I Want To Live Like That

I've been reading much about suffering lately...during my quiet time in the Bible, but also in many books written by extremely wise authors who have already wrestled with God and come to some tentative peace about their own personal sufferings...most of which are far greater than mine.  There is still a long road ahead in our journey and it would be premature to say that I can already discern what God is doing. I can't. The fog remains dense. I can see that He is moving...and that He is in this...but the big picture, the true reasoning as to why...I may not fully know until I meet Jesus face to face. Still, in my own wrestling, there are things He is beginning to repeatedly reveal to me...

One recurring theme that I suppose I knew...but didn't really "know"...is that suffering is designed specifically for the person who is going through it...like a piece of a puzzle in their spiritual journey. It isn't some random bad luck to get through and then pretend as though it never happened. It is ordained by God (because if He is truly in control of all things, then it must be ordained by Him or else He really isn't in control) because for some reason there are lessons that we need to gain from it in order to grow in our spiritual walk. It becomes part of our story from that point forward...not to be forgotten...woven into the fabric of who we are. But each occasion of suffering is different and specifically designed to fit each soul, which is why we can't look at what someone else is going through and think, "I could never do that." It doesn't work that way...suffering is individual - no one is walking the same journey, no matter how similar their path may look. You couldn't do it from the outside looking in...because God only gives the grace to deal with it when it is time.

"Your place in heaven will seem to be made for you and you alone, 
because you were made for it — 
made for it stitch by stitch as a glove is made for a hand."
- from The Problem of Pain, by C.S. Lewis

So, I've been giving much prayer and thought lately to what lessons He is trying to show me. The path we have walked through in recent months has exceeded any pain I have ever known...and I want to grow from it. I don't want to emerge the same...and go back to doing everything just as I did before...because then I have wasted the opportunity to truly deepen my walk with Him...and the suffering will have been for nothing. I want to listen and be able to absorb and apply what it is that He is trying to show me...to discover how is He trying to refine my soul. And then I want to use our story to minister to others.

While there is much yet to be unveiled, I am getting the sense that one small portion of this lesson is to live intentionally, always. I thought we were doing this already. But in this affluent, suburban area, it is very easy to justify a comfortable life. Over-scheduling my kids and making sure our world revolves around them, thinking I am entitled to "me" time and not being an exceptionally good steward of both our time and money are just a few (of many) things that I too quickly fall prey. What has become abundantly clear in recent weeks is that we are only here for a brief snapshot of time. We can live safely and for ourselves - with happiness as our ultimate goal...but suffering will still find us. And even if we are one of very few who manage to make it through life with minimal times of immense suffering...death will still come...to all of us. What then? Have we lived a life that mattered? Did we strive to love and serve God's kingdom? Did we walk the walk? Did we push ourselves out of our comfort zone so that we could make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate? Did we let go of our artificial sense of control and our need for a nice, neat, simple life and let God work? Did we leave a legacy? Did we make the most of the time, gifts and resources given to us or did we fritter them away in an endless pursuit of contentment that never came?

I don't exactly know what this means for our family going forward. It is too soon for that and I am sure that God has much left to show me. Plus, I am only half of the equation - and I know that God is teaching Patrick different things during this time. Still...this has been on my heart lately and so I believe it is an important lesson from our journey thus far...not only for us...but in how we teach our kids to live. 

In the past few weeks I have been following the journey of one of my adoption friends, Andrea. I am always amazed at her willingness (and also that of her husband) to step out and follow God's prompting...no matter how difficult the task. She is on the board of a ministry for widows and orphans (Wiphan) in Zambia, she developed a yearly retreat for women who have a heart for adoption that now attracts hundreds (Created for Care), she has already adopted one child from Ethiopia with the hopes to adopt again...and the list continues. It is not simply Andrea doing these things...it is God working through Andrea's very willing heart. Currently, they are hosting a 15-year old orphan from Ukraine through a program called New Horizons. This program gives orphans the chance to spend about a month with a Christian family in the United States before they age out of their country's orphanage system. There is a time when all orphans become too old and they are basically "kicked out"...with no hope for any kind of future. You can imagine in many countries what will become of a 16-year old girl with very little education, no money, no family and no concept that she is a loved, child of God. Very bad things happen. Andrea has four little kids, home schools and has just recently recovered from a months long battle with Lyme disease. She could have chosen to simply enjoy a low-key second half of the summer with her kiddos...relaxing at home, chilling at the pool, soaking up family time. Instead, she is loving on a child who has never known love and doesn't even know how to be loved. Serving a child who is, through no fault of her own, full of hard stuff. It is not easy. It is being the hands and feet of Jesus though...and it is beautiful. Certainly there are countless others doing hard things who I could have mentioned...but Andrea is currently smack-dab in the middle of this...so it seemed like a perfect example. She had a great post on her blog yesterday describing a day in the life with four kids and a 15-year old orphan from Ukraine who speaks absolutely no English...funny, touching, hard and full of love - active, you don't have to love me back but I am being Jesus to you love...please take a moment to read a few of her posts...you will not be disappointed:

Babe Of My Heart

I still have much to learn. I'm afraid I am the Titanic and I have just glimpsed the tip of the iceberg in the middle of a cold, dark night. 

Still, this idea of living intentionally - being willing to set aside more of me to be His hands and feet -  has been consistently on my heart...so it must be something. Life is short. Fleeting. I don't want to miss what God is trying to show me. In the words of Chuck Colson, "How now shall we live?"

"Sometimes I think, what will people say of me, 
when I'm only just a memory, 
when I'm home where my soul belongs; 
Was I love, when no one else would show up, 
was I Jesus to the least of those, 
was my worship more than just a song; 
I want to live like that, and give it all I have, 
so that everything I say and do, points to you; 
If love is who I am, then this is where I'll stand, 
recklessly abandoned, never holding back..."
-Sidewalk Prophets

Live Like That

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