As I consider the first five years of Vista’s existence, I unconsciously close my eyes and gently shake my head in an effort to carefully jar my brain. The assumption being that what I know to be true, cannot possibly be true…I must be dreaming. Wake up, brain!
Yet, once I am certain that I am actually awake, I still struggle to believe the surrounding realities.
I find my self pleasantly overwhelmed with the memories of Vista’s first half-decade. The story of Vista is one full of ups and of downs, of success and of failure, of joy and of pain. Vista is the story of life and of loss. The story of Vista has been anything but boring, nor has it been a saunter through a rose garden.
The story of Istanbul (that’s how my iPad auto-corrected my misspelling of Vista!) Anyway…the story of VISTA has been nothing short of what Jesus promises those who follow: Troubled, yet rich.
“In this world you will have trouble…”–John 16:33. “I come that they may have life. And have it to the full”–John 10:10. It has been troubling at times. Not just for me, not just organizationally, but most significantly in the real lives of the people who are Vista. We’ve been through disappointment, unemployment, loss, prison, divorce, sickness and death…and we’re in the middle of all of that even now. For the church, “trouble” isn’t an imaginary scary monster that we hope and pray stays under the bed…it’s a reality we battle every day.
The fullness of life comes in the way Jesus meets us in those troubles and the way a Jesus-following community of God comes together to care and to pray and to persevere–-to laugh and to cry. Together we have walked the crooked, rocky paths together with an eternal perspective and purpose that brings a joy, a peace and a purpose that supersedes the circumstances and transcends our personal struggles and challenges, and our pleasures and breakthroughs.
On what other platform would the real, true gospel of Jesus expand, than on the truths and realities of life? For Jesus to meet us in our denial, for God to comfort us in our fantasies, for the Holy Spirit to arrive in our dreams is to make the Trinity a myth, a religious crutch, a facade.
But when Jesus shows up in the truth, when God engages us in our darkest moments, when the Spirit speaks peace and joy into the deepest waters of our soul…then the Trinity is real. Then our outreach is sincere. Then our friendships are genuine. Then our ministry is rich. Then God inhabits our prayers and our praises. And then…only then…does God show up for our hurting, our lost, our lonely friends in our eyes, our words, and our deeds.
Vista has embraced the Truth head on—the truth about our lives, and the truth about God. And the truth is that the outcomes are inexplicable. How is it that God would see fit to expand his rule and reign in and through such unworthy subjects? How is it that us cracked pots (2 Cor 4) would be filled with such treasure? How is it that we have enjoyed the blessings of the children in Cambodia, the churches in Kenya, the new site in Worthington?
How is it that the invisible God has made himself more known in our soul? Why in the midst of all of life do we experience more peace, joy and hope? Why has our faith been tried, tested and secured? Who are we? Why has Vista come to where it is? Why have we become who we’ve become? Why have we been blessed in such ways?
Because God loves us.That’s all! Because Jesus loves us. He really does. Why? Because he loves us. That’s God.
I’m shaking my head again…