One of my greatest pastimes is asking God semi rhetorical questions. I took a walk on the beach tonight. It's where I connect with God the most. The waves soothe my soul as they help recalibrate my wandering brain, bombarding it with a relentless cacophony that quells my cerebral minutiae. Tonight, the Ocean's roar played persistently in the background as I listened to 7 recordings of a story that I co-authored with a friend. His voice gave life to my words. I stood in the Atlantic, tears of revelation and rebuke streaming down my face as the ghosted words of my past, heralded the promise of a vivid, future. For the most part, I was alone on the beach. Deceptive shadows might have been people sharing my holy space or simply creative, haunting imaginations. After a few moments, my eyes acclimated. I could see that I was alone in my walk, alone in my search and desperately hoping to catch a whisper from God. I lingered a few moments more. When I turned and began the walk back to the hotel, He began to impact my thoughts.
The Holy Spirit led me to see the answers to the questions I was asking.
"What am I supposed to surrender?", I asked. "Everything," he said.
"When do I begin to surrender?", I asked. "Everyday," he said.
"How long will it take?", I asked. "A lifetime," he said.
When God called me into the ministry at the age of 9, I did everything, but yell out, "HELL TO THE NO!!" in church. I was sitting in an Assembly of God Church in Barnsdall, Oklahoma and our pastor was preaching about Jonah and the Whale. I was half listening, half doodling on a piece of paper. What I got out of the message was that some poor guy, Jonah, was being railroaded by God and was being forced to be a preacher. My translation for my life was this simple thought, "Man, wouldn't that be terrible if God called someone into the ministry. You wouldn't have a nice house and a nice car. You would have to give up everything." We were lower middle class and I wanted all the things that money could buy, so I was definitely not going to be a preacher. Then it happened. A great pause in the universe and I knew in my little kid brain that God was calling me into the ministry. Thus I began my run.
32 years later as I allow these words safe passage out of my brain and onto an awaiting canvas for your perusal, I realize that my desires in life are now very different. I just purchased an old car and I will be selling my very nice truck in a few weeks. The house I have is in constant need of repairs, but it is the house that God gifted me with. Save for the occasional $5 cup of Starbuck's coffee, my life isn't filled with the treasures, baubles and trinkets my 9 year old self might have imagined. It has been filled with precious, amazing souls with more value than any material item I could have ever come to own. Time. The relentless and persuasive emotional anesthetic, nipping away the sting of the past with the passage of days.
God, forever the optimist, saw fit to plant a unique call into the heart of a young boy. Then in His infinite wisdom, he allowed affliction to shape that call into a weapon that could have easily destroyed the boy and for a time it did. At the precise moment, God's own son stepped in and breathed new life into the boy's life. That which the enemy meant for destruction, eventually became the weapon of choice the boy used to help fight the same affliction in others.
God called me into the ministry at the age of 9. Just like Jonah, I ran. My run led me into homosexuality and every emotional and developmental hardship that goes along with it. Then I encountered Jesus in a tangible way. It was in the area of my greatest wounding, my sexuality, that I experienced the greatest power of our God.
What is it that we should surrender? Everything. When? Everyday. It may take a lifetime to achieve, but we'll have all of eternity to celebrate.