Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Brokenness

Lots is going on in my head and my heart right now, but one thing I have been thinking about today and wanted to share... it is simple and might not seem worthy of a post, but I cannot help but praise Him for the way He humbly speaks to me through others.

The people God has been using (throughout my entire life) to selflessly and sacrificially pour into me with God-breathed encouragement, listening ears, committed prayer, much-needed accountability, and partnership in the Gospel have been the ones who admittedly display their brokenness. Sometimes their brokenness is 'on display' because of outward circumstances and sometimes it is something that they invite others behind the curtain to see. --I am broken-- I am reminded of this every single day and need for it to be that way or else I do not need a Savior. It's as simple as that. Because I am broken and so desperately content in this setting-in pieces before Him so that He died for someone who NEEDS Him-I am eager to listen, learn, and do life with others who truly need a Savior; people who see their need.

If I happen to live at a homeless shelter during a season of my life and you come there with your figured out life and polished appearance and tell me about Jesus who came for the sick but you do not see that YOU are sick, I want nothing to do with you or your Jesus. If I can sit under a bridge with someone who is living there and talk all day long about the character of Jesus and how He longs to bring healing and bind up our wounds (obviously referring to the wounds of this guy who spends his days drunk on the streets) but I do not see the places where He is begging me to come out from under a bridge and let Him bind up MY OWN wounds, what on earth am I doing!?

Guys... we are not so different from the people whose brokenness is on display. One of my dearest friends, who is currently in a season where she is dependent on others to provide a place for her to live, said to me when we first met something along the lines of "it is so nice of you to come here and spend time with us... i know you must get weary of hearing about how messed up we are--you are really sweet to take time out of your day to minister to us." I think my face must have shown my shock (until my words confirmed it) of what was exiting her mouth and how strongly I felt the opposite of what she was expressing. Eww- forgive me Lord for ever putting off the impression that I have things figured out!!!! Aaaah. The thought of any one of my friends whose brokenness is more evident to the outside world thinking that I am in a higher place, a more holy place where I can afford to take time out of my day to 'minister' to them, the lowly and shattered, makes me feel sick to my stomach. I understand that it might look like I have things under control/figured out/am doing just fine (and most of the people who might happen upon this probably appear the same way)... I really do see how this could be falsely assumed, but there is not a bolder lie that you could say about me.

I love so much when Jesus is sharing a meal with the "ragamuffins" or disreputable and the Pharisees see Him and wonder what on earth He is doing with 'those people.' He overhears them asking His disciples what is up and chimes in "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but the sinners." (mark 2) Plain and simple and makes me smile really big because the pompous(so often ME) were just called out... He didn't come for those who think they're righteous, He came for those who know they're sinners in need of grace. If we don't see our own sin and brokenness, where is our need? Why does a cocaine addict need Jesus more than me? Why does a child molester need Jesus more than me? Why does a sexually promiscuous woman need Jesus more than me? They don't. I need Him just as bad as they do... do you believe that about yourself? I am constantly having to remind myself because I forget this ALL OF THE TIME. I cannot fix them because only God is capable of that; but what I can do is come alongside of them and join them in their brokenness and let them see mine as we learn to let Him bind up our wounds together. Mmm... I think this is the community He speaks of right before He dies on the cross for us.

Ahhhhhh, His character is so stunning!! Anyway, this whole post was just to express that I am truly thankful for the people who invite me into their brokenness, however much(or little) muck has to be removed for it to be brought to surface, because it helps me fall more and more in love with the God who delights in being our Savior. Delights in binding up my wounds and healing my heart... who came because i NEED Him, not just in case I happen to need Him if I, God-forbid, fall into one of those glaringly dark places of brokenness (please note typed sarcasm).

