[ This song[i] was written well before the “11 statements” and the idea of this project. Therefore, it serves as a prologue of sorts. ]
We’ve[ii] circled this mountain long enough[iii] for the both of us to be
There and back again, to be there and back and there and back and
We’ve straddled this line[iv], with feet planted firmly on both sides
And kept walking forward[v] for far too long
Roll back your sleeves and apply a little elbow grease
You and I are gonna cut against the grain,[vi]
Stop doing things the same way that they’ve always been.
“Someone should do something!”[vii] but right now, if we’re the only somebodies we see
Then I guess it’s up to you and you guess it’s up to me…
It’s up to you and me[viii]
Last time was the last time that we go around and come around again[ix]
Last time was the what time?[x] The last time, last time!
And this might be frustrating; this might be a mess.[xi]
This might push us to the snapping point, yeah, this might be a test…
But we won’t snap and we won’t break and in the end it’ll make us say,
“It doesn’t get any better than this! It doesn’t get any better than this!”
It gets no better than this.[xii]
This is not about letting go[xiii]. It’s not about you and me.[xiv]
This is taking hold of life that truly is.
[ii] Some wives get, like, nice love songs about date nights and gushy feelings; and while I have written those types of songs (and sung them to no one but her, thank you very much), this is a love song of the deep commitment we have to hold each other up in love before our creator; of deep spiritual intimacy that comes from fighting a good fight side by side, from not settling, from occasionally getting punched in the face by the downsides of life and then smiling a bloody smile, squeezing each other’s hands a little tighter and saying, “Is that all you’ve got? Because between the two of us and Jesus, we’re gonna give you a run for your money.” This is a song that was written at the outset of a conscious decision to make Jesus Lord of our lives together and start to serve in ways we hadn’t seen before.
[iii] Way back when, Mark (our founding pastor) told the ministry team at the Salvage Yard this story of the Israelites: how after they went to the promised land and didn’t take hold of it because of fear, they then went and circled Mount Seir in the wilderness. But then eventually Moses says, “The Lord spoke to me, saying ‘You have circled this mountain long enough. Now turn north…’” (Deuteronomy 2:3) and they worked their way back to the land they were supposed to inherit. Then Mark went on to talk about how we had been running in circles and it was time to set our sights on the proverbial promised land and get to what God had for us. A month later we revisited this concept and added that it might seem backwards from the outside looking in, but when you’re in the middle of it, the wilderness might feel more comfortable than the new “home” and the very land you’re trying to get to might feel intimidating. So you have to trust God in order to leave the wilderness – to stop the circling over and over again and ‘turn north’, so to speak.
[iv] The line that puts one foot in the kingdom of heaven and the other in the kingdom of this world. You can’t walk that way. One of your feet has to give or you’ll realize you’re not actually going anywhere.
[vi] This was just a maturing process – that’s what it was. It was a time to grow up and realize that the people we always looked up to and had led us and carried the load couldn’t live our lives for us. We can’t just be tourists of other people’s experiences – at some point, we had to jump in and take part. It is no way saying that other people have to “do more” or “try harder,” this is just a record of where we were at. The same follows for the rest of the comments below.
[vii] So, the story goes that an off duty police officer came upon a car accident and all the witnesses were just kind of standing around in shock, waiting for the paramedics to arrive. The cop thinks to himself, “Someone should do something!” as he essentially joins the crowd in waiting for the ambulance. Then suddenly he thinks, “Hold on! I’m somebody – I can do something!” Had he been in uniform, people would have sought out his help, but since no one was looking to him, he didn’t assume his role of police officer, yet he had been trained for this very thing. We too, sometimes in life, in living lives of service and ministry, in sharing our faith, in loving others, can just sit around waiting for someone else to do something and to make it happen for us when in fact we ourselves are the very people that have the skillz, ideas, time, energy, resources, insight, desire, etc. that is needed.
[viii] There came a time where some roles opened up that needed to be done, so Katie and I just chose to step into them. Like I said before, it was just time for us to take the next step and up our input. It’s not that other people weren’t doing what they needed to, it’s just that we were the only somebodies that we needed to see in order to figure out who would fill those roles.
[ix] So let’s do something. Let’s move. Let’s go north. All of us. Together.
[x] This is a call and response. Are you with us?
[xi] Of course it’s going to be frustrating and messy to step out of the norm and into new things we’ve never done before. God is bigger than our messes. It takes trust, courage, and faithfulness to stick with it and get those messes cleaned up sometimes, but God’s not worried about it – he loves that we answer his invitation to join him in his work, even if it is messy sometimes!
[xii] There was a time when I heard a lot of songs complaining to God about the hardships and trials of life. In contrast: walking with God – the creator of the universe and lover of my soul – and being guided by his Spirit; NOT knowing what exactly will come next but knowing that he is good and faithful; being surprised by his delight to include me in his plans; being known, valued, and validated in the deepest part of who I am; having the best of who I am cultivated and called out of me; having my shortcomings forgiven and erased from even my own remembrance… who cares if it takes some frustration, messiness, and tension along the way – walking through all of this with God – let’s not focus on the hardships, let’s focus on the fact that it gets no better than this – than walking with Jesus through the good and the bad.
[xiii] So, we were having a community discussion at the Bonny Doon Homestead… I don’t know if it was about fasting, but fasting came up, and our friend Kirsty said something to the effect of, “I don’t want fasting to be about me giving up food, I want to be so taken with God and preoccupied with him that I simply forget to eat.” Similarly, life led by the Holy Spirit has not become a pattern of having to give up good things – of lack or sacrifice in a way that leaves a void. The focus isn’t on what’s missing, it’s on what’s there! It’s about taking hold of life that is truly life.
[xiv] And as a counterpoint to my first point, while this is in some way a love song, it’s not actually about you and me so much as it is about Jesus pursuing us. And while in some way this is reflective of Katie’s and my journey with Jesus, because we’re all in this together, this is totally about you too. Come on. Let’s go North.