Monday, June 29, 2009
Living Openly and Expansively
Yesterday I took a very spur of the moment road trip to Nashville to hear Katie Davis from Amazima Ministries speak. It was totally worth the 4 1/2 hour drive each way. Katie is from Brentwood, Tennessee, is 20 years old and has lived in Uganda by herself for the past 18 months. She is mommy to 13 beautiful Ugandan girls who God has brought into her life. What started out as her teaching Kindergarten has turned into a ministry that sponsors 400 children so they can eat, get medical care and an education. She recently started a feeding program for an outcast tribe of people and feeds between 600-1000 Karamajong children a day. She is an incredible example of someone who is "spending" themselves according to Isaiah 58. I encourage you to read her blog if you don't already. As I was re-reading part of her blog I came across this post which I know was a hard one for her to write. It spoke to my heart again this morning as I hope it does yours.
"I get caught up sometimes in "I deserve this" moments, moments where I compare myself to some other people I know and trick myself into believing that I am doing pretty good. Moments where I "deserve" a hot shower, or I "deserve" that chocolate bar even though I know it is expensive, moments when I "deserve" a new pair of shoes, because hey, I work hard. TRUTH: this is not at all scriptural. NO WHERE does it say that I am worthy or deserve a reward here on earth. Colossians 3:23 says "Whatever you do work at it with all your heart." It does not end in "and after this hard work you deserve a long hot bath and a chocolate bar." It does end in, "since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward." Oh, doesn't that sound better than all the material rewards you can think of? Matthew 19:21, Mark 10:21, and Luke 18:22 all say exactly the same thing, "Go, sell everything you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven." I live in a world that tells me that if I sell what I have and give it to the poor, if I leave my rich American life to live in a cockroach infested, cement house in a third world country, I am doing a wonderful and radical thing. TRUTH: I am only doing what I love doing, and what God who gave His life for me asked me to do. Look at Jesus, doing more for the kingdom than any human can ever hope to and taking no pay, no reward, only accusations and eventually death. Ouch, there goes my pride.
I have MORE than enough, and God has spoken that I am ONLY to have enough. Jesus said that the GREATEST commandment besides loving the Lord God with all my heart, mind, and soul is to love my NEIGHBOR as myself. Doesn't that mean, then, that I should be spending as much on my neighbor as I do on myself and my family? Doesn't that mean that I should feed my neighbor as well as I feed myself? It has hit me every hard this week, I DO love my neighbor, but I love myself more. TRUTH: that is not ok. We have been discussing this as a family and, as I family we will be cutting back. I will live in my beautiful cement house, complete with all its critters until God very clearly speaks to me that I am to go elsewhere. I will LOVE my 10 by 15 foot kitchen because it is where I have the privilege of cooking for God's children. As a family, we will use only 3 hours of electricity on days when the power is on and put the money we would have spent on the electric bill into our hospital ministry fund so that we can go more often to the hospital and feed the people there more food. I personally will save my chocolate money and instead buy more biscuits and juice for the street children. We will each keep 4 outfits (this is going to be very difficult for me as I do LOVE clothes.) In most people's standards, my little family does not have much, but we have MORE than enough. And we know in our hearts that really, Christ is ALL we need. "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal FOR WHERE YOUR TREASURE IS THERE YOUR HEART WILL BE ALSO." Matthew 6:19-21
Now that I have shared my embarrassing pride and "flesh" moments and been totally vulnerable with all of you out there in cyber space I feel I can ask you some questions. I want simply to challenge you to push the envelope a little more with your faith. I don't know what this looks like in your life, but there has got to be something. Like I said, it is all to easy for me to fall into the trap of "I am doing good enough." TRUTH: good enough does not exist. We need to do better.
In one of my favorite Bible passages, the prophet Elijah feels God's presence. The scripture says that a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart, but God was not in the wind. After the wind, there was an earthquake, but God was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire but the Lord was not in the fire. After the fire came a gentle whisper. It was the whisper of God. He is whispering. Are you listening? God is not in the bigger house, or the new shoes, or the self-indulgence. In my opinion, God is not even in the new 7 million dollar church building, or the upgrading of missionary tickets to first class at an exorbitant price, or the super fancy extravagant outfit worn by the Pope (no offense).
Do you love your neighbor as much as you love yourself? Do you love your 147 million orphaned neighbors and your 3.5 homeless in America alone neighbors as much as you love yourself? Do you grieve for them the same way you would grieve if your very own children were hungry and homeless? What would be different if you did?
TRUTH: 53% of the worlds population live on $2.00 a day. If you, like me, live on more than that, you have MORE than enough.
People ask me quite often when I am in the states why in the world THIS is what I have decided to do with my life. 2 answers: 1. Because this is what makes my heart sing. Yes, it really truly is complete selfishness; this is where I am happiest. 2. Because I believe that TODAY is all I am promised. Because I believe that Jesus is coming back, "the day and hour unknown." And THIS is what I want to be doing when Jesus comes.
If this day is all you are promised, what are you doing with it? Right now, today, are you doing what you want to be doing when Christ comes back?"
"Dear, dear Corinthians, I can't tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life.The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren't small, but you're living them in a small way. I'm speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively!" -Paul in 2 Corinthians 6:11-13, the Message translation
Posted by Amy at 7:51 AM