All that to say, the people that God is using to bless my heart during my time on this earth are the ones who do not let me think of THEM more highly than I ought and do not let me think of MYSELF more highly than I ought. I don't want to listen to you and learn from you and share my sin with you if you pat yourself on the back before you go to bed each night or agree with me when I accidentally give you glory that He deserves for what He is in you. I know this entire thought process could be perceived as self-righteous and maybe it is, but when I read His words tonight "What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the rooftops!” (matthew 10), I decided to proclaim from the rooftops what I truly believe He has whispered (the loud kind of whisper that is relentless) in my ear.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

walrus :)

Man. Jesus was not joking about this boldness thing... He has asked me to be bold in living out and speaking what He has spoken over me and even though I know of only 2-3 people who read this (including my mom--haha), I feel like this is a place I can be bold without just talking loudly with a megaphone or something.

I have become really sensitive to how often we fall into the trap of stealing glory from God. I have heard/seen it so much lately and I don't think it is a new thing, but just that the Spirit has made me more aware of it in myself and others. When we take credit for what He allows us to be apart of/gifts He has given us, receive compliments without redirecting them to God, boast about our ministries without even mentioning His name, and pat ourselves on the back for any work of our hands--we are STEALING His glory... the very glory we were put on this earth to lavish on Him! Not just receiving the praise of man thankfully, but literally ripping it out of His always-deserving hands. This is our chance to bring Him the honor and praise and glory--to take who nonbelievers may see as a 'good person' and say "thanks, but actually, it's not me, it's this guy named Jesus...the Holy Spirit who has taken up residence inside of me." To take what people see as a really successful ministry and say "yeah!! isn't He the greatest?! blowing us away with His goodness and mercy." To take an accomplished goal or prosperous season and say "Look what Jesus did this year!! Look what He let us be involved in..."

I know a lot of it is private and that is truly between us and the Lord, but the public part.... ahh, please. The part that is exposed to the world... Let's remember that He does big things through us to DISPLAY HIS GLORY on this earth/among the nations, not to direct glory to us! "Not to us, O Lord, but to YOUR NAME be the glory." He lets us be His hands and feet so that people may see His face in us... so that His faithfulness becomes REAL to the unbelieving. He lets us take part in His plans when we are willing and obedient--the reward is righteousness and holiness and being clothed in the fruits of the Spirit, not the praise of man. All praise and glory should ALWAYS go to Him!

It's awkward sometimes and it might seem fruitless, but really... let's use these moments not to make our name famous, or our church's name famous, or our ministry's name famous, but HIS NAME famous!!!!!

Soli Deo Gloria...

Sunday, November 8, 2009

cautious love vs. extravant love

"Watch what God does and then do it...keep company with Him and learn a life of love! Observe how Christ loved us - His love was not cautious, but EXTRAVAGANT. He didn't live in order to get something from us but to give everything of Himself to us. Love like that!"
~Ephesians 5:1-2 (MSG)

His love is NOT cautious... not fearful, not prudent, not timid, not lacking in boldness, not unadventurous, not safe, not guarded.

His love IS extravagant...spending much more than is necessary or wise, exceedingly high, going beyond what is deserved or necessary, exceeding the bounds of reason.

Aaaah... what does that mean?? His love was costly, crazy, expensive, outrageous, nonsensical, extreme, daring, adventurous, bold! As imitators of Him--we are told to love like that!!

I think we are too cautious with how we love each other. . . I think that in our 15, 20, 35, 50, 80 years of life we have either felt personally or seen others experience heartbreak and we want to avoid that at all costs. We are taught to take care of ourselves- to be careful with who we give our hearts to and how much we give them and when to stop giving and when we need to hold onto the love for ourselves and yadda yadda yadda. That's a lot of caution. We are warned not to give too much of ourselves to people--especially without the assurance that they will in turn give themselves to us. Even if the words are not spoken in this exact way, I feel like we're told to keep our hearts in a box and wait until someone really determined comes in with a magic key to open the box and then, only then, they deserve our love. Maybe hand out teeny pieces to people, but never give the whole package--never love with everything we have because then we would run out of love and our hearts would crumble, right?

So why did He lavish His love on us? Why did He give it in excess? Why would He not just give us enough to get by? He loves us extravagantly because He wants us to love others with the love we've received and continue to receive from Him... He wants us to love each other DEEPLY, excessively, extravagantly because that is how He loves and He wants us to learn to love in the same way. In a way that doesn't make sense... doesn't correspond with how much the person presumably deserves... is costly!

