I sat alone overlooking the city of New Haven on Monday night from my perch among the lilac bushes and watched the sun set over West Rock. And as it went, I asked God to make me a promise. A promise for me, a promise for the city… Any promise.
This is how I always want to live my life: in expectation of God to promise me great things, crazy things – and to know with complete surety that they will come to pass. Every time in my life that God has promised me something, it has happened. Or it is still happening and I’m not done seeing it fulfilled. But either way, I know that His word is good. If He speaks it, it will be. I’ve seen it enough times to know that it never, ever fails.
So I asked. And God gave me a vision that is beyond words. The best I can do to describe it is this: I was reminded in that moment of exactly how I felt as a child in my own backyard. I felt that sense of ownership, that this was my plot of land. And I felt the familiarity that comes from roaming all over that same land day after day for all my life, the way I know my own backyard at my dad’s house, where I was born and raised. I felt the possession of the secret knowledge of all the best hiding places and all the best views and all the cool plants and stumps and boulders in the woods. I felt the same confidence that I’d have walking around my own property, that I was safe there and I belonged there and it was mine.
But I felt it for the whole city and everything beyond it as far as I could see and even for what came after that. It was a real Lion King moment. All the familiarity, all the confidence, all the security I had as a child growing up on four acres in Killingworth, I had it there in New Haven, and for all of New England, too. And God told me that I would be like a child roaming around and exploring and enjoying this land. He told me it was as safe and secure and familiar and as much mine as my own backyard twenty miles to the east of where I sat that night.
It wasn’t some deeply spiritual promise. Or maybe it was. Maybe it will bring Him great joy to watch me confidently and securely explore and enjoy the place He has called me to. Maybe a renewed childlike approach to the everyday will bring me the contentment and peace I need to accomplish all He calls me to without burnout. Maybe God is far more concerned with our joy and awe and childlike wonder than we think He is.
Most importantly, in that moment I felt no fear, I felt no burden, I felt no great responsibility. I felt free to roam and to explore and to enjoy all the things He has given me. I think that’s what God wants me to do – to enjoy this place and all He calls me to, without fear and without guilt. I thoroughly believe He is pleased at our pleasure.