The date is Thursday, November 5, 2009, and the time is 3:14 pm, central time. Pilot Truck Stop, Kentucky.
Text to Jonathan, my friend back home: I’m doing well. I’m very happy with these guys, and I feel like God is showering me with so much conversation about Him and people that are living out their lives passionately for Him that I don’t even know what to do with all the thoughts in my head. Whether it be with White Collar specifically, or the people we meet on the road. It’s crazy. I was thinking today that this month has felt like watching 50 hours of some discipleship training video and soaking up God like a sponge, and that’s very exciting.
Have you ever seen a movie called “This Waking Life?” From what I can remember, it’s some weird cartoon movie about post-modernism or existentialism (which, I guess, are one in the same, basically) or whatever (it doesn’t really matter), and the entire film is a series of interviews about life and reality and meaning and vanity between these cartoon characters and the drawing styles change and it kind of follows this empty story line and, and, and...
Anyway, that movie specifically popped into my head today as we were meeting with Stump – the pastor at The Anchor Fellowship in Nashville, TN – because this entire month has felt like a huge series of intense, beautiful conversations – conversation that envelope depth and God and life. They’ve been conversations that have stirred up my spirit with burden and longing. They’ve been conversations that have tied my thoughts in knots and inspired so many ideas in my brain that it’s hard to know which are which and what is what and what the heck is going on. They’ve been conversations that have challenged and encouraged me to think about what it is I’m pursuing in life, in this project.
I was reading a journal entry that I wrote back in September. I am not going to divulge the entire thing here (because if I did, you may never listen to my poetry every again! ha!), but there was a part of it that caught my eye, which said something like, “I wonder if I’ll ever be a successful poet. Ha! Just think! A successful poet!”
If you want to know the truth, I’m rather ashamed of sharing that line with those of you that may read this, because it sounds kind of – well, I don’t know how it sounds. It sounds kind of stupid to me (stupid is a pretty good word) – maybe because I know where my heart was at the time, and what my heart is struggling with now, for that matter, and I know the thoughts behind it… the point that I’m trying to make is that I feel like, over the last two months – and even before I wrote that little line of brilliance – my heart and mindset have been radically challenged as to what exactly “success” is. Because when I wrote “success” – my definition was financial. Sweet Jesus! I ask with all of my heart that I would not equate success with finance, because that is not what this life is about. And I’ve been learning, seeing, thinking, wondering about the majesty of God, and about something that T.D. Benton from White Collar Sideshow drilled into the minds of people that we played for every night, which was this: We are called to love one another and to love Christ, and if we’re not doing those things, then what are we doing?
I would like my success, the focal point of what I’m doing in this life, to be Jesus Christ. I would like to be a person that loves and feels and relates and cherishes relationships the way that Jesus did when he chilled with people – and God frickin knows he didn’t base his success on the overflow of his pockets.
Every night before a show, I pray that Jesus would be noticed, glorified, lifted up, honored and praised through what I do. I wish that people would close their eyes for my entire performance so that they could hear what God has to say (I’m not saying that to sound pretentious or righteous – I’m saying it because I think that God really has something to say), and not focus on the distraction of a poet with the orange hat that looks like he’s cracked out of his mind because he’s so twitchy on stage. I have so many friends that I’ve seen give it all up for the sake of Jesus, and I would like to know what it is to be sacrificial without worry, stress or anxiety on the false pretence that I deserve credit for anything that I do.
So back to “The Waking Life” – somehow, almost daily, I’ve found myself looking into the eyes of these people that I am meeting and have come to admire – these people that I view as examples of faith that I desire – as they go off on these monologues about what God is doing and how he’s developing them and what they think about things that are happening and what the crap is going on. And through all of this, the Spirit is stirring within me these desires to pursue righteousness over wealth, and to develop a lasting, patient maturity rather than stressing over something that needs to happen immediately. He’s reminding me that if I count on anything other than him as my source of happiness, I will be disappointed.
More than shows or merch or whatever else I have judged past tours as successful by, this run has been a huge blessing to the spiritual condition of my health, and I hope that the Lord has used me to bless others in the same way, because it’s truly been incredible, and incredibly encouraging, and that is the ultimate point that I am getting to – I would like the Lord to use me to encourage and love others the way that he has used others to encourage and love me. I hope that he continues to provide and open up opportunities to know him more, to know others more, and to hone in on relationship with him. I would surely love that.
Sometimes when I write these long updates about things, I wonder how they sound to others. I would like to think that these thoughts are me maturing, or at least trying to learn and be shaped into the likeness of Christ, but I sometimes wonder whether or not they just sound like aimless thoughts and wonderings – or wanderings – like I’m spinning in and out of these “spiritual highs” or something.
Sometimes I get scared that the people that truly know me might think I’m being hypocritical. Sometimes I get scared that the people that I’ve misrepresented Christ to will think that I’m wearing this façade to be the good Christian. Oh how I would love to be able to do away with the word “Christian” as an adjective, maybe even to forget the word altogether, and to just live for Christ without having to quantify things – to label actions – as holy or not, and to just live. And for that “just living” to be for Christ.
Regardless, these are the thoughts on my mind, for now, and it’s probably the best tour update I could have written. I’m still trying to understand what it all means, and I’m asking for direction and organization of all the crap in my head and heart, but aren’t we all? God forbid I should ever have it all figured out, because when and where would I need to rely on God if that happened?