We have all sung the song 'Hosanna' and probably really asked God to do what the lyrics say:
"break my heart for what breaks Yours"
I am just now getting an idea of what that means... It is BIG! Don't ask for it unless you truly want to learn to live a life of extravagant love like He so marvelously displays for us.

Broken hearts come from what? LOVE... letting our hearts love-unguarded, reckless, bold hearts aimed at loving, LIVING a life of love, with every fiber of our being. We ask for broken hearts, but do we really want that? Who, in their right mind, ASKS for that? . . . . . maybe someone who believes wholeheartedly that He continues to pour out His extravagant love on us so that we can share it with others and we don't run out.

Love is risky. It is taxing and it is big and it is bold and it is IMPOSSIBLE without daily receiving His great love for us. If we really want to love like He loves, we cannot expect to be protected from the heartbreak, the pain of sharing His heart for the people on this earth. He absolutely will break our hearts for what breaks His hearts if we are surrendered to Him to daily imitate the kind of love He gives.

It is painful--I can attest to that. Over the past couple of years, He has given me His heart for people, children who are experiencing the poverty of feeling unloved. The orphans who are going to bed tonight with no one to tuck them in and whisper love into their ears. The little girls who are being raped over and over and over again because her parents thought that a handful of rupees was worth more than the precious child of God whose name is inscribed on the palm of His hand! The kids who are alone on the streets, sniffing glue not because it's cool to get high but because it stifles the hunger they're experiencing and helps them to forget about how miserable they are. Those same kids who do not have family scouring the streets, putting up signs (like we do when even our dogs go missing), appearing on any news station who will listen, offering hefty rewards longing to be reunited with the child God knit in their womb. Broken hearts for the people of His kingdom are not necessarily enjoyable, but they're raw. They're real... to feel so in tune with God that your heart can literally feel the pain Jesus felt that led Him to love the orphans and widows and sick and hungry and overlooked as extravagantly as He did. To get a taste of why He came to this earth and gave us an example of LIVING a life of love... I truly believe He longs for us to hand our hearts to people, knowing that it's a dangerous move but silencing the caution that tries to stop us.

Alright. So what about "guarding our hearts"? What about all of the people who will use Proverbs 4:23 out of context to tell us that "guard your heart" means "don't get hurt!" What about the counsel of others that advises that we love ourselves first and then if we have anything left over we can give it to others. What does that say about the love offered by the Most High? It's not enough? It's possible to outdo Him in love? To run out? Do we really believe He will punish us for attempting to imitate His extravagant love? If we do.. do we really know His character? Proverbs 4:23 is referring to guarding our hearts from wickedness, not suffering.

C.S. Lewis writes: "Of all arguments against love, none makes so strong an appeal to my nature as 'Careful! This might lead you to suffering.'If I am sure of anything, I am sure that His teaching was never meant to confirm my congenital preference for safe investments and limited liabilities...
there is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness."

Guarding our hearts does not equate to avoiding heartbreak at all costs... He lets us be adventurous in love!! He gives us more than enough so we can pour it out in excess... so we can love people when it doesn't make sense... so we can be justice through His love! There is no fear in love--no fear of someone not accepting the love how we want them to, no fear of the person not returning the love, no fear of being hurt in the process.

Broken hearts for His kingdom do not leave us crumbled and crippled on the floor... they lead us to the same kind of excessive love He is famous for. The love that gets us on our face, begging for Him to use us to love whoever and however He chooses! It leads us to action--to live in the same love that He is famous for!!! To pour our hearts out because no matter the cost-even complete and utter heartbreak-we are getting a look inside the heart of a King, absolutely crazy about His people!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Cadertot has my heart

Cade, my 2.5 year old nephew, today while we were snuggling on the couch.... (completely uninhibited)

"Annie, I love you."
"I'm sad when you go bye-bye."

