The Step off of the Platform

I went zip lining last week. For someone who has a fear of heights when I’m not comfortably contained in some sort of vehicle, zip lining was a good idea back when I thought about it with both feet on the ground. As we drove up the mountain in a former Dutch army truck that teetered on the edge of said mountain? Less of a good idea.

Actually, it was a terrifying idea.

I went anyway because everyone else went. Yes, while it didn’t involve a bridge, I “jumped” because my friends “jumped.” Also, there weren’t any refunds. So. There.

The zip line team put harnesses and safety equipment on our team and hooked us to the safety line before the first line. I saw my friends all step off the platform like it was nothing while I felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest in 20 degree weather. I couldn’t decide whether to cry or embarrass myself by vomiting. Honest to goodness.

Then it was my turn.

Marisol hooked both carabiners to the cable and then I had to step off the platform, which should have been easier, but both of my feet refused to leave the platform.

Although in my head I knew I was wearing a helmet, a harness with redundant carabiners, hooked to a cable that would hold up to 6000 lbs, and I had seen a good portion of my team do the first line, as my friend Heather pointed out, you don’t feel the tension of the equipment working until you are pushed take a step off the platform.

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Don’t be fooled by my smile – I was terrified!

Much like like my life.

God puts these crazy steps in front of me. And I do everything I can to keep both feet where I feel safe. I make alternative plans. I offer other ideas to God, as if I could remotely control the events of my life. Even when I know I can’t move forward, that I can’t get off the mountain until I let go of the platform, I will try to make another way.

But platforms aren’t meant to be permanent living spaces. They are places for jumping off.

It’s been one of those themes that I’ve seen in my life over the past three and a half years: the audacity, the recklessness of faith. It challenges our commitment to this God who calls us to live a fuller, bigger life…if we’re willing to let go of our feeling of control. I remember the prayer that day walking my dog – Lord, what more can I do for You? What more can I give You? Apparently, it is my wholehearted acceptance of His will, even when it feels reckless or audacious.

We are in a transition season because we have another opportunity to trust the tension in the rope after we step off the platform. I have run out of justifications, excuses, and alternatives for God. I wrote the email that finally closed the door on my way.

There’s no going back if we want to enjoy the ride, if we want to move forward. We have to step off of the platform and trust…

I love the recklessness of faith. First you leap, then you grow wings. – William Sloan Coffin

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The view of Agua (Antigua, Guatemala, 2013)

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The Stone and the Snake

Someone once told me that God typically gives three answers to requests – 1) Yes, 2) No, and 3) Not yet. There’s something that I have requested from Him for years. Like Hannah, I have laid my heart before God in this one thing. And then, recently, I heard His response.

No.

Honestly, it hurt deeply. What I wanted wasn’t bad. It something that many people want. It’s something that is a good thing. But it isn’t what’s best for me at this point in my life…and may never be.

It’s hard to reconcile when our desires, what we imagine to be good for our lives, isn’t what God says is the best for us. While God will allow us to make our choice and I could choose to fulfill my heart’s desire, I don’t want to live in His permissive will. There’s too much room for mediocrity there. I long for His perfect will because I know, in that, I will grow and find life.

Still, it can be painful to leave our heart’s desires on the alter. And I struggled terribly to walk away from that request fully.

Today I was reminded of a point I heard in a message once. There’s this passage in Matthew where Jesus is talking about prayer –

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!

(Matthew 7:7-11)

We typically focus on the fact that the Good Father gives good gifts. If we ask Him for a loaf, He will not give us a stone. If human fathers are can do it, just imagine how much our Heavenly Father will take care of us. And that’s very true. When we ask for what we need and it is what is best for us, God is faithful to provide that in His time and manner.

But what if we ask for the stone?

What if we ask for the snake?

What then? Does a good father give his children the thing they ask for, even when it may hurt or kill them? When it will not be the thing they need?

Our sovereign Father will not give us something that will ultimately hurt us any more than an earthly father would let his children play in bleach or give them poison ivy as a salad.

I am learning that our walk with God is all about learning that He is God, that He is holy, that He is loving – beyond my comprehension. I am continuing to learn that this God who calls me His own expects holiness from me and that holiness requires brokenness in me – it requires refining in me. This Abba Father accepts me as I was, as I am, but calls me beyond that.

Sometimes that means no to what I deeply want.

When I ask for the stone, the answer is clearly no. When I ask for the snake, the answer is no. When I want to live beyond God’s perfect will, the answer is no. Our good Father only gives good gifts meant to help me become more like Christ. I may think that my heart’s desire is good for me, but God knows that it isn’t what I need in my life, that He has another purpose.

My challenge now is to walk away, to leave that desire on the alter, and to rely on God to do this with a cheerful heart. My challenge is to remember to call Him good and faithful even when I don’t feel it. My challenge is to remember that God is I AM and I am not.

This one thing

Sorry for the silence, folks. I’m still trying to adjust to this world with bottles, baby food, diapers, nap time, pterodactyl happy or unhappy screaming….and now work as I return intermittently for the remainder of my FMLA leave.

