In the summer of 2000, Kelsey and I went through what could only be described as a sort of consecration. Extensive fasting and preparation for the first Burning Man trip, immediately followed by TheCall DC had a huge effect on our walk with God. It was as if we'd turned a corner on a road that we'd previously thought was straight as a runway.
Part of that consecration was a feeling of never going back. Mind you, 'back' wasn't all that bad. We weren't dealing crack, sleeping 'till noon or even cheating on our income tax. We did know, however, that to really live out this Jesus thing meant a form of spiritual aggression that we had not yet discovered, and so the discovery began.
We spent an extra day in Washington following TheCall. At the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, we found a gift shop that made custom military style dog tags. Wanting to remember this turning point, we had tags made for each of us (Just us and the two older boys) that listed our name and a phrase we lifted from the book of Esther: "If I die, I die."
I wore that dogtag for a good year before it got misplaced somewhere. It wasn't intentional - it just disappeared. It bugged me for a while, but eventually I forgot about it. I didn't forget about the spiritual reality, but I did miss the feeling of the dogtag against my heart, reminding me that I'd rather go to the grave alive than live like the walking dead again.
September 2nd of this year I was in Las Vegas, speaking at ICLV's South Campus. That morning, I was vaguely aware that it was the 7th anniversary of TheCall...and here I was, representing TheCall Las Vegas, our first stop on the march back to DC in 2008. What I didn't anticipate was hearing the voice of the Lord in my heart challenge me. While the worship band played the opening songs of the service, I was having a very intense encounter with the Lord, as He asked me pointedly - "What ever happened to 'if I die, I die'?"
I mentioned it to Kelsey when I got home...and again over this weekend. "I wonder what happened to those dogtags?" I asked. Then again, we'd moved...from Cincinnati to the house on Grand, to our current home, to DC, and back to our current home. More than one family artifact had gotten lost in the transfer. You can imagine the look on my face when Kelsey took her seat beside me in church on Sunday and handed me my dogtags. It had appeared in her jewelry box somehow...a jewelry box she didn't even own back when it went missing.
The tags are back on. I like feeling the weight of them. I find myself fiddling with the at the place where the chain runs around the back of my neck, or absent mindedly reaching between the buttons on my shirt to see if they're still there. More than just being glad the tags are back, I'm resetting my heart to the vow that is attached to the tag. It's a vow of aversion to safety. It's a vow to pursue what is right over what is convenient. It's a vow that costs everything - but only what you couldn't bear to keep if it meant nothing changed.
Esther was a slave girl who found herself in a place of great favor and then had to make the decision of a lifetime - does she keep quiet while disaster falls all around her, or does she step forward and make a bold request of the king, no matter what.
I'm with Esther. If I die, I die...but better to die for a purpose than to live in vain.