Monday, October 8, 2012

You Tell Me

One of the places my family has gone over the past year is to a small group. It's a mix of people from different churches (of which we all still attend). Some we knew going in, some we have gotten to know. On Monday evenings we come together with all our wild kids and eat really well. The kids are then blessedly whisked off with a sitter and we circle up. We are a bunch of slam-dunk cooks (thank you, Pinterest!), but the circle is the real reason we go.

It's no accident that right now we're knee deep in Acts.  It's getting crazy up in there. People are being stricken by flesh-eating worms, angels are punching prisoners in the ribs, Saul is being Paul...

We come together flawed and ordinary, with past experiences that try to taint our truth. We don't see eye-to-eye on everything. Let me say that again: We don't see eye-to-eye on everything.


[Unflattering photo alert! This is me clearly putting the smack-down on Cory over a "minor" disagreement.] 

But we feel God moving among us, funneling us into some type of a mysterious shared purpose. The suspense is almost killing us.

But in the meantime, we wrestle (figuratively), read (literally), and chew (both). We cheer one another on. It's an amazing thing. I won't call it a "house church" because 1) it's not in a house and 2) I've said in the past that house churches are weird.

But as with everything else, the joke is on me. Because these people have become my family and house or not, isn't that what church is?

Tonight we were privileged to pray for our brother Jon, leaving for Nepal and India later this week with Tiny Hands International. He's doing the Big G Going and I can't wait to hear all about the way God moves and THI continues in their mission to rescue victims of human trafficking. 

Here's one thing we got stuck on for a while: Does God ever have us exactly, precisely where He needs us? Or is there always more Going to be done? (Remember, Going as I use it does not always refer to physically going to a different location.)

Of course, presumably, wherever we happen to be right now is somewhere God sent us. But is that ever the end, even temporarily? Does God look at someone and say, "Hey, you! In the strange stripes-with-plaid combo! You're good for a while. Huddle up with your family and stay inside. Keep doing what you're doing and I'll let you know if I ever need you to be concerned with something else." ??

I think I've already made it fairly clear where I fall on this discussion right now, but God continues to grow me up and show me that I'm wrong more often than I'm right (except for with regards to the discussion happening up there in the photo) I'd love to hear your thoughts. Are we ever "there", or is there always somewhere else we need to "go"?

Discuss.


43 comments:

  1. With my literally one minute to think of this (disclaimer: I am 6 months pregnant with baby number 6 and my oldest is 7....).....

    I once heard a visiting "missionary" say "If God doesn't tell you to go to Africa, DON'T GO".

    This was music to my ears after going to a church (small c) for years that always told us "if you don't go to Africa, India, insert country here....you are not really serving the Lord".

    I am called to be a "missionary" in my own family. That IS enough. I am willing to be used by God (I hope) but for now He tells me to raise my children to praise His name and seek His will.

    I feel for now I have 'gone' into the trenches some days and it just so happens to be in my own lounge room.

    My heart is a whole 'nother matter.

    Oh and I SO desire a "circle" like yours. Sadly, my husband and I are pretty lonely for some other genuine Christian's (capital C) to commune with.

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    1. I support this amen. Churches are wacky with some if their deciding factors. I think God gets tired of deciding factors. He probably hates factor trees. I know I do.

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  2. Where I'm going right now I don't want to go. And it's not because God is asking me to go. It's because it's just "going." It's not what I wanted. It's not what I didn't want. I'm not comfortable. But it's not the "uncomfortable with God" going either. It's just going. It's just busy. And I honestly want to hop off this "going" and "go" where you all go. A large part of me feels missing in this time of "going" and the purpose so much less.

    I'm not sure if that made any sense. I had a great comment written out and it wouldn't post.

    Oh, and regarding the photo - Not sure you want my side of the "discussion." :)

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  3. I don't think we will ever be "there" until we are in glory. BUT, I do think there are short seasons of quiet where He allows us to rest and get ready to go again. That doesn't mean, though that we aren't still responsible to "do justly, love mercy and walk humbly" as we go about our day.

    On a different note, I would love to know how you got involved in the jail ministry. I have looked for a post, but can't seem to find one. Can you point me to one or share how you ended up there?

