When I Grow Up…

When I grow up, I want to believe without seeing. I want to live in joyful anticipation of what You will do, even when I have no idea of how You are going to work things out.

When I grow up, I want to immediately trust Your heart when hard things come instead of immediately praying to see Your hand change my circumstances.

When I grow up, I want to face each trial with an immediate, sincere and hearty, “Thank You!”, even if I have to do it through tears.

When I grow up, I want to see people as You see them FIRST, without You having to kick me in the pants to remind me of Your love for them. ALL of them.

When I grow up, I want to think before I speak every single time. Not just when I am well-rested and stress-free – but in every circumstance, with every word.

When I grow up, I want my default response to everything that comes my way to be a song of praise.

When I grow up, I want to only care about what You think about anything – from what I am doing to what I am wearing to what I am eating to what I am thinking. ALL of it.

When I grow up, I want stress to drive me to Your arms, not to the bag of cookies.

When I grow up, I want to sparkle with reflected glory because I am a consistently shiny mirror of Who You are.

When I grow up, I want to leave the future in Your hands, remembering always that I have NO control but can trust the One Who always does.

And when I am ALL grown up, I want to hear You say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Come and share in Your Father’s happiness.”

When I am ALL grown up, I will thank the heroes who have gone before, the ones who helped me to grow. King David and Amy Carmichael, Dwight L. Moody and Queen Esther, Peter the Apostle and Dr. Tony Evans – and so many more.

When I am ALL grown up, I will be done wrestling with “the good I want to do but do not do” and will instead rest in Your arms.

When I’m grown up…

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Cozy vs. Costly

I find myself at war with myself.
Two desires, locked in mortal combat most of the time.
I want to be comfortable.
And I want to grow.

Those two things are usually mutually exclusive.

The seed has to die before it can sprout.
I need to lay down my life in order to live.
I need to put YOUR agenda ahead of my own in order to really be fulfilled.
I need to love Your people and put their needs ahead of my own in order to really love You.

I don’t like trials.
Or discomfort.
Or being stretched.
I don’t like being corrected.
Or having steep learning curves.
I don’t like feeling foolish.
Taking risks.

It is so much easier to stay in my coziness.
My comfort zone.
My familiar space.

And even here, even now, living cross-culturally in the midst of so many unknowns, I can quickly carve out a familiar, safe, cozy space in my heart.
A comfort zone.
And I can totally stay tucked up in it.
Not risking.
And not growing.

But that is not living
That is not real LIFE.
Not the abundant life You promised.

Because doing that allows me to fully rely on ME.
When I am fully comfortable and fully able, I don’t need You.
When I take no risks, I need no protection.
When I can supply all the things, I need no provider.
When I turn away from the fight, I need no armor.
When I rely on my own strength, I need no supernatural power.
When I walk only in the familiar, I need no Good Shepherd to guide me.
When I hunker down and focus on me, I need no supernatural vision.
When I love only me, I need no healer, no wisdom, no comforter and none of Your love to flow through me.

When I make Comfortable my goal, I am my own god.
When I make Happiness my criteria, I am the center of the world.
When I make Protection my ultimate desire, I miss out on ALL the adventure of following You.

Because You are not about my Safety.
Or my Pleasure.
You are not about my Comfort.
Or my Feelings.

You are all about my heart.
My character.
My growth.
And mostly, You are about me being a reflection of You to a lost and dying world.

You are about me shining, not with my own light but with Your light, the Light of the World.
You are about me showing the world the evidence of Who You are – because what is happening in my life is not possible without You.
You are about taking a cracked vessel and shining through it.
You are about my weakness showing Your strength.
You are about showing hope to the world because they see You – Living Hope – in me.

None of that is comfortable.
None of that is about You making me happy.
None of that is about my pleasure.

But ALL of that is the way to true joy.
The excitement of seeing You at work.
The knowledge that You can take my feeble efforts and multiply them.
The soul-deep understanding that Your love is ALL I need to see me through.
That my circumstances will ebb and flow.
That sometimes I will be comfortable – and often I will not be.

But that You are always, always with me.
Comfortable or terrified.
Safe or at risk.
Happy or sad.
Feeling good or feeling bad.
Relaxed or stretched taut.

You are always there.
And you are always calling me deeper.
Always asking me to be a seeker of Your heart.
Always ready to take me on the next adventure.
With the reward of Your smile.
The warmth of Your “Well done.”
The knowledge that You are exalted.
And the blessing of seeing Your Kingdom advance in my corner of the world.

You will still love me even if I decide to snuggle down into my comfort zone.
That is never the issue.
Your love never changes. And is never dependent on my choices.

