Tell the story.
The voice I heard was calm and straightforward. I heard it in my natural ears, not a whisper, but something close, as if the speaker was sitting just to my left in airport gate C34. Beside me, the seats were empty. An Army specialist in his uniform sat across the room, holding a phone conversation in Spanish. Three African-American girls with long colorful nails and dreadlocks circled together, chattering over venti cups of Starbucks.
I opened my journal, a simple black Moleskine journal with a map taped to the front and began to write. The images before my eyes translated onto the page quickly. It was the most natural thing in the world to crack open my journal, lean back and bear witness to the things before me. If it wasn’t written down, I felt as though it hadn’t happened at all. During this year of travel, adventure and missions, I knew I didn’t want to miss anything. I promised myself–and the strange, clear voice–I would tell the story.
And I did.
I filled up six Moleskine journals in eleven months. If you were to read them–and you won’t, because journals are innately intimate, private affairs–you’d see my World Race come full circle. The first entry, which opens at a departure gate in Atlanta waiting for my first flight of the Race, comes to absolute completion the final entry, as I’m sitting on the plane at the L.A. tarmac, two hours from landing back in Atlanta, eleven months later.
I told the story. I told it in full, daily recording my joys and fears, prayers and experiences. I recorded the ways I came to know that the voice in the airport was the LORD’s voice and the conversations we had afterwards. These journals don’t make for light reading. I wouldn’t exactly bring them on a beach vacation to crack open with my toes in the water and you-know-what in the sand.
They are full of the people I met while serving the LORD in eleven countries over eleven months. They trace the lines on the faces of countless abuelitas and record the laughter of one precious Malay girl who will forever have my heart. They are full of the swirls of ink where my tears blurred my words, or smudged where the dirt from my fingers rubbed off on the margins.
Eleven months of writing about these adventures in love led me to one very solid conclusion:
The best way to tell a great story is to live it first.
Storytellers are not only sideline witnesses to this one wild and precious life, they are vibrant, active participants. And I am a storyteller in my deepest heart.
These journals are full of my journey to get off the sidelines and start living life abundant. They are full of the stories of how that journey led me to the heart of the Kingdom of God.
And that Kingdom is very near at hand. It’s right inside of us.