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  4. Yes, seasons of both.
    I prayed about it today and trust He will reveal what He wants me to do, when and how. I ask Him not to let it be guesswork.

    I heard someone say of his wife once, "she is perfectly in God's will right now". I thought, "wow." How is he so sure??? Can you even say that about anybody???

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  5. thank you for sharing. almost made the decision to hibernate in a cave recently (figuratively) after some relationships in my life fell apart, but I have decided to keep on keepin' on instead. we have a small group/house church/authentic community too (currently somewhat in transition but I know the people God has brought together is going to be great) and I'd be lost without them.

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  6. hmmmm deep...i think that through twists and turns He directs our every step, our every movement...our every (what we think) mis-step. there is a plan and we have no idea what it is, but IF we are yielded and listening He will make it clear.

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  7. I have read your blog for awhile. You make me laugh and think. I had to comment tonight because some of my husband and I's best friends from college are the ones that started Tiny Hands. I had to smile when I read that. Amazing how God works. A post college bum around trip birthed a most beautiful ministry that just continues to grow. Keep on keeping on. Blessings.

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  8. I guess I tend to think that we are never done going. I think we easily fall into a comfortable and complacent way of life and of faith. It's easy to do, but so many of us get stuck there and the longer we're there, the harder it is to go (I use "go" as you do...not just in the physical sense). I think our American Christian culture tells us to grow up, settle down, have a family, get a job we'll stick with till retirement, and just be overall good people. Not that any of those things are necessarily bad, but I do believe that God is continually trying to get us to "go" further, deeper, to become more "all in". I think we should be continually challenged to "go" because isn't God always "going"?

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  9. First of all you are cute and I love your plaid and stripes together :-) secondly, if you ever write something that doesnt resonate with me 100%, I will be shocked, shocked I tell you.

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  10. the day we will be "there" is the day we are called Home. in my humble opinion.

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    1. Now THAT is right on! May we in the meantime continually pray for God's will to be done and not our own! xx

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  11. I think there are waiting times. Metaphorically and literally, you wait at the airport, you wait for your passport, you wait at the red lights and in the preschool pick up lanes. It's the what you're doing while you're waiting maybe? Like, shut up and listen. Be still and know. Pray. Pray and pray.
    And maybe being okay with the idea that a faithful servant hardly ever knows what is going on, why he is going somewhere, why he is not going somewhere. A faithful servant is just obeying, even in the waiting. And of course, listening to the Words of his master. Did I say praying?
    Sorry. I've had some sleepy time herbal tea. Spitballing here.

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    1. I really like how you put this. That is exactly how I feel, and you put it so much better than I would have been able to. Sometimes God has us doing something amazing (and totally "out there"), and sometimes God is preparing us for something amazing by having us wait and do "ordinary life". Either way, we need to be in constant communication with Him so that we know what He wants us to do.

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    2. Above comment was from Sarah Gerig (Mitch's wife).

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    3. Yep!
      We are never really waiting, but, rather, preparing to go! Your examples are genius. . . we are not waiting just to be waiting. . . but preparing to GO.
      We are not just waiting for a passport because we like to wait, we don't wait at a stoplight because it is fun. We do these things as part of a JOURNEY, we are PREPARING FOR and ANTICIPATING the next step.

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  12. I am always inspired by you. Just thought I would share... I was touched when I heard this man speak. I feel like he spoke with a real understanding of Gods love. http://www.lds.org/general-conference/watch/2012/10?lang=eng&vid=1884811466001&cid=9

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  13. Have to run...so, just quickly...I wonder, even if we are where he wants us, isn't the GO frequently, GO DEEPER?

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  14. 1) Words in red? You're a genius.

    2) Is this a trick question? Is your next post already in queue and titled "why you're never really 'there'."? (That is a lot of punctuation, but I'm going with it.)

    3) Assuming the answer to #2 is no, I'm kind of feeling the seasons here. Like Ecclesiastes and The Byrds say, there is a time for everything. And since sometimes "going" doesn't look like what we thought it would, maybe we're still going, even when we're resting.

