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From Andrew

Hey everyone. My name is Andrew Dunn. I live in San Jose, CA with my wife, PJ, and our son, Cedar.

As a believer, I always expect the Lord to feel closer than he does. It's difficult to find rest and contentment in this life. Recently, I've been studying Jeremiah and reflecting on our state of "exile." In Jeremiah 29, the Lord says, "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future..." This is a super comforting verse, but just before that he says, " the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile."

For the last few weeks, I've been reconciling my understanding of a God who loves his people AND carries them into exile. A God who intentionally gave his people to the enemy and subjected them to a king who liked burning them alive. The promise the Lord gives is rosy, but let's not forget why we're here.

In contrast, one of my favorite passages about God's grace is Luke 14:16-21. It's about a master who invited people to a huge party, and they all declined with lame excuses. So the master tells his servant to go into the streets and invite anyone and everyone willing to come to share in his blessing. "'...Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.' 'Sir,' the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’ Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full.'" I was always comforted by God's love in this passage and saw myself as someone who didn't deserve to come and was invited anyways. While wrestling with Jeremiah 29, I realized I am also the servant with a stack of invites called to share this amazing news. I was questioning the value of doing life with God, because I saw myself only as a recipient of his grace, not an agent of it.

It's a lie that the Lord is an escape from the world. The enemy would rather we disassociate ourselves from it. If we were not in physical exile with the rest of the world, then we would have no shot at helping others find God in the midst of it. We must contend with the world, and be intimately and painfully familiar with it to guide others spiritually out of it, while remaining themselves.

We are where we should be.

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