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What I’ll say to our racers

Tomorrow night Karen and I are going to throw a party that we’ve been planning for almost a year. We’ve been coaches to 40 World Racers who just completed their round-the-world circuit. The alarm sounded at 6:30 this morning so Karen could get up and make more cakes, appetizers, and assorted …
By Seth Barnes
Tomorrow night Karen and I are going to throw a party that we’ve been planning for almost a year. We’ve been coaches to 40 World Racers who just completed their round-the-world circuit.
The alarm sounded at 6:30 this morning so Karen could get up and make more cakes, appetizers, and assorted delicacies of the feast we’ll be serving them. The house smells great.
 
We’re proud of our racers. They’ve made a difference in hundreds of lives this past year. Along the way, they’ve gotten sick and gone through hardships. We’re eager to hug them and offer them some advice about the next stage. Here’s some of what I’ll share with them:
 
“T squad – welcome back. Already you’re seeing how hard this returning home thing can be. Karen and I empathize. Both Talia and Seth Jr. both struggled when they came back. 
 
The World Race is a year-long rite of initiation into the kingdom. It’s a pilgrimage of the soul, a calling out to greatness. You and others before you have returned home having lived a counter-cultural reality. You realize “It’s not all about me. I don’t need to buy stuff to be happy. I find myself in community. I can make a difference.”
 
The shorthand for this reality is something Jesus calls “the kingdom.”

 But there’s a big difference between having glimpsed the kingdom and figuring out how to live in it. 
 
The problem is that while you may have changed, your world and all the relationships in it didn’t.  You may have looked behind the curtain to see that the Great and Powerful Oz is just a little man pulling levers, but everyone else may still be caught up in the illusion.  You may have been wrecked for the ordinary, but that doesn’t make you a radical, it just makes you weird.
 
The question is, how then do you navigate this next phase?  How do you change the world when your world so evidently doesn’t want to change?
 


If the World Race teaches you anything, it teaches you that you need community. You need to be around people who give you the space and encouragement you need to become the best version of you. 
 
I want to offer you a warning so that you protect yourselves: If your re-entry is only a return to roots and relationships, if the lessons of community life remain in your rear view mirror, then you can probably expect a slow attrition of life followed by a season of cynicism.


 
When Jesus left his disciples, they didn’t disperse. They stayed together and prayed. In the hotbed of community, revolution was born. In the atmosphere of prayer, the fires of kingdom passion were stoked. Returning racers need to hear the “amen” of brothers and sisters who have chosen the narrow path of life in the kingdom.


 
This next phase of life you’re going through is a practical season where the high, holy poetry of the soul picks up a dish rag and is confronted with messy spirituality.  We’re not allowed to build booths on the Mount of Transfiguration.  We have to return to a land where checkbooks need balancing and cars need oil changes. 
 


It’s a jolting transition to move back into a place where people inwardly sneer at your stories of walking on water.  The life of faith and dependence is so very hard to live in a land that celebrates independence.

 You need a sounding board to move beyond the combustion chamber of your thought life.


 
You may find yourself thinking thoughts like, ‘In Malawi the brothers had so little, but loved so much.  Here I don’t even get greeted after being away from church for a year.  What should I think? How do I do this?’
 
If Jesus took three years with his disciples, it’s realistic to think you’re going to need another two years to keep exploring kingdom reality in a way that leads you further down the path that Jesus walked.
 
Don’t default to somebody else’s dream for your life. Go apprentice with someone who will continue to pour into you and your dream as you live in community. The world is waiting for what God wants to reveal as you continue to come fully alive.”

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