Sunday, January 22, 2017

Awkwardly Executed Obedience

I came across this lovely turn of phrase today while writing an email as a follow up to my "awkwardly executed obedience". As uncomfortable as it is, I feel inspired to write about it. (as an hysterical aside, my sister's blog is called "Wild Obedience"... she definitely is the wordsmith!)

2016 was a HARD YEAR. It sucked! There is no nice way of describing the truth of it. Painful, empty, hopeless, like being stuck in a mud bog, in the dark, in the middle of nowhere. Winter, the ugly part of Winter, not the beautiful snowy parts, the despairingly bleak part of winter. 

2017 dawned and brought me hope. It stirred a fire in my spirit, like the dawning of Spring. Life has been renewed and hope has restored. I am seeing green shoots of promised victories poking through the muck that remains of 2016.

 It is not my desire to be awkward, or to make others feel awkward. That being said, I volunteered a long time ago to do and say the hard things to pave the way for others. I have been called to be brave and courageous. Fear has not made that easy. Fear is a bastard. 

Today I had a choice, obey the Spirit within me or surrender to the fear of man. Such an easy choice! I blithely stepped into obedience and rainbows broke out in the sky and unicorns started dancing in fields of daisies!  So NOT the way it actually happened. So not. Rather, it was publicly awkward, in a place where everyone knows me. Step aside Mariah, my turn... Except, shame is also a bastard, and I refuse to surrender to shame too. 

Could I have stepped out in a less awkward way? Probably. I have thought a several ways to redo it... It was messy. Would I do it again? Absolutely! Today I won a battle against the fear of man. There is a bit of debris to clean up, but through the clean up, the door to dialogue has been opened.
Image result for jesus christ smiling with children 
You see, Jesus delighted in my obedience! He wasn't looking at the mess I had made, He was rejoicing in my boldness and willingness. While this isn't actually new for me, the platform was. As a worship leader, I was afforded the opportunity to speak that I didn't have today. There was no beautiful segway from song to spoken word, today, it was just word. Today was baby steps in new territory. Jesus, like a proud parent, was delighted!

Who am I to please? God or Man? If that is my choice, hands down, I want to please God. Life brings forth more life. Birth is messy! Babies aren't born without a lot of pain and mess. Awkwardly executed obedience is simply the birthing process. Bring on the messy! 

I pray that we may be bold and embrace the awkward, messy process. I bless you with courage and boldness and a willingness to embrace the messy, there is life and hope on the other side. I hope you are surrounded by good people who will pick you up and brush you off and encourage you in the aftermath.  

Go forth into awkwardly executed obedience! Jesus has your back!

So Humilated!

As I enter my blog after almost a years absense, I found this, dated March 3, 2016. We've come so far, we aren't there yet but we're closer than we were before. 

OK, OK, I resorted to "click bait", it's true. I have had thoughts about humiliation v. humility for weeks. Let me give you a bit of background to that thought.

Currently,  we are quite literally living off the charity of others. Charity can have negative connotation in our society, especially if you are the one needing it. It is a word we can use frequently with a touch of superiority. We make "charitable donations", do charitable deeds for those less fortunate that ourselves. 

Charity is defined as, "benevolent goodwill toward or love of humanity". The origin of the word is from a Latin word meaning Christian love, dearness. It's akin to Old Irish word meaning "friend". That is a word loaded with All The Good Things. We all admire those who have given their lives to charitable living, those living in the trenches, those who get into the dirt and grime to embrace marginalized people. Think Mother Teresa.

In our society, it is a noble thing to give to charity, even the government supports charitable donations. Giving to the needy had always filled me with good feelings. Seeing the needy pulls on my heart. I generally tear up when I do face-to-face charitable deeds.  It feels good. I also find it humbling. Giving costs me. Sometimes, not much at all, sometimes it's a big faith thing. Sometimes, an act of obedience. 

So, where I am now? On the receiving end, that's where. You know what's hard? RECEIVING! I am very independent (You're shocked, right?). Not being self sufficient is hard. Not being financial independent is hard. We put a lot of stock on that in our culture. It can be a thing of pride, not being financial independent can be a thing of much shame. I have felt plenty of shame about that myself. 

One day last summer after Paul lost his job, I was in my room angry cleaning. I was talking to Jesus, probably a bit angry there too, however, He's bigger than my anger and answered me anyway. Deep within my spirit I had such a strong sense that our next step was learning to live on faith. That did NOT inspire me! It filled me with dread! Great! I would NEVER have those things that I want! Ever! However, I knew with all that was in me that that voice was the Father's and His word is true. 

We are approaching one year of Paul not working and having cancer, not knowing when he will be able to work again. We have been living on my wage, which is good, but not sufficient for our expenses. We also had insurance on our mortgage and loan, thankful we made that decision. Life still costs more.  We have been subsidized by people who are giving, some from their overflow, some at cost to themselves. There is nothing so humbling as receiving the widow's mite. 

Which brings me to my point, weekly, sometimes almost daily, I come face-to-face with a choice, do I receive this humbly or do I feel humiliated? Saying "thank you" and feeling like that suffices, that is hard. This is just for us. Just because we are in need. I have to make the choice to hold my head up and understand that this is charity in the best possible definition. Sometimes, I feel myself wanting to curl up and feel humiliated. How dishonouring would that be to those who give out of CHARITY, out of love and friendship?

We are completely stunned and overwhelmed by the charity of our people. Seeing a glimpse of how many lives we actually have touched and who have touched us. It is a very humbling thing. We are so grateful to each and every person who has given of themselves to care for us and support us, just because we are us! That's really big. It is so big my eyes overflow at the thought. 

Recently someone asked me what my favorite Bible verse was. I'm not sure that I have one but if I do, chances are that it is the verse that my Oma had on her wall. 

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.     Psalm 121:1-2
Or as it read on her wall:

Ich hebe meine Augen auf zu den Bergen von welchen mir Hilfe kommt.
Meine Hilfe kommt von dem HERRN, der Himmel und Erde gemacht hat.

Nothing remains truer. All these people are simply the hands and feet of my help source.