Yesterday I had the opportunity to see Shane Claiborne (The Irresistible Revolution, Jesus for President) speak at a church here in Portland. He is full of so much wisdom and passion. One thing he said really stuck with me, though.
He was talking about how there were people who wanted to know if he was the One. Instead of saying yes or no, Jesus told them to look at the things they saw; the blind seeing, the lepers being healed.. basically “what do YOU think?”
Shane then shared how as Christians, we should be like that. If people said “are you a Christian,” we would say “what do YOU think?” and our actions, like Christ’s, should back it up.
If we are living our lives fully committed to God and letting him smear himself all over every aspect of our lives, then we could say “what do YOU think?” and people could then reason “they love, they are accepting, they are full of grace, they are humble.. they are probably a Christian!”
unfortunately, we are so unlike Christ that the reasons people might not be sure of our Christianity are reasons that make us so much like the world we are trying to detach ourselves from – greed, impatience, judgement, slander.. none of those things are anything like our Jesus.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the LORD.” – Isaiah 55:8
In the Summer of 2007, the Lord gave me a plan. It was to stick through another (school)year of my job, quit to work as a counselor in the summer, and trust Him with the fall. Even though I thought it was a terrible plan for so many reasons, I agreed.
Immediately, I was tested. Things at work changed and I wanted to quit my job. God gave me the strength to perservere. It came time for the camp part of it. I applied and was offered positions other than counselor. God gave me the focus to turn them down and stick with the counselor position. Then the fall came in which the Lord tested my willingness to trust Him and go wherever he sent me. So I did, willing to leave much behind. Then he blessed me by allowing me to stay.
He gave me my old job back, he blessed me with fellowship and community, and I was settled in. After prayer, he gave me the opportunity to join back in ministry at my corps.
Today, everything has been turned upside down. We had a meeting at work and found out that our company is moving 30 miles away.. in a week and a half. Because we are a small company and they value us, we are given a lot of flexibility in our hours and what we want to do. Which is a blessing. But deep within my soul, I feel that this is not permanent. Deep within my soul, this is stirring something in me that says “this is not the place that I need to be.”
But where, then? The Lord’s plan only got me so far. I have trusted; I am trusting. It is hard to want to see the fruits of my faithfulness. A few times I’ve thought that I have, but it has not actually been anything lasting.
There is not an ounce of me that is angry with the Lord. I love my Lord very deeply and while I believe it is healthy and intimate to express my anger with Him.. there is none of that. There is a bit of frustration.. but mostly at my being here and His being in Heaven. So I need prayer not for understanding, not for the situation.. but just for the Lord’s guidance.
Wherever the Lord sends me, I will go. I just need to know where. Knowing that when all is said and done, I will be with the Lord makes everything else pale in comparison. At least I know the final destination.
A voice is on the wind
It calls me further in
I’m heading deeper into Your heart
Your mark is on my chest
My sails filled with your breath
You guide me by the light of the stars
I’m sailing on a ship that’s bound for life
I wrestle with the wind against the tide
I leave it all behind to each for more
I’m sailing on to Your golden shore
I have finished Madeleine L’Engle’s “Two Part Invention.” The last chapter or so was finished while I was sitting on the bathroom floor, shower running, holding back tears. Madeleine and Hugh’s relationship was so beautiful. Not because they were romantics and ran around chirping about their love, but because it was so focused and so passionate towards each other.
It’s made me think about marriage. As a single 23 year old girl, I will admit that I think about marriage often, especially with so many people my age already married or about to be married. I’ve always had strange standards for a marriage. I want a marriage to be based first and foremost on logic and compatibility. Love and romance can come later. It is strange, and I expect that on the day I find someone who really knows, understands and believes the things I stand for.. then I will have found the man I am to marry.
There is too much emphasis put on the idea of romantic love. Songs, movies, books, TV shows.. it all displays this unrealistic, shallow love. Love that is embodied in flowers in a vase or cute notes tucked in briefcases or big sloppy kisses in public. Things that can be part of love, but are not the key components to it. Things that I worry have replaced real, genuine love.
The more I learn about myself, the more I realize that I don’t want to be married as a response to love. Which isn’t to say I want a marriage that is devoid of love; that is false, also. I want my marriage to reflect the following idea:
We glorify the Lord more as a unit than we ever could apart.
