I’ve written and talked and written and talked about my desires for missions, my dreams for helping those with diseases (HIV, AIDS, and leprosy to be exact), my longings to sell all and go, and my reality…which hasn’t included any of that. My reality is nothing short of His glory and grace – it. is. GOOD! It’s just that I have struggled for so long, on and off again, to be all here – to be content in whatever circumstance. I want to follow Him where He leads or keeps me instead of looking at others’ lives and trying to put on their skin and circumstance, but nothing has ever been so hard. There are probably several principle lessons from all of this, but the one God keeps speaking to me is the one of love.
What is this love? This love is patient, kind… This love dies daily to self. This love embraces suffering for the joy set before it. This love places nothing in the space that belongs solely to God. This love gives everything and asks just the same. This love can bring extreme joy and the hardest pain. This love is more than I can imagine even when my reality seems to give me less than I think I desire. This love does not compromise. This love is abundant life and the narrow way. This love is the reason I live and the hope in my death. This love takes my dreams and gives me the desires of my heart. This love…has pursued me and I have eluded it.
I am scared. I fear that if I really do fully embrace where I’m at and the “joys” set before me, that all of who I am and what I have dreamed will be lost. That everything that makes me me will cease to be and then, so will I.
In truth, I believe this is all deceit. The thief comes to steal, to kill, and to destroy…and that’s what I feel is happening to all the things that made me me from childhood on. Yet, I know that Christ came to give life and to give it abundantly. If anything is required of me, it isn’t because He doesn’t see me; it’s that He is the only One Who really does.
The thing is, I’ve just kinda wondered how to really, fully live in this love. I want to serve, I want to help, I want to “wash dirty feet” (both spiritually and literally) – I want more than this suburban life! But. How? How do I finally live what I write about and speak about and think about? When will the benefit and smiles of my husband and children be what lights me up on a daily basis? Why does it seem like it’d be easier to go to a different country and smile and be joyful than it does here? (I seriously sat on my bed today and asked God this question.)
(And I think this is part of the answer I got.) If I were to go right now, to some other “mission” or ministry, I could probably jump right in with more smiles, more laughter, more grace, and more enthusiasm than I show within the life I have now. (And I hate that! It’s actually one of the reasons I quietly ask God not to send me anywhere else – not until the people in my house, right now, get my smiles, laughter, grace, and enthusiasm.) Why is this so, though?! Well, it actually seems to be the distance of the heart. The people over there and else where, though they may have my care, concern, desire, and prayer, they do not have the deepest, most intimate places of my heart. The people within these four walls, they do. The people over there and elsewhere do not cause me the pain and hurt and happiness and joy that the people here do. I can separate my heart a bit from them, but all of my heart has been affected by the good, the bad, and the ugly of the people here.
It is the issue of LOVE. Do I trust Him? Love does. Do I believe Him? Love does. Do I obey Him? Love does. Do I follow Him? Love does. Do I count it all as loss for the sake of knowing Him? Love does. Do I abide in Him? Love does. Do I suffer in His Name? Love does. Do I fear not? Love does. Do I die to self? Love does. Do I give thanks? Love does.
So, I’m continuing on this journey to love. To live for His Name in His Name. To live for the joy set before me instead of the happiness right in front of me; albeit, sometimes they will be the same thing! And so, I count the gifts by recounting the day…I learn to love by actually seeing Love right in front of me. Right here in a white house with blue trim in an old suburban neighborhood in Colorado Springs. Right here, with a husband who shows Jesus-love to me daily, to three boys who are causing their momma to cry for all the growing they’re doing, and to two little girls who smile big at their momma everyday. Right here with a church family that is eight years old and growing into a beautiful masterpiece. Right here with a variety of grocery stores that have way too much to choose from. Right here with coffee shops and clothing shops and anything-you-want shops right around the corner. Right here with a lovely Spanish speaking family living to our left and new parents that we haven’t met to our right and a single mom with a boy with aspergers who paces his backyard and yells at his dog two houses down, and a Mormon family behind us. Right here where an Ex-presso place just reopened down the road from where our church meets.
Here…is right where I’m at and more than anything I want to find here as worthy as God does.
God doesn’t love African soil more than Central American jungles. People in the Middle East are just as loved by Him as the people who are in Colorado. The place is not the point; the people are. God (and everybody else!) knows I have been ready to sell all and go since I left high school, but God and I know that where I’m at, with my husband and children and 300 people on Sundays, is where He’s asking me to live out this Kingdom purpose. And friends, I for the life of me have no idea how to do it. I just don’t! I don’t know how to live with a third-world mind in a first-world country. (And truth is, a person in a third-world country would probably listen ten minutes to me and laugh for all I think I know and want.) I don’t know how the steps of my day are supposed to look. I don’t always know what things I’m supposed to be convicted about and what things I’m supposed to shrug off.
I don’t know, but He does. Love does. With every shaky, stumbling step, I will walk in this love.
From the Journal:
1 Peter 4:8 – Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love…
Applications – continue to dare to love – go deeper and deeper…allow myself to feel more and more…even the hurt…allow love to consume all of me. Don’t deny love its proper fulfillment – let love do what love does!
So, I’m getting practical and tangible here. I’m seeking out the gifts again. I’m in hot pursuit of His “Yeses” in my life. I want to know – need to know – that the life I’m living right here, where God has called and kept me, is just as beautiful and meaningful and obedient as those who are living right there…where God has called and kept them.
Worst part of the day: the days’ end when we got loud and shouted at our boy, trying to get a hard lesson across
Best part of the day: playing outside in the rain with kids while we waited on Daddy to get home
Worst: waking up feeling distant from my husband (took care of that quick!)
Best: (there are several!) a good talk with that boy we shouted at, kisses from him, singing with Rend as we were on our way to buy groceries, lunch with the hubby, an afternoon nap, a text from my dad, a fun family time tonight (Couldn’t pick just one. They really were all the best!)
Onto bed and God-willing another day with some worsts and bests but mostly LOVE!