So You Hear It From Me

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Ouibangi River. Impfondo, Congo 2013

I resigned from Mercy Ships today. My last day is December 21 –  the winter solstice, the shortest, darkest day of the year.

Am I out of my mind?

Maybe.

I’m leaving because I have books to write and friends to help and some wrestling to do with God. Not necessarily in that order.

This feels both brave and crazy, but here’s something I know: You can’t steer a horse who won’t move his feet. You must first drive him on.

I too have to walk on, even, and perhaps especially, when the path is hazy and I’m a little nervous. Following Jesus requires forward motion, and at the moment, that’s what I lack.

I’d be lying if I said I’m not afraid to step off this cool platform though.

photo-24

Tanya. Jenny. Stace. Haiti. July 2014

The opportunities I’ve had with Mercy Ships are unlike anything else. I’ve watched fireflies in Congo and brought 50 orphans to the ship for Easter. I’ve worked with hundreds of incredible Jesus followers from all over the world, and invaded their privacy on a regular basis. I love that ship and her people so much it makes me ache, but as my friend Krissy says:

In the Kingdom of God, your best days are never behind you.

And that has to be true because the Lord Jesus said, the Kingdom of God is like leaven. The only thing leaven does is make things grow and rise.

What do you want to grow? What would you like to see rise in your own life? Think about it because the world needs you operating from that place. Like asap.

For me, it’s writing books and helping stoke the fire that is burning inside you. I want to push you toward your purpose in the Kingdom of God and see you for who you are becoming, not who you currently are. Then help you get there.

But to do it, I’ve got to be brave and walk on, away from my familiar. Put bluntly, I’ve got work to do. But how many times have I demurred because I was overwhelmed by the loss of whatever I had to leave behind? What opportunities did I miss because I, perhaps rightly, didn’t trust my own judgement.

The fact is, my judgment is limited and faulty, but His is perfect. I can’t imagine how I ever did anything brave or crazy without Jesus. It’s ironic that for most of my life I thought my big, broad reach would shrink under His authority, but when I finally submitted to Him, the opposite happened. When I humbled myself enough to follow Jesus, He led me places I never dreamed I’d go.

IMG_6560

Me and Mrs. Jones. Madagascar 2015

A friend of mine has pointed me to this scripture many times.

Enlarge the place of your tent; Stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, spare not; Lengthen your cords and strengthen your pegs, for you will spread abroad to the right and to the left. And your descendants will possess nations and will resettle the desolate cities, says the Prophet Isaiah.

So that’s what I’m doing.

As long as I stay close – abiding, letting his sap run through my veins, I can walk on, trusting and following the Good Shepherd through what may be green pastures or the valley of the shadow of death. Who knows really?

Want to come along?

miller-quote

Advertisements

A Story on Mother’s Day

Today was the first time in a decade I haven’t spent Mother’s Day, feeling like an abandoned aircraft hangar, with rickety falling off doors, loose tin and rats in the corners. It’s a victory to instead feel like a busy, well-lit clearing house, processing little boxes of love and sending them right back out the door.

The difference is, lately I’ve been telling the truth – a lot – to people who are also knee-deep in the messy and glorious body of Christ. And I think it is totally remarkable how the Lord moves his followers to drift and sway together like seaweed does in the tide. Especially, when life is painful.

The reason I walked away, ten years ago, from a faith I didn’t understand, was a bad story with a faulty premise.

A failed attempted at motherhood weakened my superstructure of tepid Christianity, belligerent politics, pride, loneliness, judgment and fear. After it all fell down, I sat for years at the bar nursing one bitter cocktail after another and barfing that story all over everybody.

Today, I don’t even recognize that girl, because I straight up repented – in the most literal sense of the word – I turned and walked the opposite direction; away from the bitterness that was poisoning my life and into the arms of Jesus and his people.

Crazy. Wise. Choice.

That choice forced me to look hard at the stories I’d always told myself. The sanctimony. The loneliness. The fear. Then I had to admit it, so people could help me replace those stories with new ones about who I am and what I’m doing in the world God so desperately wants to redeem.

And in that process, God made me a mom. A spiritual mom. A mentor mom. All day today I’ve received calls, cards and texts from women who said I’ve mattered to them in some way.

FullSizeRender 6

Living as a follower of Jesus has brought me people who cry in my office, my car, my living room about a thousand topics, including the children that they, like me, cannot have. It has brought me mentors who tell me to read Isaiah 54. It has brought me daughters who tell me they do something now because they watched me do it.

Unimaginable. Couldn’t have written that story alone. Impossible.

And the only difference between now and my bitter barfly days is Jesus.

It takes courage to stare down the stories we have told ourselves for years, to dismantle them and begin to write new ones. Mostly because without Jesus as the first and last word, we’re still trying to save ourselves.

And that’s just not the whole story.

Want to Quit Your Job? It’s Thursday.

New York Times Bestselling Author Bob Goff is famous for saying, “Quit something on Thursday. Maybe even your job.”

Bob believes that in order to make space for things you want, you have to clear out some things you don’t – even big things. So at his Love Does Conference in Seattle last year, I took him up on it.

“All right Bob,” I said, and quit my job, with my new BFF Lisa Long standing by.

The Culprits.

The Goff Unemployment Index rises by two.

I heard from that raven haired beauty Lisa Long today, AND GUESS WHAT SHE DID?

She quit her job…And it’s not even Thursday. Now, Lisa didn’t exactly work at the mall, she’s had a very big job for the last 22 years, so quitting was no small thing. But I’ve never heard her more excited.

“I have so much joy today and now I’m like Ok Jesus, whatever. I’m ready.”

Try praying like that some time.

Here’s the fun part.

This wasn’t a whim, Lisa’s been considering it for a while. Yesterday morning she got up early to pray it over and wound up watching a couple of videos Bob posts. This was one of them. It’s 30 seconds. Watch it!

Six hours later, I posted the same video on my Facebook page and she saw it – again. Then she picked up the phone, called a meeting and pulled the chocks like a boss.

It’s not that Lisa isn’t scared, she is, but because she believes the Kingdom of God is a way of being in this world, right now, she is brimming with hope about what is next, and I CAN NOT WAIT….(How about a big white ship? hint hint.)

If you choose to live in the Kingdom of God – and by the way Bob would say, you’re not just invited, you’re welcome – it’s ok to reject coincidence. It’s ok, when people who love you post on Facebook things you’re already thinking, to believe that may just be God saying,

“Let go baby. I’ve got this. I’ve got plans for you.”  Jeremiah 29:11

Without the confidence I gained from reading Jeremiah 29:11 a thousand times, I wouldn’t have had the guts to quit selling insurance. If I hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t have gone to Zambia, which led me to Mercy Ships, and nine out ten people agree, bandaging the feet of lepers in West Africa is more interesting than selling insurance.

So, where do you need to pull the chocks and who are you trusting to help you?

Bob’s pal author Don Miller put it like this at the Love Does Conference:

“Are you being too careful? Is it robbing the Kingdom of God of something? We don’t want you to be careful anymore.”

Happy Thursday.