Sunday, November 2, 2014

Resistance - Part 3/8

For the next 6 days, we are going to tell our faithful readers a story.  If you missed part 1, click here.  For part 2, click here.  

It's our story.
It's the story that has slowly emerged in our lives over the last 11 months.
We hope you are encouraged by it.

If you don't want to wait for 7 days….you can listen to this podcast (33 minutes) of us telling our story to our church congregation.

Part 3 - Resistance 

For the next three weeks, Heidi and I began to talk about Fresno. We didn’t believe that God was necessarily asking us to move there, but that He was asking us to talk about it. I suppose that makes sense. We hadn’t talked about it for nearly a decade. In those three weeks, and in those daily conversations, our true thoughts about Fresno began to emerge. In particular, Heidi began to say things like, “I don’t want to move to Fresno” and “Fresno feels like a step backwards or a step down.” It was phrases like that that were repeated over and over for weeks. Finally, one night in our living room, I asked Heidi, “For weeks, I’ve heard you resist Fresno, calling it a ‘step backwards’ and a ‘step down.’ Where does that come from?” It was what she said that surprised me. She said, “I’ve been thinking about that very question. I’ve noticed the way I’ve spoken about Fresno, and I think I’ve begun to understand where that comes from.” She said, “I have to tell you a story…

I graduated from high school as a valedictorian, and got a full-ride scholarship to Cal State Long Beach. A beautiful campus, in beautiful southern California, and in a coastal climate. In many ways, it was a step up. In my final year of university, before getting my teaching credential, I made a list of all the things I wanted in a husband. Two weeks after I graduated, I married the man of my dreams. Two weeks after that, we moved internationally to Canada; none of my friends did this – it felt really special. We didn’t just move anywhere, we moved to Vancouver, a place where everyone agrees that it’s one of the nicest cities in the world. And not just anywhere in Vancouver, we moved to Kits Point, the wealthiest postal code in Canada, a half-block from the beach.

But it was what she said next that was most important. It was the fundamental truth in her story. She continued,

It’s like I’ve gotten used to upward mobility. The idea that everything in my life needs to be a little bit nicer than the last thing. I let that idea creep in and go unchecked the first time I moved to southern California. That’s why Fresno feels like a step backwards or down. It doesn’t agree with the narrative that’s been subconsciously driving my life.

It was those words, “upward mobility” that sparked a memory of my own. I’d forgotten this story until the moment she said, “upward mobility.” I paused her.

I said, “I have to tell you a story of my own. I just remembered it.” I said,

When I was 18 years old I had an experience that was profoundly significant for me. I was listening to a speaker talk about God’s love for the poor. And something of what he said burned inside my heart. It brought me to tears. I was embarrassed to cry in such a public setting, so I ran out of the auditorium and found myself on an overpass, watching cars travelling north and travelling south. The cars travelling north were heading to north Fresno, a wealthier part of the city. The cars travelling south were heading to south Fresno, a poor part of the city. Watching these cars, some running north and some south, I sensed God was saying,

‘Joseph, I’m going to bless you whatever you choose. Are you going to serve me in the north? Or are you going to serve me in the south?”

I remember what I said to the Lord that day, watching cars and weeping. Turning my eyes towards heaven, facing downtown, I yelled, “I will go south!”

I suppose I agreed to something with God that day. It was a story I had forgotten, but it had been driving my life since that time. As Heidi and I juxtaposed our two stories that night in the living room, we realized that the subtext of our lives were driving in not just different – but opposite – directions. One subconsiously being driven by upward mobiity; the other being subconsiously driven towards downward mobility. But it’s what happens next that is most important.

Part 4 (tomorrow) – An Incredible Change

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