Give it all away

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My current job is a ministry job. I work at a homeless shelter that believes that Jesus is Lord and when he changes hearts, he changes lives. I work at this job 8:30am until 5:00pm Monday through Friday. My husband and I also lead a married small group every Monday where we provide dinner. We volunteer at church a couple Sunday’s a month. We continue keeping in contact with friends near and far, and my dad spends almost every other weekend in our 750 square foot apartment. This is a lot of people and a lot of time. I am telling you all of this because I am an introvert; I refuel by being alone. Most of the time I can wiggle in one or two nights of rest. I can choose to say no to things most of the time. I tell myself I should say no because I already do “too much.” Though, I’m starting to wonder if this is more a selfish attitude than an attitude of Christ.

The implementation of boundaries is being preached on more and more. Saying no to something that may make you too tired or too busy is often encouraged. Let me first say there is a balance, and I do believe we need to take care of ourselves and our mental health. I’m not promoting burn out, but I am promoting being interruptible.

I am a very selfish person. I almost always choose myself. It requires the Holy Spirit to make me want to think about other people. I’ve picked up the idea of boundaries, used it and abused it. I have built walls around myself so that I don’t have to give too much, I can give just enough without being hurt. I can love Jesus and love my neighbor, but only when it is comfortable for me and when I am not too tired or when it is convenient.

Four years ago I was doing overseas missions. I was gone for about a year. Every day I was spent. I was pushed to my breaking point. I was asked to give more than I had. More time, more energy, more food, more money, more passion, more prayer, more praise, more effort, more everything. Every day I would go to bed exhausted because every ounce of me was being given. That time in my life was where I felt more alive and the closest to God. I was living and breathing the scriptures. I couldn’t do anything before first being filled with the Spirit. That’s what I think I’m missing, and maybe you’re missing it too. I’m not filling myself up. I’m not allowing God to “pour me out like a drink offering” (Phil 2:17). I will allow just enough to be poured out, but don’t pour out too much, Lord! I need to save some for myself, I need to take care of me, no one else will, right?

I’ve picked up expectations and boundaries like luggage, carrying them around with me, never letting anyone forget that these are mine. You cannot touch these.

Jesus asks for more.

He asks for me to lose my life to find it. (Matt 16:25) To love others so much that I forget about myself. He asks me to seek first his kingdom, not my own. (Matt 6:33)

Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.” (1 John 2:6)

Jesus lived his whole life submitted to what his Father wanted. He was interrupted time after time.

I’m reminded of the story of the woman who touches the hem of Jesus’s robe in Luke chapter 8. He is walking with his disciples through a large crowd and so many people are grabbing him, including his disciples. This woman who has been bleeding for twelve years reaches out and touches the hem of his cloak and is immediately healed. Jesus, in the midst of this chaos asks “who touched me?” The story continues with a conversation with the woman. I urge you to read it on your own, but, what I want to highlight is how Jesus stops. He stops in the midst of a crowd that the scripture says is “crushing him.” He allows himself to be interrupted. He allows himself to be given to this woman. I don’t do that often enough.

I want to live my life in submission to what the Lord has in store for me, for his family. I want to be able to come home from work and still be available to be taken from. I want to say yes to someone who is in need and desires my time instead of pushing them away because I’m tired or because I need my “alone time” first. It is all an excuse. Jesus promises to be living water. We have access to that water any time we want, just as he promised the woman at the well. (John 4:14)

I believe when we are giving ourselves and serving others, Jesus is going to provide for us. He is going to fill us because he is the well that never runs dry.

That’s what it was like while I was doing missions. Living to the fullest, and pouring it all out to be filled again. I want to know I am living at my full capacity, loving with no agenda and serving without expectation. To give all I have of myself. To love so boldly it is impossible for me to keep any for myself. None of what I have is mine. It’s all his. All my gifts, all my talents, all of myself. He’s asking me to give it all away, and that is what I am going to do.

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Orphans and Widows

“Religion that god our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans
and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
//James 1:27

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I think a lot of times we don’t think we are doing ministry. I mean, we’re not in Africa holding orphaned babies or visiting widows at their homes. Most of the time if we aren’t doing ministry that looks like ministry to other people, we don’t really believe we are doing anything significant for the Kingdom because it isn’t obvious.
Now let me present an idea to you; it’s an idea that I had while driving to work and it flipped this whole verse upside down for me. What if orphan means outside the family of God? That means your co-worker, your neighbor, or your dad. Every single person that does not call God Father is an orphan. What if widow means that they have lost the love of their life, or they have never met him? Jesus is our groom; he is the one who romances us into salvation. What if loving orphans and widows simply means, “Love your neighbor as yourself”? What if we don’t’ have to go to Africa if God truly isn’t calling us there? What if we stopped putting more importance on certain people groups and remember that Jesus desires every person to be saved. He desires your circle of influence to know the good news that Jesus has saved them.
I have been oversees and I’m not saying you should not go to the literal orphans and widows because they are also our neighbor; I just want to challenge you to stop romanticizing people groups. Every single person needs to know Jesus and that includes people in America, which includes your family and my family. Every person I met in Africa or Thailand or Europe had the same exact need and desire as my unsaved co-worker. I think there is a stigma that all people in America have heard the gospel and I’d like to say that is wrong. There are so many people here that have never heard about Jesus and what he has done for them. Please, please, pray and think about what I’m saying. Loving people around you is so much harder than loving someone overseas that you don’t know or have no connection to. I can tell you from experience that doing missions overseas is easier than loving your unsaved cousin who is heated towards the gospel. Going overseas provides you the option to escape. You have the option to share the gospel and leave to come back to your comfortable home. Preaching the gospel to your family at Thanksgiving gives you no option to escape, you have to live life with them.

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Also understand that I am not trying to discourage overseas missions because as you can tell from this post I have done overseas missions and I have seen great benefits from it. I support multiple overseas organizations and so many of my friends have desires and callings to go and stay. I am just trying to challenge thinking and prompt a better vision for our nation and our church.
So many of my friends have been burned by their local church and I’m not just saying they were offended by what the church said. I’m saying they have been seriously manipulated and painfully embarrassed by them. I want Christ followers to understand that just because you are not overseas does not mean you do not have a mission here. It does not mean you are excused from the ministry that is right in front of you- to love the orphaned heart and widowed souls that are in your work place and your home or your row at church.
This has been on my heart for many days now and I have finally found the words to write it down. I hope you see my heart in these words, I hope you see that I just want to grow into a better Christ follower and I’d like to invite you on that journey with me. I hope you join me.

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