Wednesday, March 07, 2007
Then, Now, Someday Soon
My name is Adam Kenneth Caldwell. Though some people might not think that names hold much importance, I would respectfully disagree. Names tell us who we are, where we’ve been, and quite possibly where we are going. I like that about names. So, my name is Adam Kenneth Caldwell. I was born at exactly 3:20 in the afternoon in Dayton, Ohio on October 30th of 1981. I don’t know that I believe in premonition like signs, although the Magi certainly did, but I do find it interesting and somewhat significant to note that the name of the hospital where I was born was the “Good Samaritan Hospital” ( Holy Bible, Matthew 2:1-2, 1). The running theme of the “Samaritan” characters, those being the Good Samaritan and the women at the well, seem to pop up in my life more and more these days.
Adam is a fine Christian name. He was the first man and father of the entire human race. I have mixed reports as to the origin of my name. If you talk to my father, he will give you a pleasing Sunday school answer. “You were God’s gift, and our first born son,” he claims. My mother, on the other hand, gives a more down to earth answer. She says, “While you father and I was living in Tennessee we attended a church in Mt. Juliet. There was a little boy there named Adam and I thought he was cute. Plus I liked the name.” I’ll let you decide on which one is the most probable explanation.
My childhood was much like many others’ who grew up in a Christian family. I was taught from a young age that if the church doors were open, we should be there. For the most part, that was the case. Consequently, during an Easter presentation of the crucifixion of Christ at the ripe age of seven, I felt it necessary to make a public profession of my faith by accepting Jesus into my heart. According to Baptist upbringing, this meant that I needed to get saved. Of course I have come to understand that salvation experience on an entirely different level then I did back then. At the age of seven I felt that I was being saved from something, primarily the damnation of Hell, and secondly, the “bad” stuff in life. As one would expect from a seven year old, my intrinsic value system was entirely egocentric. I was asking the question, “What can God do for me?”, rather than “What can I do for God?” Maturation has since taken care of that. I now view my salvation experience as being called to something rather than away from something. My prayer is that my intrinsic values are no longer egocentric, but rather God centric. Loving what God loves, for God, has called me to experience the life giving force of the Trinity. God has called me to a life of self-sacrifice. God has called me to a life of thankfulness. As Oz Guinness says, “Calling is a reminder for followers of Christ that nothing in life should be taken for granted; everything in life must be received with gratitude” (Guinness, 195). Finally, God has called and is moving me towards my ultimate teleos, the final purpose of my life.
Kenneth is my middle name. My father’s first name is also Kenneth. Perhaps in this instance, you might say that the latter bears the image of the former. I suppose it is a natural progression in life for a little boy to want to be like his father. Of course, as that little boy begins growing up, particularly in his teenage years, he tends to make statements like, “I never want to be like my dad when I grow up.” As he grows a bit more he starts to realize that, indefinitely, he has indeed become just like his father. My story is the same and I say that with no regrets. I believe that inheriting my father’s traits is more than blessing. God could not have given me a better example after which to pattern my life than what I have found in my father.
I once took this self evaluation test called DISC. It is designed to give you “increased self-awareness and personal effectiveness.” I’m not sure this test told me anything that I didn’t already know, but I do know that it showed how much I am like my father. Without going into all the minute details about the test, I will explain that each letter corresponds with a “profile pattern.” My predominant letter was S. The S dimension tells me that I am passive, patient, loyal, predictable, a team-person, serene, and possessive. All of these qualities point me back to my father. He is passive, meaning “calm” and certain, “even when put under pressure.” He is patient “in times of stress” and loyally “devoted to a cause.” His predictability gives him strength “to establish an efficient system or routine.” He is a team person with a serene attitude that embraces “a tranquil mood when problems arise.” Lastly, he is possessive in that he has a “sense of ownership and accountability.” If these same qualities are found in me, then I can only give credit to the one who taught me the necessity of all of them. I now live my life trying to emulate them and him as much as possible (DISC Report).
Caldwell is my last name. I once heard it said that to move forward in life one needs to first look to the past. To be honest, I am not completely sure as to the exact origins of my family name. What I do know, as the name implies, is that my ancestors’ main occupation was well digging. Wells tend to produce cold water, hence the name Coldwell, and somewhere along the line the ‘o’ was changed to an ‘a’. I like the fact that my ancestors were well diggers. I’m sure it wasn’t the most desired job, but it was certainly necessary. It reminds me that if my ancestors had the gumption to get down and dirty to provide water for the parched and thirsty, then I certainly can get down and dirty to lead those to Jesus who can give spiritual water that will cause a man never to thirst again.
Remember the story about the women at the well found in the gospel of John? It contains two prominent well diggers, one being Jacob, the physical life giving water provider, and the other being Jesus, the much needed spiritual life giving water provider. I often get the impression that Jesus was not arguing for an either or situation. Meaning, you can only have either the physical water or the spiritual water. I think he was simply saying that we shouldn’t raise one to a higher level than the other. Rather, we should tend to both, our bodies and our souls (Holy Bible, John 4:1-42, 72-73).
I have a dream, a dream to someday fulfill my calling by pursuing a mission of holiness. God’s holiness is, arguably, equated in the New Testament with love. So, to experience God’s holiness is to experience God’s love, and to experience God’s love is to experience the Person of Jesus. My mission is to, like the Good Samaritan, care for the stranger - but it does not stop there. I am also called to care for the orphan, the widow, and all who oppressed. This mission is two fold. First, I must do my best to meet the physical needs of such individuals. Second, I must lead them to the only one who can meet their spiritual needs. God is a holistic God and He cares for the entirety of the human condition. Thus, He cares for both the physical and the spiritual.
My hope and prayer is to someday open a half way house for those in need in the down town area of St. Louis. I’ll admit that I am ignorant to all that that entails, but I am more than willing to learn. St. Louis has recently been named the most dangerous city in America (Morgan Quitno). It is time for God’s redemptive love and power to be released over that entire city. I believe the only way to achieve this transformation is to live, breath, and experience life with the inner city on a daily basis. This will mean that myself and my family will not simply “work” in the half way house but we will essentially “be” the half way house. Our purpose will be to cultivate a new culture among the community a culture filled with God’s unending song of redemption and call to a better path. We must be imitators of Christ in every way by putting on the mind of Christ. I end with Paul’s plea to the Philippians and to us, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus” (Holy Bible, Philippians 2:3-5, 152).
"City Crime Rankings." Morgan Quitno. 30 Oct. 2006. Morgan Quitno Press. 6 Mar. 2007
I just read your post and it broke me. You really should have at least warned me. I had no idea the depth of your feeling. I am honored and humbled. Thank you for sharing this with me before I'm gone.
Only one question arises out of this. What's with the "pay the bill" face that is pure gold? I think I must have missed something.