Sunday, August 12, 2012

the promise of a new season


You make known to me the path of life;
 in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. 
Psalm 16:11

it's mid-august, but this morning it feels like early fall.  the windows are open, a cool breeze is blowing through and with it, the promise of a new season.  

i am moving soon.  again. boxes begin to fill my garage.  it's becoming an all-too-familiar sight.  but there is something different about this move, a tangible, palpable presence, a spirit of eager anticipation.  the promise of a new season.  and of life.  i took my children to the place we will move to yesterday.  there is small pond closely and we walked to the water's edge.  and i prayed, silently.  for them.  for the people that live nearby.  for this ground where we will soon begin to sew seeds of life.  walking back, a single, golden-hued leaf had fallen to the ground.  i picked it up.  held it in my hand and with it, the promise of a new season...  

last fall i read a book that rocked my world and wrecked my heart.  the amazing faith journey of a young woman, Katie Davis, who had sacrificed all that she was and all that she had to give her life to all that He is.  the Lord used her words opened the eyes of my heart in a way that revealed both my greatest desire and my greatest need:  His presence.  i read each page weeping and longing for what she had and what she has, living in that remote village in Uganda and raising those thirteen precious little girls is the very presence of God.  twenty.four.seven.  because there is no other way to live in those conditions and under those circumstances without your every breath heaving a silent longing for His presence and your every waking moment, every move completely, utterly dependent on His power.  i had the privilege of hearing Katie speak in person and afterwards, i wrote the following:       
October 16th, 2011:  the gospel demands a blank check with our lives. today." that was was the last line in the message notes at the close of today's service. and over the course of the last few life-altering days, i have become wholeheartedly convinced that Jesus doesn't ask us to give up all of the plans and hopes and dreams we have for our own lives.
He demands it.
and so we are to ask ourselves: what is God leading me to SHARE? what is God leading me to SELL? what is God leading me to SACRIFICE?
my whole life has to change. why? because Jesus demands it... and because this love in my heart for Him compels it.
i don't know what it means. i don't know what it is going to mean. i only know that i can no longer live in shades of gray, conforming more to this world and this culture each and every day when my heart and soul desires to be conformed into His image. i only know that i desire to pour out my life for His purpose, His glory and for the pursuit of His presence. i have nothing to offer except what He has to give and my life - a blank check.
i prayed and asked God, simply, to wreck my life - for His glory.  i couldn't have known how rapidly - or how tragically - the wrecking ball would strike.  with one sweeping motion, He leveled the ground around me and swept me up into His arms.  His presence. 

nearly one year later, i'm reminded of that book.  of that blog.  of that wreckage.  of that longing for His presence.  i don't want to live a life missing it anymore.  Oh Lord, i am willing to do whatever it takes to abide in you.  show me.  teach me.  and little by little, i am learning what it means to abide.  to live in the fullness of  His presence.  and so, as i began to pray about how i could pour my life out as an offering, how i could live in this world and not be of this world, i begged Him to open doors of ministry and of opportunity.  and, perhaps the most difficult, i prayed about what i could and would give up in order to pursue His presence, His ministry, His calling.  

the answer was everything.  

as someone with a less than idyllic childhood, i grew up dreaming about sidewalks and street lights and white picket fences.  pretty two story homes with shutters and neatly manicured lawns.  for years, i based my self-worth on that which i surrounded myself with.  i hid behind a thinly veiled facade of middle-class, suburban niceties.  i don't think it is wrong to have nice things, but i do know that it is idolatry to worship them - to have them define you.  and so, it has been a journey of faith as the Lord has shattered the facade and chiseled away materialism from my heart.  and it is an ongoing, refining journey.  but the Lord, through His grace, has shifted my life into reverse - he has refined and re-defined the dreams i once held so dear to my heart.
If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it.  But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.  ~ Mt 16:25
He has changed me from a woman who once lived a life plotting about how i could have more, to a woman who desires to give it all away.  i began to ask myself the hard questions:  could i live with even less, could i live on half of my income, could i live in half of my living space...  the answer was yes.  and yes.  and yes.  because the answer is this:  if you have a roof over your head, clothes on your back, food on the table and transportation - you are rich.  beyond rich, even.  the answer is we serve a God who promises to meet all of our needs.  

and as i began to pray and seek where i could live for less and with less, through trust in Him and surrender to Him, He has granted us the gift of a calling to a village all our own in a place and a ministry i would have never expected.  i prayerfully considered moving to an apartment in order to pursue ministry, never expecting that it was the place that would become ministry.  i felt led to one community in particular, and as i began to pray for the Lord to to prepare the hearts of my new neighbors, for ways i could plant life in that community and reach out to others, like steamer boiling over, so much grace and vision began to flow and as i began to research online, i came across the startling statistic that confirmed it all:
"This is the largest unreached people group in the United States.  96% of apartment residents living in the United States do not go to church anywhere. Ninety-six percent. Property managers across the nation are asking churches to provide ongoing activities and classes for their residents.  If you thought of each of these communities as villages, you would probably jump at the chance to reach out."
i sit my children down and tell them that we are about to embark on a journey.  having heard the stories of foreign missionaries and having gone with me to local mission events, they grasp the concept.  i tell them that the Lord has given us tickets to a great adventure.  we are becoming missionaries in a land that will seem foreign to us, an urban village of unreached people that exist in our own backyard. literally.  i tell them that we will give up some comforts of our lives to go and live among them, to live with them, to love them and serve them. 

eyes wide, smiling, they understand.  they get it.  this is not a sacrifice.  this is a gift.  this is not begrudgingly giving up space or amenities - but receiving a gift of His blessing.  no, we will not live in a big house, but we will live richly in His presence - storing our treasures in heaven.  we are heirs to His kingdom and i thank God for the smiling faces on my little prince and princess warriors for Christ.  His beloved.

please join us in prayer.  pray that the Lord's spirit has, even now, already gone before us and is preparing the hearts of those whom we will serve and minister to.  pray specifically for those in our building, whom we will have the closes contact with.  pray for relationships and friendships to be established.  pray that we will earn the right to share the gospel through those relationships.  pray that the management will be willing to partner with us as we coordinate outreach.  pray that the Lord will send other believers through the church and small groups to serve alongside us.  pray for those all across our nation who serve in local apartment/multifamily ministry.  praise Him for His providence.  His guidance.  His grace.    

praise Him for the promises of His word... and the promise of a this new season.  


"Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you."
Psalm 73:25


2 comments:

  1. Nadia (I have a daughter named Nadia), thank you for your heart for one of those unreached people groups. Your story is beautiful and inspriring and I'm so glad I clicked over from Ann's today.

    Blessings and may the Lord do amazing miracles with your willing spirit!

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