The spirituality of my young adulthood was fueled by an almost liturgical refrain, “God has great plans for your life.” This summons was intoxicating for me and my university peers. Our lives, our futures, our careers – which we felt we were on the cusp of launching – would matter in big, important ways. We would accomplish big, important things. People would celebrate the difference we made, the world-changers we were to become. It seemed like blue skies, rainbows, and sunbeams from that point forward. Sure there would be temptations along the way, but our lives were destined to fulfill great plans. And all of this was ordained and orchestrated by the Creator of the Universe.
What we didn’t realize at the time was how many of us along our great-plans journeys would experience devastating loss, debilitating illnesses, or soul-wrenching betrayals. We didn’t realize how tirelessly some would work to ignite even a flicker of the difference we wanted to make. We didn’t realize there would be just as much disorientation and doubt as there would be difference-making.
Just the other day a long-time friend messaged me to say, “Life is not turning out the way I expected it to.”
I am deeply grateful for the intent of that great-plans idea: that my life mattered, that I had gifts and abilities that mattered, that I should live a life that contributes to something bigger than myself and beyond material or personal comfort. There are core values that I live by today that are still informed in part by the intent of that summons. I am forever indebted to the adults who saw me, valued me, and affirmed that I was capable of impacting the world for good.
What I have had to unlearn over time, though, is that whatever plan is playing out is not about greatness. I am coming to wonder if maybe it is more about simple, consistent faithfulness. Maybe it isn’t about changing the world but about being committed to your neighbor/hood – in all the inglorious, quiet, quotidian kinds of things that make life, life.
I think that maybe what we need most is not a faith big enough to change the world, but one small enough to fit into a neighborhood. We need people with the quiet courage to walk with long obedience in the same direction.
If the story of FCS is anything, it is the story of deep, patient rootedness in a particular place amongst a particular people for as long as it takes, whatever it takes.
We have been planted in the Historic South Atlanta neighborhood for the past 20+ years. April 20-21, the FCS team will be hosting a virtual Open House, to share our strategies for faithfulness that is big enough to serve this neighborhood. To join us, please join our Change-Makers Facebook group and purchase the Open House course in our Lupton Center school. Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing information to registered users about how to join us. We hope to see you there!