Wednesday, September 28, 2011

(day seventy-one) uncomfortably comfortable

I had a neighbor friend ask me tonight if I was more comfortable in typically uncomfortable situations than i was in seemingly comfortable ones. It took very little thought to answer yes to that question. For several weeks now I've been itching to be back in the third world. It's been a little over a year now since I've been in a physically poor, broken, dirty, hopeless and wrecked place with desperate people. What I didn't realize was that THAT lifestyle had been slowly becoming my norm.

As YWAMers we tend to saturate ourselves in the culture we are in at the moment trying to really dive deep into the surrounding environment. We want to learn parts of the language, live as they live, eat what they eat, and communicate on their level as we walk in their shoes. We relate eye level but something IS different. What is inside of us is the hope, truth, faith, and love that they may or may not know yet. We all embody this within us if we accept, believe, and seek to know God more. But not all of us have figured out what it means to walk in the kingdom of heaven on earth... It took me awhile till I understood, and i'm still learning daily. The important thing is that we keep humbly asking God to show us how to step into this "kingdom" mentality... and He will!

Call me crazy, but I truly believe we are sometimes stepping into a false sense of security (which to us usually creates comfort) when we buy into the "American Dream". This can include everything from going to college, getting a good paying job, owning at least one nice up to date car, having the newest/best technology, having cool/nice clothes, going to a posh church, getting married to a good-looking person, having cute (well-behaved?) children, insurance (for everything), being "healthy", social security, retirement, pleasant vacations, entertainment, sports, any kind of food any time, recognition, status, etc etc. And unfortunately we go to great lengths to achieve these finer things (that we see as "normal"): debt, heartache, pharmaceutical drugs, arguments, dieting, stress, business, obsession, anxiety, worry, indulgence, and so on. I'm not saying that the "American Dream" is necessarily wrong in itself... but does it become wrong when we sacrifice the foundation of the very things Christ died for? He died and rose to fulfill the law... to complete it. He died and rose to bring freedom and healing in all of our lives. Can we truly be free if there are things in our life that control us and hold us back from greater levels of faith, hope, love and joy?? I'm not saying this to condemn anyone at all... just to make us look a little deeper into our hearts and clarify our motives with the Lord so we can walk in freedom! (Sidenote: I know i'm preaching to the choir on this... most of the time it's what God is directly teaching me in my life. And when I began to be convicted and go thru this cleansing process I almost always have to release it and write about it! haha. You ARE NOT a bad person for living that "American Dream" lifestyle at all!!! It's just a night where I want God to reveal to us His way of life so that we can align ours up with His!)

Well God can certainly bring freedom in our lives as we recognize our tainted motives and ask for Him to cleanse us. He can and will restore and redeem us from our corrupt fleshly heart that can so easily believe the manipulative lies of the enemy. Please hear me out... I don't think everyone living the "American Dream" is living in sin, or is a slave to it, or lacks faith, hope, love and joy. I just think it's alright to allow God to go deeper and check our motives behind everything. It hurts sometimes, but it's always good ya know? Anything that takes us to a deeper place of trust with the Lord is always a safe place to be. May not be too much fun at first... but the deeper he cuts in, the more room for His miraculous love to be stored.

After traveling for so many years I come back and sometimes have to giggle at how different our perspective of the world is standing on this continent. For example there are A LOT of really good people out there (that may or may not know Jesus) who are extremely loving, trustworthy, hospitable, and sacrificially generous. There is a man is Switzerland I know who ALWAYS lets backpackers stay in his little tiny flat for free, shares all of his food, picks people up from the airport and train station, shows them around zurich and loves to make quality conversation. Warner gives up his own room and sleeps on the couch just so strangers can have a comfortable place to rest their heads for the night. Most people in America that I know would think that's crazy. Let a stranger in your home? Give them your bed? Feed them your best food? Show them around town? And for nothing? Are you kidding me?? I wonder how many people would think that's a waste of time? If we're being completely honest. Then... some of us might do something like that, but we'd make a deal with them they have to come to church with us or something if we are gonna let them stay at our house. What does Jesus do here?

Another big reason why we wouldn't do something like this is simply because of fear. Of course, we like to call it being "cautious". Haha. I know because I've lived this life. Just ask my mother. Whether it's a story we heard on the news or some lesson that's been passed down, we then listen to the voice "well... this could also happen to you" spoken from the mouth of the TRUE counterfeit... rather than the voice of the holy spirit which guides and directs speaking words of life, trust and faith. How come living "radically" for Jesus has become only something for those "called" by God.... rather than all who follow Him? What would happen if we stepped into the kingdom mindset living radically free from that which controls the world with FEARLESS faith, completely UNCONDITIONAL love, and CONSTANT joy.... even in the midst of trials and tribulations. The more we trust in our Father who provides... the easier it is to give things away because they hold only temporary value which doesn't hold a candle to what lies ahead in eternity. Not to mention the blessing of letting go then letting God fill those empty spaces.

So although this year or so of being in a consistently comfortable environment has been quite refreshing and replenishing... I'm ready to be an "uncomfortable" atmosphere again where I absolutely must trust in God for every single need. Funny enough I find myself creating these little pockets of awkwardness to try and relieve some of the tension I feel between the extreme differences of first and third world. A lot of times I don't even know I'm doing it... then others, like today... I'm just doing what the Lord tells me to do. Like praying for a woman's headache in salvation army. Hahaha. Something happens when (even in our "comfortable" world) we make room for God to move by shaking up the atmosphere with a little bit of Jesus juice. Whether it's taking the leading of the Holy Spirit to drive home a different way one day, stop off at the thrift store, go to the hospital, invite your neighbor over, taking a homeless person out for dinner, letting a college student stay in your home, adopting children, supporting missionaries, leaving your home for another country, or praying for someone in your local supermarket..... whatever the case we are choosing to step out of our "comfort zone" and step right into the kingdom of heaven fully relying on His prompting, wisdom and love to get us through it. All the sudden our eyes begin to open up to the needs all around and God gives us the grace to bestow this freedom and healing to others through conversation, servanthood, and the power of prayer!

Just for kicks I thought I'd look up synonyms for the word comfortable, here are a few:

adequate, agreeable, appropriate, at rest, cared for, cheerful, complacent, contented, convenient, cozy, delightful, easy, enjoyable, enjoying, gratified, hale, happy, healthy, hearty, loose, loose-fitting, made well, pleasant, pleased, protected, relaxed, relaxing, relieved, rested, restful, restored, satisfactory, satisfying, serene, sheltered, snug, snug as a bug in a rug, soft, soothed, strengthened, untroubled, useful, warm, well-off

So as we strive for this better way of life for us and our families... do we actually achieve those things above? And if we do... is it worth the effort putting forth? If it is... is that security what God is calling us to? Or could it be a radical life of faith where nothing we do makes sense to the rest of the world because it is this "upside-down kingdom of heaven" way of life that man just can't hardly grasp? Are we teaching our family, friends, co-workers, and acquaintances how to live safe, secure, steady, by-the-book, predictable lives with little or no freedom to live radically different ?? It's hard to live that radical life when all we see around us is people living just like us... but it wasn't until i stopped comparing and started aligning my life with Jesus' life that I finally began to get it.

B90: (Matthew 20- 28:20)
The Final Judgment
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, an he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father inherit the KINGDOM prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you? And the King will answer them, 'Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'" Matt 25:31-40

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