He had a mountain-top experience, which made it even more difficult to challenge, even though I didn’t want to challenge it, I only wanted to be forgiven and accepted once again. It would be a house church for broken and hurting people, like me, he said, referring to my own brokenness. In that moment I was happy he was focusing on me and my brokenness and not the rebelliousness that it was referred to a few months earlier. But not a house church because he was against such things, and such ideas. Instead, a place for people to come and get well again, before going back into the larger community. A good use of reflective listening on his part but not reflective at all of his own views of just how ‘broken’ the established church was.
Thus was the constant content of his detailed emails during my brief tenure in the golden city of the prairies. It was nice to have the attention and to seemingly put my own disobedience behind me, back when I should have been focused on his family’s needs over the fact that I had just lost a son and my wife was recovering from major surgery. I was alone again, unemployed, disconnected, lonely, and missing the normality of life that seemed to have escaped my hands like sand over this past year. My mountain-top experienced pastor non-pastor was treating me like a friend again, albeit pen-pal at this point, and I was lapping it up like a love-sick puppy.
I spent my days filling out job applications, applying to jobs I never knew existed but existed in this big city. I was willing to do anything for I had a family to support but I was getting no-where. No phone calls. No emails. A week turned into two, turned into three and our resources were drying up. On top of it, our van was now behaving like a stubborn two-year old, throwing a tantrum in the middle of busy city intersections, suddenly finding the van without enough power to propel it through to the safety of the other side. It meant risking our lives just to go out to purchase some milk. Ironically, we were running out of money to go out and purchase some milk so the times of risk were relatively low.
It seemed like this city was rejecting the transplant. This country bumpkin family was no longer wanted and the signs were being erected that perhaps it was time to go. We still owned our home back in the valley city and slowly it was beginning to make sense that if we were to be broke anywhere it seemed reasonable to us to be broke back in that valley city, back in our home, our sanctuary. Call it a retreat to regroup and to rethink life some more. The longer we thought about this the more it made sense to us to return to that place.
And, of course, there was the mountain man.
His persuasive words filled my inbox with signs and wonders from above. God was most certainly moving in and around his life and his family’s lives. His banishment from the church in this valley city and again on the island was only a sign of God’s working in his life – his preparation of sorts for the revelations given to him on his mountain top experience. He was both an avid writer and musician, composing many worship songs. None of his material has been published but he has self-published and self-distributed his teachings, his music, his course material, on following him to many a follower over the years. What this was in this time and in that place was his Genesis moment, and I was invited to be a part of it.
It is nice to be wanted, even if it comes with abuse.
My wife and I began to make arrangements to return to the valley city – to our home. I contacted the manager whom we had rented our home to and gave her notice to move out. We gave our own notice where we were living and pulled out the boxes, stored for just such an occasion, and began to pack. Our vehicle was now in such rough shape that there was no way we could risk driving it back. We doubted very much that it would even make it out of the city. So we opted to ship it back to the valley city and we would deal with it there. The plan was for my wife and the girls to travel via bus and my son and I would drive the moving truck. Another adventure. Another chapter.
My pastor non pastor mountain man friend was excited to learn of our impending return. He would share with me in great detail of all the visions and dreams he has experienced during my departure and together we could talk about what that meant for the church, for the valley, for the people. I was back in the fold before I even got back home and it was a good feeling to cling to. After all, I was still estranged from my parents, and incredibly frustrated with people in our church.
It was nice to know that I would be returning home to a friend, even if it comes with abuse.
My wife and I prepared for the move. The truck was loaded, the van was dropped off, ready to be shipped – it would take a couple of weeks. We said goodbye to each other as she gathered the girls and went to the bus and my son and I hopped into the thirty year old truck with no suspension and began to weave our way out of the golden city of the prairies and onto our way home again. We hadn’t known it in the moment but my wife had inadvertently given the entire bag of snacks to my son and I, leaving nothing for my wife and three daughters for their long twelve hour journey back to the valley city.
Looking back I can see my selfishness through this time. Driven by my own brokenness and pain, ill-equipped to deal with it all, let alone care for myself or my family. I had left my well-paying corporate job in the valley city because my pride was bruised and I was devastated inside, not knowing how to deal with the tragedy that I had just endured. Instead, I became angry and insolent toward everyone around me. This led to my leaving the job, packing up my family, and moving them to a different province, to a much larger city where I proceeded to abandon them while I forged a living. My insolence continued, masking the brokenness of my heart and I felt justified in quitting my new job. Left with nothing, my family was forced to pack up once again and head back home.
All for naught.
My wife is far more gracious to me about our brief stint in that place. And there was some incredible healing that began there, laying the foundation for what was to come next, however it is impossible for me to write about this time without acknowledging my actions in the process and the family cost that it took. Selfishly I sought approval and acceptance. Even though, from a broken and tragic place, I was desperate for affirmation. I didn’t get it through corporate so I scorned them. I didn’t get it with the new corporate so I chose to scorn them as well. Now, I was getting it through my pastor non pastor friend. And I wanted it. I wanted it really bad.
That decision would cost us dearly.