Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. – 1 Corinthians 15:58
We live in a new day of Gospel proclamation and demonstration. Is it possible that the church – that we all together – could fulfill the Great Commission in our lifetime? God has always meant for His children, every one of us, to be invested in His purposes…not just on Sunday, but Monday on…through our studies, our work, our circles of influence.
God is stirring the hearts of men and women in all trades and professions to give witness to the love of Christ and the excellence of God’s Kingdom. From students to retirees, we can be equipped to daily display the Gospel, in our workplace and through our community, wherever we are.
Today you can get started…and the following resources will help you get where God would have you go.
Skybridge Community – asks the question: “Can You Imagine God Using Your Work for His Purpose in Reaching the Nations?” Skybridge is a global community of Kingdom professionals being intentional in joining excellence in the workplace, cultural sensitivity, and Gospel proclamation. You can become a member and have access to a wide range of resources and mentoring possibilities.
Marketplace Advance – Integrating Vocation and Mission – focuses on mobilizing and equipping Kingdom professionals and tradespeople to be a part of fulfilling the Great Commission all over the world, through their workplace.
The Gospel at Work – [Helping Christians live extraordinary, gospel-centered lives in their workplaces] – is a network of churches and Kingdom professionals providing equipping toward Gospel intentionality in the workplace.
The High Calling – [Everyday Conversations About Work, Life, and God] – is an online community of professionals encouraging us all in the workplace to infuse our work with God – His love, His truth, and His purposes. Each week, The High Calling has a feature. written by people like you and me, focused being believers in the workplace.
Below are 16 other links to great resources to equip us as Gospel-bearers in the marketplace – wherever it is. You may have a favorite of your own that I didn’t list. Please share that through the Comments.
Let’s be about the mission of God – through teaching, engineering, business, art, athletics, health care, construction, computer science. You fill in the blank of your vocation…He will empower you there…for the sake of your coworkers, your neighbors…and the nations.
Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. – Isaiah 1:17
Neglect – the word makes us cringe. If not, then it might do us well to examine our lives once again in the reflection of God’s Word. He is so clear in His teaching of how we are to live. I am so thankful for that because my tendency is to be fuzzy-boundaried – spreading myself too thin, giving precious little to anyone, and then retreating exhausted into the comfy fortress of my home sweet home.
Would you walk with me through this quick journey of sorting out what it is to NOT be neglectful? The one area I don’t intend to focus on is neglect of self – either body or soul. My sense is that when we lean into the urging of God’s Spirit in ministering to others, our own lives are so altered that we are the ones most benefitted by Him (Luke 6:38).
To not be neglectful is to incline ourselves, to lean in, to carry through, to attend, to be intentional, to purpose to:
1) Love* the Lord our God with all our heart. – The Great Commandment
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”
Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment.”– Matthew 22:36-38
When our lives are infused by our love for God, we begin our day with Him and end our day with Him. As He speaks to us through His Word, the Spirit, the church, and our circumstances, we become more and more in tune with Who He is and how He is working in us and around us. It’s not ordering our lives as “God, then, family, then job” – it is all God – at the center and permeating all of life. Let’s savor that a moment…all God.
2) Love* your neighbor as yourself. – 2nd Part of the Great Commandment
“And the second [great commandment] is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 22:39-40
“Am I my brother’s keeper?” “Who is my brother?” “Who is my neighbor?” – these questions take us to the heart of NOT being neglectful. We want to choose who this neighbor is. We want to be done when we’ve taken care of “our responsibilities” – our family, our school debt, our house payment. How does that make a Christ-follower any different than a decent law-abiding atheist? God doesn’t define “neighbor” for us because He holds onto the right (as righteous, holy, loving God ) of directing our attention to those for whom He will intervene through us…through us. It could be our own parents or children or it could be that friend who continues to struggle with addiction. Or it could be Bonno, the soon-to-be-orphan son of a beautiful South African mother dying of AIDS.
