Tag Archives: convicted

Not Content

I write it in my journal at least once a week, and more these last few months. I scribble it down like habit. Lord, please make me content in You. After all, we all know that no one falls in love, makes friends, or discovers what they should be doing with their lives until they are content in God.

A couple of nights ago, I started to scribble it again. Lord, please make me con- I scrawled. Something stopped my pen and I crossed out the sentence. God has been moving in pretty obvious ways recently, and I remembered something. “Content” is defined as “satisfied with what one is or has; not wanting more or anything else,” or “mentally or emotionally satisfied with things as they are,” and that is not what I want.

At that point, I realized that while “contentment” is certainly not a bad thing, and while God is certainly enough in every aspect of my life, I do not ever want to be content in God.

I never want my relationship with Him to come to a place where I have stopped wanting more. I never want to be satisfied with things as they are, because I forever want to long for more and more of Him. 

Lord, please help me to ever long for even more of You.

No matter my circumstances. I don’t just want to be content. If I’m single forever. If He is my only friend. If He keeps deciding to reveal only the next 30 or so seconds of His plan for me…

All I want is to want more of Him.

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Where I Belong

“Maybe you’ve been away from your family for a long time, and you get to fly home tonight. They’ll pick you up at the airport, and it’s hard to find anything that compares to that joy of running into their arms.” The chapel speaker was talking about home and heaven this morning, and my mind started reeling, thinking of the glimpses of heaven God has granted me on this earth – the places in this life where I have found pockets of Home.

The Most Joyous Day of the Year – no, not Christmas. The wheels touching down on the tarmac, walking down the airplane stairs into the oppressive humidity and into the airport as quickly as possible, gulping in the familiar smoky air. Waiting, waiting, waiting for the bags, impatiently shifting from one foot to another. Finally crossing through the doors from baggage claim, seeing my Peruvian family after a year. Sprinting into their arms in a chaotic storm of Spanish, English, tears, and laughter. Sound kisses on cheeks, strong arms finally tangibly wrapped around me after a year of aching. Smiling so big my face could crack open, accepting the water bottle Zaida instantly has ready, and walking outside to board a motokar for the first time in so long. Home.

A left turn onto North Rd. after four and a half hours in the car. Rolling down the windows to inhale the Pure Michigan air. God’s country. Finally pulling into the cabin. That first step into Piatt Lake, the first view of the sunset. Black stillness on the footbridge, stars reflected in the water below. Worship in the Miracle Building sanctuary, the trek from the cabins to the sweet shop, sitting on the pontoon with my dad, Tuesday night bonfires, pizza at midnight with Kendra. Home.

Ian and Avery clamoring for space on my lap. Taking hundreds of goofy pictures on my phone and laptop, telling yet another story “when me and Avery and Ah-Ah and Bo Bo and Papa went to a farm.” Will smiling up at me from my arms. Avery growing sleepy and snuggling. Home.

Moody. Chicago. Sitting in my room talking to Molly. Walking the tunnels to CPO or the SDR. Answering phones at work. Sprawling on the floor with the girls on my floor. Taking the Brown Line. Lake Michigan. Walmart Express. Classes, finally knowing my way around Sweeting. Home.

Sitting on the couch in the living room, watching Julian Smith videos with Bo. Mom doing the dishes while we try to watch TV. Laying on my parents’ bed at night, just talking. Waking up in my basement room. Farrand-to-Irish-to-Vienna-to the best Mexican food I’ve ever had. Fields, whistling wind, getting the mail, walking to the church. The librarian knows me by name. Home.

Turning into the driveway on Cole Rd, knocking extra-loud so Nana and Papa hear it. The pink room. #inthecornfields. Lady sitting on my lap in the big chair. Country magazine, morning devotions, and making dinner. Seven minutes flat from the back door to Jocie’s front door. Advice from Papa. Walks around the Arboretum. Crossroads Farm. Home.

Coffee with a friend. Weekend visits. Laughing until it hurts. The kind of hugs that you melt into and feel instantly safe and sheltered by. Long car rides. Fall walks. Home.

I’ve been so blessed to catch glimpses of heaven, of Home, here on earth. The problem with all of these things, though, is that they end.

The Most Joyous Day of the Year is followed in a few short days by The Saddest Day of the Year. Back at the airport, the tears flow again, the arms cling again. Sobs wrack my body as a soundproof glass wall separates me from the people who have worked their way even more deeply into my heart.

