I've already written about what I hope to happen this year as an extension of what I accomplished throughout 2011. But what does it all mean? WHY do I wish to accomplish X, Y, and Z? Is it only for my own sense of accomplishment and actualization or is it also to glorify God? Meanwhile, do I actually see God's hand moving in my life? If so, where? How?
There are at least two major ways that I see God at work in my life right now, patterns that I anticipate will be woven throughout the entire year.
The first actually is a sense of self-actualization - but for the glory of God, not the glory of me. That is to say: I know that God has called me to be a songwriter, a performance artist, an activist. I anticipate that I will grow ever more comfortable in these shoes as I break them in; that I will continue to improve my craft and gain in cultural influence as I work toward these ends. But God didn't call me to this life so that I might be glorified. It's for God's glory and God's kingdom, not mine. The artistic excellence and acclaim that I desire, the cultural influence that I seek is on behalf of God's kingdom. Indeed, I've been called a "voice in the wilderness" (alluding to John the Baptist), a canary in the mineshaft, a prophet. Lest such comparisons get to my head, I can only pray that my integrity in faith and obedience will stand the tests that God yet has for me.
Even the daily provision that I pray for, largely dedicated to my climb out of debt, is ultimately for God's glory and honor - that I might one day, in my abundance, give to the poor and bless the church with a generous heart. I believe that it is God's will that I be free from debt and I trust that God will provide all my needs and help me to reach this freedom soon!
The second thread that God is weaving into the fabric of my life is the neighborhood of Washington Heights. It all started just weeks after I moved to NYC in September of 2009. The Heights missional community took off at that point and I began to fall for the neighborhood, though I lived in Harlem at the time. I joined men in prayer at the 181 overlook, volunteered to teach music at the Operation Exodus after school program, and joined the Neighborhood Trust community development credit union at the GWB bus terminal. But I still did not realize then that God was clearly calling me to this neighborhood.
Perhaps that epiphany did not arrive until July of last year, when I began volunteering at the new "pop-up" bookstore and arts community center on 175 street and broadway. Word Up Books is committed to promoting literacy and the arts in a neighborhood that is vastly underserved. Though the Heights has the largest concentration of children in Manhattan, the school libraries are unkept and unused, public libraries are sparse, and we are the only bookstore within a thirty block radius! Great things have come out of our service to the neighborhood and we have had much favor and appreciation from our neighbors. Most importantly, it has provided a forum to really integrate into the life of the neighborhood, to meet many people who live and work in Washington Heights, including many local writers, artists, and musicians. And of course it's a great place to be a witness for God and the church, to show God's heart for the Heights and for peace and justice.
It is a great privilege to be involved in the work God is doing to bring peace and justice to the Heights and NYC through these various organizations. But I am especially looking forward to the great work God has for the new church plant in the Heights as we join Him in the renewal of all things. I currently and temporarily sleep in Inwood, farther uptown than I prefer, but I plan to move to Washington Heights in June with other folks from the Heights MC. By God's grace we will live together, intentionally, with emphasis on spiritual praxis, hospitality, and service to the church and neighborhood.
So... That's what I believe God is doing in my life. I've made some plans accordingly, though I suppose there's always the possibility that God has some dramatic irony up the sleeve! No matter. Whichever way God leads, I will follow.