In August of 2013 my boss Jeff, gave me less than 2 weeks to decide if I wanted to move from our job in New Jersey to work on a natural gas pipeline project in Pennsylvania. After talking to everyone I knew, I moved. I lived in Jeff’s trailer on a pull out couch for 2 weeks, then found an apartment.
I made the transition because of the trust I had in my boss. I valued our relationship and enjoyed working for him more than the company we worked for. I also knew he would help me succeed in a position that was way over my head.
It was a quick transition. I only owned clothes and a car so there wasn’t much in a material sense to figure out. Despite this, I still found ways to make things in my life complex. (Stories for another time)
When I went to college I was accepted to JMU off the wait list in June, visited the school for the first time in July, and started in August. That was a relatively quick transition because I assumed I was going to Towson, in Maryland.
When I moved back to Jersey, that was also a quick transition which allowed me to work and live on a farm in Pennington.
I have chosen to live most of my life in such a way that long-term planning is either unnecessary or inconvenient. However, that does not correlate in my mind to not knowing what I want.
I normally am confident about what I want but often do not have a clue how to get to it, or I naively assume the way to get to it, will allow me to carve my own path.
And in that approach, I’ve found a lot of detours and unexpected stops while giving the appearance of wandering.
But I’ve also collected stories, which is what I value second only, to relationships.
I’ll give you a fact that will give you some insight: I will do just about anything that would not compromise my relationship with Jesus, if it means that I will acquire an intriguingly unique story.
When you understand this about me, I think, I become more relatable and easier to understand.
But what do I mean by an intriguingly unique story?
Here’s what I don’t mean: I don’t mean skydiving, I don’t mean adrenaline rushes, I don’t necessarily mean achievements although sometimes they coincide.
What I do mean is: I want this experience to shape me, I want who I’m with to tangibly make a positive difference in my character, in my heart. I want this experience to be something I carry internally and when I tell it, others feel it. I want them to feel like that story mattered even if it was ridiculous or seemed unnecessary.
And I mean: Jesus.
Jesus’ story is the opposite of most of my stories. He always had the long-game in mind. If there were stoppage time in His game, He would offer as much stoppage time as possible so as to extend an offer of salvation to as many as possible. Jesus’ story doesn’t end but is marked by specific moments that have humongous implications for the ones He loves.
Jesus’ story is simultaneously linear, yet not bound by time, it is interconnected while bringing people in, whom we would not expect. This is especially true in the Gospels. Jesus stops for people simply because they are people. And this is why I love Him.
This is why I want to be like Him. He is so generous in love, so secure in the love of his Father, God, that he can take an extended pause from his journey and goals to make the person in front of Him a part of the journey.
Jesus leaves a mark and makes every person better. So if you’ve ever met a Christian and thought, “Wow that person says they’re a Christian and is a miserable human being.” I would suggest imagining how much more destructive and miserable that person would be without Jesus.
But Jesus’ mission and work while in part is instantaneous also has eternity in mind. The work being done is a long notice kind of work. It is also a work that he thoroughly enjoys.
On the Long Notice
This long notice kind of work has only recently started to make sense for me. Perhaps it’s due to my 7 months of anticipating a move in location and vocation is now 12 days away, and it feels more real.
It is only recently that I’m making sense of my journey, that I’m leaning in to what it looks like to engage in tangible ministry in the day-to-day. I am also recently learning to be okay with the length. Or rather I’m learning to be okay with time and process and flexibility. I’m reminded of why Paul in 1 Corinthians 13 starts with “Love is patient,” when he sets out to describe love.
Because love whether for yourself, for someone else, even for God requires adjusting over time to a process of choosing.
Even Jesus who gave us long notice that he would return for his bride the Church understood the value of our waiting. There is something in the process that increases our love. There is something in the anticipation that strengthens our resolve to press on.
Which is why I hopefully am becoming the type of person that trust God’s love in his seemingly long notice. I am in good hands; I don’t need to rush.
On Giving Long Notice
I gave my job 2 months notice which was more than enough time for my title and position. I gave that much notice as an exercise in trust, plus if they fired me I would have last-minute went to Italy with a few of my best friends. I also tried to give ample time to the people I would be leaving because this transition has always felt too real.
Although this week, after visiting my grandma, it became all too apparent. Time does not stop for me. I can request all the more time I want, but even with long notice as the moment approached to go, it continues to feel like there isn’t time enough.
In the same breadth, I have so much time. I have had time every night this week to go to a 2-hour worship service after work.
There is a lesson in giving long notice. When you give notice you extend an offer of your time, and you learn a lot about who you want to spend your time with.
And I think what happens when you begin to spend that time with those you give it to, you find out how much people value you and how much you value them.
For me… in this season… I have found riches.