Summer ends and I have to cross the Mackinaw Bridge again, this time in the southbound lane. I leave the small cousins to go back to school. I leave school and everything changes before I come back. My parents sell the house I grew up in and soon I will have no legal right to sleep in my childhood home. Lady dies unexpectedly, Nana doesn’t remember me, and the barn is being sold. There are no more walks around the Arb because I’m no longer friends with the person I walked with.

The last drop of coffee is gone and it’s time to leave the cafe. The weekend is over. Sheltering hugs end within two minutes at the most. Fall turns to winter.

And then the speaker says some of the most powerful words I’ve heard in a long time.

“When we trust Christ, our souls find home.”

All the glimpses of Home I’ve been given are but temporary. They’re like watching but a few seconds of a preview for the most epic movie to ever be released. They’re not meant to be my home, but to make my heart long for my true Home – with Christ.

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Major Changes

They say the average undergrad student changes their major about five times.  I’ve always regarded this statistic slightly pridefully, with the air of smugness that comes from “having it all planned out.”  I’ll graduate from Moody in 3.5 years with a degree in TESOL (and Bible, of course), and move to Central/South America. (Hopefully getting married somewhere in there.) There, I’ll teach English fulltime as a missionary and, on the side, work with teenage/young adult girls who have been abused or involved in the sex trade.  Sounds like a good plan, right?

Let me back up about four years.  I was reading the book “Zealous Love” by Mike and Danae Yankoski, and came to the chapter on human trafficking.  Tears poured down my cheeks and my stomach turned as I read the accounts of girls, often as young as 5 or 6 years old, who were sold into the sex trade.  An overwhelming feeling came over me as my heart broke for these women.  As a 14 or 15 year old, I didn’t really know what to do with that feeling, but I bookmarked a few blogs and vowed to pray for the women and children caught up in that sickening industry.

Last year, on a whim, I picked up a $5 CD at Family Christian Bookstore.  It was called “Freedom: Artists United for the International Justice Mission,” and it featured several bands I like.  As I looked over the packaging, I realized it was a fundraiser for IJM and included a DVD.  I watched the DVD one night and cried again as the stories of women who had been rescued from prostitution and slavery… but all I did was cry.  After all, I already had my plan (see above).

My plan started out really well.  I came to Moody.  I declared TESOL as my major.  I started Intro to TESOL.  I observed some classes, wrote some lesson plans… and… little by little, realized I don’t really want to spend every day of the rest of my life in a classroom/writing lesson plans.  Rather than being super excited for my upcoming classes, teaching for PCM, and my internship, I would kind of slump my shoulders and resign myself to the coming realities.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about feeling convicted and not knowing what to do about it.  After I wrote that, I started to pray a lot about where I was going with my life.  The books I’ve been reading, things I’ve been studying, and discussions we’ve been having at Gospel Community have made me realize I need to do something different.  I’ve been slapped in the face a lot lately with the reality that, while it is an incredible door into lives, English is not a basic need.  Those who are starving, being sold, without homes, or in desperate need of true love do not need to learn English.  They need food, freedom, shelter, or love.

As I prayed, I began to realize something.  When I think about my true dream – the thing I’m the most excited about when I tell people “my plan,” – it’s not standing in front of a class or writing lesson plans.  It’s the part I always refer to as “on the side.”  It’s the reason I attempted to interdisciplinary (basically a minor, for those of you who don’t go to Moody) in pre-counseling.  I want to work with girls who have been wounded, sold, and stolen.  Girls who had their innocence ripped away from them, who were so desperate for money that they sold their right to themselves.  I want to teach them that they have worth, that they are beautiful.  To LOVE them.  To show them the One who will never, ever abuse them.  From the first time I read about the issue of sexual exploitation, I have had a burden in my heart for those girls.

Yesterday, in chapel, one of our professors stood at the podium and said she had a “very exciting announcement.”  She announced that Moody was beginning a new major: Ministry to Victims of Sexual Exploitation.  As she explained the details, tears pooled in my eyes and my mind began scrambling.  The first conscious thought I had was, “I have to do this,” followed shortly by about six reasons why there was no possible way I could do this.

One at a time, throughout the day yesterday, God countered each of those points.  In fact, He didn’t just counter them, He gave me even more reasons why I needed to lace up my shoes and run.  I called my mom, who had been sitting in a chapel at Bo’s school while I was in chapel.  Their speaker was a missionary from Peru (of all places!) who runs a shelter for battered women… many of whom have been rescued from sexual exploitation.  The first class for this major fit PERFECTLY into an hour and fifteen minute hole that just happened to be in my fall schedule. 9-12 more credits from Mott would transfer in with the switch.

