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I’m the kind of person who doesn’t worry.

Instead, I PANIC.

This week, I woke up and decided it was high time for some panicking.

Just kidding. But really, I did panic.

It was like for so long I (and we) have been in the dramatic upheaval of marriage and missionary training and moving and starting out support raising that I didn’t have time to panic, only to keep my head above water.

But slowly, things have settled. We’ve unpacked our things. We bought a comforter. Our rings became less shiny and our stuff less new and our marriage less novel, and suddenly I wasn’t just surviving.

And when I finally had enough time to stand and look around, I panicked. Not just panicked, but PANICKED. Like, freaking out, crying, full-blown angry-thrashy-sweaty-nightmare-filled sleep panicked.

Like a child who suddenly realizes they’ve swum into the deep end on accident, I’ve lost my footing. Spluttering, choking, gasping for breath.

How are we ever going to do this? Missionaries? What were we thinking? Really. There are people far smarter, far better, far more spiritual and qualified for this than us. Trust me, we went through training with them.

But here we are. With the title “Missionary” on our marriage license and our tax forms. Doing just that.

But for some reason, God chose us for this. I definitely don’t always appreciate it (last night as we were getting ready for bed, I told Clay that I really wish God could have chosen to make us something more stable, like an office-worker or full-time vacation-taker. He told me the first one isn’t all that stable and the second one doesn’t exist. Dang.) But I know we’re right where we’re supposed to be.

And honestly, it’s a scary place to be. I wish I could say that I wasn’t scared, that I was trusting God completely, that I was at peace. But I’m not. But I’m getting there.

Every day I wake up, I’m dragging these reluctant feet a few more steps, urging this stubborn heart to soften just a little bit more. I’m getting there. I am. I’m just slower than you might expect.

“I believe I will look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13)

I have clung to this verse like it is life itself. To me, it says so much. It says not only will I see the goodness of the Lord, but that I will see it in the land of the living. Did you catch that? I won’t have to wait until heaven. I will see it here. Now.

Oh, that gives me so much hope!

To know that it’s not the interminable waiting. To know that I’m not stuck on “this side of eternity”, a phrase to me that sounds like being a toddler stuck behind the baby gate, watching all the fun happening in the other room.

To know that I can, right now, in this place, in this situation, experience his goodness, no matter how scared or small or insufficient I feel.

I love that. I need that.

I BELIEVE I will look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of living. In the land of missionary support raising. In the land of newly-married-ness. In the land of Columbus, Ohio (aka far, far away from the ministry and the students I love.) In this land, right here, today.

I believe I will.

I believe.

 

 

“What I need to survive is not fire…I have plenty of fire myself. What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses. That it can be good again.”

I need someone to show me how selfish and horrible I really am, but love me and tell me they think I’m wonderful anyway. Not because I am. But because they love me. And that’s what love does.

It loves, sometimes just to spite the bad.

Wrestling with the sovereignty of God is never an easy task, even in the abstract. Doing it in the real, everyday, muddy details of life is like trying to thread a needle while riding a bull. Recently, I've been wrestling with this idea, once again. It seems to be a theme of my life this year.

For those who might not know, next year I've taken a position as an intern with Cru at OU, a Christian organization with a focus on sharing the Gospel, disciple-making, and world missions. It's literally a dream job, and I'm so excited to get to go back to the campus I love and share the love of Jesus, full-time.

But, before I go, I face a pretty big challenge. Cru staff, like a lot of other missionary organizations, raise their own financial support, by partnering with individuals and churches. I have to raise my own between now and August 1st. If I don't raise it, I don't go.

This is what's been really tough for me. I can put up post-it's with verses of God's promises of provision. I can memorize passages of Scripture that tell me of how He will not forsake those who seek Him. I can fall on my knees everyday, acknowledging my very real dependance on Him to provide the means for me to fill my mouth with food. All of those things, I am doing. But what's been hard, is acknowledging that He may choose not to.

