Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Pick Up, Clean Up

Every day, at some point, I utter the same few words to my precious son: "Gabe, you need to clean up your room" or "Gabe, you have to pick up these toys before you get anything else out."

Usually, without fail, his innocent little voice will follow: "But mommy, I need you to help me."

I tend to see this as his clever way of getting ME to clean up instead of him. In my ultimate mom wisdom, I think I have figured him out and am wise to his cunning ways. "I did not help make the mess, Gabe, so I am not going to help you. You made the mess so it's your responsibility to clean it up." This, of course, is usually followed by wailing and gnashing of teeth. Okay, not really, but the whining does commence at that point and after much bribing encouragement, he gets the job done.

But I had an epiphany of sorts the other night. A revelation, perhaps. Call it what you will. It was a word from the Lord. The cycle began yesterday late in the afternoon when he wanted to play with his play dough but his room looked like two grown sumo wrestlers held a match in there. I began my usual way: "You can play with your play dough as soon as you clean up the mess in your room." This time, he actually went in there and I thought, "VICTORY!" But it wasn't two minutes later and he was back out.

"Mommy, I really need you to help me." Heart. Melt. How can one say no to that sweet little pleading? Stay. Strong. Needless to say, I followed him into his room just to supervise the cleaning process. Something hit me, however, as I sat on the floor of his room watching him just tinker with the toys strewn around his floor. Isn't that just like you and me? Don't we makes messes of our lives at times? Some are small and not that dramatic and so we are easily able to pick up the pieces and put them back together. But then there are those times that we make bigger messes. And then we stand in the middle of our self-made mess staring at the rubble around us and wonder, "Where do I begin?"

In that moment, many of us cry out, "Lord! Help me! I need You to help me!" And then the Lord replies, "Nope! Sorry! You made that mess on your own. It's your job to clean it up!" doesn't go quite like that does it? He doesn't turn His back and leave us to fend for ourselves. He jumps into the middle of the mess with us and begins to guide us through. He shows us where to begin, what to pick up first. He helps us clean up the life mess that we've made through loving correction and instruction. I realized that my sweet 3 year old represents us in that scenario. He may have made the mess but he is now overwhelmed by the sheer size of it. His little mind wonders, "Where do I even begin?" And because he doesn't know what else to do, he calls to me or to daddy, "I need you to help me!"

So in that moment, I began to show him where he could begin. "Start with the animals and trees that go in this bucket." He picked those up and then we started on his legos. "Okay, pick up all the green ones and put them in your lego bus." The time passed and the room looked more like a bedroom than a scene from Twister and when he was all finished, we high fived! What a teaching moment for this mama! I don't ever want my son to feel abandoned when he's asked for genuine help. That's certainly not what our Heavenly Father does for us. 

Image retrieved from Google Images

 photo signature-24.png

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

"Comfort Must Fall"

I've never been drunk or hooked on drugs. I waited until I was married to give myself away. I grew up in the church and have had a relationship with Christ for as long as I can remember. I have never truly been rebellious.  I don't cuss. I'm generally picky about what I allow myself to watch on TV and the dial on my radio never changes from the JoyFM. For the most part, I look and act the part of a pretty good Christian. 

But I'm the most dangerous type of Christian. 
I'm comfortable.

The comfortable Christian.

In all honesty, there are two types of dangerous Christians. There's the type that is dangerous to the enemy's plans - those are the ones out there on the front lines of the spiritual battlefield seeking justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with their God. Those are the ones stepping out in faith, walking on the deep waters, trusting that God will never let them go. Those are the ones doing this life while loving irrationally, giving sacrificially, and truly being the hands and feet of Jesus wherever He tells them to go. That's the kind of dangerous Christian I WANT to be. 

But that's not the case. I'm the one that's dangerous TO the cause of the Kingdom, not FOR it. 
There are thousands upon thousands of us - living the Christian life - generally good people who truly love the Lord and love to see people come to Jesus and love to be in God's House surrounded by other believers but when it comes down to it - we like the comfort American Christianity has to offer. 

I'm sick of it. I'm sick of being complacent. I'm sick of talking a big game and then shrinking back into the shadows of a comfortable Christianity that gets me nowhere. I'm sick of saying that I'm ready to "launch out into the deep" like I know He's called me to do while still wading in the shallow waters. I'm sick of thinking and saying and never doing or going. I'm sick of the spiritual paralysis that slowly creeps in and wraps itself around the courage and boldness of the comfortable believer. 

I don't want to be the Christian that prays before meals or gives a little cash to the man holding a sign on the side of the road or reads my verse of the day on my BibleApp or goes to church on Sunday mornings and sings at the top of my lungs with tears streaming down my face and then turn around and say that's enough. It's never enough. 

God has called me to a life of sacrifice - a life of boldness - a life of living out my faith in the dark corners, deep valleys, and  dormant lands of this earth. I may not know all the details of this calling but I know it's big and I know that sitting in the place of comfort and complacency is not going to get me any closer to that goal. I have to stand up and knock comfort on its derriere. In the words of Louie Giglio, "COMFORT MUST FALL!" 

In the spirit of confession, I must confess that this is terrifying for me. And what for? I've watched several of my friends pursue the cause of Christ through difficult and downright dumpy circumstances and have seen the Lord provide peace and mercy and grace in the midst of it. I know He will do the same for me. 

I have the opportunity to go to Haiti in January. I planned to go next summer originally but the opportunity came up sooner - much sooner. When the dates first came out, my very first thought was, "Oh, I'd have to take off 5 of my 8 sick days and then that means that I'd only get paid for 3 days of sick pay at the end of the year, and that's a lot of money to give up." Honestly, that was my very first thought. But when I told my friends that I wasn't going to go, my reason was because I felt that taking 5 days off in January was doing a disservice to my kids. I said it because I wanted to believe that was the reason. And perhaps that would have been a good reason - but truly, my reason was selfish. And in true Father fashion, the Lord wrecked me for it Sunday morning. I can't even remember what song we were singing but the dialogue between Abba Daddy and myself went a little something like this: 
 God: So, be honest, my daughter.
 Me: What are we talking about?
 God: The real reason you said no to Haiti.
 Me: What? *cue the tears*
 God: It's not about your students.
 Me: *tears streaming now* I want it to be. 
 God: But it's not. Your reasoning is selfish.
 Me: But Lord, that's a lot of money. We can use that money.
 God: Yes, but I can use you. I find that more important. 
 Me: *water works central*
 God: I don't care about the money and your kids will be be fine for 5 days. I want you in Haiti.
 Me: Why me?
 God: Why not you?
 Me: *no words, just tears, and a constant stream of "I'm so sorry Lord."

So there it is. I'm completely terrified and I have no idea how I'm going to raise the full amount (about $1,600) in that short amount of time but I know that God has called me to this and when it's His will, He will make a way. I'm taking a huge step here, a huge leap of faith, and in the process I'm taking comfort down. As I step out on the deep waters, I'm leaving comfort in the boat.

Will you, my precious readers, pray with me? Pray for the Lord's provision and for the preparations of my heart that He is already beginning. Bless you, readers. And thank you. 

 photo signature-24.png