Ok. Cross your fingers. Rub your tummy. Hop on one foot.
Hold your breath. And pray this works.
Ok. Cross your fingers. Rub your tummy. Hop on one foot.
Hold your breath. And pray this works.
I used to be a waitress.
I can honestly say that I not only enjoyed it, but I miss it from time to time. It’s one of the few things I have come across in my life that came very naturally and easily to me; I did it well.
Waitressing, for me, was never really a job, it was an outlet.
Talking and listening to people feeds something in me that I can’t quiet describe. I jump at opportunities to serve people because I like to feel needed. I like to do for people what they can not do for themselves and waitressing seemed to supply that environment for me.
I couldn’t have asked for a better setting either. Whitefish, Montana is one of the most breathtaking places in the United States. Something about that place beckons people to come and be a part of it. It invites and then transcends every expectation. And tens of thousands of people from all over the world flock there every summer to witness it for themselves.
Rumors of its beauty, tales of its grandeur, and pictures that attempt to capture its essence compel people to go and see if such a place exists. It demands, and rightfully deserves, to be experienced personally.
Waiting on tables of visitors that had just come from Glacier National Park always brought a smile to my face. They were exuberant. The views there will do that to you. The air will leave you feeling exhilarated. The breeze will woo you and the fragrance of wildflowers will intoxicate you.
Back to waitressing.
Tourist and locals alike seemed to always come into the restaurant after their adventures famished. Exposure to that much beauty is exhausting. Many weren’t prepared for the altitude adjustment. Others didn’t hydrate properly to compensate for the dry climate. Still others didn’t prepare for the hiking to be quite as exhaustive and so they didn’t eat enough.
They all came looking for sustenance. They needed to be replenished. They needed nourishment. They needed rest. It’s not that they couldn’t have gone home to cook for themselves, it’s that they didn’t have the energy.
Being a waitress reminded me a whole lot of church.
Isn’t that what people come looking for? A promise of God that will quench their need for assurance? A truth that will satisfy their hunger for hope? A bench to sit and rest on with others who are travelling the same road? And a waitress (or waiter) that will be happy to accept them, serve them, and bring them love enough for the next day’s journey?
We’re all waiters. We are all called to serve what we know: Grace. Freedom. Forgiveness. Joy. Hope. Peace. Life. Love.
Some of us are openers. We meet people before they have ever even heard of this place called church. We give them directions.
Some of us are scheduled for the mid-afternoon lull. We have the opportunity to pay careful attention to the customers who come in alone and stay long.
And some of us are closers. We’re there for the evening time rush. We have seven tables instead of three. We get to serve the customers with complicated orders. And we’ll stay there as long as they haven’t paid their bill.
All shifts are equally important, all serve a necessary purpose.
So whether you open, close, or keep the old company in the corner booth after the lunch hour, never forget you were scheduled for your shift for a reason.
I had a brain wave the other day.
Working in a ministry setting, you hear a lot of jargon about “doing Kingdom work.” Whether you work in a church or for a ministry organization, the emphasis so often is on “doing God’s will,” or “fulfilling your calling,” or my personal favorite, “reaching the world for Christ.”
Let me clarify by saying that all of these motivations and missions are great. Truly. I think that they are all admirable. I have quoted all these mantras myself at one time or another. But do you see all the action words in those statements (“doing,” “fulfilling,” and “reaching,”) were dependent on the person carrying them out? It seems as though the focal point of our personal missions and messages are… off.
My point is this: How often does our doing of ministry get in the way of us being a ministry?
I’ll use myself as an example. I work for Compassion International. We are literally acting on the mandates and commands of Christ to look after the widow and the orphan, the hungry, the poor, and the afflicted. We are doing the work of God. And when people ask what I do and I have the privilege of telling them about our ministry, they all respond with “Wow, that must be so fulfilling/rewarding/satisfying.”
And yes, it is. Without a doubt. But my work does not satisfy me completely. What I do does not fulfill me and bring me total peace.
What does bring me joy, peace, and hope though, is remembering that I am the work of Christ.
Beth Moore spoke at Catalyst earlier this month (more posts to come on that soon) and something she said shook me to the core.
“I’m miracle material.”
And I am. Everyone is. If anyone was without Christ and has now been saved by the free gift of His grace, through faith, than we all are miracle material. For we all have been rescued from death and freely given a new and righteous life. Is that not miraculous?
We are the object of His affection and His heart’s desire? Is that not miraculous considering where we have come from, the things we have done and the people we used to be?
Perhaps this is elementary to many, but I can not get over it.
I am a miracle.
You are a miracle.
We do not have to do His work, we only have to be His work.
I came across a verse in Isaiah this week that I am pretty sure I have never seen before. I’m confident that it has always been there, but I don’t know that my eyes or heart have ever been open to it in the past. It says,
Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.
For a people shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you. And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.
There is a lot about this passage that I love and resonate with. For starters, the way that is begins takes my breath away– “The Lord waits to be gracious to you.” In saying that He “waits” it implies He wants to be gracious to us; to shower us with love and grace and forgiveness in order to show that He’s wants us. He’s after our heart. That’s a big statement.
But I literally say the latter part of this verse in action today and it nearly brought me to tears.
As I was out hiking (and by hiking I mean walking briskly on a sidewalk in the middle of a neighborhood in the suburbs) I saw a little boy riding a little bike, complete with training wheels, being trailed by his dad, running behind him. They were headed right at me.
