wait

God makes me wait. It might to have something to do with my being fairly vocal about not liking the wait. And sometimes it’s an incredibly long time. I waited a long time for the right God opportunity to live internationally. A long time.

But when you wait, when it FINALLY comes…it’s so good, right?

IMG_6523The waiting placed me in Haiti, and there is this word in Creole that I use a lot at the villages, ‘tale.’ It basically means wait a second, hang on. The kids are normally all clamoring for attention and unfortunately, humans only have two arms and two legs. Today, however, one of our Canadian friends had about 10 boys all hanging on him. On his shoulders, two on his back, one in each arm and others just being around him.

Later, I was making the most professional looking pipe cleaner flower ring ever, and I had many wanting to learn how to make it. The amount of times I used the word ‘tale’ are too numerous to count. But as I watch them wait their turn when when I tell them, and they have patience that I do not. Granted, sometimes there is the ‘older kid’ shuffle when others line jump, but those kids who have a thirst to learn, and want to see…they are willing to wait as long as it takes and they will remind you they are still there.

I can learn from this, as well as a plethora of other things from the kids…but this practice of being present in the wait I can learn from.

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” [Psalms 27:13-14 ESV]

I have this on my wall in my room in metal art. I almost didn’t want it, for a rather obscure reason, because I actually have a metal art addiction. It didn’t have what I like to think of the ‘wait’ sandwich. I think there is a very good reason why it says ‘Wait for the Lord,’ not once, but TWICE. It’s actually comforting for me to see that I’m not the only one who has issues in waiting. It’s all of us, right?

I also think there is a reason that the middle of the ‘wait’ sandwich it says, ‘be strong, and let your heart take courage.’ It is hard to wait. To look out there and see something on the horizon or catch a small glimpse of something for the future, and the timing says wait.

I read something yesterday from Jesus Calling: ‘When you try to figure out the future, you are grasping at things that are Mine. This, like all forms of worry, is an act of rebellion: doubting My promises to care for you.’

Hard words to read? Tough to swallow? Yah, yesterday, me too. I don’t like seeing my actions as being rebellious against God. And it’s not that I am never rebellious, it’s just I’m normally rebellious FOR him, not against him.

So we wait. We choose to be strong and we let our hearts take courage. As I sometimes see in the kids, when something is worth the wait…it is worth it to be still and chill out while you are waiting, eventually the timing will be right.

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place

We have a lot of things we say about home.

‘Home is where the heart is.’

‘Home is where you are.’

There are so many others, but I think what I am beginning to realize is that home isn’t so much an exact place for me anymore.

Home is living.

Living with purpose. Living in the place wherever God has me. Living life with an extraordinary community that doesn’t put restrictions on distance. Living free within God’s grace and calling. Living through abundant laugher.

When we choose to live within God’s Kingdom, we choose to be different. We choose to represent radical love. We are still present in this world, fight for justice and are relatable to others, but we choose to live within God’s Kingdom.

“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” [Ephesians 2:19-22]

When we are built as a dwelling place for God, it is not a geographical location. It is by the Spirit and that’s as far from a GPS location as you could possibly get.

And that looks like an eclectic community God has brought together. It looks like a group of strangers coming to Haiti who will have crazy Kingdom connections by the time they leave. It looks like a neighbor saying to you, “There is just something different about your family.”

Home for me truly is being open to the Holy Spirit creating a dwelling place for God in me, my community and those around me. And that’s a pretty amazing home to find your place in this world.

path

Twisty turny, topsy turvy…if you were someone who didn’t know me and took a birds eye view of my life this crazy pattern is kind of the life path you would see.

My life doesn’t make sense to anyone who chooses to live outside of God’s Kingdom, plus a few folks who are within it, I’m sure. It does seem random. It does seem like there is no direction. And it really doesn’t not live up to the societal standards of the States. By a considerably long distance, actually.

But here’s the thing…I don’t give a shit what others think my life looks like. It’s not their choices. It’s not their path.

