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Monthly Archives: April 2015

My Life Isn’t What I Thought It’d Be

On Sunday morning, I took the stage at my church. They wanted to hear my story and how I came to pursue missionary service. I told everyone that three years ago I couldn’t have imagined that I would one day be standing in front of them all.

Several of my friends are preparing to graduate college in a few short weeks. I remember being in their shoes three years ago. At the time, I had no idea of the journey God would take me on.

My biggest dream was to be a book editor. I thought that was what I wanted to do with my life. Read other people’s stories and clean them up for the world to enjoy. I thought I would live in the United States with only occasional, brief trips to see the world. I thought I would be the Christian who stayed home, doing quiet good and inviting my neighbors to know God.

But as often happens in one’s early twenties, what I wanted changed. My dreams grew bigger. Beyond what I felt capable of achieving. Beyond what seemed feasible or practical.

Credit: Louis Vest (https://flic.kr/p/obARz7)

Credit: Louis Vest (https://flic.kr/p/obARz7)

I had the 9-to-5 editorial career and it wasn’t enough. I had a blog and enjoyed writing on the side, but I wanted to write more and I wanted it to be meaningful and important. I wanted something to be passionate about and to dedicate all my energy and love to. I wanted to fall into bed at the end of the day exhausted not from boredom but from accomplishing something that mattered.

In short, I felt restless.

Getting laid off gave me the push I needed to do something about it.

Now I’m in the application process of becoming a missionary in a ministry I’ve been privileged to visit and serve before. I told my church how God has placed one step after another to bring me on a great adventure beyond anything I could have planned myself. It’s an adventure that will require all of me, applying everything I’ve learned so far and all the passions that make me come alive. Everything is falling into its place. He is the great storyteller and it’s only in looking back that I can see the genius and grace in the plot line he’s written for me.

“Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen.” Psalm 77:19

How has God amazed you in writing your story?

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Posted by on April 24, 2015 in Other thoughts

 

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Social Justice and Super Smash Bros.

The father was angry. His son was crying. The boys playing the Wii were oblivious.

My least favorite part of serving in the Youth Drop-In Center is being the mediator and enforcer. I much prefer sitting down with kids to color and talk about life. Yet the youth room kids harangue me every afternoon with the social injustices they suffer.

A coworker and I had been distracted by fixing a jammed pool table (anything can fall down those pockets) when a father found his son crying in the bathroom. He gave us a stern lecture about other boys bullying his son. When I asked the boy about it, he said they were ganging up on him and throwing nasty insults while they played the Wii.

Credit: Bunches and Bits {Karina}(https://flic.kr/p/9pGnx3)

Credit: Bunches and Bits {Karina}(https://flic.kr/p/9pGnx3)

I’m familiar with this lot. Completely sucked into Super Smash Bros, this group of boys spew all kinds of trash talk.

“I’m going to kill you, Kirby!”

“Hey guys, everybody get Link!”

“Take that, Bowser!”

Whether or not the insults were personal, the boys had crossed a line this time. No one had even noticed that the crying boy left the game.

So I watched the gang finish their round and, as soon as the winners screen appeared, pressed the off button. They all complained, of course. I explained what the crying boy had said and asked them what happened. All pled not guilty. But the Wii stayed off. I told them to take a break and find something else to do.

They all walked away except for one. He stood firm, remote gripped tightly in his little fist. This tiny seven-year-old said again and again that he wanted to play the Wii. I said no. I held out my hand for the remote, but he refused to look me in the eye. He looked ready to start the waterworks if necessary. I just sat down and waited. After several moments of impasse, I started to close the cabinet doors that hid the Wii and television. The boy must have realized his manipulations were not working, so he gave up the remote.

For the next hour, he refused to have fun doing anything else. Even at Legos, he played only with bitterness. He told me several times, “I want to play the Wii.” He demanded his own “justice.”

Other children asked me why the Wii was off. I said we needed a break. One kid kept asking me, “How much longer?”

Finally, at 5 o’clock, I said okay. The demanding boy ran to claim a remote.

So did I promote justice that afternoon? One boy cried from verbal abuse and bullying (intentional or not). Another fumed over being unfairly punished (in his mind). When there’s no way of telling who was really at fault, what would have been fair?

Eight months into the one year of service, I’m still wondering: what is social justice? And the more significant question: how do we achieve it?

The Wii may seem like a silly example, but if we cannot resolve even such a small injustice, how will we handle the bigger ones that really matter? How will we respond when God calls us to free the oppressed and serve the powerless?

“He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the LORD require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?”

Micah 6:8

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2015 in Other thoughts

 

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I Love You More

I want to be like Mary Magdalene when I grow up.

On Easter morning, I was preparing my breakfast when I remembered Mary Magdalene at the empty tomb. I took my coffee in one hand and yogurt in the other and walked up to my bedroom to read the story again.

Mary went to the tomb of Jesus early on Sunday morning and was the first to find that his body was gone. She ran to get help from Peter and John. When they confirmed that the news was true, the disciples “went back to where they were staying” (John 20:10). No great gospel proclamations in the street just yet.

But Mary lingered. She wept. When she looked into the tomb again, two angels asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” (John 10:13, my Bible notes that the Greek here “does not denote any disrespect.”) She tells them that someone has taken her Lord away and that she does not know where to find him.

Credit: Lawrence OP, https://flic.kr/p/e826Cp

Credit: Lawrence OP, https://flic.kr/p/e826Cp

Then comes the part that stopped me cold:

“At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. He asked her, ‘Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?’” (John 20:14-15).

In that moment, Jesus was speaking to me, straight through the page of his Word. It didn’t have much to do with Easter anymore or his resurrection or the story of Mary Magdalene. He was asking about my heart.

Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?

As much as I had tried to deny it, something wasn’t right between me and Jesus. I was still pursuing God’s will, trying to be obedient, and stepping out “in faith,” but I had lost Jesus along the way. I forgot who I was doing it all for.

Mary gave Jesus the same answer that she gave the angels. The problem was that I couldn’t answer those questions like Mary did.

Woman, why are you crying?

She was crying because Jesus was gone.

Who is it you are looking for?

She was looking for Jesus.

When he asked me the same, my immediate, knee-jerk, zero-hesitation answer was someone else. The tomb was still empty, and Jesus was still gone, but I was crying and looking for someone else.

He had subtly faded out of sight, and someone else filled his place. Classic idolatry.

With the book of John open in my lap, I could feel Jesus asking, “Don’t you love me?”

Jesus had already proven his love for me. And what had I given in return? I remembered promises not three months old that I couldn’t keep for two weeks. I claimed I wanted freedom in Christ all while resisting to leave my chains.

On my walk to church, I almost turned back home. The conviction was a weight in my stomach. I worried someone might see my hypocrisy, call me to repentance, and then I would cry.

I’m glad I kept walking. It was good to be in church. It always is. But I was halfway miserable the whole time too. It didn’t help that my parents were supposed to have gone with me but were delayed.

My mom later shared something she had learned in a women’s Bible study. Every time she notices herself feeling tempted, like when she might want a chocolate cake at the store, she instead prays, “Lord, I love you more.” As much as she might love that cake, she loves Jesus most of all.

I want to be like that. I want to be like Mary Magdalene. So when Jesus asks me why I am crying or who I am looking for, I can say with a clear conscience, “Lord, I love you more. I want nothing else. I look for no one else.”

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2015 in Other thoughts

 

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