Thursday, May 3, 2012

Following

Kids are my jam. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are my people... the ones He created me to pour my life into day in and day out. I like them all, but most especially the ones whose bodies are fighting sickness or whose hearts are fighting deep hurt or whose minds are fighting the lies the world has spoken to them. The majority of my most precious encompass all three. I don't have huge and lofty aims of rescuing them from these battles, but I do have huge and lofty aims of walking with them/carrying them while Jesus fights the battles for both of us. All of my dreams (the ones He so beautifully writes in each of our hearts) are centered around them and they are most definitely the greatest source of laughter and joy in my life.

My childhood prayers were of finding a baby in a dumpster or a bag on the side of the road. I have vague memories of crying in my bed from exhaustion of looking and not finding, as an 8 year old. (haha, makes me laugh looking back...) When I was a teenager, I remember being irrationally attracted to teen pregnancy because it seemed to be the, perhaps unconventional, fulfillment of a desire that I had felt strongly since childhood. (too bad that didn't work out, haha... i'd have a 10 year old right now!) I logged hours researching how to manage school and a child if I were to adopt as a college student with zero-source of income. (haha, another good laugh-especially for my parents) I later fell in love with Kenyan babies whose moms and dads had died/left them and thought it completely ridiculous that God would allow such deep desire to be a mom to go unmet, even when the need was there waiting to be fulfilled. And the "need" had captivated my heart in the form of tiny brown fingers wrapped around mine and little diaper bottoms scooting on the dusty floor and friends on their death beds who grasped my hand and asked me to take care of their precious ones they were leaving alone in this world and babies naming me "mama" unprompted and hearts that professed the ache for a caregiver to call their own. I remember navigating my way through Nairobi by taxi, alone and in search of someone who could answer my questions on how to make it possible to be a mom to these kids. I remember being angry that I was not yet the legal age to even be considered... because I was ready, I had been ready, why not now? The list goes on and on, but the product is the same: no children "belong" to me today. 

All that to say, where I am today, I spend less time with children than probably ever in my life. Days go by where I do not interact with even one and some days a quick grocery store run provides my only source of contact. But my point is that this is good. Not because I look back and say, "thank God He didn't let that happen... this is so much better" because honestly, I don't feel able to say that most days. With my finite mind and narrow vision, I can't really understand why I am not living in Kenya with a house full of hooligans who call me Mom and are no longer titled "orphan".... but I do trust that He is good, so this is good. 

This life is that of a follower, not of a leader. If I were the leader, I would have "my way" by now, surely. I would have fought hard enough to achieve that which I saw best for my desires to be met. The thing is, when my eyes are on Jesus, I don't trust myself more than I trust a man in a ski mask who asks to hold all of my belongings. Trusting myself is pure ridiculousness...but I do trust HIM in me. And the only way for this to happen, for Him in me to be the hope of glory as promised, is to assume the humble role of follower, rather than leader. I try the leader thing often and I can say with learned confidence, following Him is the greatest adventure that exists. No greater outcome can be reached, no more beautiful dream fulfilled, and no better story written if not accomplished by and through Him. He is the master of creativity and adventure and passion and joy and when I try to take the reigns, I am choosing the mudpies over a holiday at sea. (read this CS Lewis wisdom, if you haven't).

So today I am following. I don't enjoy the ride every day... I ask Him a lot of questions and wonder at His judgment some days... I squirm away from the painful, forgetting He does some of His greatest work in these places... I ask Him to fast forward or rewind, so that I can be back to a place of familiarity or confidence... but in all of these instances, He so graciously reminds me that following Him is believing this: 
"The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." (Deuteronomy 31:8)

He is so so so sweet for this. There is no ground we will ever step on, in following Him, that He has not gone before and prepared for us. Yes, there are times He says "go" but He is not just pushing us from behind, He is ahead of us with His arm outstretched. I miss this so many times... I envision Him pushing me off the diving board, saying "go" and cheering me on as I go to carry out the mission He has appointed me. I think my vision is distorted in these moments because His voice is never getting dimmer, as I get further and further "ahead" of Him -- eager to go out and LIVE as He asked me to. His voice is actually getting louder, as I get closer and closer to where He is calling me to. Yes, He (thankfully) pushes and yes, He (graciously) cheers, but He never leaves our side for a second.

He has led me into some pretty odd places lately--ones I never would have tried to pull Him along into... ones I would have been happy to bypass, honestly. But oh man, the joy in seeing His hand!!!! It is unreal. So many things or relationships I never, ever would have signed up for. I am pretty uncomfortable here. I don't know how to walk through life with a man (could have stopped this sentence here, ha) who has spent the majority of his life in a jail cell. I don't know how to pack four kids and a breastfeeding baby into my car and leave their mother in the dust because the children are not getting the care they need. I don't know how to be a light in the darkness of my own city where my upbringing has made me more of a foreigner than a friend. I don't know how to love (well) my family on the other side of the planet, when I do not have any idea when I will make it back to them. I don't know how to do more than just ache with people who are hurting over things I did not even know existed, like choosing to sell your body to provide for your family. I knew it happened, but by choice? I don't know how to love more than a few people well at the same time... and sleeping too. I do not understand how they can both happen. :)

This is a beautiful place to be, sometimes only because I know I followed Him here. I think that's okay. Kids are still my jam... my God-given jam. :) But right now, He's stretching me and asking me to give loving some other (larger) people a shot. It's hard, but it's good. I'm not very good at it, but that's good too. It's good because I don't have much to cling to besides Him. I got nothin. Jesus' dependence on God as HE walked this life really humbles me... "Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can only do what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does, the Son does also." (John 5:19) If Jesus knew this utter dependence so well, let me thank Him for the humble role of following... it really is the greatest adventure.

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