This post is the first in a series of five parts that explains our transformation to a family on mission, written from the perspective of my husband, David. This tale also touches on why we moved to Houston and the origins of RighTrak.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:2
I have to wonder what would happen if we put in the same room two groups of friends: one who knew us growing up, going to college and getting our first jobs; and one who have only known us since we moved to Houston, Texas. If they should have conversations with each other about the ones responsible for putting them in this hypothetical room, I imagine those conversations would be rather awkward, almost as if they were talking about two, different couples—certainly two different Davids. It’s not that we just grew up. We were transformed.
For whatever reason, Kindra’s transformation and mine occurred at different times. That subject alone—couples growing spiritually at different times or rates—could itself be the subject of a series of blog posts, and maybe we’ll get there someday. For now, though, we thought we’d share the story of how our transformation as a family started.
I don’t journal. It’s a discipline I just never undertook. But on the eve of Easter Sunday 2011, I felt compelled to sit down at our computer and write an account of recent events. That account began with these words: “The Sprit broke my heart, and it scared me how suddenly it came over me—how completely it took hold of me.” A few hours earlier I experienced something that might aptly be called my own personal Pentecost. For some reason I was granted enough foresight to know that I should write down my thoughts, feelings and observations of the events that had just transpired for fear of forgetting them, or worse, doubting that they actually happened.
I would have plenty of opportunity to reflect on the account that I wrote because life transformation, I would learn, is a process, not an event. In Koine Greek, the language in which the New Testament is written, there are two words for time. Chronos is the word used for linear time, the time of day, etc. It’s that limited commodity that we always seem to run out of. Kairos, on the other hand, means an opportune moment or things coming to a head. It’s qualitative rather than quantitative. In Biblical terms, it is when the Holy Spirit draws near to do a special work. What I experienced was a kairos moment.
Don’t misunderstand me. In claiming to have experienced a special work of the Holy Spirit I do not elevate myself to the ranks of the Apostles. If you pay close attention in the Gospels, such as in Matthew 25, you’ll notice that Jesus refers to the Kingdom of God as a process not a place. The Kingdom of God is not heaven; it’s His very lordship over all things on this earth. So when He says “The Kingdom of God is at hand,” or “The Kingdom of God is near,” what He is saying is that God’s Kingdom would soon be experienceable on earth, all day, every day, if we would just pay attention.
It’s not so simple as to merely recognize that a kairos occurred, though. As we reflect on those rare moments when we let down our guard of reason and rationality and begin to believe that God really was present in something—when we let faith tell us that the Kingdom of God crashed into our lives—it is all too easy to chalk it up to coincidence or to the ingenuity or compassion of mankind, or to convince ourselves that it didn’t really happen the way we first thought. We are almost hard-wired to believe it was anything other than the Almighty dwelling among us. When these events happen, we have a choice. We can keep marching along, or we can do something about them. We can offer up our trite Christian platitudes that simply acknowledge God’s omnipresence, or we can trust that God really is present, submit to His lordship and allow Him to do something in or through us.
Setting the Stage: You Shall Go to Nineveh
To understand why this particular kairos moment of mine is so big and fat requires a fair amount of background information. While I am now as certain of what happened and its source as I am of my own heartbeat, I was certainly not so convinced at the time or for many months after. You see, for a very long time I was a self-described believer in the clockmaker hypothesis: the idea that the relationship between God and the world was analogous to that of a clockmaker to his clock. When He fashioned the universe, the hypothesis goes, God created an elaborate and intricate set of metaphorical gears and springs, weights and counterbalances; He created the machine of time and of death and resurrection; He wound up the machine, set it in motion and then sat back and let events unfold according to His perfectly engineered, grand design. Having grown up in a conservative Lutheran church, I had a hard time believing God actively works in the world—at least in any way resembling His active participation in the Old or New Testaments. Having dispensed with the possibility that God would be anything more than a watcher observing His creation, I marched on through my life, generally in pursuit of all the things we teach our kids to go after, like a career, a loving spouse, a comfortable church home and good friends.
So there I was, an ambitious and headstrong associate in a law firm in Kansas City, Missouri. In March 2009 I was approached by a client to relocate to Houston and work full-time for the client as its general counsel. The client-company was an emerging company with a novel concept and proven revenues. There was certainly risk in going to work for this company, but it appeared to be acceptable risk, and there was substantial upside. The owners of the company wanted to eventually hand me the reigns and make me its president—stock options and all. Having just bought and renovated a house a couple of months prior, and having just gotten married the previous August, this was a major life decision my wife, Kindra, and I took very seriously. Kindra and I prayed about it (a little), we fought about it (considerably more than a little), and we thought about it (a lot). We decided to make the move, leaving our family and friends behind, because we were convinced that for some reason we were being led to Houston.
We felt that way for a number of reasons. First, at the same time as we were forming the relationship with this client, our ties to Kansas City were becoming loosened. Some of our closest friends in Kansas City were moving away or having babies, which to us was basically the same as moving away when we were not having babies at the same time. In addition, Kindra’s parents were relocating to Omaha, Nebraska. Second, we knew the reaction of Kindra’s employer, not known for its flexibility of operations, would play a big role in determining whether this was just a job opportunity or something we were being led to do. Sure enough, we got our sign. With unprecedented speed Kindra’s employer, from her direct supervisor up to the company’s chief administrative officer, agreed to allow her to do her current job from the company’s Houston office where there were no employees or managers doing any of Kindra’s job functions.
Finally, the mission of the client-company and its owners and executives seemed to share a lot of our Christian values. During one of our all-expense-paid visits to Houston, we learned that the company was essentially a family outfit and most of the family members were Lutheran of one brand or another. On top of that, the vision of the company’s owners was very altruistic—fix the healthcare crisis of rural and underserved areas by retraining chiropractors, whose practices were failing at an alarming rate, to be nurse practitioners. It also helped that the company was essentially doubling my salary. So we thought we were supposed to go to Houston.
With God behind us and a lot of money in store for us, what could possibly go wrong? As it would turn out, the answer was plenty.
Up Next: My Big, Fat Kairos Moment | Part 2 of 5