OK, I think we’re all ready for a long winter’s nap or something. We are finally safely back to Columbus, Ohio, trying to get the last 3.5 weeks unpacked, cleaned and put away so that we can repack, finish emptying the house and head for a big missions conference in Florida...and we are completely weary to the bone.
The last few weeks have been a great adventure, best characterized by the many, many dear and thoughtful and praying and caring people we have spent it with. What a joy, to come where you are and worship with you, eat with you, meet your families and communities, see you ministries and passions, and to know better how to pray.
There are lots of random things running through our minds from this last few weeks of conversations and observations and touring of our home country. Mind if I share?
Worry. Jesus wasn’t kidding when he said not to do it. I think sometimes we worry because our circumstances seem to merit it, and we skim over God’s commands not to worry, and not to fear, and to rejoice, because we are sure they wouldn’t have been spoken in the face of our particular situation. Surely He didn't know about our political situation! Surely He didn't know about future terrorism when He said that! Surely He didn't know how our children would have strayed, how our loved ones are at rock bottom, how our financial situations were going to be!
And that is just not true. It is EXACTLY in our specific situations, ones of fear and doubt and concern, ones of sadness and heartbreak and shatter that He has commanded, DO NOT WORRY.
“Do not worry” and “rejoice in the Lord always,” have NOTHING to do with our specific circumstances, and EVERYTHING to do with WHO HE IS…which is ABLE. And UNCHANGING. And MORE than sufficient. In Him, we have no fear, in Him, we must not worry, in Him, we may forever rejoice.
It's not a suggestion. It's a command, and it reveals the character of our God. He tells us not to worry because HE IS ABLE and TO BE TRUSTED.
Church. We spoke to a lot of people these past few weeks who are frustrated with the church, with Christians, with believers who have hurt them, let them down, let the world down. In turn, we met many who want nothing to do with the church, nothing to do with believers, and truly, we get that. We. Get. That. Others told us that they just don’t feel like the church has anything to offer them, nor they the church. And we get that too.
But church isn’t about Christians being perfect. And it’s not about what we have to offer. And it’s not about always finding all kind, all Christ-like people.
Church, like everything else, is still just about Christ. She’s the bride of Christ, all about Christ. If we’re going to church because of what kind of people we find there, then we are going for the wrong reasons, and will be surely disappointed. If we’re going to church because of what kind of music or preaching or witness we find there, then we are going for the wrong reasons, and will be surely discouraged.
If we’re going to worship Christ, in broken, set-apart community…if we’re going to continually offer up our imperfect lives to the Holy One…if we’re going to build one another up and encourage other through faith with our eyes set on Him…if we’re going to get before Him, together, then that’s church.
Don’t worry about everybody else. Let God worry about everybody else, and trust that He is working. Make sure that you’re making room and time and a place for Him to be alive and working in you.
Life. It was suggested many times, and has been many times in the past, that at some point soon we should be leaving Haiti so that we can finally start taking care of our children…or so that we can finally start doing what WE want to do with our lives, or so that we can finally get real jobs.
Yes. It really was.
So let me just say. We have not been half-heartedly putting off our children while living and working in Haiti. We have not been getting our mandatory community service out of the way while we wait to start pursuing our own lives. We’re not in Haiti so that we can neglect getting “real” jobs.
We believe our lives are not our lives. We believe our gifts are not our gifts. We believe our resources are not our resources. Even our dear girls, we believe to be His. And if it’s ALL HIS, then we weren’t going to tell Him what to do with them.
And for now, He’s got us pouring them out in Haiti. Meanwhile, He’s also given us back our kids to raise in Him, and I promise you that raising our girls as disciples of Christ is our first ministry. Doesn’t matter where we live or go or what else we do. We are continually praying through how and where and doing what God wants us to pour out our lives unto Him, and for now, we’re right where He has us.
So we’re living these lives He’s given us, in His full freedom, to the best of our abilities, on His strength and grace, with His forgiveness and mercy, with the power of the Holy Spirit, where He has us, for His glory, one day at a time, by faith.
I hope, no matter WHERE we are, that I can always say that.
Transparency. We were blessed by whole lot of hospitality and awesome food and thoughtful gestures and sweet gifts and thoughtful words and prayers these past weeks, and I THANK you. Can I tell you what blessed Matt and I the very most? It was the people, and there were many, who just leveled with us. Who just shared their hearts. Who were open and honest about their struggles and broken places and need for prayer, who were quick to share with us the intimate ways in which God is moving, who asked us to be praying for them and told us how, who let us see the real good, the real bad, the real blessing and the real struggle. The true laughter and the true tears.
What. A. Gift. Transparency, I believe, more than anything else, is the base for community…a willingness to be transparent and be known…a desire to truly KNOW, the ins and outs and otherwise.
I’ve always shared that the reason I am so open on this blog is because of Christ, I have nothing to hide…and I believe by openly bringing people in, showing them what Christ is showing us, letting them see how Christ is working on us…God can use our lives to be such an encouragement and challenge and empowerment to others…just as He used so many of you to be that for me these past weeks. Thank you.
It’s not about refusing to be a private person, or about being extroverted. It’s about boldly living our lives alongside of each other, caring for and sharing with one another, that we might grow in Him, together. How often have I grown simply by the story and journey of another.