Saturday, October 30, 2010

My challenge...and yours, Day 21

Will you please read the first post in this series if you haven't already?

She can turn twinkle lights into stars and words into poetry. She took me to Paris, teaching me to love art as she shared stories behind the great works and silence in the great cathedrals. She radiates gentleness and the quiet spirit which is of great worth in His sight. We shared a wrought-iron bed through girlhood, and then she walked ahead of me with a crown of flowers and shared my joy on my wedding day, as she has each day of my life since. She is my sister, my kindred friend, and because of her, I see Him more clearly. Today she shares her response to The Hole in Our Gospel.

Where to start? So many things challenged me as I read The Hole in Our Gospel. As I’ve read others’ experiences on this blog of dying to self and surrendering their lives to Him; making that choice minute by minute of “not my will, but Yours,” I am so encouraged. Reading how others are going through this process of recognizing truth and exchanging and giving up their life for His is….beautiful.

Personally, I struggle. For starters, it’s downright jarring to realize how wealthy I am.
If your income is $25,000 per year, you are wealthier than approximately 90 percent of the world’s population. If you make $50,000 per year, you are wealthier than 99 percent of the world. Almost half of all people on earth live on less than $2 a day. 93% of the world’s people don’t own a car.
- from the book

Facing the responsibility that comes with the wealth our family has is sobering. While I’m not sure exactly sure what that responsibility will look like in my life, I do know that I need to start seeing differently and doing something. For starters, I need to live more loudly: 
In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I need to be very, very careful:
For I was hungry, while you had all you needed. I was thirsty, but you drank bottled water. I was a stranger, and you wanted me deported. I needed clothes, but you needed more clothes. I was sick, and you pointed out the behaviors that led to my sickness. I was in prison, and you said I was getting what I deserved.
Richard E. Stearns Version

And I need to get moving. I felt such a coward as I read, “To know what is right and not do it is the worst cowardice.”(Confucius) I felt overwhelmed with not knowing exactly how to respond, and then encouraged as I read, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” (Frederick Buechner) Right now I’m trying to figure out what my “deep gladness” is and where to meet the hunger….

I could go on and on and on about what hit me from the book, because everything in it was tremendously convicting. However, my personal heart issues boil down to making choice after choice of denying what I want: to do, to feel, to spend, to say. Which I’m completely failing at. This process of personal death and the war of surrender feels many things but mostly…hard. And facing myself and recognizing the things that I struggle to deny is ugly.

As I wrote earlier, though, this process in others’ lives looks beautiful. This fall, I’m watching a tree in my yard turn vibrantly red before the leaves fall. As death begins to turn them brittle and dry, they become glorious. Isn’t it amazing that God makes weakness and death beautiful? All year that tree is just another tree, but briefly, on its way to being stripped bare by death, your breath catches a little, vision filled with His beauty. It’s a pretty tree all year round. It is. But you can’t miss that tree, as it is dying. As God uses us as hands and feet to meet the needs of others, it feels at times like death.

Because it is. But it is beautiful. A beautiful weakness. And people look. I look. I want to be used like He wants. Which means this minute, I will choose to listen to Him. That’s where it starts for me. I won’t write a check or shop the Samaritan’s Purse catalog. Yet. I will surrender my time to Him, and crack my Bible open. I will be still before Him and listen to Him. Maybe I will hear nothing. It will feel hard to not watch something on TV during naptime: to reward, to re-energize me. It will be hard to corral my thoughts to quiet. But this is where I will start today. What it takes to keep the needs of humanity urgently before me will be rooted here. I want to be more purposeful, I want to structure a budget that allots money every month to somewhere/thing/one. I want to have vision that sees beyond my day to day existence. I want His vision. I don’t. Yet. Maybe I never will. This invitation of denying self is a hard one to accept, but it is so beautiful to see. I want to be pretty too.


Kristen said...

Beautiful. I loved the image of how when a tree is about to die, that is when it shines the most. What great imagery of what it looks like when we die to ourselves. Thank you so much for your words and thoughts, Abbie. Much love to you.

tonia said...

such a mature post. far better to sit and wait with the voice of God than to leap impetuously into something we can't sustain. if anything God keeps showing me in this season of my life it is how patiently He works at the transformation, how slow and steady, even when I can't tell anything is going on.

"wait" is an action, carrying with it the idea of expectation, and so i do, waiting with you both, expecting the word and direction of God.

bless your precious hearts. thank you for sharing and for this lovely, challenging series.

Ryan, a friend gave me "The Hole..." last night. I guess I can't avoid reading it now, eh?