I got my change of major form this afternoon and filled it out.  When I went to the Missions Department to have it signed, the hallway seemed deserted.  “Okay, God,” I whispered.  “I’m 99% sure this is what I’m supposed to do… but if it REALLY is… just give me one more sign?” (Oh, me of little faith…)  I walked to the end of the hall, towards what I was certain would be a deserted office, and there was Dr. Sisk.  He signed off on my major change as chair of the Missions Department, and I was gone in about 30 seconds.

I could easily write another 900+ words about all of the tiny details, “coincidences,” and neon signs shouting that I should go ahead with this that have happened in the last 48 hours… but I’ll spare you the extra reading.  As of next week, everything should be approved, and my major will be officially changed from TESOL to Ministry to Victims of Sexual Exploitation.  Do I have a 5 or 10 year plan?  Nope.  But He does, and I know that there’s nothing better for me than His plan.

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Convicted

“That Jesus did not command all his followers to sell their possessions gives comfort only to the kinds of people to whom he would issue that command.” – David Platt, Radical

Tears sprang to my eyes as I read these words last night.  There I was, lounging on my bed in my dorm room, eating popcorn, and reading a chapter of Radical about global poverty and the church.  For me, it was nothing out of the ordinary.  But to a child whose parents are struggling to survive on less than a dollar a day? I was lounging on my bed complete with four pillows, a down comforter, and a fleece blanket.  I was in my dorm room, which implies not only a roof over my head, but that I am participating in higher education.  I was eating popcorn… not for dinner, even, but just because I was a little hungry and had a craving.  And I was reading, an activity which is unfathomable for children and adults in many parts of the world.

I’m so blessed, and I know I am called to share those blessings with the less fortunate.  More than called, in fact, I know I am commanded multiple times in Scripture to give to the poor, to care for the orphans and widows, and to make less of myself.  I generally think I’m doing okay.  After all, I tithe, I go to Peru, I give my old clothes to Salvation Army, and I’ve never cared about brand names or big spending.  In fact, I think of myself as a fairly frugal person most of the time.  The lifestyle of the rich has never been appealing to me.

Then I decide to “treat myself” to a milkshake “just because.” I walk back from Chick-Fil-A, sipping on my creamy, cold $3.49, right past at least 15 people who will have no dinner tonight.  I buy a new shirt “because it’s on sale,” when the children I have loved and held in the villages of Pucallpa are overjoyed to receive the shirt I wore for two years then decided to throw to them.  I send two suitcases of winter clothes home with my parents because there’s not room in my dresser for two seasons’ worth of clothing, as refugees a few Brown Line stops away lack even one pair of gloves.  I throw away an entire plate of food in the SDR because I don’t like it, then read stories of brothers and sisters in Africa who eat a half a cup of rice A DAY.

How? How is this possible? How can I continue to read those Scriptures, to read chapters in books like this, and remain unmoved?  Sure, my eyes filled with tears when I read that quote.  Yes, I looked through my pictures from the orphanage in Pucallpa and prayed for those children.  But I looked through those pictures on my Macbook Pro while painting my freaking fingernails.  Kids are starving, dying, impoverished, and I was painting my nails while crying over them.

There is something wrong with me.

What is wrong with me?

I’m no monster.  I don’t sit stoically in the face of these statistics.  I can readily admit that it is my Christian responsibility to do something about it.  I cry, okay? I CRY OVER THEM.  But the truth is, these tears don’t matter if they don’t lead to action.  I can cry all I want.  I can feel guilty for years.  Until I am moved to actually do something, I might as well be laughing in the face of the dying children.

I don’t know what this means.  I’m comfortable in my Middle Class White Anglo-Saxon Protestant lifestyle, complete with an iPhone, a meal plan, and a 2007 Ford Taurus.  I like having clothing and entertainment options at my fingertips.  I enjoy the luxury of having study Bibles in multiple versions, books for fun, and the occasional midnight snack.

It’s not bad to live a content, comfortable life, thankful for the blessings God has showered upon me.

But where is the line?

I truly don’t have the answer to this question.  All I know is for the last couple years, God has very steadily been making my uncomfortable with my level of comfort.  He has been placing books, speakers, sermons, and documentaries in my path to shake up my way of thinking.  He has used my trips to Peru and experiences with rescue missions to begin breaking my heart for those less fortunate.

As I stand here, teetering somewhere between terrified that He’ll call me to literally give up everything and hopeful that I’ll have the chance to prove my faith in such a tangible way, I am convicted.  Where this conviction will lead, I don’t know.

But Jesus is worth it.

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