Calendars Beware

by DanWolgemuth on August 26, 2016

It’s time for me to disclose a personal pet peeve. I don’t feel overly passionate about this pet peeve, just annoyed.

It’s often a radio advertisement that triggers this… something like a local car dealership that is offering a special financing or rebate deal for only “two short weeks.”

Two short weeks. Versus what? Two long weeks? Two average weeks?

Two weeks are 14 days. 336 hours. For everyone.

Period.

No one messes with time. It’s an asset that all of us manage.

There is no Forbes 100 List of top time accumulators. No top 1%. No tax scheme to employ.

This reality has forced me to scrutinize in additional depth, the way that Jesus spent the hours in His life. Specifically, I’m exploring the three years of active ministry that built the foundation on which a theology of redemption, grace, mercy, hope and salvation were constructed. Three years. Roughly 1095 days.

Talk about urgency and intensity. Yet Jesus shows us the way to live; not oblivious, but intentional to opportunity.

In fact, while on a journey between Judea and Galilee, Jesus allowed the thirsty and receptive hearts of the Samaritans to hijack his schedule. A profound and provocative encounter with a woman at a well turned into a two-day detour.

So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. John 4:40

Two precious days against a finite timeline. Two days in the very early days of ministry. Two days that weren’t listed anywhere on the Outlook calendar of the disciples.

Jesus, voluntarily constrained by the same 24-hour cycle of all created beings, chose to illustrate what obedience to the compelling call of grace looks like. He took His watch off at the well. He stopped looking at His cell phone. He wasn’t counting the hours.

The urgency for Jesus was to shape the hearts, minds and lives of His disciples so that they too could understand the compelling call of the message of hope.

Was this a function of “margin” in Jesus’ life? Did He want us to leave our calendars uncluttered and unconstrained? Was He advocating for just hanging loose?

I don’t think so. This wasn’t “extra time” that Jesus gave away. It was intentional, important, urgent time that He invested in the mission of rescuing lost souls.

This convicts me deeply. It shines the light on my own inflexibility and selfishness when it comes to my time.

Purposeful spontaneity is a matter of priorities, not excess. Responding to the tug of the Holy Spirit is not an extra credit assignment, it’s our calling. Our delight. Our mission.

Two days in Samaria. Two days out of a very short ministry life. Two days that inform the way that we live our own lives.

The great equalizer. Time.

Stewarded well. Organized appropriately. Allocated strategically. Invested courageously and faithfully and responsively.

There is no reward for being on time for the wrong appointments.

And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.” John 4:41, 42

Because of two days.

Calendars beware.

This is indeed the Savior of the world.

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Dear Vivian –

by DanWolgemuth on August 19, 2016

My heart is heavy but hopeful as I press the keys. It’s nearly unthinkable that Joel is gone. Lost to us for a time, but ever so found by his King. 41 years just didn’t seem like enough. And I can’t imagine how that feels to you and Havannah.

For the last year, you and Joel have faced into the uncertainty and pain of his failing lungs; as you have ridden the roller coaster of medical highs and lows; as you celebrated the lungs that were donated to Joel; as you trekked through the unexpected valley of the shadow of death… you have inspired and propelled us. Your faith and courage and confidence and transparency have provided a front row seat to witness the love and grace and mercy of God in vivid detail. You have been a faithful and powerful warrior, even in tenderness and uncertainty.

Joel was one of a kind. A missionary among missionaries without leaving his city. Hip-Hop was born in the Bronx in 1973, but it was born again in Miami 15 years ago.  Joel made certain of that. He loved Jesus, and he loved the art and creativity of Hip-Hop. He loved the fact that Hip-Hop could be the perfect avenue on which the message of hope and love and life and redemption could be transported.

Joel loved the young men and women who embraced this culture long before they embraced anything having to do with God. Joel called it Catalyst; our Heavenly Father called it “good.” As a vital part of the Youth For Christ ministry in Miami, I marveled at the breakthrough that occurred when young people heard the power of the Gospel message in a context of familiarity. The beat of the music, the color of the spray paint, the athleticism of the dancers… and the clear communication of the love of Jesus.

I saw it. Firsthand. Both Mary and I did. That was before he met and fell in love with you. Vivian Perea. A gift from God to Joel, and to us.

Vivian Perea. Vivian Stigale. The faithful companion of our pioneering missionary. Your grief and pain are ours to share. We love you. God loves you all the more.

There are many, many young people in Miami who are walking the streets with hope and wholeness and courage… not simply because they met Joel, but because they met Jesus through Joel. What a story. What a legacy.

And so… we send our prayers. Our gratitude. Our sorrow-embracing love.

You served our brother well even in his darkest hour. You served our movement well by showing us the face of Jesus… over and over again.

For His King. For our King. Solidarity in mission. Confidence in calling. We steward this legacy. Together.

“I looked for someone who might rebuild the wall of righteousness that guards the land. I searched for someone to stand in the gap…” Ezekiel 22:30

Joel Stigale. Standing in the gap.

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