1.21 Giga Watts: A Tale of Faith, Fear & Time Travel
Preface: I’m a sucker for Time Travel tales. Whether it’s family flicks like Mr. Peabody & Sherman, dorky ones like Bill & Ted’s Most Excellent Adventure, Cyborg ones like Terminator or even strange ones like Time Bandits I love the idea! My all-time favorite time travel movie is Back To The Future of course! Now you understand the geeky title of this short story as immortalized in the exasperated voice of Doc Brown! How could he possibly generate that kind of power to get Marty back to the future? We also do not have the power to go back and warn ourselves of mistakes that will set off a chain reaction in the future. We do however serve a God who is the Alpha & Omega, The Beginning & The End, The First & The Last, and is “the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). We can’t see what comes next, but He does and He is the one guiding us! So, though this short story is fictional in its time travel its factual in its trust of the timeless One, the One not bound by time! I’m not sure what you are worried about right now, but I guarantee Christ is your solution to it and through it! He has already been where you are about to go. That’s really what this short story is about! It’s also a way for me to process all the change going in my life right now.
Last night we were commissioned by Pastor Wayne Cordeiro as the new Senior Pastors of New Hope Legacy here in Kailua-Kona. Today Elijah celebrates his 13th Birthday. I recently read an old journal entry from the day after Aden was born and I was joyful and full of worry at the prospect of fathering two boys instead of one. I journaled out of 1 Chronicles 28 where David was encouraging his son Solomon who was overwhelmed at the prospect of building this Temple to the Lord: “Don’t be afraid or discouraged by the size of the task, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” In response to this scripture I then scribbled out a very honest prayer:
Life Journal Entry From 5/16/03
“Elijah (two years old at the time) just went to sleep. I’ve been taking care of him all day as we have been in and out with Aden and Cyndi at the hospital. I am beat. I honestly don’t know how Cyndi does this every day. How am I going to be a Father of two when I’m maxed at one? How am I going to be a Senior Pastor (in Kauai)? How am I going to plant churches that will change a generation (in Seattle)? It’s too big. I’m too small…”
Then all of a sudden, interrupting Jon’s quiet cry, a flash of blue and bright electric light fills the living room where he was sitting! The room is so filled with electricity that the very air is ionized and Jon’s hair is standing on end (making him look quite funny actually). Jon is now standing up and looking face to face with someone that looks very much like… him. He is wearing slippahs, a polo and jeans and standing with a goofy grin on his face. “Jon, it’s me, Jon. Or rather, it’s you but bearded, a little heavier, a little grayer, and hopefully a little wiser. You can close your mouth. And don’t worry, Elijah is still asleep. I’ve come back from the future to speak of the faithfulness of our God! So, take a seat and let me tell you some of what happens next.”
Jon slowly sits back on the couch still not believing his eyes or his senses but simultaneously wanting to hear what Bearded Jon has to say. The air is calm now, the sound of the night begins to sing its chant in the Kaimuki neighborhood of Oahu where he is living. His hair is now back to normal as Bearded Jon begins. “The path God is leading you and your family down will not be easy by any means, but will be so worth it. God will not only give you enough love for two boys, but five!” Jon’s eyes widen like saucers! “That’s right”, Bearded Jon continues with a laugh, “you can try, and you will try, but girls are not in your future. That is of course until your boys get married. But, Jon from 2024 will have to return to tell you how that goes down.” He could see Jon was now very confused. “I’m getting side tracked, don’t worry about 2024. In fact you just need to quit worrying. It’s going to keep you from enjoying what comes next and what God is doing right now! You are stressing about your Interim Senior Pastor position in Kauai in a couple months right? Don’t. It will be a very short, but very sweet time. The amazing people you will serve in Kauai will give you much more then you give them. They will show You what it means to be a part of an ’Ohana and to follow the Aloha of The Holy Spirit. You learned so much strategy, wisdom, discernment, direction from New Hope Oahu. You will learn so much about heart from New Hope Kauai. You will then take what you have learned to the Northwest.”
