So You Hear It From Me

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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.

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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.

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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?

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Choose A Cape – Not A Cardigan.

When I was 16, I worked as a counselor for a Christian day camp, at a leafy summer spot across the lake from my house. Although I liked singing every morning in the round theater that smelled like old milk and cedar, I kind of faked it because I didn’t want to become the churchy weirdo who misses out on every bit of teenage fun.

Photo Credit: shenamt

Photo Credit: shenamt

Because as far as I could tell, the Christians were selling cardigans, and I wanted a cape. It looked to me like people would take a deep breath, step to the front of the line, pull on their scratchy, over-tight synthetic sweater, and promptly start dying.

But the world is huge and I was hungry. I didn’t want to get married. I wanted to date inappropriate men and lose my shoes in a bar in Cancun. I wanted a big job where people knew my name, and to drive across country listening to EmmyLou Harris. I wanted red deserts and empty coastlines, art and chaos, perfect liberty and rapture.

And I thought Jesus wouldn’t let me have that, so I played along, picking and choosing. Maybe you’re doing the same.

But nobody ever told me, perhaps because they didn’t know either, that Jesus is all about capes, and he wasn’t the only one who walked on water. Peter did it too because Jesus told him to.

He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. Matthew 14:29

I want to walk on water and I want you to come too. Forget the bumper stickers and election season rhetoric. If I lose 100 lbs you’re going to ask me how I did it. Well, I lost 100 lbs of shame and rejection. Fear doesn’t sit on my chest anymore. I no longer burn endless heaps of mental garbage and have imaginary arguments with people before meetings.

Yes, I absolutely had to quit losing my shoes in bars and running around with bad men, but what I got in return so thoroughly eclipsed those amusements, I can’t believe I ever chose them over Jesus. And if the proof’s in the pudding, here are a couple of things happening around here lately:

I quit my lucrative job in corporate insurance sales and became the writer I’ve wanted to be since I was 12. Though I have a lot less money now, I seem to always have what I need, so I give some of it away, which makes me happier than anything else I do. Surprise!

Last month, I spoke from the back of my horse, to an arena full of East Texas cowboys. I talked about how proud we are of the leaky cisterns we build, and how Jesus just wants to smash them and start over with us, building something that can actually hold water.

I leave Tuesday for West Africa, a place I never imagined going. Not only does my new job at Mercy Ships send me around the world, but it gives me unfettered access to people who are  groping their way toward the light too. They are also known as friends.

Look out world!

The fabulous Lisa Long, author Bob Goff and me.

And I’ve finally met the Christians I didn’t know when I was 16 – people like author Bob Goff who wears his cape like a freak flag and swoops into people’s lives and makes them better.

The Bible says God is no respecter of persons, so if he’ll do it for me, he’ll do it for you. It’s a process but if it’s one you’ve considered, here’s me cheering you on.

Wondering where to start? Try the Gospel of John. It’s refreshing to see what Jesus actually says, not what people say he says.