    I feel like there's a fluidity to being a Christian. Always waves, always movement. Just when I think I have a grip on things, someone like you introduces a new thought and I feel spurred on to good works in an entirely new direction. And I believe that doing the work He has prepared for us to do (Eph 2:10) can be the Sabbath Rest (Hebrews 4:9)...resting from my own works and living a life of obedience. I don't think we should go just to go, I think we have to be like Moses and follow the cloud, follow where He's leading. It might bend us, stretch us, exhaust us...but we'll find rest in the Peace that comes from following Him.

    "God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped his people and continue to help them". Hebrews 6:9 Great big blessings to you, FPFG, for the love you show.

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  15. House churches are weird...seems like a broad generalization. Does this include the ones we read about in the bible?

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    1. Yes, it was a very broad generalization, made in complete ignorance. Which is probably why I now see my House Church as one of the greatest gifts in my life. God is in the business of showing me all the time how little I really know. :)

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    2. Love your stuff...right down to the plaid! So glad for evidence of deep and abiding faith! Keep on girl :)

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  16. The bit you put in red is pretty much exactly what I was going to comment on a few days ago. I love your October topic of 'going'. For me, I have felt led to STAY for the past few years. Busy-ness was getting the best of our family and God put it on my heart to stop signing us up for everything and just STAY home and BE sometimes. So I have. My husband's job is stressful and time-consuming and I teach part time, so it stands to reason that we are often tired when we're at home. I try to save a little of my best for my family instead of giving whatever I have left to other people. I pray about it a lot and it has continued to be the answer for now. I have a feeling that when my kids are older and doing their own thing that there will be that tug - okay now, it's time to get up. Get going.

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  17. Does the squirmy, dreading, uncomfortable feeling mean that we are to be pushed out of our comfort zone OR is it because it is not truly HIS will??

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  18. I think we are never there. In my case there is always talk to be done, relationships to be made, lessons to be learned. There is no end to the stretching of us.

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  19. I feel like we're always going (or being called to go), but like some already said, there are periods of rest where the "going" probably feels a bit more like "staying." A lot of times going feels uncomfortable and hard and we're growing a TON and things are shifting all around... but sometimes we really hit the groove and the sweet spot and we're going but it feels easy and it's just WORKING. And I don't think that peaceful time means we're not doing things right or that we're out of the going because it's not uncomfortable. Does any of that make sense?

    Also, forget the stripes and plaid. LOOK AT THOSE BOOTS. You know we wear the same size, right? You also know if you lend a mouse a blazer/bag/necklace/shirt...

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  20. Loving your posts and your words and following your journey.....

    I think it was someone above who mentioned about seasons, for what it's worth, I agree about seasons of life. Perhaps there's a season for total Going, and some seasons to rest in between, though they may be just short enough for a recharge and we're not ever to really take them "off", but perhaps to pull back a bit until our cups are once again full and we have more to spill out onto others? That was a long sentence. Just thinking aloud. :) What do you think? Going is seasonal, or at least seasonal in intensity? You've got my wheels turning....

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  21. Embrace the journey; don't focus solely on the destination because it is a mirage.

    Our God is infinite; therefore our potential through Him is infinite. With every forward step--obeying His word and following Him, the destination becomes every bit as distant as it once was. With our obedience, He is able to enlarge our territory and entrust us with more. The more you choose to GO, the more He calls you to GO--the harvest is ripe, but the workers are few.

    When we are walking in obedience, we can get fixated on the "destination." Focusing on the destination can come a distraction from the growth and change he wants to take place within us NOW to prepare us for the next leg of our journey. If you are waiting to "Capital G" Go, start going where you are today. Practice what He wants you to do "there" while you are here.

    I don't believe we are ever called to "stay" the same, but to be changed ever more into His likeness. We may be called to wait for Him to fulfill a promise, but He will be working and changing us during that time to prepare us to become able to receive that promise. When He does grant us a season of rest, the difficulty comes in not allowing our flesh to let it become complacency or luke-warmness. I would argue that if everything in life feels comfortable, it might merit examination of whose example we are following. I believe Shane Claiborne said it well: Jesus came to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.

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  22. A huge issue. Great thoughts being provoked. I have been thinking about this all day. I think the Go is an issue of obedience. We don't Go because of compassion or guilt or any other number or things because those will all dry up. We Go because He has asked us to, and because we love Him, and He loves us and sustains us.

