Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Blessed with a Burden

I meant to write this post a few weeks ago when one of my dear girlfriends was home for a surprise visit, because her overwhelming passion and burden for those involved in human trafficing was contagious and intense and got me thinking about the blessing in all that! Not the blessing of being involved, but rather the blessing of being used and affected and moved with God's heart. 

My friend Pam is on a year long mission's trip around the world with an organization called the World Race and she has been exposed to some intense situations and environments these past few months that were outrageous to even hear about. We were all just sitting around the table eating a wonderful dinner and catching up and hearing about her travels when suddenly in the middle of one of her stories, just as all the parents were coming out of the room that they were eating in to join us, Pammy just broke down completely! I mean like the kind of helpless brokenness that completely silenced the room and made us all feel like we were suddenly sitting in the audience, watching from a distance, as God revealed to us what He was REALLY doing in her life. The mood in the room had taken a dramatic plunge and her parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles were all semi-jokingly asking us what we said to her to make her cry.  She was talking about all the women, girls and boys who have been pulled into human trafficing without a choice and how she just doesn't understand why we're here and they're there. She was balling as she said in desperation "what did we do to deserve this and why didn't they get a choice in the path that their lives have taken? It's just not fair!" As she was crying and talking between deep breaths to the crowd that now surrounded our table, I looked around at her family and I felt like I kind of saw a piece of what God was doing and how he was using her to impact her family and everyone in the room and I realized that God was in the middle of blessing her with an incredible burden!

It gave me another perfect picture of how the body of Christ is working today. Most of the people in that room will never get the experiences that she has had, but will still have the connection to those experiences through her and will support her, not out of obligation, but out of an understanding of how God is using her and a desire to be a part of what God's doing.

It reminded me a little bit of the movie Freedom Writers and that's where I got the term "blessed with a burden." If you haven't seen the movie you should! There's a scene in the movie where Hillary Swank is sitting in her house packing with the help of her father and she breaks down, because her personal life is in shambles. She has poured every ounce of herself into her students and it has cost her a hefty personal fine. She's crying as she talks to her dad and he says, "you have been blessed with a burden my dear" and then something about being the proudest father in the world or something like that : ) He says that most people don't ever get the chance in life to impact people the way she is doing and to make a real difference and that he was so proud of her. So, this got me thinking about something, which is totally going to give the movie away, so don't read any further if you haven't seen it yet : ) It got me thinking about how God uses single people in incredible ways that married people could never be used. Basically, she was so involved in teaching that her marriage fell apart and ended in divorce. Now, I kinda liked this picture. It was completely depressing, because you don't ever want bad things to happen to good people, but it was realistic and made sense. I'm not at all saying that marriage is bad or that single is better than married, but just that there are benefits to both, but in completely different ways. No married woman could pour her heart into something like Hillary Swank does and expect to have life outside of that.

I think that sometimes God gives people a burden that allows them to experience him in an incredibly unique and powerful way and could best be done in singleness. Not completely alone, but without the responsibility and necessity of time that is needed for a healthy marriage. Again, I am not putting down marriage, because I believe a healthy marriage is a STRONG witness, especially in America where the divorce rate for Christians and non-Christians alike is about 50%. I am just saying that I think singleness is a blessing that comes alongside the blessing of many great burdens. 

Which brings me to my last thought: What is my burden? What gets me crying out in desperation for God's presence? I may get married one day, but in the mean time how could I allow God to be using me more in this present time of singleness and complete freedom of spontaneity? 

hmm...  I'm not sure that I have one overwhelming burden, but give me MORE Lord! Teach my heart to beat with Yours and open my eyes to move with YOUR impulses. Thank you Pam for sharing your heart with us and for leading us with how you are following the Lord's leading in your life. 

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Bring it On!

