Exploring Oz

At the bank, the cash distributing machine is broken. Again. The tellers have to hand-count all the cash they distribute, and since my family does everything in cash… that means my teller is counting out a lot of cash. My Bride is the one who budgets for us (brilliantly, I might add!), which means I just withdrawal what she tells me to. And today, she didn’t give me a total. She simply listed to get so many twenties, so many tens, and so on.

My teller looks at the totals. He asks the teller next door, “Hey, how much is [this many] twenties?”

She answers.

We total everything up.

Yeah, that’s not right.

We do the math again and see that the answer had been $500 off. That’s… that’s a lot off, at least in my world.

We laugh. Thankfully, I’m not in a hurry.

And then the teller counts out the stack of cash… and gets it all right, first try. (This isn’t common in my experience!)

I tell him, “You have redeemed yourself in a non-theological manner!”

He laughs. “Yeah, cause otherwise it’d be self-righteousness!”

And… I don’t know how to respond other than laugh and agree. See, I don’t know this guy outside my bank. And I’m really not used to people having any idea what I’m saying… but he does!

I am in such a different culture than I had been before.

Had I tried this in the last city I lived in, I’d likely receive a confused stare. “Non-theological? What?” Please don’t get me wrong – I loved the people of that city and had a lot of fun interacting with them, but dealing with terms like that would not be a strong suit.

Here? Not only does this random guy have enough of a grip of doctrinal things to understand what I’m saying, but he responds incredibly appropriately.

I’ve seen something similar within my congregation; while there’s still a wide range of knowledge and maturity, there’s people here who actually know enough to ask and answer some pretty deep questions. Tomorrow we’re doing “Bible Jeopardy” for the first time since I’ve come, and I’ve amped up the difficulty of the questions. We’ll see if I guessed right.

It’s just one more reminder… I’m still new here. I still have so much to learn about the culture of this city and of this congregation.

I’m starting to run. I’m trying to be honest and open about what I know and don’t know. I have ideas for outreach; I’m still leaning on the members quite a bit to say, “Hey, you know better at this point whether or not this is worth trying here!”

I’m not in Kansas anymore – figuratively, anyway. Well, physically, either, but that’s beside the point. But I’m learning Oz, being surprised at this new land, and reveling in a different social landscape. Different ways of saying things? Check. Different physical topography? Oh yeah.

And adventures around every corner.

God has not made a boring world. In our brokenness, and the brokenness of this earth, there is danger, yes. But there is also such glorious places to explore. That includes exploring ministry in this new place.

But no matter how different this place, no matter how amazing the land or surprising the people, we all share this: We are all broken. We have all been redeemed. Jesus is returning. And he is the answer we need in our brokenness.

No matter how glib a person is, no matter how knowledgeable, they are still sinners. They need forgiveness. And that forgiveness is in Jesus.

And that knowledge will keep me grounded as I explore this Oz. I am a sinner saved by Christ. I am chosen only by his mercy. I am his. And that grounding is also the reason for my exploration: To share what I’ve been given. To share grace.

Time for an adventure. Let’s see what surprises await.

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