We, as God’s children, are to give God the freedom to love our neighbors through us, in whatever way He chooses… Why this is uncomfortable and convicting is a testament to our journey of being transformed into the image of Christ. What joy He means us to have in being His instruments of peace and redemption. [I am all kinds of prickly over this, myself. Praying for my own undoneness in this.]
3) Love* the Church
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. – Hebrews 10:23-25
The church is flawed because it’s peopled by folks like us. Does it mean we get to desert it? Don’t need an answer for what the Word already states definitively. We’ve all heard the lament “I don’t go to church because it’s full of hypocrites.” What better place for us (hypocrites) to be?! It saddens my heart at how people have been hurt by “church folks”. I have had that experience myself. Church folks do not a church make. Church is the Body of Christ – the people of God – we’re His and on His mission until He takes us Home. If we are followers of Christ we don’t get to step away from His church. We need each other in very real, concrete, daily ways. There are no spectators in the Body of Christ, no second-string Christians, no one on the bench. God means us to be all-in, not just on Sunday, but every day – life on life, living Christ with each other and in our circles of influence. It’s messy, and uncomfortable, and other-worldly beautiful…when we wholly follow Christ together.
4) Love* the Nations – Fulfilling the Great Commission
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. – Matthew 28:16-20
The nations have come to us. Still, there are peoples who will never be near enough to the Gospel message unless someone takes it to them. Through both demonstration and proclamation. We can’t leave this only to some elite group of trained vocational Christians. We are all called to fulfill the Great Commission. Every one of us is commanded to go to our neighbors and to the nations. How does that work? By a daily personal surrender and a Holy Spirit-driven intentionality believing that He will open doors as we step up and grip the handles. By truly loving – in word and deed – neighbors and nations. Here in this post-Christian era we find ourselves, more and more of the church are taking seriously our role in fulfilling the vision Christ gave us in His command: “a multitude from every language, people, tribe and nation worshipping our Lord Jesus Christ” (Revelation 7:9). The Great Commission is not just for pastors or overseas Christian workers – it’s meant for all of us – health care workers, engineers, teachers, stay-at-home moms, store clerks, technicians, students, and retirees…in the marketplace, wherever we are.
Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few.Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” – Matthew 9:35-38
Jesus doesn’t call us to save the world…He calls us to respond to Him in obedience, one moment at a time, one life at a time…as we take Him at His word, He saves a world.
*Love – used in the fullest sense of that word – the Jesus sense of that word – not in the colloquial sense of that word – “Of course, I love my church, addict brother-in-law, controlling boss, lazy co-worker, Muslim neighbor…but…”
Jesus said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” – Matthew 19:26
Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” – Mark 9:23
But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. – Isaiah 40:31
It’s not my usual practice in prayer to call on Jesus. I usually address my prayers to the Father, because that’s how Jesus taught us to pray…and it seems fitting. However, because of the magnificent Oneness of God, we pray to/through the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Many times (if not all the time), the Holy Spirit moves us to pray. How thankful I am for that. When my fretful thoughts are corralled into prayer, my heart settles and my mind’s quiet is restored. Thanks be to God. Then there is the huge confidence that comes, knowing that Jesus is somehow One with the Father and His Spirit, and somehow also seated at His right hand, interceding for us. Always interceding for us…having walked this earth, filling his lungs with this air, seeing up-close the brokenness of humanity, and feeling the urge to act selfishly, sinfully…and yet didn’t. Knowing what it’s like to be us, and still wholly GOD. Holy GOD. Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Thank You, God, for Your view. Sometimes, when I look at our world, I am overwhelmed. Then, as the Spirit moves in my heart and lifts my head, my vision clears, as You loom large. You care more about what’s happening around us than we ever could. Your arm is not too short to save (Isaiah 59:1). Nothing is too hard for You (Jeremiah 32:17). Your love endures forever, Lord (Psalm 136:12). Thank You, God, that You hear us when we call on You (Psalm 145:18; 1 Corinthians 1:2)…and that You never, ever leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6, 8). Father, You are so good to Your children, calling us to Yourself in prayer, by the power of Your Holy Spirit, in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Call on Jesus (from the album Talk About It)