The worry lines on Jon’s face began to disappear as Bearded Jon continued. “You know that church that’s just a dream in your heart right now for Seattle? In God’s table it’s already happened. He knows all the amazing people you won’t meet for a few years. You only know of a few who want to help you with this plant right now, but God is moving. He is already working in the lives of students, grads, mom’s & dad’s, business professionals, baristas, and down-on-their-luck homeless who will steal your heart as you show them the unconditional love Christ has for them all! You can’t see it now, but I can tell you from first hand experience, the story of New Hope Seattle is book-worthy. A few years into the plant you are going to meet this amazing pastor and his congregation at a local Baptist Church. I can see by your expression you are surprised. Well, so was I, er you, and it was one the most beautiful examples of the oneness Christ prayed for in John 17 that I have ever seen. I don’t want to give everything away, but these two churches becoming one will change everything. It will create a multi-generational, cross-cultural ’Ohana that many in the Seattle area are actually looking for! You will be joined in the adventure by some gung-ho college students, young families, and so many more who have been looking for a church that feels like home.
Now Jon was visibly excited as he heard how God was going to build His church. Bearded Jon continued with equal excitement, “You will be joined by your good friends from Life Bible College who will then be sent out as pastor of New Hope North City, your first daughter church!” Jon, literally on the edge of the wicker couch he was sitting on, asks, “Wait, first daughter church?” “Yes!”, Bearded Jon says with glee. “I say first because what happens next I myself am just seeing the beginnings of. Nueva Esperanza, a Spanish church plant is already happening. A plant in the Greenlake/Wallingford area is on the horizon. Even a plant that started in a park for those who hate church but are hungry for God is growing in the New Hope Seattle Blu Cafe! There’s even rumblings of a church plant in the University District and all the way over in Wenatchee!”
Jon couldn’t believe his ears. “I can’t wait to see this all happen!” he shouts out. Then he looks nervously toward the bedroom where Elijah is sleeping. Once the Jon’s realize they are in the clear, Bearded Jon says in a lower voice, “It sounds crazy, I know, but it’s all God! Not only will He surround you with some of the most whole-hearted generous servant leaders you will every know, but they will all be very different from you! This is what will end up making New Hope Seattle so much fun! No cookie-cutter people there! When you move to Seattle from Kauai you will feel very far from family. Even here God will surprise you as many from both sides of the family will end up in the Northwest. In fact, it’s this sense of family, of ‘Ohana, that will make every weekly gathering in small groups and on Sunday mornings feel like coming home. Ten years in to this grand adventure of faith in Seattle God is going to surprise you again. He’s going to speak to you and your family very clearly about a big move. He’s going to call you back to where your first memories of Hawaii and ministry started for the Burgess family back in the 80’s. He’s going to call you to pick up where your parents left off in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii!” Jon was blown away by this! He was both excited and then concerned. Bearded Jon knew exactly what Jon was thinking because, well, they are the same person. Bearded Jon said with an assuring tone, “Just like you are wondering right now how you will ever love Aden as much as you love Elijah, you will wonder how you could love Kona as much as you love Seattle. And yet, just as sure as my heart has expanded with each and every precious son God has given me, so too will your heart grow with every church God calls you to serve. In fact, a sign of this is that you and Cyndi will literally fall in love with New Hope Legacy in Kona by the third day of your first visit with them in early April of 2014. It will feel like saying goodbye to family when you board the plane to fly back to Seattle. Yes, letting go of all you know in Seattle will be one of the hardest things you ever do. Yet, you and your family will be surrounded and sent out by the Seattle Ohana in a way that can be described as both biblical and beautiful!” At this Jon sat back in the couch and let out a big breath of air lifting his hands to the Lord as if to surrender all he had just heard back to the Lord. Bearded Jon could see that Jon needed some time to process this. He said, “Well, Jon, there’s a lot of work to be done to set up New Hope Seattle for success and move our family to Kona. Suffice it to say, the things you are so worried about right now God’s already got it covered. Just keep living by faith and in His adventure! My time is up so I’ll be heading…” pausing for effect, “back to the future.” They both let out a dorky Jon laugh as the electricity that brought Bearded Jon to 2003 brings him back to present day. He finds himself still laughing as he sits in front of his Mac in the 220th Starbucks where he had been sitting, studying and sipping coffee. Bearded Jon then grabs his journal and pen to write this prayer, “I don’t know if you are going to send me a Jon from tomorrow, but I’m going to trust You now Lord. For all I cannot see You see. For all I cannot control You hold in Your hands. I want to enjoy every minute of this with You.”