and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it."~ Jesus
the Lord continues to change my heart and my perspective. He has created such a radical awareness of those desperate needs within our reach and consequently, i'm finding it both difficult and disheartening to spend my time, my resources and my livelihood on anything else. its the burden among us that is often paralyzing ... and discouraging. but God... He has replaced my complacency with His action; my apathy with His compassion; and my discouragement with His urging. and encouragement. at times, like yesterday, almost more encouragement than my heart can bear.
it began in my small group. i have no words to describe this small group of brothers and sisters in christ other than to say i have never in my life or years in church experienced such authenticity and realness among a group of people. we share without limitations or restrictions. there are no smokescreens. no veneers. no facades. but real people sharing real life and above all, a real love for Christ. one of my dear friends shared his story of the Lord's redemption in his life with us. it is the essence of true freedom in Christ: being able to share the truth of who we were apart from Him and how He has transformed us. as we gathered around him afterwards to pray for him, i couldn't help but think, "this is what the Lord intended for us as His children".
my eyes were still damp with tears when we entered the worship service after small group. at the beginning of the service a young family appeared on the screens with their oldest child, three year old Claire, singing "this little light of mine". what followed was the husband and wife describing their call to Kenya and specifically, his call as a doctor of infectious disease to go to a nation ravaged by HIV. Claire ended with, "i'm gonna let it shine in Kenya... let it shine in Kenya".
tears of awe and godly sorrow flowed. awe of this young couple's obedience and godly sorrow over my overwhelming lack of obedience in my own marriage. when we began our lives together, the Lord was not even an afterthought. and my plans, based on the promising beginnings of Chris' career, were always based on building a life for ourselves. perpetually planning for the bigger and better of everything. for us. for me.
this family standing before me was comprised of a husband, wife and three children under the age of four. with a promising career in the medical profession, this family could have easily stood as a portrait of what we have all bought into as the "american dream" with inestimable material gain to go with it. but God... oh, because of Him and His calling; because of their surrender and obedience... they have become the portrait of radical sacrifice, radical abandonment, radical risk for the sake of the gospel.
i could not leave without verbalizing what it meant to me to witness such surrender and obedience. "you don't know me, but.." and then i started crying. through tears, i thanked him for his family's testament to our faith family of what it means to give it all up for the sake of Christ. his humbleness and humility was palpable: "we are just ordinary people", he said.
for a long time now, when i tuck chloe in at night, i always ask her if she wants to pray a personal prayer rather than the standard "now i lay me down to sleep" verse. i always tell her that whenever she's ready, she can. i never imagined that moment would come last night. i tried not to act surprised when she said yes, but before i could react, she had already closed her eyes and started speaking, "Dear God, thank you for this beautiful day, thank you for my church, thank you for the seasons, thank you for the trees and my little baby brother, my mommy and my daddy ... and thank you for my beautiful pink room. amen."
ordinary. oh, aren't we all. but God... He is extraordinary and He desires to make us extraordinary, too, if only we are willing.