There are two lines that popped in my head as I was talking to one of the leaders there.
- "you lookin to be the butterfly without the caterpillar" and
- "you lookin to be big willy but you still a seed boy"
But these lines came up as I listened to the speakers-- these were men and women who were doing things in the world, who you could see believed in something. Many of them lived with the poor and a lot of them shed tears as they spoke because they were so passionate about the cause of the gospel. In other words, these were spiritual giants--the Lebrons and Monta Ellises of Christianity. It eventually led me to ask, "Dang. When will I get like that?"
And that's when those lines came in... I think the more I learn about Jesus, the more I learn that I have so much more to learn. Did that make sense? Probably not. But I think I have this image of who I wanna be, but then I realize that I'm nowhere close to that. Sometimes God has to remind me, "Nate, you lookin to be big willy but you still a seed boy."
I think the Christian life is filled with rumors. And I think this is why the speakers at Urbana were so engaging and why everyone loves to hear good stories, because it opens us up to other people's experiences. I love to hear my uncles tell me about what their lives were like when they were younger because it opens up a world that I don't know and that I can never go to. But those stories will forever be rumors. I can't ever prove that my uncle did this or that. And church is the same way. I hear from the pulpit, "Jesus doesn't make life easier, but he makes it better" (my pastor loves to say that) but then why do so many people leave Jesus behind when they get to college? I hear "Jesus loves you" but why do I still feel lonely? I hear "Jesus is in the least of these" but how will I ever know? And don't get me wrong, I think these things are beautiful, but I believe that some people think that hearing rumors over and over again is the same as actually experiencing them... I think I'm reaching the point where I'm getting tired of rumors. I wanna see if they're true. If Jesus says that he is the poor, the sick, and the imprisoned, then dangit I better go to those places. If Jesus says that he'll provide for me when I seek his kingdom, then I have to test that promise.
For me, it's kinda like Cheesecake Factory. Man I love that place. Every freakin summer, they get so much money outta me. But I can tell you how good it is, I can make you sing songs about their fried macaroni, and you can even read a book about their restaurant philosophy, but until I take you there on a warm summer night and let you eat on the outdoor patio overlooking the city, you will never know the goodness that is the Cheesecake Factory.
And I think that's the big difference between the speakers at Urbana and many pastors I know--the speakers at Urbana spoke out of their deep experiences whereas I might hear something from a pastor and take it as truth, but really it was just something they heard from another pastor, who heard it from another pastor, who heard it from John Piper (haha). I think it's time for me to stop talking and thinking and to finally start doing something about Jesus. And maybe hecka years from now, after God has led me into different experiences and adventures, I'll no longer be a seed, but I'll be able to say with confidence that I am big willy. Whatever the heck that means.