For instance two years of high school German had deteriorated to a handful of phrases when I first had the opportunity to visit Germany 40 years later. One phrase firmly stuck in my gray matter (die plattenspieler ist kaput/the record player is broken) proved decidedly unhelpful in every situation. But even remembering that was a surprise considering I had not even once used what I had learned over the ensuring decades!
The old adage that once you learn to ride a bicycle you will always remember does not mean that you can be off a bike for 20 years and then hop on for a 5 mile ride demonstrating peak skills and endurance. Academic learning, sports skills, how state government works, how shop equipment from high school functioned, basic algebra, how to get around the old neighborhood, even core knowledge that we use in practical ways but have not "recited" in years have to be dredged up with effort, and "brushing up" if needed.
Yet, somehow, we expect relationships to flourish spontaneously. Nowhere is this more clearly demonstrated than in our relationship with God. If you have not had serious conversations with God recently, read the Bible or at least books based on Biblical concepts and applications, or engaged in fellowship with mature followers of the teachings of Christ, then please refrain from loudly declaiming your conviction that religion is superstition or childish or pointless based on your Vacation Bible School memories from 5th grade or even your cursory consideration in your early 20s. And please, please, please don't mock people who are working in serious ways to live a more hopeful and joyous life in fellowship with like-minded fellow travelers.
We would love for you to travel with us, sharing your honest questions and struggles. And to the extent we have found good things on this journey, we are concerned that something worthwhile is not being seriously considered by people we love and value. (Think of us as spiritual vegetarians or new non drinkers or non-smokers who are so excited about our improved life that we get a bit preachy.) But just as I would hope you would not mock someone trying to live a life with more respect for their bodies, so please respect our efforts to live lives with more purpose.
You see, we are serious about living with a different priority, walking what we talk, living with joy and hope and a freedom from the demands of a world that offers us no respect or safety or hope for the future. And we know honest, kind, passionate people who believe with their whole being that God does what God says. So when the Lord is recorded in Jeremiah 29:13 as declaring, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart,”
we are excited as we have begun to understand how that works.
It is hard. It replaces some other stuff that we used to think was important. It requires actions over opinions when life is hard and painful and the road is rocky. It calls us to respond differently to the hate, mean-spiritedness, brokenness, pain and loss in this world. It confuses folks who have not made a committed practice as we are trying to do: responding as we believe Jesus responded and continues to respond to us -- and who longs to reveal Himself to you.
So, wherever you are in your journey, we wish you well, are happy to share our spiritual recipes and training schedule hacks, are most willing to be your work-out buddy and we'll do our best to model our new life with a smile on our face (and sometimes a little tear of joy), and we stand ever prepared to offer you any comfort, aid and kindness that might be a blessing to you. And we'll try to do it without serving only spiritual tofu when we gather together!