Some days are harder than others. Some days, you hear things people you care about are dealing with and you just wonder how God can redeem even this. But he can. And he does. He redeems it all. In his Glorious Unfolding.
You know those songs that get you drumming your steering wheel while you’re driving? Yeah, I have one right now. It’s my fav song on Christian radio right now. My favorite line? “There’ll be days I lose the battle. Grace says that it doesn’t matter. ‘Cause the cross already won the war.” As a recovering perfectionist & control freak, that is the Good News, folks!
So, get ready to do your best Chad Smith (if you get that without Googling it, we should be best friends) and turn the volume up! I present to you Mercy Me’s Greater!
So, you’ve probably seen my recent posts about Jen Hatmaker’s book Interrupted. If you haven’t, here’s the nutshell wrap up: it totally wrecked me. And it stirred something in me. And to be honest, I’ve begun to feel frustrated that I haven’t been able to discern what the stirring is. Or what it means. Or what I’m supposed to do next.
Yesterday, I sat down and looked at the cover of the book and let out a whiny, “Now what?!”
And God answered. And I really didn’t like it.
Here’s some back story for ya that got me to yesterday. A little while back I was tasked with something (actually it was a suggestion at the time) that was COMPLETELY outside of my comfort zone and I totally blew it off. Here’s the thing. It’s not at all a “spiritual” thing. It’s not even a hard thing. But it’s a thing that is out of my comfort zone. So out of my comfort zone that I’ve avoided it like bad coffee. Until yesterday, when it became apparent that not only could I no longer avoid this thing, I’m actually going to have to do it. Oh, and I’m not feelin’ it AT ALL.
So, back to my “now what” moment. God answered, but not with what I wanted to hear. See, instead of a direction or some instruction about a divine path, He wanted to chat about that little, completely non-spiritual, insignificant, out-of-my-comfort-zone thing. Ummm…what?
He so gently spoke to my spirit and said, “If you can’t be obedient in this little thing, how do you expect to be obedient in the big things?” Hold the phone, God. What was that? This out of my comfort zone thing wasn’t something from YOU! It had noting to do with You or obedience to you or a spiritual calling.
As God shakes his head (because that’s what I see in my head because I’d shake my head at me), He told me that although He didn’t drop this thing on me himself, it was absolutely from Him. He told me that if this small thing was enough to keep me from venturing out of my comfort zone when there’s really not much on the line, there’s no way I’d be able to obey the bigger spiritual things. He asked me if I was still content with my comfortable Christianity.
Y’all, it was a tough moment. If He had led with the whole “content with comfortable Christianity” thing, I would have been rather indignant in answering that I most certainly was not content. But the truth is, I’m not discontent enough to step out of my comfort zone in obedience. But I’m getting there.
This “thing” itself will probably have no Kingdom impact when it’s all said and done. (Seriously y’all, it’s so insignificant and not a big deal…just not comfortable for me. And it’s dumb that it’s uncomfortable for me. Have we established well enough that I like my comfort zone?) But my obedience in the thing, even though I want to throw up at the thought of doing it, has a huge impact on how I’ll allow God to use me in His Kingdom.
So today, I’ll work diligently on this non-Kingdom thing and fight the urge to run from it. Today, I’ll obey in stepping outside of my comfort zone, not because I’m excited about the task at hand, but because I want to be so discontent in my comfortable Christianity, that my comfort zone is a non-issue when God calls.
God, create in me an obedient heart. Prepare me for the path ahead with these little and big stretching things. Create in me a brave heart that’s more afraid of missing out than stepping out.
I should start this by saying I’m the mom of a 6-year-old. And I watch cartoons with her. So, since God meets us right where we are, it only makes sense that this post is brought to you courtesy of an episode of Doc McStuffins, right? (Not even kidding.)
So here’s the skinny. Doc McStuffins is a doctor to stuffed animals & toys. When she’s alone, all her toys & stuffed animals come to life and one of them always has an injury or illness that she fixes. On this particular episode, there is an adventuresome, capable princess who decides to leave the tower of her castle by repelling down the side (with a helmet on of course, because we have to be safe…and realistic). But the gallant knight Sir Kirby will have no part of it. He rushes away to get his trusty horse to “rescue” the princess whom he believe is in danger.
The Princess successfully and safely reaches the ground only to be scooped up by Sir Kirby and thrown over the back of his horse and off they go. At about this point, I went to the laundry room or started doing dishes or started cooking something…who knows really and didn’t see any more of the story. But knowing how these stories go, I’m fairly certain that either Sir Kirby or the Princess or both of them ended up with some sort of injury that had to be fixed. Because one person (or toy) thought another person (or toy) needed rescuing.
That got me thinking. How often do we rush to the “rescue” of someone only to do more damage than good? How often do we need to be the fixer or the hero and rob someone of an opportunity to learn or grow? It’s human nature, I think, to want to protect those we love. And sometimes the hardest thing to do is sit back and not rescue.
