Every year at Wayfarer, we have a theme or a motto that we seek to embrace throughout all we do for the year. This year, our theme is Remember. We have two big R’s prominently displayed in our office to help us remember what God has done through the first eight years of Wayfarer’s history.
But all of us have history that extends before Wayfarer began in 2000. Some of my history happened at Willow Creek Community Church in suburban Chicago, and specifically at the Axis ministry for 20-somethings there. I was a part of Axis from 1998-2000, and the things I experienced and learned there are still affecting the way I see God, Christ-centered community, service, and more.
I’ve been remembering Axis lately because I’ve been reading the book Looking for God: An unexpected journey through tattoos, tofu & pronouns. The book was written by Nancy Ortberg, who was the leader of Axis during much of my time there. This is Nancy’s first book, and it’s been fun to read it. Not only does it have stories of Axis, it also has the kind of insights from Nancy that made me admire her so much back in my days at Axis.
In her book, Nancy presents her thoughts about God, one at a time. One chapter presents a picture of Jesus; another presents the problem with balance; another vividly displays the power of remembering. The chapters aren’t necessarily connected or even sequential; instead, they are episodes in Nancy’s own quest for God. And as you read, you remember your own search for God as well, and sometimes you even see new hints of Him in Nancy’s words.
Just as Axis played a key role in my history, a church called Downtown Community Fellowship in Clemson played a vital role in my wife Lindsay’s spiritual journey. The pastor of that church is Winn Collier, who in addition to being a bang-up wedding minister (he did ours) is also an author.
Last year, Winn published a book called Let God: The wisdom of Fenelon. In this book, Winn has taken the letters of 17th century theologian and spiritual director Francois Fenelon, rewritten them in modern parlance, and organized into a series of answers to some of our biggest questions.
Winn poses questions like “How do I hear God?” and “What do I do when I’m broken down?” and then uses Fenelon’s letters to the different people he mentored as answers. The result is a very readable, thought-provoking book – one I enjoyed using as a devotional over the past few months.
If theology is really about thinking about God the way He really is – I’m stealing Norris’ definition here – then both Nancy and Winn have written books that have helped me do this over the past few months. This is the kind of remembering I can’t do without.