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What my journey taught me

As a student, I felt restless – wanting to experience the world in all its grandeur, yearning for an adventure I couldn't name. I heard a whisper from inside that I hoped was God and sensed I needed to leave all that was easy and familiar if I was ever going to begin to understand how to live…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

As a student, I felt restless – wanting to experience the world in all its grandeur, yearning for an adventure I couldn't name. I heard a whisper from inside that I hoped was God and sensed I needed to leave all that was easy and familiar if I was ever going to begin to understand how to live my life.

So, at the height of the killing fields in Cambodia,  I left college to go help refugees.

I went on a journey to make a difference, yes. But I went more importantly, to discover a life.

After marrying Karen, I kept on journeying, doing microenterprise work in Indonesia and the Dominican Republic.

And although it wasn’t my intent, I learned a lot about journeys along the way. I learned that I needed to abandon the life that others had constructed for me if I was ever to find the life that I was meant to live.

I learned that in leaving the security of the familiar and comfortable I was exposed to my own brokenness much more quickly.

And I learned that as I pressed into those broken places, my natural selfishness and narcissism surfaced. I was forced to deal with identity issues. I learned that the leaving is as important as the finding.

In abandoning all, I emptied myself and became a receptacle to be filled by him. Until then, I was filled with self – governed by thoughts of my own needs.

The whole process took me into my 30’s. By then I had 5 kids.

My conclusion: My generation got it spectacularly wrong. We evaluated our lives based on careers and stuff.  Our kids look at that and say “Really? I don’t think so.”

I look at the next generation and see that they feel the same restlessness that I felt. They don’t know what life should look like, but having looked at their parents, they know what it shouldn’t look like. They yearn to leave, just as I did.

They sense that there’s something about a journey. They're looking for a trigger, something to make new ways of living possible.

We who are stuck in a world of possibilities we can't see and are sometimes afraid to explore, desperately need to leave the comfortable and familiar. We need to trade the world we know to discover a kingdom we don't. And we need to experience the surprise that, in that kingdom, we will find our true selves as citizens of it.

Comment

  • Seth! I absolutely needed to hear this today. I have been living with a family since August just to learn from them. Amazing story there. Yet lately I have had those stirrings again that I can’t ignore but don’t know how to feed.

    I have been tired of only knowing what I don’t want…except for love, and not wanting to believe that that’s not enough.

    I have exhausted myself trying to figure things out.

    But what if I don’t have to figure things out? I felt Him say to me earlier this week,

    “It won’t be something you figure out. It will be something you walk into.”

    There are people who don’t think half as much as I do who still trust Him and live abundantly! By grace I have come away from the analysis paralysis.

    I want to know the wisdom it takes people decades to discover, so I can spend my decades on something else.

    And yet…it’s more about the journey. KNOWING HIM.

    My crave for a nomadic lifestyle doesn’t always seem to harmonize with my longing for rich relationships.

    I want to help the poor, and I believe I can still serve them even if I am poor too.

    I ache to just live life with people and help them discover the grace of God and His ridiculous love for them. Especially the people who are already His!

    It pains me to think of living a life where the priorities of my hands have to be different than the priorities in my spirit.

    I don’t know what this means. I can’t put it all together. As much as I think I don’t like that, I do. 🙂 I have daydreams of just going… driving and couch surfing for however long seems good to do so, testifying to the gospel of His GRACE and knowing the meaning of manna.

    Pray for me? 🙂

    And thank you!

    By the way…you were in my dream last night. You brought a really cool map into a classroom and had me sifting through pebbles and orange dust. Whatever that means!

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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