I’ve seen it on posters. I’ve seen it on bumper stickers. It’s been on building marquis signs, refrigerator magnets, and t-shirts. It’s hip and trendy to say it. But I often wonder if anyone really believes it.
Be the change you wish to see in the world.
I believe this falls apart in American Christianity more than any other place.
It often seems that deep down we believe that someone else could do a better job of changing the world. We get really excited about the idea of others being public about their faith, especially if we believe they are in a position of influence. If someone on American Idol says they are a Christian or sings a Christian song, then suddenly the Christian community is all over it, mounting campaigns to keep that contestant in the running, even if their talent level is questionable, comparatively. If someone in Hollywood professes faith, then suddenly those are the movies to see, the CDs to buy. We love a good bandwagon in the American church.
And then there are the wistful “if onlys”. If only Oprah Winfrey would become a Christian…if only Ellen…if only Derek Jeter or Beyonce or Ke$ha or Stephen Spielberg…or anyone we perceive has more influence than we do. Of course, I believe everyone should meet Jesus and find out how awesome He is. Not so they can then exploit their influence to the masses, but simply because I’m sure they’d just love Him if they gave Him a chance, because who doesn’t need some abundant life?
When Jesus came to earth, it wasn’t to the heads of government or the leaders of great schools of knowledge or the shiny popular kids. He quietly slipped into the bottom layers of society—shepherds, fishermen, carpenters, prostitutes, and tax collectors. He never seemed concerned that those people didn’t have a public platform that would reach far with one fell swoop. He was content to let one life change one life…and then another, and then another. He wasn’t intimidated in the least by the idea of changing the world from the bottom up. In fact, it seems He set it up to work that way.
I believe it’s still a fabulous plan. Each of us has a sphere of influence just waiting to be touched by a kingdom that supersedes the rules of this world and its systems. That kingdom is in you. Stop looking around at others and cultivate its reality. And though that sphere of influence varies from person to person, there’s no such thing as one too small. If it’s your sphere, you don’t get off the hook by playing small with your life and hoping someone you see as shinier will pick up your slack. It’s yours. It was given to you.
Don’t expect someone else to change the world. You do it.
It’s funny. When you set a goal and purpose yourself towards it, you really don’t know what is going to happen along the way. Maybe you’ll reach the goal. Maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll get halfway there and realize that it’s the wrong goal and you need to readjust your direction.
And maybe, just maybe, it will become a “more than you can ask or imagine” sort of experience.
Tonight I made my last contribution to Project Jubilee. Back when I launched it in January 2012 with this post, I purposed that a certain amount of my personal earnings would be contributed up until my birthday in January 2013. Though my birthday was January 21st, I’m just now receiving the paycheck that included those earnings. Tonight they became the final contribution to Project Jubilee.
The original amount I set was based on the 2011 estimation of the cost of a rescue mission for someone (or maybe many someones) trapped in slavery. But by the time the end of 2012 rolled around, that figure was out of date. The original $4500 became $4750 for a standard slavery rescue, and $5070 for a sex trafficking rescue. I was torn; so many people had helped me reach the original goal, and I didn’t want to seem ungrateful because in truth I was thrilled. But I also knew that though we’d technically met the goal, it would no longer do what I set out to accomplish. And so with just a day or two left before my birthday, I did a shout-out on Facebook, wondering what would happen. I knew I didn’t have anything more I could contribute before my actual birthday. But in a matter of hours, the new goal was not only met…but surpassed.
And I was, and still am, awestruck, amazed, and humbled.
This was nothing I could do on my own. I knew that going in. I didn’t have $4500. If God wanted this done, and I believed He did, then He was going to have to do something I couldn’t do. And that is exactly what He did.
A year later I am still asking Him a lot of questions about how big of a check I can write in His name. I’m not just talking about money. When Jesus left the earth, He left humans in charge and promised to equip us to do everything that needed done in order to bring His kingdom to our everyday places and everyday lives. He left us with an amazing amount of authority so that we’d do wildly wonderful things that defy the systems of this world.
I want to grab hold of the amazing so that I can do the wildly wonderful.
He constantly finds ways to make my knees knock. Before I know it, I’m in a situation where the only thing of value I have to offer isn’t mine to fulfill, and I have to force myself to get out His checkbook and start writing. All the while I’m mumbling (sometimes hollering) “ok, I’m doing this because You said I could and it’s in Your character to do it and I’m taking You seriously about this heaven-invading-earth business, and if You don’t show up and make good, we’re all sunk! You’re my only hope in this actually happening!”
And pretty much every time I end up awestruck, amazed, and humbled.
He’s completely and totally amazing.
Confession: I never left the house today.
It was a rainy day and so I holed up inside. I did some laundry. I twinked around on the computer. I finished a book. I napped. I petted some cats. I did some personal housecleaning. I did a little decorating. I ate yet another grilled cheese sandwich for lunch.
