Day 1 of Catalyst 2011 is complete.
It might have been one of the longest days I’ve had in a long time. Scratch that, it’s been the longest two weeks of my life. Between going through a breakup, not eating for days at a time, getting immensely sick and being completely emotional while preparing my heart for one of the most incredible conferences of all time, I’ve barely stayed sane.
It’s been a whirlwind. I saw the sunset in Iowa. I watched the sunrise in Kansas City. I saw the sunset in Tennessee. I watched the sunrise in Georgia. I spent 18/24 hours in the car. I traveled through seven states in those 24 hours. But I love it. I love seeing new places. I love enjoying God’s beauty. I love seeing how He romances us through His creation, if we take the time to notice and watch for it. I love spending time with friends, mentors and family. I love having deep life chats. I love jamming to Smash Mouth and Nicki Minaj and Hillsong. I love laughing until I cry. I love stopping at every state line to take a picture. I love loving my life.
And I truly believe it’s a choice. Yes, I can allow my circumstances to determine my attitude. I can listen to lies of the enemy and feel sad or bad. Or I can choose to be happy. I can choose to take in every moment. And I’m choosing happiness.
Today at Catalyst we heard Andy Stanley, Jim Collins, Francis Chan and my new favorite Judah Smith (seriously crushing: he’s a black man in a white man’s body.) We heard the story of Katie Davis, the 22-year old from Nashville who moved to Uganda, and adopted 13 daughters. I was completely moved and convicted by this story. She is only two years older than me, and living a life I can’t even imagine. It’s something I desire though. Something bigger than myself. Something that takes guts and is painful, but so so worth it. And the thing is, is that she’s just like me. The only difference is that she heard God’s call, and took a leap of faith. I want this. All day I’ve been praying that God would place a big opportunity in front of me. And that I would be willing to answer the call and step out in faith.
Jim Collins talked about a BHAG today: a big, hairy audacious goal. I wrote down two. It doesn’t mean they’ll come true, or even that they’re a part of God’s plan for my life. But they are something I dream about and desire.
1. Start a non-profit.
I don’t even know what this looks like or what it means. Maybe I need to work in a non-profit first (but I sort of already have at the church.) I don’t even know what cause I want to work toward. All I know is that for the past year or so, God has been calling me into some kind of ministry, and I feel like that’s non-profit. I’m praying he reveals a cause I’m passionate about and can work toward.
2. Become a public speaker.
This is weird, because I’m not sure I even really want this. But, once again, I feel like this is something God has told me I will be doing in the future. I’m taking a speech class now and doing really well in it. I also spoke a few times this summer and was highly complimented. I don’t want to base a goal solely on words of affirmation, but I do think I have a gift of some sort in that, and I want to use it to benefit the Kingdom in some way.
Although I have these huge goals and a vision, which I believe is essential in life in order to succeed, God also revealed to me today that in order to achieve these huge goals, I must be faithful in the little things. I still remember Steven Furtick’s talk at Catalyst 2008, when he talked about receiving a vision from God. He said “from the promise to the payoff there lies a painful process.” So God has revealed these goals and desires in my heart, which I believe are from Him (Psalm 37:4), so in order to achieve them, I have to faithful throughout the process to receive the payoff.
Collins also talked about setting a sort of pace in your life, a “20-mile march.” He said that it’s so easy for us to get so consumed and passionate about a cause and go so far and do so much, like running 40 miles. But then when winter hits and it’s cold and you’re tired, you don’t do anything. So it’s like tortoise and the hare in a sense. However, when you consistently run 20 miles, not more, not less, you are bound to succeed. This is what I need to practice in my life. Not getting so caught up in something, not too up or down, but just consistent, in order to achieve a goal.
Joel Houston and Hillsong also played at the conference today. They were absolutely incredible. Though I know more songs by their international counterpart, Hillsong United, I was still extremely impressed. They sounds just as good live as they do on their CDs, which I feel like is the sign of a good artist. One awesome thing about Catalyst is getting to worship with 13,000 of my brothers and sisters. We are all there for the same cause: we desire to be leaders in the Kingdom of Jesus. Standing there, pouring my heart out to the Father while thousands of others have their hands raised in complete surrender is truly one of the coolest experiences ever. And it never gets old.
The trick with Catalyst is that it’s a mountaintop experience. Which isn’t bad. It’s good to go up on the mountain sometimes and be rejuvenated and reenergized. The trick is coming back down. In My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers talks about how we as believers cannot live on the mountain. That was never God’s intention. When we come down, it’s going to be hard. We would so much rather live on the mountain, where we feel so much more intimate and connected to God, where we think life is perfect. The valley is where we are able to put what we learned on the mountain in to place. It is the place where our faith is tested and where we prove our character. As I will have to leave the mountain in a few short days, my prayer is that I would put into place what I’m learning. I’ve prayed that Catalyst would not be an overwhelming, emotional experience. While I do want the Father to break my heart, soften it and mold me, I don’t want to base my words or promises on empty emotions that are bound to change in a few days. From Catalyst, I want the Father and Spirit to teach me practical, real information that I can implement into my daily life. It’s going to be hard. I want to stay on the mountain. But I know that in order to be more like my Jesus, I must be refined. I must be molded.
8 And yet, O Lord, you are our Father.
We are the clay, and you are the potter.
We all are formed by your hand.