Thursday, August 20, 2009

Something BIG!

I am betting that those of you who have lived in the same city, perhaps the same town or neighborhood all of your life (as I had until I went off to college) would probably not even wrap your brain around the need for adventure and change to which I have grown accustomed. Since being married to the amazing Keith (I'm trying on new pet names for him...thanks to family camp where the guest speaker only referred to his wife as "the fabulous Susan":) we have never lived in one place more than six years. We lived in Indiana as newlyweds for six months, lived in West Virginia from the end of 1993 to the beginning of 1999, lived in Columbus from 1999 to 2005 and have lived here since then. Seems I get a five year itch or something. Or at least the Lord gets itching to move us. No, we are not moving but I am feeling the itch. Not a good thing since my in laws are building a house here to be close to the boys. The Lord has not opened any doors and we see no signs we will be packing it in...but man do I want to some days.

After going to Pine Cove I could see myself being a camp director's wife (assuming that the camp director is the fantastic Keith~how does that one sound? :) I mean, come a life that included six sons running amuck around camp grounds, horses, a lake, boats, a swimming pool, ropes courses, climbing walls, etc felt like home to me. We so admired the camp director and his passion for men and their families. I could just see Keith doing what he does....and doing it well. We love families and Keith definitely has a passion for men being Godly leaders in their homes. The privilege of working alongside the incredible counselors who are sold out for Christ would also fall under a passion of mine that I have yet to pursue and that is mentoring young women. There is just something about having all sons that makes you want to pack it in, seek out massive amounts of acreage and wildlife. I want my sons to be know, rugged cowboy types. :) Alas, God has not even made that an option...but it has been fun kicking the whole fantasy around. It felt fun to have that dreamer button pushed again. If you never have felt the Lord calling you to something new and adventurous you may not know what that dreamer button feels like. Make sure you find your button one will never want to go back. I mean, I will follow the Lord anywhere. Seriously...ok..maybe the thought of Papau New Guinea doesn't push my button like a Christian camp in Texas...but I'd still do it.

Believe me, I know that the Lord is not all about pushing that button. He leads, we follow. And sometimes He keeps you where He wants you longer than you think you'd like to stay. Don't get me wrong. FamilyLife is awesome. We love what we do here. But, as I have mentioned before...our time here has been filled with a lot of wilderness too. It has been a stretching, growing, uncomfortable ride sometimes. And I am not above admitting that when things are uncomfortable, I'd like to leave thank you very much. I guess above all, I want to be where God wants me. And I want to be useful for the Kingdom. I want to dream big dreams as John Waller sings in his song "Something Big." Something that will fail without the Lord. Ahhh yes...that excites me! Thank You God for using even me! ~M

Something Big
John Waller

I wanna see something I've not seen
Something so big
I wanna be a part of something great
Greater than me

It's time to dream big dreams
To see Your vision
Become reality
‘Cause it’s for You, by You, those who
Love You wanna do

Something so big
It’s destined to fail without You, Lord
It’s gonna fail without You, Lord
Something so great
It takes a miracle to do
We, Your children
Wanna do something big for You

We, yes, we are gonna sing a brand new song
Something so strong
We will be the sound that wakes the dawn
Something so loud

It’s time for breaking through
‘Cause there are no limits
For he who holds the truth
When it’s for You, and by You, and those who
Love You wanna do

Something bigger, something greater
For the glory of Your splendor
Something bigger, something greater
Tell the story of Your wondrous love
Your wondrous love
Those who love You wanna do

As long as we live, let us do something so big for You

© 2005 New Spring (ASCAP) / John Waller Publishing (ASCAP). All rights on behalf of John Waller Publishing (ASCAP) administered by New
Spring (ASCAP).

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A ugly, ugly confession....

Somewhere along the way I became someone I really dislike. Seriously. The Lord has been dealing with me on a very tough topic and I share it with you here as a way of confession...a bringing it into the light sort of commitment. Because the reality is this...though I think I can hide the reality of a deceitful heart...the Word tells me otherwise.

Luke 6:45 (New International Version)

45The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.

It tells me that eventually an evil heart will overflow into a deceitful mouth...and deceitful ways. And the harsh reality is also that people see it even when you think you are hiding it. They see the underlying tones, the clenched jaw, the heavy sighs. They see the lack of concern, the lack of commitment, the joking-yet not joking tone. And worse...some people see the ugliest side of it....the gossip, the slander, the complaining bitter spirit. And that, my friends, is where I am. I am to the place of being a person I dislike.