I’m so very ordinary
Nothing special on my own
I have never walked on water
I have never calmed a storm
Sometimes I’m hiding away from the madness around me
Like a child who’s afraid of the dark
But when I call on Jesus
All things are possible
I can mount on wings like eagles and soar
When I call on Jesus
Mountains are gonna fall
‘Cause He’ll move heaven and earth to come rescue me when I call
Little, widowed mother
You’re not alone
If you’re tired and scared of the madness around you
If you can’t find the strength to carry on
Call Him in the mornin’
In the afternoon time
Late in the evenin’
He’ll be there
When your heart is broken
And you feel discouraged
You can just remember that He said
He’ll be there
Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” – Genesis 4:9
We must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?…Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted. – Hebrews 2:1-3, 17-18
Neglect/Neglectful – to leave behind, to omit by carelessness or design, to slight, to omit to receive/embrace, to disregard, to be inattentive, to become accustomed to omit what may or ought to be done.
I don’t want a life riddled with gaping holes of neglectfulness. Nor do I want to leave a heritage of neglect. Who does? Yet it can happen ever so subtly in our pursuit of safety and security, circling our wagons tightly around what personally matters most to us. And the rest of the world?
Not My Business
Not My Problem
Not My Family
Not My Job
Not My Call
Not My Responsibility
Not My Fault
Not My Gift
Not My Calling
Not Worth My Time/Money
Not Worth Saving
The most winsome thing I know of God is that He loves the whole world (John 3:16). I don’t want to line out my life…set boundaries… such that some around me are more deserving of grace than others…that some are worthy of aid or intervention but others are not…that some are outside of the Gospel and others, by “accident” of geography or opportunity, are not. As citizens of the Kingdom of God, we have been given a great salvation – “so great a salvation” that we cannot neglect His intent of it, for our sakes, and for those around us. There is no such thing as benign neglect.*
We, individually and corporately, can’t save the world, as much as we would like. However, our humanity, with whatever perceived limited capacity we have, was meant to glorify God by our nature and pursuits. We can determine to live lives faithful and pleasing to God – “to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God” (Micah 6:8).
If you look at the list of “not’s” above, you may, like I do, see phrases we’ve used before for decisions made and actions not taken. Look now at some of the antonyms for neglect – what it is to not yield to being neglectful – intentional, diligent, constant, loving, inclined, conscious, determined, caring, keeping, dedicated, patient, carrying through, preserving, mindful, attending, cherishing, conserving, celebrating, listening, nourishing, obedient, inspiring, giving, remembering, redeeming, watchful, purposeful.
With so great a salvation that we have received, how could we choose to be any other way toward others?
“To fail to exhibit that we take truth seriously at those points where there is a cost in our doing so, is to push the next generation in the relative, dialectical millstream that surrounds us. ” Francis A. Schaeffer
And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” – Exodus 3:14
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. – Isaiah 41:10
The I AM declarations of God have captivated humankind through the ages. We are dumbfounded to think of God as I AM – fully present in the forever past, and the forever future, and with us in this very moment as well. We are dumbfounded and awestruck…at the I AM nature of God.
For Jesus to speak of himself in this same way is both fantastic and preposterous, if it were not true. Many in the world think of Jesus as a mere man, or prophet at best, on this earth for only a little more than 3 decades. Yet, his life and his influence are completely in tune with God the Father, such that how One is described resonates with the Other. Not multiple gods, but One – fully God, and, for a brief moment in eternity, fully man. One. I AM.
