Feb 14, 2010

a fork in the road

As they were going along the road,
someone said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go."
And Jesus said to him,
"Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests,
but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head."
To another He said, "Follow me."
But he said, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father."
And Jesus said to him,
"Leave the dead to bury their own dead.
But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God."
Yet another said,
"I will follow, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home."
Jesus said to him,
"No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God."
(Luke 9:57-62)

I think too often reading this passage my mind wanders to the radical call on our lives to follow Christ in terms of physical calling. Too often I see this as "Stay close to your family, or go somewhere foreign." But that isn't what God has brought us to. The decision, the radical call, is to follow Jesus or not. To count Him and His work above all else, and to be willing to turn away from anything in order to do what He has put in your path.

Precisely a week ago I came to a fork in the road. I got an e-mail Saturday night with an opportunity. The road I have been walking has headed west (to the promised land! Not really, but seriously).

The fork has headed south, physically speaking.

And in beginning to consider the choice, the different roads, I came to see that there was not a right and wrong. There is good in both roads. There is suffering and pain in both roads. And in both roads there is God.

I believe that God gives us choices sometimes. Sometimes there is a right or wrong. Sometimes there isn't. I don't think He has one road better than the other. Because each road is something physical in this world. But what really matters is the heart.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and He will make your paths straight.
(Proverbs 3:5-6)

Am I choosing Him over all else? Am I following what He has set in front of me? Am I acknowledging Him above all? If I am, isn't He promising to make my paths straight? Isn't He promising to never leave or forsake? Isn't He promising that no eye has seen and no ear has heard of the things He has in store for those who love Him?

I believe He is.

So I made a choice. I made a decision to go down one path. I have mourned the loss of the good from the other path. I have mourned and feared the suffering and pain that is to come. But above all I have been reminded that "whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord." (Philippians 3:7-8)

I believe and trust in a God who holds my days in His palm. He holds the days of my family members and friends in His palm. And He loves us and holds good for us. And I can rest and trust that.

And I don't have to be afraid of where this path will take me. Either path I chose, I was asked to make a daily choice to follow Jesus. That is what He required of His disciples, and that is what He requires of us now.

I have struggled with fear that I would make a wrong decision, that perhaps there really is a right and wrong in this fork. But I continue on in knowing that I need only acknowledge God each day, and I cannot go or do wrong.

So now, let us pray this each day in hopes that it will become our mindset.

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself.
And the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does, in fact, please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all I am doing.
I hope I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore, will I trust you always though I may seem lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear for you are ever with me.
And you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
-Thomas Merton*

*Many thanks to my dad for sending this to and praying this over me.

Feb 3, 2010

KUDL inspiration

I know, I know, I already blogged today. I can't have anything that crucial to blog at the moment. Except if I don't capitalize on this creative energy now, it will be a thought lost in my mind, and you will never know it. Convincing, right? Eh...I know. Bear with me.

I have a job. As a part of that job, I wash dishes. A lot of dishes for hours on end some days. I have time doing dishes to think about things, while the radio plays in the background. Today's station: 98.1 KUDL...continuous soft rock. Playing all things Gloria Estefan, Celine Dion, David Archuleta, and Colbie Caillat. Great, right?

It is so terrible it is wonderful...anything helps doing hours of dishes.

That is, until this song comes on.

I am not sure any man gives me the creeps more than this man. Well, Jack Nicholson and some choice regulars at work come close, but seriously M.N., do not talk about lips and hips and drowning you in love. It freaks me out, and you gross me out. Stop it now.

Thankfully, immediately following the aforementioned song came the song of all songs. One of my dreams in life is to be able to sing this just like Kelly. Oh K.C., how you soothe my soul.

Then Delilah comes on. And in comes a call for a request:

D: "Tell me about this special someone."

W: "My husband is amazing...etc."

D: "What song can we play for him?"

W: "I don't know the name of it, but it talks about being someone's hero. I cry EVERY time I hear it."

And so, with this I end my 8.5 hour work shift. Ah, sweet goodbyes.

season 6

There is nothing like being within dollars of running out of money in your bank account to make you budget and balance your checkbook like a mad woman. Seriously, it has become a thing of beauty. And I scraped it together, pooled my pennies to pay the credit card bill and gas bill and rent. And my car is fixed and back in all of his glory.

And I tithed this last week for the first time in a long time. I am rather ashamed at my lack of trust. I always knew I would have enough money to make it; I always do. There is always just enough. And yet I withheld for fear of running out?

In other news, I woke up this morning before 8 and promptly checked to see if Lost was online yet. BOOYAH ABC. Best morning surprise. OH MY GOSH SEASON PREMIERE YOU ARE EXCELLENT.

I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord,
because he judged me faithful,
appointing me to his service,
though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent.
But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief,
and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me
with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance,
that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,
of whom I am the foremost.
But I received mercy for this reason,
that in me, as the foremost,
Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience
as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.
To the King of ages,
immortal, invisible, the only God,
be honor and glory forever and ever.
(1 Timothy 1:12-17)

Good news to continue throughout the day and week and season.

Feb 1, 2010

with gratitude that flows

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silent, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
(Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

What a bittersweet thought: leaving Kansas City. It begins to hit more closely each week I progress into this semester. It is the closing of a season. It's like watching the leaves begin to fall off the trees. It's beautiful to walk in the gold leaves, crunching them underfoot, yet knowing there is a painfully cold season ahead. And yet with winter comes snowy mornings and quiet evenings watching the snow fall and seeing breath in the air and drinking hot chocolate.

When I consider what comes ahead, what starting over really looks like, I don't want to go. I don't want to miss spontaneous calls to spend time with Kelley or my roommates and other beautiful friends. I don't want to have to try and find my way to places. I don't want to leave Redeemer.

Yet I tend to follow my gut, and my gut is saying go. My gut has been preparing me to go since I began to feel the tug in September. And there is a glorious beautiful season waiting just across the state lines.

In hearing from my friends and "people" in Haiti, I hear about devastation. 75% of Port-au-Prince will need to be rebuilt. Many people will never know what happened to loved ones. Most people I know have lost their homes.

And yet, those stories are always followed by "...but".

...But the mission hit water, something attempted dozens of times and for years on end. Finally, a well is established, and no longer will water need to be trucked in.

...But the warehouse is refilled with food every time it is emptied.

...But people acknowledge God is faithful.

No matter the season, no matter the disaster, whether great or small, God is faithful.

And we urge you brothers,
admonish the idle,
encourage the fainthearted,
help the weak,
be patient with them all...
Rejoice always,
pray without ceasing,
give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Do not quench the Spirit...
hold fast what is good...
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely,
and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless
at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
He who calls you is faithful;
he will surely do it.
(1 Thessalonians 5:14-24)

My hope is built on nothing less.