Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New Year wrestling. And not the Nacho Libre variety.

I was all ready to sit down and write a funny post about total nothingness but I'm a little distracted by a sick feeling I have in the pit of my stomach.

Yesterday afternoon, after dropping off a friend of Olivia's, we drove by our old house so the kids could see where they were born.

Actually, they were born in a hospital.  I'm not one of those.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.  But I'm not.

We stopped in front of the house for just a minute.  I pointed out the windows that were their rooms, the giant oak tree in the front yard looked just the same, and we talked about long walks we would take all around the neighborhood in their stroller.

And then the sick feeling came and I'm having a hard time shaking it.

It was a sweet life with old houses and pretty trees, lots of neighbors who had kids our kids' ages and invited us over for playdates, and older couples who rocked in chairs on their front porch and waved and spoke as we walked by.

It was easy.  And safe.  And pleasant.

And I miss it.

I know all the things I'm supposed to know about our call to this neighborhood and 90% of the time, I'm there.  I feel it too.  I love it.  But there are times like now, when my flesh, the dark part of my heart that long for ease and comfort and pretty things, rears back against the gentle words of the Lord who bid us to come and follow Him - wherever that might be.

Last night, I read a passage in a book by Francis Chan.  It was about a couple, a mechanic and hairdresser, who, over their lifetime, had fostered 32 children, 16 of which they had adopted.  Chan praised them for their obedience to James when he exhorts us to care for the widows and the orphans.  But what encouraged me most about the story was their honesty about the trials of the ministry they had begun.  Sometimes, they felt the joy in the call and sometimes, in darker seasons, they were spurred forward only by sheer obedience.

Strangely, it was the most encouraging part of the story and I've thought about it all day.  Like so many passages in the Bible, their obedience to the Lord trumped everything.  They trusted Him most because they knew Him to be trustworthy.

This is a heck of a way to start the New Year, I know.  But I'm thinking it could be a good thing.  I'm praying that, through this season, I will know the Lord more and rest in the fact that he alone is the Author and Perfecter of my faith.

And there's not a pretty neighborhood in the world that can top Him.


Carlee said...

This could not be a more timely post...well, for me anyways. Thank you for writing your true feelings, and for letting God's Truth, and your calling, over-ride your feelings.

My husband (a laid off pastor, in this lovely economy) and I have sold our "dream" home and moved in with my parents. We brought our 3 kids, and our dog and cat. None of this was our desire, but the reality of life--can't afford the house without a job, jobs are scarce, and he's not likely to find one in the same city anyways.

But, tonight we discussed that this time has taught us more and more about the grace of God, and about the backwards way our culture thinks--that money, fame, ease, comfort, etc. make like better or Christianity easier. The truth is, we are closer to the Lord, and our faith is not shaken, but resolved. We struggle with fear, fatigue, discouragement, but not God, for He has upheld us.

Where He is leading...we have no idea.

When we will find out...again, no idea.

But whether He takes us to the inner city, a foreign culture, or just closer to my unsaved extended family...or if He replants us near where we were, we will praise Him for this hardship because we know Him more and have been recipients of His measured, specific, perfect grace.

Praying for you, that in your 10% (mine feels more like 75%) of the time your feelings don't match your calling, that His grace will be evident too, as I know it already is in your life.

Kim said...

Stop by and you will discover we are writing about similar issues of defining "home". I frequently remind myself that Jesus resides "outside the camp". It is there that we meet him face to face. For this season, your "outside" is the "hood" while mine is "Hong Kong". I can hardly wait to hear about all that He reveals to you as you continue to chase God!
Thanks for sharing this beautiful and timely post!
Love & Blessings,

These Three Kings said...

Thanks for being so real! Kim took the words right out of my mouth. Happy New Year

Henley on the Horn said...

My sinful dark side would be feeling sorry for myself 90% of the time instead of how joyful you are at your calling. I am amazed at how the Lord is using your family. I am sure there are some really tough days when you long for what used to be. But you're right, no neighborhood, no amount of money, no amount of comfort can top Him. I needed this reminder too. You are welcome to come to the Sunshine State any time and you can even bring your ducklings:)

Joyce said...