I haven't even let myself think along these lines. But He could. He could choose not to bring the support in. He could choose, come August 1st, to keep me off staff. (Just writing those words was so hard, I started to cry.)

This is where faith gets real. Yes, it requires real faith to believe that God will provide me the financial support for an entire year. But I think it requires even more to believe that He is good, kind, and loving, even if He chooses to not allow the support to come in.

What will I do, if that happens? Will I hate him, and curse him, like Jonah? Or will I stand with Job, and say, "The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord."?

As of now, I'm fairly certain I would curse Him, just to be honest. It would be so excruciating to see yet another dream die, another hope deferred.

But I must, I must, believe that He is in control of ALL things, good and bad. I must believe that He works all things for my ultimate good. I must believe that if He did not spare His own son for me, then neither will He withhold any other sort of good from me, (no matter what I think good looks like.)

Oh, God, change my heart that I might be able to say, no matter what happens this summer, "Blessed be the name of the Lord."

 

There are a thousand reasons to call God a good God, and praise Him forever, but this is the one that my mind keeps coming to rest on, for whatever reason.

Jesus is good not because he gives me so many good things, but because he could take every single one of those good things away from me in an instant, and simply knowing him would be sufficiently sweet to lighten my heart, strengthen my spirit, content my mind, and satisfy my soul.

Just knowing Jesus is the sweetest thing I have ever experienced.

“And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace” (John 1:16 ESV)

“Jesus is good, but He is not safe.”

That’s the quote that has been running through my mind a lot lately as I struggle to make it through the end of this quarter.  In comparison to the joy that was fall quarter, winter quarter has been dragging by. It’s hard to blame it on one thing. Most likely, it’s a mind numbing combination of hard classes, lack of sun and sleep, unfortunate circumstances, and the rather unpleasant experience of continually wrestling with my sin.

Yes, Jesus is good, but He is definitely not safe.  In fact, I think it not too great a statement to say that if Jesus hasn’t really screwed your life up, you might want to question if you’re truly following Him.

Here’s what I mean with that statement – to become a Christian is to literally become a new person (2 Cor 5:17). if that is so, then everything about you must radically change. Your dreams, your desires, your hopes, your patterns of speech, thought, and action.  The very core of your being has found a new sun to revolve around – you  must change. Whether slowly or in an instant, you must. There is no other way.

For me, looking back at my old self before I was a Christian, sometimes I marvel at how much I have changed. I don’t think anyone would have said I was a bad person – I mean, I was generally a good kid. But my heart was disgusting – my motivations were selfish and wrong. I had my life all planned out, at age 16. I was going to graduate, go to college, (funnily enough, my plans at that time included OU, although I would change them after I became a Christian), major in broadcast Journalism, and use my looks and my charm to work my way to the top. Once up there I would work, maybe get married and have some kids, acquire a lot of money and stuff, and then retire and die.  A very clean, successful, respectable life.

Then I met Jesus.

Now I have no idea what’s going on. I plan only the bare minimum that I’m required too. I no longer dream of growing up, becoming wealthy and settling down. Instead, the desires for a big house, nice car, and a fancy neighborhood have been replaced with a dream of being a missionary, a heart for broken women and children, and a love of India and the Middle East. Above all, and perhaps most shameful for my family and friends – I have this burning desire to share the Gospel. This uncontrollable urge to tell everyone about the man named Jesus, and the incredible way He has transformed my heart and mind.

These are hardly quiet, respectable, upper-middle class desires.

Nope, Jesus messed up my life pretty good.

And yeah, I won’t lie. It’s been hard.  In fact, I would say my life after coming to Christ has been harder than everything that happened before me.

But it’s been sweeter. It’s been worth it. Sure, I’ve gotten a lot of bumps and bruises from running after Christ – but it’s much better than just sitting on the fence like I did before.

What about you? Has Christ messed up your life?

Yeah – Jesus is good. Really good. But He’s not safe.

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Past Musings