I’ve been seeking God about new directions, the desires of my heart, and His timing. These types of seasons are so hard. Though I plead with God for what I want, I don’t know what’s next. I don’t know how things will work out. I simply continue to sit and wait, hoping that He will answer me, that He will continue to be faithful to my requests.

I’m sure this post is vague and you might be thinking, what is she asking for? Without sharing too much publicly, I’m asking God to continue to fill the desires of my heart. Although I have specifically asked for two things, I am praying this one thing:

That God would give me His will.

This point was underscored during the message at church on Sunday about prayer. I am making my request of what I do want and hope will be His will, but ultimately I want to have His perfect will accomplished in my life. What that looks like, I’m not sure right now. Until I hear otherwise, I think it means continuing to be where we are.

I never thought the words of the “Lord’s Prayer” to be painful, until I realized what those words require of me: humility, faith, forgiveness, repentance, and an understanding that I do not, in fact, know what’s best for me. Those words are not merely words any longer. They are a reminder to live for a God who is holy, sovereign, provision, forgiving, and faithful.

Whatever I think I want I for my life, He clearly knows better. He is a Father who gives good gifts. The Creator of the world who, in His goodness, created all things, will certainly guide us in the very best path for our lives as the Shows family.

Yes, Lord, “Thy will be done.”
Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Matthew 6:9-13

Let Go

 

God, I don’t want to pray this, but I will.

I would rather be in control.

But I can’t be.

I would rather exert my will.

But it’s not best.

So here’s my prayer.

Not my will, but Yours.

Yours over all.

Yours everyday.

Yours in this moment.

And in the moment to come.

I will let go.

To be still*.

And know that You are God.

 

(and You don’t need my help)

 

*cease striving

 

Today I’m grateful for….

Today I felt discouraged.

But it didn’t last long.

Because there were so many people to hold me up.

So I’m grateful today for friends who have faith when you’re just too tired to believe for yourself.

Who can hold your arms up high for you.

Who stand in the gap and pray with you.

And y’all are right.

God is faithful.

And He’s going to blow our minds in how He will provide.

Back to Why

This weekend I felt a little discouraged. We’re working really hard for this adoption, and overall everyone is supportive. But then you get that one person who is incredibly judgmental for no apparent reason or otherwise just makes you feel like a weirdo for wanting to adopt rather than give birth. And somehow I let those people get inside my head (“rent-free” as my mom would add) and then I start the questions.

Why are we adopting after all? The process is costly, time-consuming, and not easy for sure. Why not just do things the old fashion way, the way that people are comfortable with, instead of going off the beaten path? Why go through this whole process to get “someone else’s kid”? Why am I making expanding our family so much harder for myself? Why take such a big risk? Why not live comfortably within the bounds of normal?

As I sat waiting for our flight back from visiting family for Thanksgiving, I ran into this quote from Francis Chan,

God put me in Simi Valley, California, to lead a church of comfortable people into lives of risk and adventure. I believe He wants us to love others so much that we go to extremes to help them. I believe He wants us to be known for giving – of our time, our money, and our abilities – to start a movement of “giving” churches. In so doing, we can alleviate the suffering in the world and change the reputation of His bride [the Church] in America. Some people, even some at my church, have told me flat-out, “You’re crazy.” But I can’t imagine devoting my life to a greater vision. (Crazy Love, p.21)

God may not have put us in Simi Valley, or called us to lead a church. But He has called us to live lives of risk and adventure. He wants us to love so extremely that we will sacrifice whatever it takes to bring our someday child home. He wants to alleviate the suffering of at least one orphan in a desperately poor country and make that child ours. So that Baby Shows will no longer be an orphan, but a child of a mother and father. No matter who calls us crazy or otherwise questions us, we keep our eyes on the vision He has granted us. It’s not safe or guaranteed. It’s not normal or “comfortable.” But it’s what He’s asked us to do.

That is why.

Walk on the Water

I am fascinated by the story of Peter walking on the water with Jesus, as evidenced by this post and this post (and possibly one other post that I can’t see to find and I’ve now blogged so much that I don’t feel like going through all my posts to track it down… so a prize to anyone who can find it! And by prize I mean crazy blogging points).

Anyway, as I’ve continued to really seek God about what He’s possibly/maybe/potentially/probably calling me (us) to (again, I submit Evidence A), I can’t help but make the comparison to the moment before Peter steps out of the boat. Now, from the accounts described in the four gospels and Acts, I can imagine Peter is a much bolder person than I am, but still looking at the physically impossible must have intimidated him nonetheless. I might have a much smaller personality and voice, but I’m not so sure that Peter expected Christ to take him up on the “if it’s really you comment.” Heh. I guess we all make that “mistake.”

It’s that first step that is really scary. The first step is the one that is really impossible. It’s always the one that is hold us back. It keeps us from the bigger things that God wants for us: the opportunity to experience the Sovereign, the impossible. So we step out of our boat, our safe known place. Trembling or confidence. In tears or with joy. We step out.

