By Shaun

Recovering Wonder

This moment is profound. It is significant. I’m not doing anything.

I am sprawled in a recliner, twenty feet from the ocean. This is the extent of my activity.
Submerged in sunshine, I contemplate life and the panorama before me. I can see surging breakers, rolling over an azure ocean. Some waves crash in the sun-drenched waters; others roll onwards through deep shrouds of blue. A few of them timidly cling to the horizon, silent flashes of possibility. The rest of the waves vigorously introduce themselves as crashes and shushes on the shoreline.

From my recliner, looking out at the ocean I can see everything. When we’re in the water, the experience is vastly different.

In the water you feel the pull of the waves. Each wave transforms into an adventure or a challenge for you to overcome. The crashing of the water is no longer a gentle, white foam. Instead, each wave becomes a brusque interruption of thunderous chaos – sand, salt, and grit beating against your body. The perspective is not academic, it’s immediate, visceral. In the water you can’t see the following waves. All you can see is the next one coming right at you.

I tend to live in the thunderous chaos. This is my default mode of doing life.

A trusted friend once told me, “Life is drudgery. It’s about putting your nose to the grindstone and getting through it.” Drudgery? What a statement. And yet my own existence betrays me.

My reality is this: I often awake to expectations. It’s not all bad and dreary, but my objective list frequently warms up before my shower does. My day is planned before I wake-up. I just check in. And if I’m honest, there have been time in my life where my daily schedule has been less about enjoying the ocean and more about finding my footing.

Wandering away from wonder

How’s the view in your life? Are you riding an exciting wave or just barely holding up against the undertow? Perhaps you’ve stood strong against the waves for weeks, months, even years at a time. Or maybe there are moments where a question begins to surface as the waves thunder: Where has the wonder of life gone?

Do you remember those times when you were excited to live in the moment? Where Tuesday wasn’t about homework, but about the friends around you? Where your parents took you to the beach, and you threw rocks for a few hours? Think back, can you remember a day of wonder?

As I sit and reflect, my mind keeps turning over a profound statement made by Jesus, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Sometimes I get “having life to the full” confused with filling my schedule. In order to experience a full life, it has been ingrained in me that I need to run at life “full-tilt” and “grab life by the horns” (or is it the bull?).  Or to quote Fight Club, “This is your life, and it’s ending one minute at a time.”

Translation: busyness gives your life meaning.

We’re taught that speed equals value. If you go faster, you must be doing better. To be busy is to be successful, spiritual, productive, or…( insert your favorite compliment here). To experience enjoyment in this life means to be doing something.

We’re told that we need to be busy, to be making memories, to be doing life so that our life has more meaning. It’s as though a full life is something that I can attain for myself and the only thing holding me back is the limit on my credit cards. I want to live fully, so what better way than to cram my schedule to its fullest potential?


God wants us to be challenged in this life, to experience the world that He has created for us. But in the midst of the madness of our weekly schedules, it is important to not substitute busyness for meaning.

So let us slow down this week.  May we find the calm amongst the storm.  May we pursue times this week where God can whisper life into our schedule, where He would fill our cup so it would overflow, and would we be willing to spend a few moments there.

Because it is the full life that God offers.

The full life where we can recover our sense of wonder.

By Shaun

Who is Jesus to You?

As part of our final celebration, students were asked Who is Jesus to you?  This is their response, using objects that were special or sacred to them to re-create the large face of Christ.

By Shaun

Playing for Vision

“You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.”

This morning I chose to play small. I walked in to my school, worried about small things. I was concerned about the mess on my desk. I wrestled with the power cord stuck under the front cluster of desks. I wondered what others would be thinking of the “crazy classroom down the hall.” I was consumed with the image of the joy-killer, the seed of fear growing in front of my eyes.

It is in these moments that I begin to lose God’s vision. I wake up in my sun-filled bedroom, on a day that that God has given, and instead of looking at the sunrise, I use the light to take account of the bruising on my body. Instead of allowing my spirit to awaken to making a difference in a broken world, I attempt to minimize the losses.

Mitigating the Mess

Why do I strive for meaningful moments in my life? Why do I spend countless hours on YouTube surfing for the one video that will change my world, even slightly? Why am I content to watch as world events unfold, sitting by and treating the event as a source of hourly entertainment, even defaulting to phrases like “this is boring” or “I’m just tired.” And yet the God of the mess, the God who allowed the mess of our lives to happen, shows up. Not in bells and whistles, or earthquakes or high-powered presentations, but in the poetic whisper from God who chooses to whisper mysterious, beautiful words of love into my life.

As a follower of Christ, I believe God calls us to stand for what we believe in. The problem is that we’re standing for the wrong things. The message of Jesus is not one of condemnation, but one that gives freedom to the enslaved, speaks life into the ashes. So what am I to stand for? To love beyond the frustration. To believe beyond the broken promises. To hope beyond the hurt.

I fight for what I believe because it matters. I don’t fight for the small. The tendency is to get lost in the bruises and bumps and “small hills of victory” because I falsely believe the enemy plays on a battlefield in miniature. It is one trench on Monday, two on Thursday, and in the meantime I am leaving the weak/immature/vulnerable to die in the overflowing trenches. I am neither a combat unit or a corporation. I am the mess of Christ, following in the mess of the Bible story, part of the great story of God’s restorative love. Here, and present, but not yet there, in the horizon of God.

Love is messy.

It’s also patient, kind, a really bad score keeper. And it’s really hard to break. In fact, impossible. And if that is true, and God’s love is like an unbroken ball of yarn that continues to entangle my mistakes, my victories, my minute-by-minute moments, then my vision must get bigger.

Because God loves what matters.

By Shaun

The Mission

Los Angeles Skid Row Mission