I guess it really began when we moved here. I hate to say it but full time ministry does not always bring out the best in people. There is this fine line we walk between being so utterly undeserving of ANY good gift the Lord provides and on the flip side feeling completely dependent on the Lord for provision in a way that makes us feel He MUST provide. (for example: Lord, You brought us DO this...or DO that for us.) I know, that is ugly. Sorry. I don't know how it happens. I mean, I feel so desperately in awe that the Lord does anything on our behalf and yet so utterly bitter when He doesn't. Does that even make sense? You see, sadly, since coming here I have seen this side of missionaries. This side that says..."God isn't doing what He promised. This is too hard. We deserve MORE." And before you know are one of them. Don't get me wrong...missionaries whether they live in Africa or Arkansas are laying down their lives for the Lord. They typically gave up ties to family, friends, jobs, churches, hometowns, houses, etc in the name of following God. But when God gets you to that point, He is just beginning to show you...the mission is YOU...not those you came to "save." He means to mold this ugly lump of clay into something that is so empty of itself that it can't even stand upright without the Potter's hands. But oh how I do not wish to be emptied. I do not wish to be an ugly, dependent lump. And yet I have nothing. I have absolutely NOTHING good to offer the Potter. And He already knew that. And He meant to use me anyway. He called me right from nothingness into a relationship with Him. And I constantly want to be WORTHY and I cannot be. I NEVER EVER will be. I mean, I lay my filthy rags on the alter and expect Him...and others to be impressed.

Isaiah 64:6 (New International Version)

6 All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
and like the wind our sins sweep us away.

You see, pretty quickly the filthy heart begins seeping out...overflowing out by way of a filthy mouth. A mouth full of gossip and bitterness and complaining. I mean, I am utterly disgusted at the amount of complaining I do. The Lord has shone this holy pure spotlight onto this area of my life. He has shown me that my mouth cannot be all. And it makes me see how as a woman I really am the weaker vessel. I was knit together with this wonderful complexity of emotions and the scourge of feminism came in and fed me the lie that I could spill out those emotions on everyone who passed friends, my family, my dear husband. It was a feeling that I had the right, even the NEED, to "vent" those emotions onto someone other than the Lord. I could call a friend and tell her how mad my husband made me or how frustrating my kids were. Or how another friend had hurt or offended me. Or this friend had done absolutely nothing wrong...but just that she was overweight, or had a bad outfit on, or said a really dumb thing! Who was I fooling? The ugly, dumb fool was ME! And I knew it. That's why it felt so much better to blame it on someone else. Surely THEY were uglier, fatter, less spiritual than ME. UGH. That is so ugly. I can barely stand to write it. Filthy rags.

And at the heart of the complaining is this thought: "Lord, you have failed me. You have not done what You said. You do not give me what I feel I need." I mean, seriously, isn't that the CORE of complaining? I mean complaining about ANYTHING. Believe me, I have TRIED to wrangle it into a nice neat justification. "I need to 'vent' to my friends about how hard it is to be a wife, a mother, a homeschooler, a friend, a sister, a daughter, a missionary." Right? We need to have others listen and comfort us so that we can cope. Right? No...wrong...very very wrong. I mean, it is even wrong for me to complain or gossip to my husband. To my best friend. To my sister. My closest friend. There is no one but Jesus with whom I can take my complaints. I mean, share a burden or a hurt with a friend or a spouse....sure. But complain? No. I have no right. My complaints only bring sin onto the listener. They are challenged not to complain with me. They are challenged not to think less of me...or my spouse...or my children. And I have come to this HORRIBLE realization. Brace yourselves...this may challenge you to the core. Very few conversations I have with another woman in a day don't include complaining or gossip. And for this reason, I have come to see...I need to be having less conversations with other women. Seriously. This home is my ministry. My children and my husband need all of me. I have precious little time to be wrapped up in another woman's life. I mean, ministry is NOT being on the phone talking about how hard our lives are. Or how imperfect our husbands are. Yuck. There is nothing holy there therefore it has no usefulness for me. Now, don't hear me wrong. I have some dear friends with whom I would be lost without their friendship. When we are together I am lifted up. I am reminded of God. Our laughter is honest and at no one else's expense. Our tears are over sorrows and not self pity. I could not walk this life without the joy of friends. But, I cannot be wrapped up in those friends' lives on a daily basis...and they don't expect me to be. We share a friendship that is something to be savored at sweet, short times. But the whole of my life is to be true to those within these my His service. And He has provided me these walls to protect me. To keep me from adopting the world's lies. Does any of that make sense? I mean, none of this may apply to you...or anyone else. I can't be responsible for that. Other women may have better control over their mouths because their hearts are healthier than mine. But, I see that I am not one of them.

So, let me say this. I have hope. God tells me this:

Ezekiel 11:19 (New International Version)

19 I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.

This is my prayer. I want a heart of flesh. I want a heart that is tender to others. I want a mouth that can be trusted. And honestly, I want to talk A LOT less.

Proverbs 10:19 (New Living Translation)

19 Too much talk leads to sin.
Be sensible and keep your mouth shut.

So, this is where God has me. Oh how I long to be a different woman when I read this again in a year....or a week! God, change me! ~M.