placed

As I sit here typing this, the sounds that surround me are the Pathways kids arguing about a foul while they play basketball, which quickly turns into girlish giggles and taunts…from boys. There is Creole floating over the wall from the village next door. A baby crying. A plane coming in for a landing at the airport. The tap tap honking as it passes another car on the road. The breeze fluttering through the trees. Goats yelping. Basketball bouncing. Rooster crowing. The fan whirling above me. The buzz of electricity. A gecko squeals. Someone help that goat, its head is probably caught in a can…it won’t stop ‘meh-ing.’ More roosters. Laughter from the community of kids next door.

Wherever you are reading this, close your eyes for a moment and listen to what surrounds you.

God has put you in that place.

In this unlikeliest of places, he has placed me. He has placed you. Through the power of the Holy Spirit and through the grace of the God over the entire universe…you have been placed and have the opportunity to encounter the one who placed you.

I have had Exodus 33 ringing in my head for almost 2 months. Moses finds himself yet again in the unlikeliest of places while trying to lead a people that have been placed with him…who refuse to actually do what they are supposed to be doing. Moses says to God, this being the ‘Stephanie Abbreviated Version,’ of course…Moses says to God, you have been telling me to lead these people, but clearly they are not all willing to do what I say. So which ones am I supposed to be leading? Which ones will you send with me? Then Moses asks for God to teach him his ways, so that he can know him and continue to please God. And God replies:

‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’

There is the sarcastic, human part of me that would have said, ‘God. Come on. We’ve been hanging out. You are already with me, I just want to know who else you are sending with me.’ But there is the other part of my brain that acknowledges the relationship that Moses had with God, and that God met with him face-to-face. Moses was set apart, and placed where God needed him. It didn’t matter that Moses felt unprepared for this adventure. It didn’t matter that most ignored what he said, and continued to go back to their ‘old’ ways. It didn’t matter that he was an awful speaker. God gave him a voice, and placed him where he was supposed to speak the words and instructions God gave him. We can’t control who listens. We can only be obedient to what God asks of us.

But none of this is what has been reaching into the depths of my soul and speaking to my heart.

Moses says, ‘Now show me your glory.’

Now? After being chosen. After the burning bush. After God gives him all the signs he asks for. After all the plagues. After the exodus. After the parting of the red sea. After the manna falls from the sky that isn’t enough…so then quail comes and covers the camp. After he is given the Ten Commandments. After spending one-on-one time with God, ‘as a man speaks with his friend.’ [Exodus 33:11]

After all that…‘now show me your glory.’

You could make an argument that Moses was a bit greedy with wanting to see more of God’s glory. But aren’t we all like that? Seeing the amazing things that God does around us, then asking for more. As if what he had already done wasn’t proof enough of his love, compassion, rescuing and grace. Granting a job when there is none. Saving the life of a child. Curing someone of cancer. Freedom from the bondage of sin in our lives. Reconciliation across cultural and racial lines. Holy Spirit moments that fill us to the point of giddiness.

When we experience significant moments when it is crystal clear that the hand of God is all over a situation we ache to see more of him. We are expectant for more…and so was Moses.

It is, also, the only place in the entire Bible that someone asks God to show them his glory.

And God’s response? God the creator obliges Moses, and that same creator obliges all of us.

As you listen to the sounds around you, acknowledge that God has placed you to see his glory in all the ways his glory shows up. With your family, friends, coworkers, sports teams, grocery stores, neighbors…in all of the places that you are every single day. God shows up there, and you should be looking not only for his glory, but for the ways he is calling you to be a witness to the glory you have already seen from him. Be willing to hear his voice in however that manifests for you. Be willing to rest in the presence of God. It is where you belong, and you will feel incomplete without it.

God, show us your glory.

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surround

Our father…all of heaven roars your name. Sing louder, let this place erupt with praise. Can you hear it? The sound of heaven touching earth…

God purposely creates moments of praise in places you would least expect. Sometimes surrounded by people you would least expect as well.

That is the most beautiful thing about the Holy Spirit…(whisper)…it’s everywhere…

Spirit break out. Break our walls down.

We get so comfortable when we are surrounded by other believers. We fool ourselves into thinking worship can only happen a certain way, and it has to be in our comfort zone. What we rarely think about is how worship surrounds us in so many ways throughout our day.

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I’ve been with Woods Chapel families this weekend, and tonight I listened to their stories about the places they served today. Kingdom House, Crisis Nursery and The Bridge in St. Louis all had part of our team working with them today. Each family has incredible stories! Each family served their Lord with all of their energy and strength.

And each one worshiped today surrounded by people whose lives have been transformed through the grace of Jesus.

King Jesus…your name we are lifting high…we wanna see your Kingdom here.

I pray you are surrounded by all kinds of people with a myriad of ways to worship, experiencing the fantastic power of the Holy Spirit. And in that moment your ears would be graced with the sound of Heaven touching earth.

(lyrics from Spirit Break Out by Kim Walker Smith)

hear

My eyes are closed and my soul is in conflict. So many things tackling my senses at once and my mind has trouble processing what my eyes have just seen.

When I open my eyes…it’s still there so far below me. The trash. The dump. The ants scurrying over it…wait, no…those are people. There are makeshift tents down there.

I shift closer to the edge of the cliff. I’m not going to fall, but I feel like I have to be seeing something wrong and a closer inspection will solve the confusion. My eyes try to make sense of the layers of color and shapes.

But my eyes are not deceiving me…the Guatemala City dump has families that live there, sorting through the trash to find food and items to sell for a meager amount. Grandparents, parents…children. Living in horrid conditions…how can the world exists like this?

My heart plummets as I am called by the rest of the team to go. Why is no one doing anything?

Assaulting my ears as I turn away is a musical sound that doesn’t fit the view I have been soaking in. My brain struggles to place the sound in this place where it shouldn’t logically survive. It is like the atmosphere was tickled with a sound so feathery light that allowed it to travels for miles unhindered.

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I hear the laughter of a child.

In a dump.

Sadness, anger and an intrepid sense of injustice washes over me as I turn to walk away from a moment that has marked me.

It’s been years since I first stood on that cliff, but ever since, my soul cannot escape the memory of that sound.

I could have very easily not heard the laughter. I could have ignored it. I could have decided to wall up that moment and never think of it again.

But God uses our senses to remind us that this world is not right and this is not what he intended. He uses those moments to ignite us to his mission…

God gave you ears to hear…but the next time he wants you to hear, will you listen?  How will you respond?