Spring Break 2013: Prisms and Rivers



Everyone must leave. Everyone has to leave their home and come back again to love it for all new reasons. I want to keep my soul fertile to change. Our minds were meant to figure things out, not read the same page. – Donald Miller in Through Painted Deserts 

I have left. I left the essays and assigments and obligations. At college, the love I show is a mile wide and an inch deep. It’s hard to love people at school, where life is fast and my planner fills up. It’s easy to love activities and agendas centered around people instead of people themselves. Lunch meetings, life groups, accountability partners, service projects, even my Lent journey, love is behind all of it in the true sense of the word “behind.” Love shines through those things, those activities that fill up my task-oriented and efficient life. The love shines through but it feels fragmented and diluted.

Love on this trip needs to be different. It needs to be unfiltered. This trip has no agenda, so the love shouldn’t run on schedule. It should just be. This has me thinking of analogies for love. A prism doesn’t produce light. It simply is there. Light shines through it and, for reasons I learned and forgot in physics class, it makes the color spectrum visible. Reds, oranges, yellows, greens, blues, indigos, and violets, they were contained within that original light but they weren’t visible. Maybe our role in this world is to be prisms, taking God’s infinite glory and grandeur and reflecting all its intricacies and complexities, making them more visible to a world with cloudy eyes.

Love on this trip also needs to be effortless, not in the sense that it isn’t intentional but in the sense that it doesn’t feel laborious or burdensome. Love so often feels like I’m canoeing across a lake, putting everything behind each stroke, sweat dripping from my brow, shoulders burning. I wonder if it couldn’t be more like rafting down a river. God the Father would be the river, the context and definer of what love even is. Jesus would be the one who chartered the river, who rafted it to perfection, flawlessly navigating every rapid that seeks to destroy or distract from the perfection of His love. The Holy Spirit would be the current, the one who, when abided in, makes the journey possible just like it was for Jesus, not laborious or burdensome but full of vitality and joy.

I scribble this blue ink on a white page as we drive West on I-40. Jared is speeding but the calm of the early morning make the pace feel natural. The seven of us headed out in the Camry and CRV fourteen hours prior. The quote earlier about leaving comes from the perfect backdrop for this journey, Through Painted Deserts on tape by Donald Miller. The prose we tune into while the familiar narrative sections give us time to think about our own narrative as it unfolds. What kind of a story are we writing? What kind of a story are we going to write?

Bill has been the MVC(Most Valuable Camper) so far. He’s sleeping in the backseat and Jared compares him to the little Asian kid from The Goonies. I think He’s more like Byongsong from kicking and screaming. So far we have found out that back in Vietnam, Bill’s mom taught him a healthy appreciation for ABBA and John Denver.

Shadows of snow-covered cliffs are beginning to appear as a train and us make our way through a canyon just past Gallup, Arizona. Huge hand-printed billboards advertising Indian moccasins and petrified wood let us know we are finally away. As the sun comes up, it is clear that we have left in every sense of the word. We left to rest. We left to learn how our love can start to look more like prisms and rivers. And we left so we could come back and love better.


Spring Break 2013: Better than Waterfalls

We are creatures of comfort and habit and we stick to our tried and true, but there’s a big wide beautiful world out there. For those who want it, it’s out there. -Matt Costa

Last week, six buddies and I headed out to see the some of the most beautiful places on the planet. More than that, we set out for something different than our life here at Baylor. After a twenty hour drive through the yellow fields of West Texas and the snow-dusted canyons of New Mexico, we loaded our packs and began the ten mile hike into Havasu canyon. Hidden deep in the western portion of the Grand Canyon is Supai, Arizona. The village of two hundred people is the most remote in the lower 48 states, accessible only by helicopter or mule. We arrived in the village at dusk and didn’t see a soul, just mules and a few cattle. It felt like a scene from The Lord of The Rings, hiking through a deserted village through an epic canyon.

In the dark, we trudged deeper into the canyon by the dim light of our headlamps. Finally, we saw a picnic table designating a campsite and set our packs down there. We kept going, quicker now with the heavy load off of our backs. We hadn’t hiked down here for the picnic tables; we came to see Havasu Falls, the attraction that brings tens of thousands of adventure seekers through Supai every year. A quarter mile down the trail, we heard falling water so we went back to get our packs and set up camp at the base of the falls.

This next morning, we woke up to this first scene of the falls.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I walked out on the rocks at the foot of the falls and opened up my Bible to Psalm 63.

Oh God, You are my God

Earnestly I seek You

My soul thirsts for You

My body longs for You

In this dry and weary land

Where there is no water

I have seen You in Your sanctuary

And beheld Your power and Your glory

Because Your love is better than life

My lips will glorify You

Surely I will praise You all the days of my life

In Your name, I will lift up my hands

My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods

With singing lips, my mouth will praise you

Psalm 63:1-5 (emphasis added)

I said this part over and over again:

Your love is better than life

Your love is better than life

Your love is better than life

I was in the most beautiful place I’ve ever been, looking at the bluest water, the crimson canyon walls, and the best friends a person could have and I realized something. God’s love is better than this. The gospel is more beautiful than this. The story God has written that is unfolding as I write, it’s better than this moment. It’s better than anything and it’s worth everything. 

I thought about the effort I put into this moment, the planning, the reservations, getting the gear, making the drive, completing the hike. And I thought that I better put more effort into dwelling in and sharing God’s love. I better be willing to put 3000 miles on my car to spread it. I better give up more than just a week; I better give my life to that mission. Because His love is better than life. 

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 1 John 3:16