So I was sittin in church today and thinkin bout how sometimes God teaches me the same truth over and over again, but how each time he takes me deeper and teaches it to me on a different level. Now, this isn't exactly a new discovery : ) I've thought about this a lot lately. It's like I think I've experienced God in the greatest way until the next time around He takes me deeper than I knew existed and I think "Wow! God, what is this?!?! What are you doing? How did I get here? Don't let me leave! Please, Lord don't stop the music!" I think I have a lyrical soul. I don't even exactly know what that means, but God uses music in my life... A LOT! He quiets my mind and my soul with music and speaks to me with this gentle and strong whisper that sort of sweeps me away for a bit.

So, anyway, I've been working on continuing the conversation even when the song does stop. You know, like after church when you're all fired up about something and then the plans for lunch and the rest of the day just drowned out whatever you were thinkin about. I decided the past two weeks to intentionally continue the conversation with God by sharing it with someone right away and the past two weeks it's been one of my high school girls that's been sittin with me in the main service. It was so GREAT! God just danced in our conversation and it was like a little breath of life was brought back to the body of Christ as it was intended! We were talkin about how the same power that raised Christ from the dead is inside each of us, just waiting to be delved into and how we must be fools for not constantly asking God for big things! He is so powerful and He wants to use us and He could be moving mountains through us if we chose to ask for it. I forget how BIG God is sometimes. I forget that as much as He has been moving in my life this past year, I can ALWAYS ask for more!

I was taking communion and thinkin bout how the bread and the juice are symbols of what Christ did for us so that we could live FULLY for Him, not reserved and slow growing. I decided, "this is it! Today Lord, I will take this bread and drink this cup in remembrance of why you did what you did and how that power is ready to be used in and through me to bring You glory through a fuller, purer life!" 

The sermon that was going on in the midst of all this was the parable of the sower and seeds and the 4 conditions of the heart (soil). So, I asked God to bring on the pruning! To weed and prune and cleanse my life! To strip from my path anything that would hinder me from FULLY living for Him and anything that is diluting the Holy Spirit's work in my heart. It sounds kinda funny, but I left that building with butterflies in my stomach, because I knew that I had asked God to move and He would. I know that He wants nothing more than to take me so much deeper EVERYday! But... I also know that He most often uses pain to bring me deeper. Which brings me to the next thing.

In my high school life group today we went a little off topic and we were talking about God and his involvement with pain. Does He bring on the pain or does He just use it if it's already there? I, personally believe that He brings on the pain, because I do not believe that pain is evil. Pain is difficult to swallow most of the time, but it can also be so beautiful! There's something about emotional pain in particular that just brings me to such a raw and moldable place in my heart that I can't help but to think that God created it. I have the desire to be desperate and fully reliant upon God, but it just seems to usually be pain that actually gets me there. 

Okay, last thought : ) Before getting off topic, we were talking about Colossians 1:15-17 in my high school girls' life group and v. 17 really hit me. "He is before all things, and in him all things hold together." We were discussing what it meant for God to be before all things and it wasn't until after second service when I was talking to one of my girls that it really hit me. It doesn't just mean that He existed before all things, but it means that He goes before all things. It means that everyday He is not only 10 steps ahead of us, preparing the way in the hearts of everyone we encounter, but He is also with us as we walk through the path He prepared. So, I pray for God to do BIG things and to bring on the pruning. I believe that pain will come as I walk down a path that has been prepared, with a God that is fully ready to pull me deeper at my rawest, most broken moments into an increasingly more beautiful dance of falling madly in love with my Savior who will always love me more than I can fully experience, but needless to say, it is worth it! 

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Two Times the Fun!

Almost 2 years ago one of my dear friends and wonderful mentor, Katie had a beautiful baby boy named Micah John (same as my brother) and she is now soon to have another! Along with this wonderful news she just moved into a new house. My friend Katy and I were able to visit her this week and help her settle in a little. While we were there we snapped a few photos of this handsome young man with my new camera and I just had to share these! 

He's such a little boy : ) He only knows a few words and his favorite by far is "car." He's hilarious!