Monday, January 25, 2010
The Place where Jesus lives
(I was warned that someday I would feel like this, I really wish that the warnings had been wrong.)
Baptist schools in the Texas/Oklahoma have interesting labels that are attributed to them. DBU (my undergrad) was known as "The school where Jesus lived." This title was a mockery for how terribly conceited we came across to other schools as. The campus in general was really into being Holy and into servant leadership (you can even get a PhD in the subject). If you have known me for long, and if my education has come up in conversation, you known that I am not often gracious when referring to the 'Christian' culture of my Alma mater. Nonetheless, I stopped in for a visit over the Christmas holiday and I have to confess - it is a place where Jesus lives.
I know I am about to sound terribly cheesy, but as I got out of my car it was as if I was standing on Holy ground and God was with me. I went to an over look that was a place of prayer for me all through college. As I stood there I remembered all the times I had sought God and found God on that balcony, and I reflected on so many major life choices that happened there. I also thought about how very real God was for me in those years and how being there again I could feel God's presence as if God in the flesh was walking with me.
As I walked the small campus I realized why so many people never leave. A majority of the faculty, graduate students and staff graduated from DBU undergrad and chose to stay. People don't leave, and they don't leave because they don't want to leave the place where Jesus lives.
Truth be told I can't blame them, I miss that campus on a hill. I miss the place in my life were I sang love songs to God and desired nothing more than to figure out how to spend the rest of my life that close to Jesus. I believed that I could have that spiritual high forever. I was warned that it would go away, but I didn't believe the warnings. I thought my relationship with God could be that blissful forever. Not to mention how easy it was to be 'Holy'.
Even still as I walked around, remembering that feeling and feeling God almost as if I was 19 again in college spending all my time praying, I knew it was a good thing that I left. Leaving was hard, but it took me to Baylor and Baylor lead me to San Francisco, and every minute of it has been hard, and I have not felt the presence of God like I did on that hill. Even as I know that my life right now is exactly the one God has called me into, I can't shake the reality that living there I was living were Jesus lives, and it was so much easier than this.
Okay, now we are going to hit the wall over the distinction between sacred and secular. I don't believe anything is secular- all things are sacred. God is present in all places, creator of all things and has made all things Holy and is constantly in the process of redeeming creation. Still, I cannot deny the presence of God on that campus. I mean we all know that when 2 or more are gathered, so gather 3000+, 18-24 year-olds, all full of passion and energy, and many of them are really seeking God, God has to be there in a palatable way.
I don't know how to explain it. I don't know what to do with it in light of the many, many critiques I have of my DBU experience, but for the first time in ages over this past Christmas I walked on Holy ground and I could tell. My mom could tell, she said she hadn't seen my face light up like it did that day in ages. I was overjoyed to be in a place where I could feel God, and truth be told I didn't want to leave. I wanted to stand on that balcony where I had prayed for so many nights in college and beg God to be as present with me everywhere as He/She is there. I did take a moment to ask God where He/She has been lately, I felt like I was answered with the reality that God has continued to walk with me, but still, I don't feel God in most places like I felt God there (the beach comes really close, but honestly not the same).
I miss it, and I want to go back to the security of it. But I left because God asked me to. I left not because I did not fit in on that campus (I am way too liberal), but because I felt God pulling and pushing me into a different journey. As I think about the leaders of our faith I feel like journey and place are both themes of their relationship with God. I know I am where I am supposed to be, and I know God has not left me to go on this journey alone. I am willing to recognize that DBU was significant, and helped shape me, and that I can't and shouldn't go back. It is a place of safety and God is asking me to live a life of adventure.
Still I have to confess, I really wish the journey didn't feel so distant from God. I wish that every day felt like those nights on that balcony, were I could just breath in the presence of my Creator, where Holiness felt easy.