This path is mine, it was given to me from the Lord, and I alone own it.

I know the voice of the Holy Spirit. I know the choices I make. I know that I am happiest and have the most purpose while living within my calling and walking with God. I know the feeling of being lost, the pain and frustration of being off that path, and truly, it’s not worth it.

I hate the time and patience it takes to hear next steps on that path. Honestly, I do not sit well or contently in that time. But I don’t give orders and demands to God. Quite the opposite really. I serve him, not visa versa.

I am sitting in that place of impatience now. Knowing that I am working for an organization that I desperately love and fit within better than any other employer I’ve had in my life. I’ve never worked for anyone where my distinct calling in life perfectly matches to who an organization is at its’ core. Spirit led, Bible based, Jesus loving, Kingdom crazy people who all speak the same language God has put within me. There are not many believers called to Kingdom work within the global orphan window that find themselves working for an organization solely focused on global orphan care and prevention. I mean, really?

But my sense is that there is a time frame I am supposed to be in Haiti, but at the same time a sense I will be back, and I find myself praying intensely for clarity. Clarity on time frame. Clarity on the voice of the Holy Spirit. Clarity on discernment. Clarity that the next step I take on this crazy life path is the one I am called to take.

And let these words that I’ve prayed in the presence of God be always right there before him, day and night, so that he’ll do what is right for me, to guarantee justice for his people Israel day after day after day. Then all the people on earth will know God is the true God; there is no other God. And you, your lives must be totally obedient to God, our personal God, following the life path he has cleared, alert and attentive to everything he has made plain this day.” [1 Kings 8:59-61 MSG]
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Several years ago, one of my very best friends from college and I were hiking in Utah. We’d carefully chosen this path, and we’re digging in to accomplish it no matter what. Her patience and friendship that day were second to none, as she journeyed with a friend with newly discovered altitude issues. We were coming up the end of the path, victory of summit within or grasp and the final gasps of air filling my lungs when we realized it was a false summit. We weren’t done yet, but it was only going to get better. It was going to take anther intense push to get to the summit, and I seriously considered calling it quits, but had I really stayed there I never would have experienced the best God had for us of his beautiful creation at the top.

I feel like my life has been a perpetual ascension of false summits. Points that I find myself sitting as a placed believer not sure how it could possible get better, but what comes after continually puts me in places where I never dreamed my life could be. I feel as though I’ve come to another false summit, and I’m just not sure where God is taking the path. I can only see so far ahead, and it really looks like this is as spectacular as it could possibly get. However, the God I follow is crazy creative and very intentional at where we are placed for him. IMG_3635

What I do know is that living exactly within your God given calling is the most secure place to be in this world.

My life path is sticking as close to his path for me as I, in all my human junk, can discern, and I cannot wait to see where the next summit will be

 

joy

They have no clue what they were in for…this is what I think every time I read Luke 10. Jesus is sending out his guys, and he is giving them a myriad of marching orders. Do this. Don’t take that. Peace. Kingdom of God. And don’t forget to shake the dust off your feet if they don’t welcome you…wait. What?!?!

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’
[Luke 10:1-11]

Imagine the challenges these guys faced. Dirt, and lots of it. Stay with folks you don’t know. Don’t take anything with you. Sent out as lambs amongst wolves…that’s pretty intimidating. And all to spread the message the Kingdom is here, and if they were not welcomed they were to shake the dust from their feet and move on.

I think of all the challenges folks have when they are taken out of their comfort zone and how they adapt to them in those intense Kingdom moments. It’s hard stuff.

But the key here is how the guys returned…

The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” [Luke 10:17]

With joy, friends. They returned with joy.

That is the difference between setting out on your own and being sent out by Jesus. That is the difference between being called to an endeavor and making choices on your own without leaning into the Holy Spirit.