Nothing to do with infatuation or butterflies or things taht are earthly or temporary. All I want is to glorify my Lord in everything I do, whether it is brushing my teeth, vacuuming the carpet, or entering into a marriage. All done to glorify the Lord.
The Lord is the love of my life both mortally and eternally.
Yesterday I was driving home from Seattle, eager to get to little Hayden’s 5th birthday party. I stopped at Fred Meyer to get his gift and noticed a conveniently placed Taco Del Mar. I have two rewards cards from there, one has 8 stamps and the other has 4. Once you have 10 stamps, you get $5 off your purchase. Although Taco Del Mar sometimes makes me feel less than great, I decided to just redeem my punches and get a cheap meal.
I walked in, ordered my burrito, bought a drink to make it over $5 and handed the guy my cards. He punched one of them and gave them back. Not sure if he understood why I’d given him both, I said “Oh, I have 12 punches. I wanted to redeem them.” In broken english he began to tell me that he could not do that. So I asked why not. He didn’t really answer my question. I said “You can actually just have both of them.” Again he refused and said that I would have to take the cards to the original store to get them redeemed. “But they came from a variety of stores,” I argued.
A good four minutes later, I walked out of Taco Del Mar with 13 punches spread out over 2 cards and was nearly in tears. At first I was so upset because I was angry. I honestly was just trying to understand why in the world he couldn’t just combine the two. It frustrates me to not understand things. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks – I’d been a complete jerk. I was one of “those people”.. difficult, argumentative, and stubborn.
Sitting in my car, I realized how terrible I can be. Here I am, trying to live my life like Christ, to wholeheartedly be more like the Jesus I love and admire so much.. and yet living in me is still my awful humanity. Within me, I have the ability to be completely terrible to someone I don’t know.
I was ashamed and spent a few silent minutes in my car, expecting the Lord to strike my car with a lightning bolt or some other grand display of his wrath.
But luckily my God loves me and pours his grace on me. Then as I was driving I started to read Luke chapter 4. I know, dangerous. But I just felt drawn to. That chapter begins with Christ being tempted. It’s been swimming in my head the past 24 hours.
Tonight at church it hit me. Christ was human. I am human. There are times when I absolutely hate my humanity. The fact that I am human disgusts me and makes me feel wretched and worthless. At the very core of my being, I want nothing more than to be just like my precious Jesus. And tonight, upon realizing that Christ suffered through humanity as well, I realized that the very thing I was hating was the very thing that allowed Christ to be so much like me. Christ dealt with jerks. In love. Christ battled injustice. With love. Jesus Christ humbly wore my humanity so that in my moments of feeling like worthless scum, he could pull me close and say “I was there.” The very thing I had believed would turn God away from me was the very thing he used to grab me tighter.
This does not mean I will become complacent and fine with being so unlike Christ. It just allows me to not be so disgusted with myself that I try to deny myself the privilige of being loved by God.
Tonight at church after I realized this, I felt the Lord saying “be filled. let me pour myself on you, my little light.” It kept pounding in my heart over and over; “my little light, my little light, my little light.” So I sat. I did not sing. I did not stand. I sat and was filled. His little light.
My job is a bit interesting. Every day, I enter hundreds of used books into an online database to be sold on the amazon.com marketplace. Because of this, I frequently find myself with a plethora of books, many of which have never been touched. This year, I am absolutely determined to tackle this huge pile of books to read.
I am currently reading:
Two Part Invention by Madeleine L’Engle
Soul Virgins by Doug Rosenau & Michael Todd Wilson
Here’s my list of books to read. If you have read any of them, please feel free to comment and suggest what urgency they should have to be read. 🙂
Girls’ Ministry 101 by Whitney Prosperi
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
Lord Save Us from Your Followers by Dan Merchant
The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne
And Both Were Young by Madeleine L’Engle
Love Walked In by Marisa De Los Santos
Upside Down by Benny Perez
Into the Great Wide Open by Kevin Canty
The Shack by William P. Young
Facing Your Giants by Max Lucado
I’m sure my bookshelf has more, but I am tired and was really excited about having just made this blog 🙂