Because, scary as it is, that first step is met with the hand of our God.

For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.
2 Timothy 1:7

Inspiration

So before we started the adoption, I hadn’t heard of Katie Davis. Now, I hear about her all the time. If you’re looking to be inspired to do something that is radically obedient to God, you need to read her story. Katie Davis is just 22-years-old and has already lived a bigger life than most people dream to live. She serving in Uganda and she’s simply a woman after God’s heart. It’s truly beautiful.

At 22, most of us were just getting out of college, starting our careers, or living a typical American life. Katie has already been in Uganda for four or five years living a life that is radically different from the one prescribed by the American dream.

She leads an incredible ministry in Uganda (Amazima Ministries),  just released a book (Kisses from Katie), and keeps a personal blog. She was interviewed by Christianity Today. Oh, and she’s a foster/adoptive mom to 13 girls. Check her out! You’ll feel challenged to ask God what obedience to Him looks like for you.

When we are not enough

I’m sometimes reluctant when God calls me to something. Today I’m really struggling with something that God has obviously placed in our path. I really struggled because I feel too small for the task that is in front of us. I’m not the voice that is persuasive or inspiring.

I’m just me. And today I feel like this “me” is very small.

I think about people who stand up and are courageous. They have no fear. They speak with authority and they are ready to change the world.  They are inspiring. They are bigger than life in my mind because I lack the courage to be them. I sit in wonder and look at their ability to stand up, speak up, and move people to justice. I am in awe of these folks. They are incredible super heroes in my mind.

And then there are people like me. The people who feel like they are too small, too not ready, too quiet and unsure of themselves. God calls us too, even when we tell Him we’re not up for the job, talented, or even equipped.

Today I’ve sat and pondered what God really means by this potential opportunity to speak for the vulnerable, the “least of the least”. I could say that I have a legitimate reason to object to this opportunity, and I do. But the real reason I want to object is that I’m scared. I don’t want to go along because it frightens me to be on the frontlines. Unfortunately for me, God hasn’t asked for my permission for His plan. He is seeking my obedience to His plan. He has called; will I obey?

Because throughout God’s story, He has used people who have said they weren’t enough: prepared enough, eloquent enough, equipped enough, brave enough, educated enough, adequate enough, or talented enough. But that’s the point right? God’s grace is perfected in weakness – when we aren’t enough.

Honestly, I’m terrified. I look at His hand before me, calling me out onto the water where trust is a means of survival, no longer a “luxury” and I don’t know how to move. Because it often comes to this question: Do I trust You?

God knows my concern. This morning I was reading in Isaiah and came across 41:10:

‘Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

Because no matter what God calls us to, the greater purpose is learning to trust God in all things. To not fear, to recognize that He strengthens us in all things. I probably am not “enough” of anything, but my God is. And He who begins a good work in us will see it to completion. I don’t need to be terrified because He is with us.

You have the words of life…

There are times that I don’t like what Jesus teaches. I mean, who really wants to live life according to the Red Letters? His teachings stand in opposition to the very cultural thread that makes the American Dream. Yet, I somehow follow Him. I take these bite-size pieces of His calling for me and try to live them out. I know full well that not everyone likes my lifestyle, or agrees with it, or even understands it. I’m fully aware of it. Yet, this Rabbi calls me to Life Eternal, which begins now.

In John 6, Jesus does a few miracles. He feeds thousands of people from a couple fish and a few loaves. He then walks on water. And then He teaches about Himself and the sacrifice He is called to make, and what it means to respond to Him. Hearing those words about the Eternal supper, the people begin to walk away, disappointed, disheartened. After the miracles, in the long run, His teachings were difficult. They required faith that those people were unwilling to have. And so they left. The crowds that were so enamored with Him, so ready to make Him king, leave their Teacher because He asks too much.

So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?”(John 6:67)

I can imagine that even though Jesus came here knowing He would be rejected, He as a man was hurt. I imagine that He asks that question fully knowing what the twelve are thinking and isn’t able to look them in the eye. The people adore Him for His miracles; they reject Him for His teaching. And there’s silence that fills the air as they think, do we?

I know I’ve been that way. After the miracles of Christ, I don’t want to walk the hard line of faith. Loving that person is too much. Forgiving someone who doesn’t “deserve it” isn’t what our culture says I should do. Seeking humility over pride isn’t going to get me anywhere. I sometimes worry that I am confused that this walk of faith is about me and not about a Savior who longs for me to be more like Him. Eating the bread and drinking the cup…it’s a meal that I’d rather not eat.

But after a moment of a little tantrum or argument with God, I realize that I can’t walk away.

68Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. 69 We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.”

In the long run, He holds the words of eternal life. His teachings, however hard, breathe life into my existence. And beyond the miracles, beyond the teachings, He is the Holy One of God. He alone provides purpose and meaning.

So my heart is to recognize the Holy One of God, even when the teachings are beyond what I want to do, even when I feel like I will be rejected with Him by my culture for my obedience. I long to live the Red Letters. Because the resounding question is still the same 2000 years later.

Lord, to whom shall we go?