Tuesday, April 24, 2012

 "...our lives full of cluttered ease, muffle out the songs. That when we go to the places that strip life back to its barest essence — of courage and love and raw, unmasked pain — our hearts feel again, beat again, hear again the haunting music of a beautiful, bleeding humanity.

Maybe we are only at our most beautiful work in the same places too — the places where we don’t hide behind the distractions of stuff, where we finally empty our hands of all our possessions and idols and come to God empty and ready. The places where we can make art with tears.

Where the notes can finally soar in the space." Ann Voskamp

Keith and I are at a place that is so scary.  A place of change.  Unknown change.  Not sure of what the near future holds.  Being fully supported missionaries, our support is dangerously low.  We are trying to raise that support level up, but in the meantime we are looking around wondering how to stop the bleeding.  How to change our lives so that we can live on what He has provided instead of constantly trying to make more.  Looking around and seeing that our home is the biggest source of financial expense.  That monthly mortgage, the monthly homeowner's bill, the monthly utilities to heat and cool an old home, the insurance, the maintenance.    And I wonder, is this home, this 2500 square feet worth the debt, the worry? 

 If we lived in less could we live more? 

Could we spend our money on things that matter instead of things? Could we travel and see God's country and God's people?  Could we give more of ourselves, more of His money?  

But I don't want it to seem so simple.  It isn't simple.  A house is so much more than a payment.  It is a comfort to weary bodies and growing boys.  It is an identity.  It is a place you invite friends in and welcome neighbors.  It's sights and smells and ownership.  And wondering if a place where we could afford our expenses better might be a place that isn't as pretty.  As comfortable.  As nice.  What if it's humbling and perhaps even humiliating?  What if it's older than this house?  What if we don't own it, but just rent it?  Will that hurt?

I'd like to think that being relieved of some financial burden would more than make up for the loss of this home, but it might just hurt.  A little?  A lot?  I am not sure.  Perhaps it would be a decision we'd say, "Why didn't we do this sooner?  Why did we hold on to stuff and relinquish our peace?"  

I am praying that if God wants us to sell this home that He will sell it quickly and for good value.  I pray He opens wide a new door with clear answers and that we can lead our sons through those doors with hope and excitement for what it could mean for our family.  I never want to love my stuff so much that I clutch it tighter than God.  I have been saying that a lot lately.  Do I mean it?  Do I want Him more than all else?  I think so.  I think so.  Not because I am brave or particularly faith-filled.  But because I believe God might have a great thing for us.  A great new thing.  Because I know He will take care of us.  Because I have a bit of adventure to me and I wonder, "What's next, God?"  We have adventured with Him before and it's quite a ride fraught with wonder and fear and expectation.  Not all adventures are easy.  I wouldn't say this adventure to FamilyLife has been easy.  In fact, it has been a hard 7 years.  Not all places God leads are easy.  Hard lessons are learned.  Big mistakes get made. 

"...one only gains higher ground by climbing up through the valleys. Every mountain has its valleys.  Its sides are scarred by deep ravines and gulches and draws.  And the best route to the top is always along these valleys."  Phillip Keller (A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23)

The Good Shepherd leads through the valleys because the valleys are well watered and full of plentiful grass to feed on.  They are darker, more dangerous valleys, but they are the best route to the top.  I am a stubborn sheep.  I am content to drink from dirty pools and eat the grass in the pasture I am in until it is withered and dead.  I can't see where the Shepherd leads, but if I remind myself how He always leads me well then I need not know where He leads...just that He leads.  Could you pray that we will follow and that He indeed will (perhaps, if only) lead clearly and with unmistakable signs?  My weary, faithless heart could use some clear signs.  Thanks! ~M.

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