They were energized. They were inspired. They had gone out into the harvest and seen the fruit of their labors. They used the name of Jesus, empowered by Jesus himself. They trusted the One who knows. Their faith was insane. The road was hard. Their comforts were few. They took nothing from home with them. No toothbrush. No air mattress. And certainly no food from home so they could eat what was familiar.

And they returned with JOY.

Friends, the Kingdom of God is joy. It is extreme faith. It is risk. It is promise. It is adventure. It is the sweet spot where who God has created you to be merges with the gifts and experiences he has given you. And it is, oh, so beautiful for those with eyes to see it and work toward it. And that joy is evident on every face that catches a glimpse.

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Side note: I have some really spectacular friends who are blogging one word a day with me through Lent. However, since I am posting from an iPhone in Haiti…it’s rather hard to link their fabulous blogs. Please check out Shawn Franssens, Lindsay Evans, Heather Kostelnick and Brian Swanson’s blogs if you get a chance. It is really interesting reading to see how each of us feels led to share about each word!

look

Last Sunday after church, several boys guided us to the new deck area that is open at All In One Family, each grabbing a hand and pulling us along into this mostly unexplored space of new, vast views for these short fellas. They immediately ran to the railing, curious at what made them go there first out of all the spaces to consider, I followed them. Each looked back at me, enthusiastically pointing at something they wanted to show me. Chickens, motos, cars, people on bicycles, the roof across the street going on a new Sunday school space for the kids and the man high in a tree collecting mangos elicited several giggles. There were new views and new aspects of life. There were never before seen angles of the everyday life surrounding them.2.2015 All In One Family

Consider the perspective of the kids…theirs is mostly ground level and, until this new space, hardly ever over the compound wall. They peek out the gate, sometimes ride in a car or bus, but never this bird’s eye view of their world. They can see far and wide. Instead of just seeing the moto drive by the front gate, they see it until it disappears down the long road. They can see out over the valley where Port-au-Price sits and all the way to where Petionville and Delmas can be seen climbing up the mountain. They can see the mountain ranges on both sides of the valley. Their entire worldview expands with just a few more steps carefully taken up to the third floor above their school classrooms. Imaginations ignite. Dreams get busted wide open. Perspectives are changed.

All as we look out in the vast area surrounding our life.

We have all had tunnel vision to a particular goal at some point in our lives. In a lot of areas tunnel vision is not only a healthy way to see, but very beneficial to the cause. There are a lot of churches going from a wide vast view of how to help in the world to a laser, tunnel vision viewpoint in the world. Going all in at one location and honing in on ministry there. I’m not starting that debate, because honestly I fall on both sides depending on how the Holy Spirit is leading a particular community. Following the Holy Spirit has never steered anyone to invest in a life that wasn’t meant to be invested in.

But tunnel vision can be deceiving. Different perspectives can be ignored and missed by focusing so intently on the end goal. Tunnel vision can make us blind in so many different ways, especially when it is not a Holy Spirit led endeavor.

But what if we allowed ourselves the space to engage the pureness and enthusiasm of seeing the vast, wide Kingdom that God is building? God’s Kingdom only knows tunnel vision to one thing, and that is seeing this world restored to its original creation.

What if we allowed ourselves to look out at God’s Kingdom and see something new?

What if enthusiasm for what we see was contagious to those around us?

What if we asked God for the Spirit to lead our eyes to look at the world as he sees it?

What if we really let ourselves look from an upper level view of God’s world? Where would God lead our eyes?

What if we took a cue from the kids and experienced extreme excitement at taking it all in from the third story view?

What would happen if we willingly sought out different perspectives in our daily lives that guide us to observe closely, pray intensely and move as the Spirit leads?

What I do know is that enthusiasm is contagious, and contagious is what draws people deeper into God’s heart for this world. Deeper into God’s Kingdom.

I want the sparkle in my eyes as I look out at the world around me.

I want to point out things that I am excited to show others.

I want to draw people into God’s perspective.

I want to look at this world as the boys were looking at their world last Sunday.

hate

Hate is such a strong word. I find myself correcting others when they use it by asking, ‘Do you hate it? Or do you just not like it?’