I wonder if he knows that all he has to do is say that to me as I am boarding the plane to Kenya and I am pretty sure I will drop everything and stay... love that boy so much!!!

I think a lot about how hard it will be to be away from family and friends... missing birthdays, family dinners, coffee shop talk, and all of the other quality time spent with good friends and family. It will be difficult, I know... but I am confident that the Lord will bring me closer to Him during these times and will provide moments of each day where I truly wish to be no other place in the world. I do not know how long He plans for me to be there, but I pray that my willingness to obey His will is not succeeded by my longing for things of home.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

just enough for today, please...

give us today our daily bread

like, manna in the dessert -
only enough for today.

Help me fight the urge to save up
instead of trusting you again tomorrow.

God, it’s a hard way for us to live
And we need the reminder that you want to be our provider.

Amen.

((got this prayer off of the Word Made Flesh website))

Monday, September 7, 2009

Thanks NYquil, for having the reverse effect on me. . . .

What in the world--most people take Nyquil and are knocked out for the next 3 days and I take it and feel (for the first time in my entire life) the intense desire to surrender all plans of sleeping and begin training for a marathon ASAP. Ooooh man. It is times like these that I wish I had a trampoline in my room (a lifetime dream that will one day be fulfilled)... or anywhere. I would run to Kentucky if it meant I could get a good tramp jump in.

Do they have trampolines in Kenya? This could be a deal breaker if the answer is no. . .

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Announcing my move to Kenya...

Hi friends!!

I am going to (attempt to) cut to the chase because we all know how I am prone to ramble when given a blank sheet of paper. :) As you all know by now, the precious people of Kenya have had my heart since I first met them in 2007. God has used my experiences and relationships with them to give me a greater picture of His love, character, and grace than I ever imagined I would be able to see on this side of glory. I am so thankful that during my most recent time in Kenya, God revealed the undeniable truth to me that KENYA is where He wants me for now… that is all I know.

I do not know many details of the whos, the whats, the whens, the how longs, the wheres, the hows, or the whys—but we are told to live by faith, not by sight, right? :) He has been so sweet to me by reassuring me day after day that this is His will for me right now and through my absolute surrender to Him and His plans, whatever they entail, His glory will be revealed! Since I first saw a glimpse of what it looks like to receive His love and to be the living expression of this great Love to others, I have been begging Him to use every ounce of me for His purposes--loving those He puts in my path with all He has given me for that day.

Please save my heart the unwanted pride of thinking I am anyone or anything besides a surrendered instrument of His grace (the clay in His hands) who is seeking to bring God the honor and glory He deserves during this short time I am here on earth. I do not view myself as a missionary and ask that you not either; I am just someone who is seeking to do the will of the Lord (His will for ALL of us) in the place that He wants me, for now. I do not feel like His call to care for the poor, weak, orphaned, sick, destitute, widowed is a calling uniquely my own. I strongly believe that His call to care for these people is His will for every single one of us, though we will do this in various arenas, manners, and locations. He has broken my heart time and time again for my brothers and sisters in Kenya and I cannot even put into words how humbled and honored I am to for another opportunity to be His hands and feet among the people there. I pray that Jesus sweetly breaks your heart, too, for the people you are surrounded by that need His love just as much.

Again, I do not know many details yet—but I will keep you posted as things progress. It seems the earliest I will leave will be February 2010, due to some prior commitments/family things (i.e. births and weddings) going on between now and then. I really covet your prayers as I move forward in what I can only describe as ‘radical obedience’ to His will. I cannot thank you enough for the love and support you’ve already shown me and I ask that it continue, if not increase :), during this exciting new step in my life.

Soooo, that is all… just wanted to invite you guys to be a part of what the Lord is doing in my life right now. If you want to know more-ask questions-tell me you think I am crazy-come with me! :) -or anything else… please do!!! I think I might write in a blog if you want to keep up with that.

www.ramblations.blogspot.com

Nakupenda sana sana sana sana! (Love you very very very very much!),

Annie


"...and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, your light will rise in the darkness..." ~Isaiah 58:10