myMISSION Young Professional Blog

Unconditional

 One big slip.

That’s what I was always waiting for—that one moment when I would slip up and it would be too major for a recovery.

God would look down on me in disdain and walk out the door. 

Deep places within my heart have believed this for years. I always wondered if my tenacious heart would eventually exhaust God and He would call it quits.

I built cadences of work and production into my spirituality in order to prove to God my loyalty and hopefully earn His love.

I knew the gospel. I had heard it my entire life, but it took being transplanted to the Middle East to learn unconditional love.

I had lived my life under the “A student” mentality. Hard work eventually pays off and everything should or at least could receive a grade. 

Rules set before me from a young age became my benchmark for affection. I believed in the pit of my soul that love is only earned.

Until God took me to the end of my effort, to a distant land where I no longer knew the measures of success. He took me out of the realms of a grade to tell me He loved me. 

Unconditionally.

Enemy Feels Like a Strong Word

Love your enemy. A phrase heard so often in the church, yet one producing a wrestling match in our souls.

Who is our enemy?

And maybe we don’t use traditional words, like, “Oh, John Smith, he is my enemy.”

But it slips into our lives more subtly. The people who annoy us, so we dodge them when we pass them in the office hallway. Or the conversations you avoid because you are tired of the same conversation, where the same debate comes up—because you two will never see eye to eye.

Or sometimes it’s deeper. The people who have hurt us. Physically, emotionally, or spiritually. People who to society are justified in receiving our distrust and disengagement.

70 x 7 times. 

He had hurt me.

He had hurt people I loved.

And I felt justified in my anger, hurt, and frustration.

Until God told me it was time to start praying and let this go. It was time to loosen my rights and my view of justice and surrender it to the Almighty. 

Honestly, the prayers started out as “please fix him in this way” kind of prayers. You know the kind I am talking about . . . because you have probably prayed them before too.

Antonym of Sorrow

Hope.

In the midst of devastation, people are able to find hope—this is my life’s greatest challenge.

Living in West Africa in the second poorest country in the world for two summers, I observed the most beautiful smiles I had ever seen in the middle of devastating poverty. This joy felt impossible to wrap my head around.

Then I lived in the Middle East for two years, hearing stories of God’s Kingdom expanding throughout the lands. I saw a woman throw her head back in laughter—true joy—in the middle of her homeland being destroyed, when only hours before she recounted story after story to me about how her relatives were brutally murdered in the streets. 

How can this be?

The gospel is powerful. It’s not a story we get to share or we have to share. God has flipped our world’s story of brokenness on its head. When we think all is lost; it’s not.

Perspectives of Memory

I’m starving! Let’s get something to eat!

These are phrases we say flippantly after a few hours without a meal.

Sitting in my fully-furnished home, drinking my electricity-produced cup of coffee, my mind wanders to distant lands, lands where children are the last to eat because the patriarchs and the matriarchs keep the family farm thriving so they must find sustenance first and because in some cultures children’s needs are not valued. There were children whose stomachs were bloated due to dysentery and malnourishment as they rummaged through my trash in Sub-Saharan Africa to find a morsel I threw away.

My thoughts stray to decaying, abandoned homes in the Middle East where sitting on floors I heard story after story of Syrian refugees who were struggling to provide meals for their families and were fearing the future of their country. Entire communities within Syria were being cut off from food supplies, and those who pursued refuge in other countries were quickly finding homelessness and hunger.

Wherever He leads, I’ll Go

“Go to the Middle East.”

That was the clearest call I had received from God. The next eight years were spent praying about, dreaming about, and preparing for my move to the Middle East.

I have always been the ambitious sort, the type who prepares for every change and possibility and attempts to plan the next 15 years, now. If possible.

So I went. God gave me the call. And I went.

Naturally, during my eight years of planning I began to dream about what the call from God might mean. I convinced myself He must want me to live overseas forever.

So I told others I would move there for my whole life. And quite honestly, my heart was willing.

But God had different plans.

Getting me there was simply the beginning of the life-changing, faith-rocking journey He was starting me on.

I thought it was a forever kind of call. Instead, God was asking me to follow Him in the faith-based kind of pursuit where He is the Good Shepherd and I am the lamb following Him wherever He would lead me.

Days turned to weeks, and weeks turned to years and slowly God began to whisper to me that it was time to move home.

Sleep vs. God

6:30 a.m. The song begins to play, telling me it is time to wake up.

Shower. Get Ready. Quickly eat breakfast. Out the door.

Work. Work. Work. Home. Errands. Friends.

Then repeat.

Do you ever feel like you are on the wash cycle on repeat? It’s so rhythmic. It’s so consistent. It’s alarming.

The routine wrestles with my time with the Lord. I convince myself in the middle of my morning that I can find it, but oftentimes the bed calls my name more than my drive to have time with Jesus.

In those moments, sleep matters more to me than the living water.

The more I allow this cycle to repeat, the more desperate and thirsty for the Lord I become. I forget that the stillness is where I find Him. In the moment of pause.

If we allow the rhythm, the routine, to dictate our lives—working, living, moving at a syncopated pace—when do we stop? When is the pause?

Every song ever written has a moment of rest. How naive for me to think my life-song should never pause.

It’s in the silence that I hear God.

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