I now have over two years invested in edits and rewrites of a manuscript that is meant to capture some of my life story; and parallel the grace journey I have been on for almost 40 years.
The title of the book, Judah: the Journey to Delight has morphed multiple times as I have aged. What initially was Kingdom Business, A Handbook of Hindsights, was meant to capture the things which I seemed to be learning at the ripe old age of 45. I had taken a major departure from my role with the school system, drawn to the possibilities of impacting cities spiritually, while serving on the staff of a relatively large community church.
I was there only six years, when I realized that a disproportionate amount of my impact was occurring through my interaction with community leaders, as I attempted to serve on behalf of this growing church. My “aha” occurred when I realized that our objective may have been more about getting people into our church than bringing Christ into their lives. In all fairness, I think we had just confused mission with means.
In order to have the flexibility to do both, I chose to establish an office in the downtown of our city with an apparent secular mission, which would fund my ministry without entanglement and obligation to any one church. Thus the original title, Kingdom Business.
Content for this book came easy, as I had captured many stories in a journal that began in 1986 as an encouragement from my wife to write. She enjoyed the stories I would often tell in Sunday School classes, about unique adventures and initiatives that came out of my love for cities. I never realized my literary deficit and the challenge of both capturing one’s autobiography (everyone’s life deserves that) and then drafting a manuscript in such a way as to inspire and instruct others using the 20/20 rearview mirror of hind sight, which we all possess. I typically would create run on sentences like you just read!
Working authorship into one’s life is what prevents most from writing. Before long, I had aged to 60 and my real Kingdom business, Master Counsel, Inc. had captured more of my time than had my efforts at writing. I found myself confronted with the reality of my life’s Red Zone, my last 20 years; and so, the title morphed to Living in the Red Zone.
I was able to get one book written in the summer of 2008, Repo, The Church in Foreclosure and surprisingly it took only 3 months to write; much longer to edit and publish. That I am convinced was a work of the Lord and quite prophetic, seemingly “down-loaded” to me almost effortlessly, just prior to the collapse of our economy. I am convinced that this recession has spiritual ramifications given the state of our churches. Though the book was not a best seller (LOL), it did allow me to vent my concerns and at some point hopefully will provide some credibility, as more churches are now in literal foreclosure than ever before.
The point of that book was that God is so in control, that when we derail His efforts at communicating His glory, He remains sovereign. John’s Revelation in Chapter 5 described such a day almost 2000 years ago, when the Lamb of God, our near-kinsmen would take the scroll, the deed to His church and redeem what man had soiled. That is the good news.
So why now, the title: Judah and why The Journey to Delight? Judah is the one son of Israel I can most readily identify with, Joseph had been for many years. I am a visionary, a dreamer and I have surely known the Lord’s favor; finding myself often in situations where I was in over my head, and even outside the bounds of reasonable office given my upbringing and relatively open disclosure of my belief system. There were times, when I overly identified with Joseph and frankly, had given Judah little attention other than the awareness that the Son of God was for some reason referred to as, the Lion of Judah.
It was not until my failures, (the moments that only I know about, none of which are criminal, but all of which hindered the calling of God in my life), were sufficient to inform my life, that what I was called to from my Mother’s womb could not possibly occur in its fullness; even by my most sincere intention to glorify God with my life. I am from broken stock, and though I have tried to wear the coat which my Father gave me, my weaknesses have prevented His full intent for my life.
This underlying prohibition, my sins, would surely prevent the full delight of His calling, though at times I have had what many would call a blessed life. I am thankful for grace, but sorrowful, relative to what I have seen that I could have accomplished. Being a visionary has its down side.
It was in this mental moment, that I understood the Lion of Judah. Had Jesus aligned himself with Joseph, and thus affirmed my false understanding that only the Joseph types could fully please the Father (something the church seemed to have instilled in this passionate follower of Christ), I would have despaired beyond recovery. Even the fact that I have been blessed beyond my own merit, only exacerbates my twisted desire to please the Father.
My delight finally came in the contrast created by the story of generational progression from idolatry to redemption; the story of the journey from Abram’s father to the man, Joseph. From Terah’s idolatry the story begins, as Abram takes the risk of following the voice of God into unknown territory, based on a promise alone. His son Isaac compounds his challenge, but in a beautiful story of romance, transfers the legacy to another, Jacob, who is willing to wrestle with God Himself, in order to birth the reality of his grandfather’s dream; and his favorite son, Joseph, is born.
Joseph rose to a second in command under Pharoah, and yes, it would seem on his own merits; though obviously God had a hand in it. When Joseph had moments that would have brought anger, bitterness or even sexual improprieties to the average man, Joseph chose to honor God. That has not been the case with me.
The day God pointed that out only caused me to question his fairness still further. Not fairness toward me, for I have no right to bicker, but rather fairness toward Joseph. His very name, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob seemed unjust, as Joseph was left completely out of his legacy, though in fact, was the one who most obviously reflected the life of Christ; and yes, long before Calvary.
Who am I to question God? Yet, He has never held that against me and spent time with me, bringing me to the joy of knowing, that it was in fact His fairness, that repositioned man-kind, mid-story with Israel. You see, the blessing providentially pronounced over Judah, though his life had been quite the opposite of his younger brother Joseph, was God’s statement of redemption for us lesser types.
His favorite and in fact only Son, would take on the likeness of Judah-like men, stepping down from the majesty of God; beginning life in a filthy stall, under the scandal of an unwed mother…the story of Judah and Tamar. Yet, this lamb would become the Lion that would roar against the shackles of mankind and provide a remedy for those of us with Judah’s blood line, a faulty DNA; exchanging His own blood for what my sins should rightfully require under the law. Now, I too might live like Joseph; even enjoy the favor of Joseph by no right of my own. That’s my hope and my delight!
Judah, The Journey to Delight.