As the little boy’s legs tried to peddle the bike forward, it was obvious he was losing momentum and beginning to veer towards me. His dad, jogging behind him, placed his hand gently on his back to push him forward and kindly said, “stay right, stay right.” I nearly stopped dead in my tracks as this verse came to mind.
And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it…”
Regardless of where I am or how fast I am not going, Christ runs behind me, helping me up the hills that are too hard when my legs grow weary and telling my in what direction to steer when my handle bar begins to wobble. And because He’s God, I think He runs ahead of me too, clearing the path He would have me take of some hazardous obstacles. Things like pot-holes where I could potentially get stuck or limbs, perhaps, that could be sharp enough to pop my tires. All the while, He delights in me. Why? Because I am His kid. With the superman helmet and training wheels.
As this father ran behind his son, smiling, his son never looked back to make sure he was still there. He didn’t need to because he heard his dad’s voice and in knowing he was close, he peddled confidently.
God may we hear your voice. May we go where to you tell us. And may we run hard after you.
They say that nothing about the Christian faith can be formulated into an equation. And I would agree.
I do think though, that there is a chain reaction element to this faith. A chain reaction of beliefs, decisions, and actions that all culminate to ultimately create your reality. But as you know, chain reactions must be started, there must be something that initiates the need to develop beliefs, make decisions, and eventually act in order to create said reality.
It all starts with theology. Your theology dictates your reality. If you really believed what you said you did, would your life, circumstances, relationships, etc. look any different? Would your reality then, reflect the theology that you claim?
The reason I ask is because I had a challenging and thought-provoking conversation with a friend that is much wiser than me and he made the following statement:
Your faith is strengthened and established by your obedience. Your obedience is compelled by your love for Christ. And your love of Christ is activated when you humbly recognize your deep need for His free grace and accept it wholeheartedly.
It never ceases to amaze me how frequently God takes me back to the basics.
May we never forget from what we were ransomed and how we were set free. May our love and obsession with Christ be fed daily and may we walk in it, working it out in our obedience. And may we be filled with the joy of bold and vibrant faith because we simply believed.
It’s amazing to me, when people are honest and open, there is a discovery of burdens that so many carry alone. But when you allow yourself to be vulnerable, what you find is that you are not alone at all. You are actually in the company of brothers and sisters who are fighting the same battle, bearing the same weight, and sawing their way to freedom from the same chains. I’ll give you just one example.
Emily Rogers is my friend. Tall, dark hair and eyes, and the most contagious and fantastic smile you’ve ever seen. She has a fervency for life that is captivating and totally inspiring. When you’ve been around Emily, you walk away different.
Emily is also wonderfully transparent and she verbalized today a battle that I have been losing; a struggle I didn’t know I had to fight.
She said that despite the fact that she has ”trusted” the Lord, she had become apathetic towards whether or not He will answer her prayers or satisfy the desires of her heart. *the desire of her heart is to be married; to have a man in her life that pursues, cherishes, and leads her*
“I trust Him with who I already am, what I already have, but not necessarily with I want; I don’t anticpate that He will fulfill my desires that because He hasn’t yet . Being apathetic is easier than being disappointed. I don’t wait in hope. Instead, I assume nothing and then when it inevitably doesn’t happen, I’m not upset.”
*blank stare* I thought she had read my diary.
She went on: “But I think I’m realizing that my mind set couldn’t be further from faith lived out; what I say and how I feel do not align. I don’t get excited when a boy calls because I automatically assume the end, so I blow it off before it has even begun. But I don’t think… no, I know, that that is not what He has called us to. He has called us to an excited anticipation, a hopeful waiting, an expectant faith.”
Her eyes brimmed with tears, and mine soon followed suit.
How did we get here? When did we stray from all that we know is right and true? And why have we become contented to stay in this seemingly safe place?
I know that Emily’s desire (and my desire for that matter) is there because God purposefully put it there. He placed it there specifically because in His timing, He will fulfill it. He will bring to her a man that loves the Lord above all else, that seeks her good, and will commit to love and lead her until the Lord calls them home. And when this comes to fruition, God will get all the glory, honor and praise because it will be made clear that He had them, individually, in the palm of His hand as He orchestrated, ordained, and appointed each step they took until they were brought together.
Because that is how big our God is. That is how beautifully mysterious He is. Because that’s how much He loves us.
Philippians 1:6 is one of my favorite verses and it says: “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”
I love this verse because I think that, when we draw close the Lord , when we are wholly surrendered and ask that He would change and make out hearts what He wants them to be, our desires become reflections of who He is and what He wants..
Soooo, I think that me and Emily’s desire for marriage is a direct reflection of God’s desire for our future–that we would not be alone but that we would be the help-mate to a man after His own heart, that He is preparing for us.
And so if Philippians 1:6 is truth that we can claim, and that the work/desire that the Lord instilled us is in process and will someday become reality, than we have every reason to hope. We have every reason to wait in anxious anticipation and expectant faith.
Because if we can trust Him with our eternity, we can trust Him with our now.
This song and it’s message seem to be all-encompassing as of late. I keep reading it in scripture, hearing it in sermons, reading it in books… and I think I have heard the Lord whisper it a few times too.
He’s in love with me. He’s captivated by who I am. And not because of anything I have done or anything I have said. He is in love with me because He finds me lovely.
And He is after my heart. He is pursuing me. Of all people, me.
I’m having a hard time wrapping my mind around it; I can’t rationalize this kind of romance at all. And perhaps for the first time, I’m enjoying the mystery.