Thanks for writing so honestly. And for listening to a call and being obedient. What you are doing is such an amazing illustration of obedience that is so encouraging to me. Praying you feel Gods grace poured over you today.

Becca said...

I'll tell you what, I was just sitting down to write the same sort of post. Sometimes this is just flat-hard, amen? Anyways, praying that God will encourage your heart and surround you with friends and family and lighter/easier times interspersed with the hard stuff! We love you guys. A lot.

Traci said...

Isn't Francis Chan so good at smacking down the way it's supposed to be? It sort of irks me sometimes because I get disenchanted too- actually I'm right there with you right now- except I might still be "wallering" as my grandmama used to say in my little dark heart right now- you seem to be on the upswing- so I'll pray you'll be delivered totally real soon if you'll pray I'll stop "wallering" Happy (and FREEZING) Wednesday to you.

Jill said...

And I say Amen to it....we find ourselves reminding ourselves of the truth that obedience is better than sacrifice....that is where my family and I are as we just never see His hand moving in the area of adding a child to our family through adoption. We stand (sometimes lay,crawl and stubble) in obedience. Thanks.

Holli said...

thank you for this post... praying for you and ALL of us! that we go deeper into what God calls us and KNOW that He trumps all the easy STUFF. EVERY-TIME... I will reread this post over and remind myself that HIS WILL TOPS IT ALL!
thank you....

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for sharing your heart. I wrestle with the opposite problem I want away from from the materialism, money, fame, ease etc of my neighborhood. For what it's worth I admire what you have.


Lea said...

Thanks for your honesty. Thank you for living out sheer obedience. In many ways, I can relate. His call can be so difficult when it is not what we planned on (which is usually the case). But thankfully, He graciously uses it all to refine us and make us more like Jesus when we yield. He's doing that in you. You are an example to many!

Beth@Not a Bow in Sight said...

That was a beautiful post...
It's truly the "in-between" parts of our calling that we are tempted to go back to the comforts of our former lives. But walking in obedience is so much better...and the rewards are eternal!

Kristen said...

Thanks for your honesty. You are an inspiration and an encouragement to so many people!

Kristen Hill, Memphis

Hannah said...

Beautiful! I love your honesty. And you're right - realness about the struggles is always the most encouraging part of a story like that. The same is true for your own story and authenticity. Thanks for letting us in on that part! Personally, it's more helpful than you know!

Kim said...

I think this is where a lot of us are right now, if we're honest. I certainly never expected to find my middle-aged self moving overseas, trying to learn a language and dealing with the onset of menopause. Navigating a medical system that is so radically different (and being a little frightened by some of those differences). That 10% is on good days. Some days that shoots way higher! It's a daily struggle of knowing this is where He has placed me, and going on from there.

Sounds like a great book. God is good about sending those encouragements when we need them. Just like your post was for me today. Thanks.

Lauren V. said...

Hi Melissa - I love your blog, and read it faithfully. It is such an encouragement to me. For the first time in my life, I didn't spend the holidays with my parents and brother, but instead with my new husband and new in-laws in a small town in wintry Wyoming. It was hard. At times it sucked, not being where I was comfortable and instead being a place just because I was being obedient, and not because it's where I wanted to be.

I know it's a small comparison, but I just wanted to let you know that seeing how you persevere and rely on the Lord's strength to be obedient is such an encouragement to me. It's tough to remember that holiness does not equal happiness, and to obtain the former sometimes means giving up the latter.

Thanks for what you do for the kingdom, and for what you do for your blog readers :) - Lauren

Anonymous said...

I am one of those people living the comfortable life on that really nice street. We surrounded by some decent people who work hard, are generous and have truly earned the lifestyle they have created. But I am also surrounded by a rediculous amount of materialism and wealth. The impact that it has had on my children has not been positive and I am not very proud of that. I yearn almost everyday for something deeper and a more meaningful way of life for my children. You and your family have the courage to live the life that many of us want but are too scared to try.

allthingsjuice said...

Could you share the name of that Francis Chan book? I'm intrigued.

Thanks for speaking so candidly about your life. May God bless you richly in 2010!

Lea said...

yes, yes! please share the name of the frances chan book! and share if you now have 2 slithery reptiles in your home or just 1. dying to know! lol--lea