“Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.”
-Martin Luther King, Jr.
There is always more than meets the eye. More than what you see in front of you right now.
You see me writing and posting and putting myself, my thoughts, my heart, out there for anyone to read. Why? What’s the point? What’s the reason? I want to tell you the background of what you are seeing.
(This is Part One.)
The year I was pregnant with our third child, I attended a class on Wednesday mornings. Women of all ages, races, and stages gathered to study the book of Acts from the New Testament of the Bible. If you’re not familiar with the story – it begins with the Spirit of God descending from heaven. This Holy Spirit becomes a part of each person who believed in Jesus as the Messiah.
The book continues, giving dramatic after dramatic account of lives changed directly related to the influence of the Spirit. Physical healing. Spiritual wholeness. Lives changed. God living in and among His people — this time more intimately than the cloud and the fire generations before.
I was very tired being late in my pregnancy, and then even more tired when the baby came. I took a few weeks off from the class, but tried my best when I returned to catch up and keep up.
On my 35th birthday, the baby four months old, some friends took me out to dinner. Before we arrived at the restaurant, one of them handed me a gift — a book (1) and a note she wrote earlier in the day.
As we walked in, she asked me what I wanted in this coming year… and I took a moment to tell her what I had been studying in Acts, and – although dreadfully tired – I did glean enough from the lessons to formulate a rhetorical question I could not stop asking myself…Which I shared with her.
If I, like the believers in the book of Acts, was also a child of God, “born of the Spirit”… Then this same Holy Spirit, which enabled NORMAL AVERAGE people to do unthinkable miracles, and took BOLD POWERFUL people and made them humble and dedicated to service — Shouldn’t my life be marked by the same kind of transformation?
She smiled. Transformation.
At home that night, I read her note.
“…Hoping this year brings forth great fruit and transformation…”
A few months later, I was at at an event for moms of elementary aged kids at my church. A woman handed me four raffle tickets for various parenting books laid out on the back table.
I put three tickets in the bucket for the book I really wanted (and needed). Almost as a joke, I cast my last ticket into the bucket for a book I looked at quickly and thought with a laugh, “If I win this book, then God must really want me to read it…” Essentially, it was about managing strong emotions.
Youbetcha. I won the one ticket book.(2)
Months later, I thought I really should get around to reading it. I assumed it would be life changing… which is why I put it off. (I mean, being that God basically gave it to me Himself.) Instead, I found it a light and easy read, not heavy and convicting. It was funny and relatable. I breezed through it and almost made it.
I almost read to the end without anything resonating with me enough to affected my life.
Unfortunately, the author asked (and I’m paraphrasing, because I lent the book out, and I have no idea who I gave it to, and I’ll never remember, and I’ll never get it back) BUT – the essence was…
Have “we” as American, Christian, Suburban Women become so complacent in our christian lives that we have stopped expecting God to do anything miraculous through us?
Why? Because we are busy raising kids. We are busy being wife and trying our best to have a happy home, (even if it’s never clean).
I’m busy working a little in the hospital. I’m busy doing my best to simply make dinner. So much of my life has been unsettled that I just wanted some peace and comfort for a while.
Not only had I given up thinking that I was capable of something miraculous… for a really long time I didn’t even want something miraculous.
But this concept of transformation. My heart was questioning, yearning, and eager for more.
Not more stuff, not more work, not more to DO … but literally, I was hungry for more of God himself.
And what IN THE WORLD does that look like for this comfy American suburban housewife?
I’ve always had a heart for missions, for the poor, for the orphan. But my tender heart never led me to much action.
Because, you see, God – I’m a wife and mother of three kids and I’m tired and my house is always a mess and there is NOTHING I can do for you that is more than just this.
But yet – the question nagged… If I believe the Bible is God’s words, then I believe that I have the same Holy Spirit in me as the church in Acts had, yes? If this Spirit changed the lives of those I studied, and it CONTINUED to change lives throughout history, (and still continues today) shouldn’t it be doing the same kind of changing in my life? Shouldn’t I be continually transformed?
So, I prayed and honest prayer.
And that’s where it all really started.
I confessed to God that I have been living like I haven’t expected Him to work through me or in me. I confessed I wasn’t even sure I wanted Him to.
I asked God to help me know where and how to serve Him. BUT. I also asked for low-lying fruit.
He knew it, but I wanted to remind Him – AGAIN. I’m a wife and mother of three, the littlest one is still really little and I don’t have my act together at all. I forget a lot of things, and I really feel like a mess most of the time – but I believe You, God, are who you say you are – So I know, if you want to, you can transform my life. I know I can’t do it by adding more things or doing more stuff. If you want to use me, imperfect just as I am, I want to serve you.
I don’t know what to do – so I need you to lob one to me — slow-pitch style. Gimme something I can hit. To start, I really need it to be an easy one.
I prayed that outloud, in my mini-van, on a Friday morning.
(And, thankfully, God listens and doesn’t read my prayers, so He doesn’t care about my grammar or punctuation.)
And this makes it all real to me…
The very same afternoon… (the very same afternoon!!!)
An email from a friend came, letting us know she and her husband were officially starting their journey to become humanitarian aid workers to a war-torn country halfway across the world. She wanted to know if we would pray for them as they began raising money for support, with a goal of being fully funded in six months.
This wasn’t just a lofty goal – but a ridiculous goal. This kind of financial support, they were told, usually takes 18-24 months to raise.
Without hesitation, Yes – I don’t know how to pray the miraculous boldly for myself, but I can and will pray the impossible for you. This is a way I can serve.
Slow pitch. Swing.
Not because of my prayers, but because of the desire of the God who we pray to, our friends were fully funded in six miraculous months.
They left the country, two kids and 10 suitcases in tow, last week.
My heart is heavy for them as they leave their friends and family … But my soul is OVERJOYED knowing they are doing what God called them to. I am overwhelmed that I could be a small part of their miracle. I participated in something beyond myself; I experienced God at work.
Because of bold prayers on their behalf, my own faith has grown in the belief that God still works out the unimaginable. My heart prepares itself – knowing; God could do something equally ridiculous with me.
Click here to read about the Miller’s Journey in Thailand.
You may have heard about the repressed Rohingya people in the news, fleeing Myanmar in boats. Click here for a link to a BBC report.
And here is how you can help: http://www.partnersworld.org/save-the-rohingya
Click here to learn more about the relief organization Partners Relief & Development.
(1) Voskamp, Ann. One Thousand Gifts: a dare to live fully right where you are. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010. Print.
(2) TerKeurst, Lysa. Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions. Zondervan, 2012. Print.