It really has to do with a lot of emotion and passion about whatever you are directing the hate towards.

I hate the sun when it burns my skin. Hazards of being a redhead, really.

But what do I gain by directing that hatred towards something I have no control over. I do have control over myself…and putting on sunscreen. (Note: I will be putting an emergency stash in my car for extreme situations that put me on the side of the road waiting for a tow truck now.)

As believers, are we supposed to hate anything?

Could we say Jesus hated anything?

Even when Satan tempted Jesus in the desert…did Jesus slug him? No. But he probably should have. Instead Jesus stays strong, quotes scripture, keeps the focus on his Father and remains calm.

My interactive imagination would like to see a rebellious Jesus punching the air with certain fingers extended to our common foe. But Jesus knew there would be a time for the ultimate win, and it wasn’t time yet.

We also have the point when our Gospel highlights Jesus flipping the tables in the temple in John 2:14-16.

In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” 

I have had conversations with people about righteous anger verse emotional anger in response to Jesus’ anger in John 2, all leading to where your anger and hate is directed. Would anyone argue with what we see from Jesus here? Of course not. He is overflowing with righteous anger…who in their right mind argues that?

Which leads me to my own righteous anger…I hate evil, with a passion. I hate what it does to the Kingdom. I hate what it does to all God’s people, believers and unbelievers. I hate the influence it has over us without us taking time to even realizing it. I hate how it rips communities apart.

But, oh, how I love that it loses in the end.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. [Ephesians 6:10-13]

I have seen a lot of places in this world. I’ve prayed a lot of prayers at many places in this world. I’ve felt the power of the Holy Spirit and the movement of God to make things right. I know where our struggle is and it ignites my righteous anger.

I was with a group [Fondue Crew shout-out!] this week that is reading ‘Serving with Eyes Wide Open’ by David Livermore. I read it about 6 years ago, and its second edition had caught the eye of a few in our group. Our discussion was phenomenal this week, but it was a question, off this excerpt, directed toward me that has me basking in the memories of those I have joined my prayers with to pray against the evil in this world.

Believing in a dynamic universe with supernatural powers all around compels majority world Christians to pray with a greater sense of urgency and dependency. A member in a majority world church is much more likely to expect immediate and direct provision from God that a ‘typical’ North American believer. You haven’t experienced prayer until you’ve prayed with a group of Christians in the majority world church whose very lives are dependent upon God. [p40]

I’ve prayed with a Chinese believer from a house church in China. I’ve prayed over a Guatemalan pastor who was ministering to families in a Guatemalan slum. I’ve experienced the intense prayer of Haitians who give thanks to God for safety. I’ve felt the elation of Liberians as they give all they have to the Lord.

The common denominator of all those places is that they all know intimately the fight against evil, and even more intimately know the power of the Holy Spirit joined with their belief in God conquering evil. And each one of them has changed my prayer life exponentially.

I may hate evil, but I also know what it means to fight on the winning side. What are you fighting for today? Are you aware of what is going on in your sphere of the world? What is really going on? How are you praying for those that have an everyday struggle against evil in our world? From civil wars to sex-trafficking to believers that are being martyred to children that are dying from preventable diseases to orphans that have no home…how does that stack up to our suburb mentalities? I say that not to make you feel guilty, but to make you feel like there is something real to fight for in our world.

Evil is not right. Hate is not right. And God will conquer both. Love wins.

*This post was written as a part of a blogging community among my friends using the Twitter hashtag #1word5voices inspired by RethinkChurch. It should have been posted in July…but I was a bit busy! Better late than never! Also, I normally put in photos…but it’s hard to settle on a photo for hate. So go meditate on some of the scripture instead.*

tears

Jesus wept.

Tears. Just to double check I looked it up in the Hebrew dictionary…yep, actual tears. *Geek alert – maybe I should have led with that.*

Also, shortest verse in the Bible. Mind blown? Good.

