I am almost finished reading Crazy Love. I should be done by now, but I have procrastinated finishing it. Something subconscious, I think, because it's been a crazy ride of a book and I like the time I have been spending with God in this book. I am thankful for the renewed way I view Him because of the words of Frances Chan. I look forward to sitting at the feet of the Master each afternoon and just soaking up some little and big things He wants to show me. He's drug me all through the Bible (and when I say drug I mean it literally because I feel like He's been pulling me so fast sometimes that I am stumbling all over the place.) So what's my take away from the book? A few things... sorry this is SOOOO long.
1. I feel like God does call MANY of us to downsize our homes, sell our "stuff", drive our cars a little longer, give of ourselves and our treasures until it is uncomfortable, etc. However, I also believe that what that looks like is different for everyone. I don't think I am finding excuses for staying in my comfortable life when I say this either. I don't live extravagantly. We try to be very smart with our treasures. But by 90% of the world population, I am still wealthy beyond comprehension. My home is not a mansion, but it's more than most have. However, God also showed me during the course of this book that I am where I am meant to be. I am surrounded by alot of folks who "get it" and who are living out their beliefs. People in my neighborhood are sacrificing every day, not out of their surplus, but out of their "I need this a little less than he needs this" positions. Not everyone in my neighborhood by any means. Certainly there are plenty here who don't get it, but there are enough here who do to keep me here and I know that God sent a couple of these women to me in the past two weeks to very specifically affirm for me that He has me where He wants me for now. If that changes though, God knows (because I've told Him) that I will go ANYWHERE and do ANYTHING He asks. This scares the fool out of me to even say it in my head, much less put it out there. Because when I say that, the first thing I think of is Detroit or Cincinnati or upstate NY. Not because these are bad places to live, but because they are COLD... and I'm a Southern girl, so I think God always gets a little laugh at my expense when those locales pop into my head! :) Plus, I said I would GO... I didn't say I would go joyfully. :) I didn't say I wouldn't be a little irritated if He asked me to go serve on a soup line in Wisconsin instead of an orphanage in Uzbekistan... but I would go (I hope!)
2. I am not believing God for big enough things. Seriously, have you seen what He has done for and through and with Katie? I mean, He gave her a dream and told her the name of her next daughter. He tells her to ask Him for things (VERY SPECIFIC THINGS) and then He almost immediately delivers them to her doorstep. I know there are some other things He is taking more time on, but she gets to see the BIG STUFF happening all the time. Why don't I get to see that? Because I don't believe big enough! Because I limit God with my limited thinking! I believe that God doesn't want to do BIG, show-offy kind of stuff in my life. But He does! He wants to bring that glory on Himself every day and through every person. Why doesn't He? Because of our unbelief and our "stuff" that is in the way of our faith in Him.
3. God has called me to serve Him in a very specific way to a very specific group of people, for right now. I hope there will be a time when my kids and I can go serve orphans together in a very hands on way. I want experiences like Suzanne and Mike had in Uganda. I want to lay my bricks in Africa, Russia, China, or wherever else there are fatherless children that need to know the love of Jesus through one of His servants. But that time is not right now. My children are not ready for that level of servitude from me. I know that some are called to serve at that level, even with young children. Paul Farmer is, no doubt! But right now I have things going on with the ones He has given very specifically to me and He expects me to care for them with a reckless abandon and the energy that I would care for the ones still waiting. Sometimes that's actually a little harder. It's harder because getting the energy up every day, day in and out, to serve in very normal ways is not very "exciting" or "shiny" and doesn't feel much like a ministry. I mean, when you see the lame walk before your eyes, now that feels like you being the hand of God. But when you are making grilled cheese for the umpteenth time, then that's a little more mundane... and with no end in sight, believe me, it's no less a miracle that He can even drag my sleepy booty out of bed some mornings. Did you ever watch the movie "Groundhog Day"? :) So, what I really felt God telling me through this book is that for right now, the mission field is HERE! Right under my own roof, there's plenty of BIG stuff that God can deliver. There's plenty of healing that can happen here and He CAN do it... He wants to do it... but He needs me to believe that He can and will. More importantly, He needs me to rely on Him for it instead of just wringing my hands over it. And I also know that if healing doesn't occur, it's no less a miracle. I know that if healing does not happen, big flashy stuff doesn't occur, it's still for His glory because for whatever reason, the status quo was required for Him to be glorified. Either way, I just have to keep my eyes on Him, stay in the Word, and let Him shoulder the burden.
4. I have learned through reading both books and blogs that God can use just about anything we submit to Him to draw us closer to Him. He can be "in" anything we allow Him to be in. Katie mentioned last week that our worth to God is not tied to what we do. That is such a great reminder where I am in this stage of life. But while God doesn't care that I am folding laundry and not passing out food rations, it does matter that I do what I am doing with an attitude of serving Him. I have tried to have in my mind this past week that God would be putting on those t-shirts I am putting in that drawer, Jesus would be pulling on those pants I am ironing (yes, mother, I do iron!) And that He would be coming over for dinner, sitting at my table, seeing the dog hair (or absence thereof) on the floor and listening to the conversation. It's been pretty eye opening when doing things I don't necessarily want to do. I have a new take on the verse that tells us to do everything we do as if doing it for the Lord. And God has been SO kind and gentle with me. Really, He has encouraged me at every single turn. I must be a very fragile Christian because the load God has given me has been so light and He has given me little pats on the back and sent cheerleaders every mile of the walk. He encourages me sometimes when I don't realize I need it until after I actually get it. And He does blow me away, even though I don't ask for enough and don't believe big enough. So just imagine what He could do if I would increase my faith!
Finally, I want to share a prayer that came out of the book. It's by A.W. Tozer's Pursuit of God. I love it!
"O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need for further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, so that I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, "Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away." Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long."