    I also think that everyone's go looks different, and yet how easy it is to make ministry hierarchies. I do it all the time. I honestly struggle sometimes when I read your posts because I think, "Well, is going to watch one of my small group girls play volleyball as important or radical as going to visit a teenager without a good family in jail?" And then I think no. And then I feel guilty. I don't think that you are imparting that guilt; it is my own messy heart. But I want to remember that this is the Body of Christ, and we can't all be called to the same thing. Am I willing to be made uncomfortable for the sake of Christ? Yes! But will it look like someone else's story? Probably not.

    Also, in the tiny Goings, I want to be faithful. In the making of a meal for my husband because I know it will bless him immensely in a stressful season of his life. In the folding of laundry that will get dirty again by next Monday. Not to say that I can wrap myself up in home life and never leave, but if the Go in the small things does not matter, then over 1/2 my life is crap. And I want to find Him in everything.

    Whew. Any of that make sense?

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    1. Oh, it makes perfect sense. I've been thinking about this all day too. Love the comments! I think you might like where I go in tonight's post. (You sort of pre-emptively hit the nail on the head. Maybe I can just post your comment and call it a night? Haha.)

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    2. I totally agree- I think there are big things and little things- and if we see and listen and appreciate that the small things can have big impact, then that's huge. Big things have their own merit too- but small things are just as great!

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  23. First let me say I loved your post, when meeting with others that have a certain like mindedness or not ;) I often feel the same that we're on the verge of something big...it's a form of true edification among one another, it holds a depth and rawness that we cannot find sitting in our homes or pews alone.
    I don't believe that we are ever "there". I feel that God moves us in seasons. I felt a calling to be a missionary at age 8, I have went on several short term missions trip but currently am not living overseas. No matter how hard I try I cannot dismiss this constant ache in my heart for missions. Although I know that in the "now" that I can not physically GO, I know that God continues to prod my heart so that I do not get comfortable in my now.
    Angela
    http://travelsofayoungwife.blogspot.com/

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  24. so tricky...that question is.

    andy and I have moved 4 times since graduating seminary....so we're definitely willing to go (as in) MOVE....but, we really feel like we're in Athens to stay (for a while)...whatever that means. :)

    having said that....NO....I don't think God ever looks at us and says, "hey...you in the denim shirt and cute leopard shoes....you're good for now..stay put and get comfortable."

    I think he is always "moving" us...stretching us...refining us...calling us to die to more of ourselves.

    comfortable is overrated.

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  25. I guess I feel that each place we visit in His will is just a stop on our journey to the next place which will eventually lead us to where we are really going....Heaven! Yee Haw!

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  26. We are currently in a Life Group. Same thing, we all come from differing back grounds, we are all flawed and have different theologies, but the same Jesus.

    I don't think we ever "get there." There is no arriving at something entirely. There is just knowing that "He that began a good work in me (and the folks with me in Life Group) WILL finish it to completion."

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  27. Take heart :) Over and over again in the scriptures God sends people places and then tells them to stay. Then He keeps them there is safety until He is ready for the next phase of His plan. Paul is a great example of that. The Sabbath day is an example of God not wanting us to kill our selves working. He created "rest" and "rest" can be Holy. Remember that He is taking care of everyone and using you in part. It's not ALL up to you, actually none of it is UP to you, you are only a part. He knows your frame, your needs and your weaknesses. He's a Father. No loving Father carries a whip around and keeps driving his children into exhaustion. I really believe the problem is that we forget that we are not carrying the world, HE IS. I love your heart. Keep looking to Him and He will give you the strength to do what He has planned for you. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding, in all of your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your steps."

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  28. Who could ever disagree with my son in-law??? Smack down, I should have been there.

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  29. Very thought provoking statement,There or Go. I like to think of "there" as abiding in Christ,anything that is worthy of fruit bearing is found while abiding There ( In Christ ) , and "Going "is that sweet aroma that follows an obediant heart willing to go about doing the Fathers busines.

    Keep on doing what your doing , its encouraging to us all :)
    By the way did you receive the baner "Fall" ? The simplicity of it remined me of you :)

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