But I will miss out every time I choose cozy over costly.
When I value the blessings over the Bless-er.
When I seek Your hand instead of Your heart.
And when I choose relaxing rather than risking obedience.

So do what You want, Abba.
Your ways are best.
I don’t want to miss the miracles You have planned because of my fear.
I don’t want to lose out on the chance to walk on water because I am standing in my way.
I don’t want forego being a part of Your Kingdom advancing because I don’t actually trust You to know what You are doing.

So have Your way.
However. Whenever. Wherever. Whoever. Whatever.
Have Your way.
A new day.
A new adventure in following You!

Josiah: Lessons From The Classroom Down The Hall

His name is Josiah.
He is a bright little boy with a charismatic smile and a charming personality.
Academically, he is solid.
But, frankly, the boy is an airhead when it comes to the practicalities of life.
I joke that this dark-haired, dark-eyed 8-year old is the “blondest” kid in my class.
His situational awareness usually leaves a lot to be desired.

But not this past week.
We were in the middle of reading group when he interrupted me.
“Ms. Purves, Mrs. Goshinmon is calling for the 3rd graders.”
When I stopped to listen, sure enough, he was right.
From down the hall, Mrs. Goshinmon, our elementary coordinator, was calling that it was time for the 3rd graders to head to Spanish class. (Josiah is not the only airhead in this story. Sigh. I am both naturally and chemically blonde…)

So this kiddo who normally has a hard time navigating oral instructions and is often “lost” was the one who heard her voice from far away and called my attention to it.

Do you know why?

Because Mrs. Goshinmon is not only the coordinator for his elementary school.
She is also his Grandmother.
And he knows her voice.
Loves her voice.
And is attuned to it in a way that I am not.

And this whole situation made me think about Jesus, the Good Shepherd.
He said about himself that, “he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out [to pasture]. When he has brought all his own sheep outside, he walks on ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice and recognize his call.”
He went on to say, “I am the Good Shepherd, and I know [without any doubt those who are] My own and My own know Me [and have a deep, personal relationship with Me].” (John 10)

Josiah heard his Grandmother’s voice long before I did.
And, not only did he hear it, he knew that he needed to respond. That I needed to respond.
So he took the risk of interrupting the class to tell me to take heed of the one calling out for us.

I need to be in tune with the Good Shepherd in the same way that Josiah is in tune with his Grandmother’s voice.
Because we both have the same reason to listen.
Josiah heard his Grandmother because he loves her.
He knows her.
Knows that she has his best interest at heart.
And that her voice is one to be heeded.
Not just because not listening may bring consequences – but because she has proven her love for him over and over again.

Jesus, the Good Shepherd, has proven time and time again that He is worth heeding.
He loved me enough to die for me long before I was born.
He cared enough to call me to Himself from a very young age.
He has walked with me through every storm, in every sunny place, and even in the darkest valleys.
He gives me the strength I need for every moment of every day.
Why would I not listen to Him?

But here’s the thing – Josiah knows his Grandmother’s voice so well because he spends time with her. They have an ongoing relationship, not just a passing acquaintance.

And we need to have the same with the Good Shepherd.
So often Christ-followers know Him in a passing way.
But He longs for intimate fellowship with you.
He longs for you to know His voice.
To hear it and obey it.
Not for His sake – but for yours.

He longs to spend time with you.
He longs to hear you speaking to Him about everything.
And He longs to speak back to you through His Word, through the voices of His servants, through praise music and even in the stillness.

But you have to take the time to listen.
You have to make the time to quiet your heart before Him.
To get to know HIS voice.
And to hear it above the wind of your circumstances, in spite of the lies the enemy whispers and through the clutter of culture.
That takes time.
Commitment.
Relationship-building.
And sacrifice.

But it is so worth it!
To be so attuned to His voice that you can hear it down the hall, around the corner, and over the voice of everything else happening around you – that is priceless.
Because what is on the line is bigger than being late for Spanish class.
He longs to be an “ever present help in time of need.” For you to “come boldly to the throne of grace.” For you to “ask whatever you will” and for him to give you “peace beyond your understanding.” He has “resurrection power” ready to dispense and the “words of life” to fill you. He is “living water” and the “bread from heaven.” He is “light for your path” and the “strong tower” for you to run to for safety.

But it is up to you.
He is calling.
He longs to be your Good Shepherd and “daily carry you in His arms”.

But are you listening?
Do you know HIS voice?
Be still today in His presence.
He’d love for you to know it – and Him – much better.

May we all be like Josiah with his Grandmother. In tune. Attuned. Listening to the voice of the One who knows us best and loves us anyway.