But how many growth opportunities and learning opportunities would we miss? I remember being 23 and single and telling my parents that I was pregnant with my son. I had been “on my own” for about 1 year and a half. But had a ridiculous amount of growing up to do. I remember my parents, and a short time later my grandparents, promising to support me through whatever this uncertain time in my life held. But in a very loving nutshell, they let me know that this messiness of life was my messiness. And mine to own and mine navigate through. They would be there to listen, to encourage me, to give advice, to pray for me. But I wouldn’t be rescued from my mess. I know, especially for my mom, there had to be times where she just wanted to ride in on the white horse and rescue me away. But she didn’t. And from day one, I’ve been grateful that no one rescued me. That hard, unpredictable time was a beautiful tool that God used to shape and mold me and grow me.
I remember when Payne was learning to tie his shoes. Any parent who has gone through this knows that the patience of Job may not be enough to get you through waiting for your child to tie shoes. There was a day that we were in a particular hurry and completely lost my patience waiting. I went over and told him to just let me do it so that we could leave. I’ll never forget him looking at me and saying, “Mom, if you don’t let me do it myself, I’ll never learn.” So much wisdom from such a young child.
Sometimes watching those we love go through something hard is like watching our kids learn how to tie their shoes. We can fix it faster. We know what they need to do. But they’ll never actually learn what they need to learn to actually tie their own shoes if we keep doing the work. That person that you love so dearly that is really struggling with life right now? They don’t need you to rescue them. They need you to pray for them. Because you can’t save them, but God can rescue and restore and make beautiful things. They don’t need you to fix what you see as a mess. Because God has a plan for that mess that you’ll likely only get in the way of.
That person? She doesn’t need your rescuing. He doesn’t need you to save him. You can’t do it anyway. All of those things that you want to accomplish for that person? God wants more and better. Let HIM do the saving and rescuing in HIS way.
So, here’s the deal. I’m moderately obsessed with Jen Hatmaker and when she started an email newsletter, I signed up as soon as I heard. Then, when she emailed for bloggers to send in some info for the opportunity to review her book Interrupted, I got my email in quickly. Because I wanted her book (for free!) and I wanted to read it. And I wanted to write about it. But I wasn’t planning on having my comfy Christianity wrecked. Yes, there would be some “feel goods” and maybe a hint of conviction here and there, but no wrecking. Absolutely no wrecking.
That was quickly an idea I knew that God was laughing at when I read Jen’s prayer: Raise up in me a holy passion and then prayed it for myself.
Um, I was crying and underlining and highlighting while reading the foreword. The FOREWARD, people. I knew my plan to not be wrecked was straight out the window. There was a part of me that wanted to just put the book down. Did I really want my comfortable life wrecked? I was a little afraid of what God might ask of me…or point out to me…or convict in me. But I kept reading.
Aside from my Bible, there is no book I own that has so many notes in the margins, underlining, highlighting, circling and tear stains. Friends, I’ll tell you now. If you like the cozy American Christian life and want to just stay the course, don’t even pick up this book. If you think the American church has it all figured out and is the standard (or should be) for the rest of the world, this book isn’t for you. If you don’t want your happy bubble popped, just don’t even read my blog. Seriously.
But if you feel like you might be missing something…that as much as you’re fed through church sermons, Bible studies, activities and church life, yet you’re still never really full…THIS IS FOR YOU. When I read the following, I completely lost it. This is where I’ve been for a really long time. And this is when I knew, beyond any doubt, that this book was for me, right now.
“I had gorged myself on all the products of the Christian industrial complex but was spiritually starving to death. I was marked by an over consumption but malnourished spiritually, suffocated by Christianity but thirsty for God.”
I know God. I see him show up in my life, in my family, for my friends. I don’t doubt Him. I have relationship with Him. But I’m over-churched and completely malnourished spiritually. There are moments where I’m full, but not consistently. Not the way it could be. Or should be.
In this book, there are eye-opening and heart wrenching facts about our country and our world that will rattle you at your core. And should ignite a fire in you. There are methodologies that challenge the legalist in anyone. And, for me, there was such a fresh, new understanding of Scriptures I’ve read my entire life.
And there was also the gut punching conviction that I’ve placed way to much of the responsibility for my spiritual nourishment on my church leaders. Because when you know something is missing spiritually, that ugly human reaction is to blame someone else.
There have been stirrings in my spirit in recent years that this book put into words. And there has been a sense of solidarity forged in my heart that LOVE is what we should lead with. Not judgement, not condemnation, not even opinion. Just love. Lead with love.
Folks, there are conversations that God & I have had through this that have reached the most intimate places in my heart. I’m done reading the book, but God is definitely not done with me. I could write a book on just my takeaways from this book.
I told a friend last week that I didn’t think I could “review” this book. You can’t review something that has such a deep reach into your heart. But, friends, I can tell you this: If you want to experience God in a new way, if you want to have a fresh set of eyes on often heard Scripture, if you’re willing to have your comfortable bubble wrecked, then this book is for you.
Have you been Interrupted? I’d love to hear your stories. And create a little community for us to pray together as we discover what God wants to do with our interruptions.