best of '09: because it's easier to stay in the shadows

I originally posted this last March - and it's still something I strive for - jumping out of the shadows of my comfortable lifestyle and taking risks. Living dangerous love. Over the past couple of mornings, God has directed me towards Psalm 119. This has always been one of my favorite chapters in the Bible, yet one verse continues to stick out: I'm single-minded in pursuit of you; don't let me miss the road signs you've posted. (vs.10)

When we were younger, my sisters and I would play this game in the pool with my father. It was a cheap version of Marco Polo. Us girls would scream & giggle & protest our dad chasing us around the pool, but ultimately, we adored him catching us. Why? Because it meant him catapulting us into the air only to crash into the water with ease. Absolute hilarity brimming with the love of a father in pursuit of his girls.

How beautiful would it be if we sought His will so purely & without complaint?  I am one of the lucky ones. I grew up in a home which exemplified Christ's love & the importance of seeking His will. Ever since I can remember, my parents have encouraged me to wholeheartedly seek His face.

But I still struggle. I wonder why. Lately, I have felt an irresistible  pull to do more and be more and dream more. What my life is right now? Not enough. He makes all things new & I am seeking a new start to a life filled with urgency & purpose. A life of risks. It's been coming, but my toe is on the line & I am hesitating.

It's so much easier to stay in the shadows, isn't it? This isn't who we were meant to be. There's this little girl in our church. Every Sunday, she wears these red slippers - circa Wizard of Oz no doubt - and she is so completely unabashed about who she is. I'll catch her every once in awhile - twirling round & round to see her skirt fold up around her knees. We have forgotten who we are. We have forgotten who we belong to. We've missed the road signs.

Later in Psalm 119, it says I delight far more in what you tell me about living than in gathering a pile of riches. (vs.14) What does He say about living?

  • Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for the orphans and widows in their distress and refusing the let the world corrupt you. James 1:27
  • Run from everything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love & peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts. 2 Timothy 2:22
  • Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of the orphans. Fight for the rights of widows. Isaiah 1:17

Approximately 3.5 million people are homeless tonight on the streets of America. 1.35 million of those homeless? Children. The average age for homeless people in the US is 9 years old.

I had a friend ask me a couple months ago - "if we have church buildings on almost every corner, why aren't the homeless being taken care of? why do we even need homeless shelters?"

I'll let you think about that for a moment.

...

As of 2006, there are approximately 350,000 church buildings in America. I wonder, since 2006, how many building projects have been approved and money raised for pretty new walls for people to meet for a couple hours every Sunday. I tread murky water here, because I know building projects are a sensitive subject for many churches and deacons. But...couldn't that money have been spent on something else?

Like food for those who don't have it? Or shelter for those who need it? Or clothes for those  who have none? Or something more revolutionary & creative & mindblowing that focuses on Christ's love instead of what brings in numbers?

It just seems that, if we were truly pursuing him at all costs - full speed & looking only at His glory - we would be doing things a bit differently. I would be doing things a bit differently. Our view would be different. How do I know? I've lived it. I can't go to Austin anymore without thinking about Blue - the homeless man staking his spot on 183 & 57th. We conversed with him for only a minute - enough to catch his name - but his smile and eyes and face will stick with me for awhile. I don't even know if he would be there if we were to visit the spot again. However, the damage has been done. Three years ago, our window would have stayed up. Our eyes would have been focused on the light. The Taco Bell would be festering in the back seat uneaten & getting cold. But these past few years have wrecked us. Something happens internally when God breaks you.

It's easier to stay in the shadows. It's easier to listen to someone's story & turn around and forget his pain. It's easier and makes life a lot cleaner and nicer. But we were not meant to be safe. We were not called to be comfortable and if we stay in the shadows our light remains hidden. And at what cost to His glory?

Life is meant to be messy and risky and dangerous and absolutely beautiful. Where is He calling you? What is He asking you? What are you scared of?

The shadows are no longer a reasonable excuse.

Posted on December 29, 2009 .