Jennifer Camp, co-founder of Gather Ministries, and author of Loop, grew up in the middle of an almond orchard in Northern California and now lives in the busy Bay Area with her husband and three kids. A former high school English teacher, she loves to write, but she especially loves to encourage people to seek and live out the truth of their story, their identity in Christ. You can find her writing at her blog, Jennifer J. Camp .You can connect with Jennifer on both Facebook and Twitter. She would love to have you join her there.
"How are you doing? How is your heart?”
“I’m good. Not awesome.”
“Yeah. Me too.”
We text, me and the friend who moved to California from Colorado and moved back again. The friend who wants the best for me, who goes on walks in the rain and lets water splash full in her face.
I am in a coffee shop–Justin, donning his black beanie, by my side–watching rain drive sideways in sheets. The pavement is shiny black, and my boots are damp. People in raincoats, or no coats at all, jump out of cars pulled up to the curb, running in through the coffeeshop door, heads ducked down. It is glorious, the rain falling down.
A few days ago, Justin and I skyped with our mentors–an awesome husband and wife team. My friend connected us with this couple after she left. Through their words, their example, we feel God rescue us again. God uses people who are free. People who are able to offer wisdom because they not only know they are loved, but they know the battles we face in this world are not against flesh and blood.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12).
PEOPLE WHO ARE FREE GIVE TRUE COUNSEL. THEY OFFER US, THE DISTRACTED AND BUSY, A NEW WAY TO SEE.
“How are you doing?”
“We are good. Tired. Thankful to be talking with you. Thinking a lot about what you said last time.”
We share with them how they encouraged us during our last meeting, how we have been pursuing wholeness, rest, restoration in God. When Justin quit his job in venture capital and we began working together–he full-time and me part-time–it was the answer to a dream we didn’t know we had. But wholeness in God–choosing rest and restoration in the midst of the land of hustle and bustle, the land of Teslas and self-driving Google cars, of property taxes through the roof and Ivy-league MBAs–is a pursuit that takes everything we have.
WE LIVE IN THE PLACE WHERE THINGS LOOK SHINY AND SLICK AND GOOD. CALENDARS, SCHEDULES, LISTS ARE FILLED. PEOPLE WORK HARD TO LOOK LIKE THEY HAVE IT ALL TOGETHER, EXCEPT THEY PROBABLY DON’T.
Justin and I have learned this the hard way: Education, achievement, and monetary success are tantalizing but meaningless overall, unless they are used for the glory of God. And you don’t have to run a Christian non-profit to pursue wholeness, live in your identity, live a life surrendered to God. But we are learning that you do need to know who you are in Christ, how you are uniquely made by God, and how you are designed to live a life worshipping, with the Holy Spirit in you, the Creator who has an amazing plan for your life.
This is the beginning of pursuing wholeness, of pursuing restoration. Justin and I need to consecrate what God has given us in order to live a life free and joy-filled, a life where we own our participation in the battle in which we live, this ongoing spiritual battle for our hearts.
AND OUR PERSONAL BATTLE GROUND HAPPENS TO FEEL AND SOUND AND LOOK LIKE SILICON VALLEY, THE PLACE WHERE WE LIVE.
This place, where we spend most of our time, gives our personal spiritual battles color, texture and shape. This place of busyness, achievement, technology, start-ups, innovation, start and fail mentality is the culture that flavors how we see and hear and respond to God. It inspires us to write, to listen to God’s voice, to seek wholeness in God in the midst of a culture that says you are what you achieve, you are what you do and what you own.
We battle, using the pursuit of wholeness in God equipping us, to try to reject that truth. We try to team up with God, in our particular battle field, to engage in the fight for our hearts.
God thinks each of us–me and you–are worth fighting for, you know.
Only when we are using the gifts we are given, when we surrender our lives fully to Christ, when we let our pride, our old self, die and we take up our own cross and walk with our King each day, working with Him to be the person He has created us to be, are we free, are we full, are we restored in God, are we whole.
When Justin and I are with people who live in freedom–joy-filled and alive in Christ–we yearn to be free, too.
BUT HERE’S THE TRUTH: WE DO NOT HAVE OUR ACT TOGETHER; WE ARE NOT OKAY; WE ARE NOT LIVING THE LIVES WE ARE MEANT TO LIVE; WE ARE NOT FREE, IF WE ARE NOT PURSUING WHOLENESS IN GOD.
If our lives are filled with things and people and to-dos and degrees and dreams, but not full of the life Jesus invites us into, a life where we are restored and whole with our God, we are not our full selves. We are not the whole selves God intends for us to be. We are not living the full lives our God intends us to live.
Justin and I are thankful we are here, in Silicon Valley, this pocket of peninsula between San Francisco and San Jose–a place that can, in many ways, feel like Crazy Town. We like it here. We love our friends and family who live here. But our mentors remind us, as we fight with our God for our whole heart, how the place where we live influences and gives color to our particular and personal battle. This battle we each face is personal, but it is a universal battle too.
We need to keep our eyes, our ears, our hearts open to how where we live influences and shapes the spiritual battles we face–a culture saying being “filled”–being busy and accomplished–is more important than living the “full” life Jesus describes in John 10:10.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (NIV).
It’s for the life Jesus describes that I want to fight. What about you?
Soon, I’ll be sharing particular ways, in the midst of this battle ground, I pursue wholeness with God. I’d love to hear from you. Where do you live? What place do you call home? What is the setting that influences your pursuit of God? How are you teaming up with God, in your particular battle field, to engage in the fight for your heart?
This post appeared originally at jenniferjcamp.com