The heartfelt Christian jingle “I Surrender” echoed repetitively in my ears throughout my last week as a South Shore Massachusetts resident for who knows how long. Its penetrating lyrical line “Lord, have Your way in me” seemed to drown out any ounce of fretfulness, angst, uneasiness, discomfort…you name it.
One week ago I traveled on a 747 to a known destination with a known mission but with an unknown expectation.
One week ago I held two of my most sincere brothers in Christ, despite their age difference of forty years, in my outstretched arms praising God for the privilege to humbly play different roles and carry out different functions as the body of Christ. God had the two of them deliberately prearranged to be the church on the east coast but He was sending me three thousand miles away to fulfill my part.
One week ago I peered out one last time to a particular body of water, sometimes infested with seals and great white sharks, that stood as my backyard for the past five years & was also the host of my baptism three years ago. But in the back of my mind, I could be assured this would not be the last instance of my eyes casting sight on an aquatic arena. No. Just a minor leap from one ocean to the next.
One week ago I took a final glance that was accompanied by a short gasp: a fleeting look at my bedroom; otherwise known by most as ‘my windowless dungeon’. A chamber composed of nothing but memory & glory, pain & triumph. An irreplaceable chunk of space that intrinsically demonstrated who I was five years ago, what I experienced through those five years & how God ultimately molded me into a newborn creation from it all. Four years of a collegiate education discovering the chosen career path fit by the Lord’s design from an inner passion for service. Injury setbacks to conference championships. Homemade crafts shaped by the sturdiest of friendships originating from mutual loves for music, art, sports, people, but most prominently: the worship of Jesus Christ. Reminders of the single most devastating circumstance of a phone call whispering ‘death’ to a heart-shattering breakup that left me in crevasse’s of anguish. The sum of these events defining my twenty three years of existence all sitting in one location meant to be a boiler room….who would have thought.
Yes, I gasped while dwelling on who Jesus has transformed me into from my traumatized, screwy past. But you know what? Even more so, I gasped envisioning of who Ryan Walters was about to become in yet another new, refreshing, mystical season of life. I gasped kinda’ like how we do when we read Matthew 6, “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers- most of which are never even seen- don’t you think He’ll attend to you, do His best for you?” Hence, why I could depart the east coast with a gasp of confidence but not one that “leads to disappointment for I knew how dearly God loved me” (Romans 5:3-5).
One week ago I left salty tear drops on the flight terminal cement saying goodbye to my mother who I realized wasn’t just the voice of support for me singlehandedly; she held her ground in her provisions, sustenance and encouragement as though two parents remained in my life. Truth is I needed to receive a parental hug that delivered a message of “WE are so proud of you. WE hope you continue to take these steps of faith. WE love you.” Truth be told my fragile heart was in need of hearing that both parents, if made possible, would be standing there beside my luggage sending me off well aware it was time to ‘let go’ and believing they had done all that they could in upbringing a son the way they set out to. A week ago I had the inconceivable privilege of hopping on a plane, colliding with time zone modifications & territorial differences, knowing without a doubt that had my father still been around I would have obtained the same delighted and loving farewell. Thanks for making that likely mom.
One of the most unprecedented, [impossible to ever forget] surreal moments of my life occurred six hours into a smooth, enjoyable (come on, it was Jet Blue after all) flight when the pilot’s cliché ‘pilot voice’ said over the intercom “Welcome To Seattle”. I could tell you right now, if you’ve made it this far reading, that the deepest measure of reality of pursuing what it was I was pursuing did not come full circle until those words entered my ears clogged by high altitude.
Long story short, I have just completed the first week of a two week orientation for Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission’s fairly new (3 years old) program Serve Seattle. The top concentrations of this faith-based organization being biblical discipleship, selfless service and intentional community. I have settled in to my new home on the west coast living alongside thirty other 18-25 year olds, many of whom share similar interests but also just so happen to be the exact opposite of who I am. Nonetheless, we’ve joined together in a communal setting with parallel interests in sacrificial love. The majority of these splendid individuals reign from Washington and California with a few exceptions such as myself (Boston) and others representing Georgia, Mississippi, Florida, Oklahoma, Indiana, etc. Thus far, we’ve been involved in several activities and events to get us familiar and acclimated to one another. This Wednesday, we depart into the mountainous region of Seattle for a three day retreat to continue this pursuing of intimacy and growth. We will each be placed at an internship affiliated with the Union Gospel Mission or partner organizations and will begin interning starting next Tuesday.
I’ll give you all a more detailed report, in blog form, of this orientation once it reaches its zenith. For the moment, feel free to check out my first week’s worth of photos at my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ryan.walters.925
And of course thank you to each and every one of you who are praying for me in this new chapter of life as well as those who donated to my coming here; you made this possible for me & I cannot express enough gratitude. I will be sending out ‘thank you post cards’ once I settle in a bit more to all my contributors and supporters. Don’t forget I am three thousand miles away and would love to hear from so many of you back home.
Don’t hesitate to send mail to my new address:
Attn: Ryan Walters
1808 18th Ave.
Seattle, WA 98122
I haven’t conformed to a comfortable schedule yet with orientation still occurring and internships soon to begin. Once things move along I’d like to pursue a part time job here to pay for my personal expenses. In the meantime, I am basically an unemployed twenty three year old. If you feel God leading you to support me in my missionary/volunteer work, I would greatly appreciate it. You could write out checks to me personally or use PayPal if that’s more convenient.
Ryan Walters. ’98.6 Too Cold’ Founder, Blogger
Follow me at @ryanjwalters on Twitter/Instagram For More!