And ironically (or not) it is found in the Gospel of John, which is the Gospel that has the most sent language woven throughout.

Whoa, halt the presses. Sent language? Yes, folks…not only did God SEND Jesus to earth. Jesus SENT disciples. Jesus SENT his followers. Then to empower them all…Father SENT the Holy Spirit. Thus the beautiful sent language of the Bible that sheds light on our souls that we are ALL indeed missionaries. We are ALL sent.

TRAINSTATIONGIRLSAll found in that lovely Gospel of John, with some tears in the middle.

One of the most tearful times in my life was ripping myself away from the Chinese students we had spent 4 weeks loving and caring about…pouring every part of ourselves into. It is not physically, humanly possible to love someone that much in 4 weeks…that is something more than just who we are as sent people, it is something that comes alive with God moving through us in our relationships with those around us. For the first time, during that summer while leaving the students we’d grown to love, I understood why the Ephesians elders were so torn up about Paul leaving them. [Acts 20:36-38]

Jesus was about relationships. How could he not be? Then within those relationships people came to expect things from him. Why? Because he was the miracle man. The one with all the confusing answers…and the one who was healing people left and right.

If you are Jesus’ friend in those times, would you expect him to be there to make everything right when YOU needed it to be right?

I would. Not because it’s about me, but because of the faith I would have been growing while being around such miracles.

In John 11, Jesus gets word that Lazarus is sick, but instead of the normal human reaction of running to a bedside…Jesus uses this opportunity to show his power, yet again, to those around him.

By the time he gets there, Mary and Martha are…let’s just say more than your usual angry…Mary doesn’t even come out to meet him and Martha actually says to him, ‘if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’

Do you blame them? They had watched Lazarus go through the pain of dying, then Lazarus had already been in the tomb for 4 days AND they’d been grieving that whole time.

So then, Jesus asks for Mary…stay with me…we are almost there.

Mary goes to him, and what does she lead with but, ‘Lord if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ See a trend here?

“When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. ‘Where have you laid him?’ he asked.” [John 11:33]

Then?

Jesus wept.

There are so many ways I’ve heard people take this, but honestly, I’ve always viewed this as Jesus, the human. Out of all the things John could have written…John chooses to reveal that Jesus wept. I’ve always wondered if John sat there with his scroll and ink, pondering – ‘Should I show this side of him? Will anyone think him weak?’ Normally in a Scottish accent, not sure why…just Scottish.

But there is beauty in the realness of that friendship and love. There is beauty that in the midst of a Gospel full of movement and people being sent…there is emotion and time for Jesus to pause in his own community while the Pharisees are literally breathing down his neck.

But there is more…because even in the story of Lazarus, even in the midst of this pause where we see Jesus with those he loved deeply we hear this:

‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you SENT me.’ [John 11:41]

Then Lazarus was raised from the dead and everyone moved on in their sentness.

Just kidding…then the Pharisees kicked it into gear and it all progressed to the cross where we should find ourselves falling and refueling for this crazy sent ride we are on with God.

Apologies, my brain is scattered because we leave on the Junior High mission trip tomorrow, but my point is this…even in the acknowledgment and acceptance of the simple reality that we truly are a sent people, emotions are a part of it. The anger, passion, kindness and compassion…the tears…when you live as an active participant in God’s Kingdom work, when you are actively loving and caring about the relationships around you…there is no way to avoid the emotion. Embrace it, because even though the last thing I ever want to do is admit anything ever leaks from my eyes…Jesus is the example we follow and even he wept for his friends.

This post is a part of a series that my blogging buds and I are doing as a part of extending our Lent experience. To read more about that go here. We blog the same word on the 15th of each month, though I am pretty sure I am the first to post this month and it is the 16th…so give ’em some grace, because this will be the first & last time I get one up before them. If you want to check out what they had to say about ‘tears’ go here:

Heather Kostelnick

Lindsay Evans

Shawn Franssens

Brian Swanson