There’s just something about grilled cheese on a cool, rainy day.
I wouldn’t exactly call it a day of rest. I did some hard work today. But it wasn’t a day of rush. It wasn’t a day of the glorification of busy. It wasn’t a day of striving.
These kinds of days are good for the soul.
We’ve had a lot of rain over the past few days. I have to wonder if the earth is taking a nice long shower, cleaning up before the arrival of spring. Within a few days I expect to hear the spring peepers begin squeaking their little hearts out in the swollen creek behind the house.
I don’t get many days where I don’t have to go out for any reason. Nor do I get many where I can move at a restful pace.
But they’re glorious when they happen.
I know you don’t realize that I watch you. But I do.
You slip into the room like a shadow, torn between your hope that you are invisible and your fear that you won’t be seen. If asked, you would say that you don’t care…but you do.
You care a lot.
You’re good at doing the Next Thing. You move through your day, mentally ticking off the squares on your task list, knowing that each accomplished task will lessen the chance that you become visible at the wrong time. You smile on cue and nobody would ever guess what you hear in your internal dialogue.
But I know. You hide it really well, but I know.
You walk a good talk and you talk a good talk but sometimes when you think nobody is looking a draft of pain blows across your face. I want to reach out and touch you, to let you know I saw, but I know you’d instantly snap a smile and quietly make a lame excuse, and then apologize.
You apologize a lot. Only a small fraction of the apologies make it past your lips. but I can still hear them echoing through the atmosphere. Do you even know why you’re so sorry?
I watch you live your tightly-wrapped life, carefully keeping the loose ends tucked away so they can’t unravel.
The question isn’t “when did you stop breathing?”, but “did you ever start?”
I’ve heard it said that when God closes one door He opens another, but it’s hell in the hallway.
Boy howdy, does that ever seem to play out true.
Transition. Change. It’s happening around me left and right. Knowing it was coming didn’t ease it or lessen the shock. In the Big Picture, it’s not unwelcome. In the immediate picture, it’s turning every breath into a battle. I can see how this is supposed to end, but getting there? Wow…
I wish I was one of those persons who can waltz through transitional seasons with confidence, power, and grace. But the truth is that I’m limping, shaking, and have shed more than a few private tears and even a few public ones. It’s a violent roller coaster of thoughts and emotions, and I no sooner get my balance than something throws me off again.
And sometimes it’s the smallest, most ridiculous stuff that throws me off. That surely doesn’t do much for the confidence factor, that’s for certain.
I am barraged by an internal stream of questions. What if I can’t keep up? What if I never fit it? What if everyone thinks I’m always this much of a basket case? What if I AM always this much of a basket case?
The only thing I know is that I have to keep facing forward, moving forward. Turning around is not an option. And that means that if I have to move forward completely undone, then so be it, and I’ll let the chips fall where they may. It’s not my preference– I much prefer a more tidy process– but I’ll take it over turning tail and returning to the illusion of safety.
Be gentle when you have to remind me I said that, please.
For a while it seemed like I was back on the blogging bus. I was using my big girl words and everything. I’m not sure what happened, but I’ve obviously fallen off the bus. The blank screen stares back at me, mirroring my blank face. Neither of us have a clue what to say.
The silence is deafening.
I keep starting sentences and then deleting them. Maybe I don’t really have anything to say. Maybe I do but it’s stuck in SparkySpace. SparkySpace is definitely a black hole for words.
I’ve tried to pay attention today. You know…be aware, listen, take notes…
I heard “Don’t give up.”
I heard “I am doing a great work and cannot come down.” (Nehemiah 6:3)
I heard “Where there is desire, there is gonna be a flame. Where there is a flame, someone’s bound to get burned. But just because it burns doesn’t mean you’re gonna die, you gotta get up and try, and try, and try.” (Try, Pink)
I heard ”Andy crawled to freedom through five hundred yards of shit, smelling foulness I can’t even imagine, or maybe I just don’t want to. Five hundred yards…that’s the length of five football fields, just shy of half a mile.” (Red, The Shawshank Redemption)
I wish I could say this is all that I heard. But every word of hope and determination and encouragement was countered by about a dozen words of hope-sucking discouragement. Staying awake, alert, and oriented x4 is no mean feat. It would be easier to live drowsy. I’m not interested in “easier”, however. I’m too far gone for that. Too ruined. There is a reason I always carry a match in my shoe, a reason I’m not without one even when barefoot.
The world keeps the earth-dwellers jacked up on caffeine and spiritual benedryl so that everyone stays jittery but sleepy and doesn’t react to the things that ought to make anyone’s spirit itchy.
I’m not a citizen of this world, and I don’t want any of that koolaid.