We have missed Maddi who has been at the Uluru basecamp, but we have enjoyed staying in Sandy Bay and taking the kids to some of the places that were important to both Leeanne and I.
Yesterday we made the trek up to the top of Mount Wellington. It was a significant moment for me as I stood in the place where I had committed to stay in Tasmania 20 years earlier.
I have often recounted the moment. I had just finished Fusion’s six month intensive mission training course and was doing a six month placement in Hobart, Tasmania.
Fusion’s work in Tasmania had been through a challenging patch of time after the main leader had left to work in another state two years previously. I came fresh out of the training with lots of good ideas and not much else. I was terribly lonely, disillusioned and wondering whether God was actually there. All the things I thought seemed so easy in a classroom now seemed so complicated in real life. I kept looking for someone to tell me what to do, but no one seemed to know.
Our little team went to the home of an older friend and former Fusion staff worker’s house for Sunday lunch and the conversation turned to Fusion in Tasmania. I remember clearly his words, “People have been coming and going from the team here in Hobart for too long, what it really needs is someone to dig in and commit.”
I remember the sick feeling in my stomach as I knew in my heart God was saying “Matt, that’s you.”
I wrestled for a week but eventually gave in. I drove to the top of Mt. Wellington, which towers over the small city, and prayed, “Ok God, you’ve got me, I’m willing to accept the challenge of this city.”
That moment of commitment changed how I viewed my time in Hobart. I continued to make mistakes, lots of them, but they became points of learning as I continued to grow. I found myself more able to be creative, because I was now working towards a vision I carried rather than looking to others for direction.
By the time I eventually left Australia’s southernmost State eight years ago, I hadn’t started a national movement, abolished slavery or become a national hero, but I had made a difference, a real difference.
It was interesting to be back at the place where I committed myself to ministry with Fusion. Twenty years on I was back up the mountain with three of my kids and my wife, all of which who I had no idea about when I made the choice in 1992.
American author, Charlotte Perkins Gilman said:
“The first duty of a human being is to assume the right functional relationship to society — more briefly, to find your real job, and do it.”
For me, Mount Wellington was the moment where I found my real job, and for 20 years I have continued along that path.
This visit felt significant because I find myself again at a point of transition.
As I looked over the beautiful vista of Southern Tasmania, I had a sense that the commitment in 1992 and all of the mistakes, highs and lows that came from it has prepared me for whatever the next chapter will be.
N.T. Wright points out,
“One of the great triumphs of the movie the Lord of the Rings is that it takes precisely the opposite line, urging us to find our true selves by following and staying loyal to the vocation that we wouldn’t have chosen, that comes to us from outside.”
It feels a bit like I’m in the process of discovering the exact details of the next chapter of the journey, but some of the themes are emerging.
Since stepping down from organizational leadership of Fusion, I have been is exploring how to more effectively support and empower churches who want to engage in mission.
More and more I believe that this is a critical time of transition for the world generally and as a result the Christian church is needing to think in new ways if it is going to be relevant.
I look forward to seeing how its all going to work out. I might take my grandchildren up the mountain in 2032.