet and my nose getting cold. I miss feeling suave and cool eating at Big Apple Bagels (because it had the word "deli" in the name). I miss waking up early and watching Saturday morning cartoons. I remember when the most epic event in my life consisted of Superman and Batman teaming up on Saturday morning to fight the Joker. There was nothing greater in my mind. I miss the innocence of collecting Archie comics and baseball cards and the excitement of going to Scott's Comics and Cards with my dad on Saturday morning. I miss the drive we used to have to take to get to a Wal-Mart in Otsego. I always knew I would be getting a Hot Wheels car from my dad. The most serious choice I had to make was which one to pick out.
As much as I miss those memories though, I know one thing: memories can become an idol. It is so easy to long for simpler times. It is so easy to think back and live in the past. But God has placed me in a particular topos, a place, for a specific purpose. For the past year or so, God has really been breaking me of my two biggest areas of personal struggle--focusing too much on the future and dwelling too much on the past. God has had to rip away virtually every single idol (like education) and has forced me to focus on the now. He has redirected my focus to my original calling of being a pastor.
He has really done this by refocusing my eyes upon the cross and the gospel. I have been exploring this concept of "preaching the gospel to yourself" for the past year and I can honestly say, it has revolutionized my life. It has opened my eyes anew to the wonders of the gospel. It has forced me to stop being so caught up in the past or focused too much on the future. God has forced me to look at him and just enjoy the grace of being where I am, who I am and who I am with. God has told me to stop with the "self-improvement" techniques and just delight in Him. I have been trying to explore the depth of the riches of God.
So while I still miss the things of my past, I am learning to realize my security back then was a grace God provided for a time. But my ultimate security and my ultimate joy should be found in Christ. I find security because of his death and resurrection. I am united with him and secure in him.