So many discourses in God’s Word draw us into the moment when human reason collides with the Divine. Here is one:
Then the Jews said to Him…”Are You greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? And the prophets are dead. Who do You make Yourself out to be?” Jesus answered, “If I honor Myself, My honor is nothing. It is My Father who honors Me, of whom you say that He is your God. Yet you have not known Him, but I know Him. And if I say, ‘I do not know Him,’ I shall be a liar like you; but I do know Him and keep His word. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by. – John 8:52a, 53-59
Another time, I personally was faced with what Jesus said about himself which conflicted with what I wanted to be true at that time of my life. I was in my 20s, deeply in love with a man of a different religion and path in life. An older friend (for whom I’m grateful forever) reasoned lovingly and courageously with me over my relationships with God and this young man. As much as my emotions wanted something to be so that could not be, her words bringing me back to an I AM passage (John 14:6, below) restored my sight and cleared my vision of what is true.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” – John 14:6
If I counted on this Jesus for myself, for my very life, and, at the same time, magically wished that another way would work for someone I loved, how can both be true? That night, on the floor of that older friend’s house, with the Bible open before us, my heart was filled anew with a fullness of love for the God I AM. [By the way, in that situation, that young man and I parted ways; he who had no use for Jesus married someone of his religion, and I eventually and joyfully married a Jesus-follower.]
In these days when having “no absolutes” is fashionable and logical to some, I am, more than ever, struck with the all-present Creator Redeemer God and our desperate need for Him. Not as a crutch…seriously? A crutch is not what we need…we need Him. As our very breath…our light for the next step…our strong arm in troubled times…our love forever.
Consider God’s declarations of I AM in His Word and those words in Mark Schultz’s song. Worship with me.
I Amby Mark Schultz*
I am the maker of the Heavens
I am the bright and morning star
I am the breath of all Creation
Who always was
And is to come
I am the One who walked on water
I am the One who calmed the seas
I am the miracles and wonders
So come and see
And follow me
You will know
I am the fount of living water
The risen Son of man
The healer of the broken
And when you cry
I am your savior and redeemer
Who bore the sins of man
The author and perfecter
Beginning and the end
I am the spirit deep inside you
I am the word upon your heart
I am the One who even knew you
Before your birth
Before you were
Before the Earth (I am)
The universe (I am)
In every heart (I am)
Oh, where you are (I am)
The Lord of love (I am)
The King of Kings (I am)
The Holy lamb (I am)
Above all things
Yes, I am almighty God your father
The risen son of man
The healer of the broken
And when you cry
I am your savior and redeemer
Who bore the sins of man
The author and perfecter
Beginning and the end
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. – James 1:17
What a weekend we’ve had…whew! Over the course of a few days, we’ve seen God answer prayers that have been daily raised to Him for several months. His timing is perfect and I’m reminded of that every time His answers come at what seems, for us, the eleventh hour.
Above my kitchen sink is this small pile of stones. I’ve loved rocks since my childhood trailing around behind a mom who loved rocks. She has moved stones in and around our yard for years, making rock walls and garden paths. We’ve collected stones from around the world, weighing down our bags with precious finds from ocean beaches, mountain trails, forest streams, and rocky deserts. These became stones of remembrance from those trips.
My little pile of rocks has no particular answered prayers attached to the stones. They just remind me, every time I look at them, of the faithfulness of God. It’s not like I always need visual reminders of God because we are surrounded by them. These windowsill sitters do help me to remember His constancy in my life and His care of His people throughout history.
Here…above my kitchen sink…”I raise my Ebenezer*” (from 1 Samuel 7:12) – my stones of remembrance that say, to my heart, “thus far the Lord has helped us.”
You may be waiting for Him to answer a prayer of your own. Don’t let your circumstances blur your vision of God; keep your eyes and heart fixed on Him. Sometime in the days ahead, you will add a “stone” to your heap of gratefulness, as you see Him move…either in the situation, or in you, or both…most probably both.
I leave you with an old hymn written by Robert Robinson who, as a young man, would have destroyed his life, but God had a different plan for him. Robinson wrote beautifully of this faithful, loving God who does not let us go.
Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing**
Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.
Sorrowing I shall be in spirit,
Till released from flesh and sin,
Yet from what I do inherit,
Here Thy praises I’ll begin;
Here I raise my Ebenezer*;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood;
How His kindness yet pursues me
Mortal tongue can never tell,
Clothed in flesh, till death shall loose me
I cannot proclaim it well.
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
O that day when freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face;
Clothed then in blood washed linen
How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace;
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,
Take my ransomed soul away;
Send thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day.
Today marks the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 bombings in the US, and we all have our stories of where we were when we heard that terrible news. I heard the news as an elevator door opened in a hospital emergency room in Cairo, Egypt. The surgeon watching for us to deliver the patient walking into the elevator, saying, “I am so, so sorry.” I thought he was referring to the precious one on the stretcher beside me, so small and injured from a terrible bus accident the day before. It turns out he was talking about the news that traveled instantly from the States about the bombings. I’d like to go back to the day before. For us, it would help to go there, before I can ever process the grief of this day that we all share.
It was like any other Monday, that bright, warm September 10th in Cairo, Egypt…until the phone call. Janna was on the other end of the call, telling me that Genessa and April had been in a bus accident on the Sinai. April had called her and relayed their location, at a hospital in Sharm el-Sheikh. These were girls in our Middle Eastern Studies Program, and they were finishing their time with us, taking a vacation together. They would re-trace some of their experiences in Bedouin villages across the Sinai and then enjoy a few days on the Red Sea. They were to return that Monday, traveling in on one of the over-night buses across the desert.
Details will have to wait for another time, but with this information, my husband, Dave, left immediately with Janna and a local Egyptian friend who was also one of our language coaches. He took these two women because of their relationship with each other and with all of us. He also understood that there were two injured friends hours away in a hospital who would need women to minister to their needs. I would be praying and on the phone the rest of the day with families, other friends, US Embassy people, and our other young people in the program. I can’t begin to describe the emotional nature of that day…not knowing, hoping, praying.
When Dave and our friends arrived at the hospital, he was directed to April. She had painful, serious injuries, but none life-threatening, praise God. Then he was escorted into the critical care area to see Genessa. To his horror, it wasn’t Genessa. It was another young woman, unconscious – an Italian tourist, who rode in the same ambulance with April. April, lucid and still able to communicate, had tried to comfort her on that long dark ride to the hospital. Personal belongings were all scrambled at the wreck site, and the authorities made the mistakened decision that because April was speaking to her, she was Genessa.
Then Dave went on the search for our dear one…somewhere else in the Sinai. He back-tracked toward the site of the accident, checking other hospitals where other injured were taken. At this point, he was also talking to US Embassy staff, as he drove through the desert. Just shortly before he arrived at the hospital where he would find Genessa, the staff person told him they confirmed her identification from a credit card she had in her pocket…in the morgue of that small village hospital.
Dave and Janna, that friend who received the first phone call, stood beside this precious girl’s body, to make the formal identification…to know for sure that this was Genessa. And it was…and yet not. She, the luminous, laughing, loving girl we knew, was gone. It was more than any of us who loved her could take in on that Monday evening in Cairo, Egypt…the day before 9/11.
As they left the hospital to return to April, two more friends joined them from Cairo to help. For any of you who have been completely spent in every way by such a day, you can understand what it was for them to look up and see Matt and Richard getting out of a car. God in His great goodness alerted them, stirred their hearts to drive all those hours…and then to arrive…just when they were most needed. So many arrangements had to be made…and most importantly, at that moment, to get April back safely and quickly to Cairo for surgery.
She came into Cairo on a plane near the middle of the day of 9/11. By the time we got her from the airport in an ambulance to the specialty hospital to get the further care she needed, a series of horrific events had begun taking place in the US. We would hear of them from this caring Egyptian surgeon…who had no idea how numb we were from losing Genessa and how concerned we were that April got what she needed as soon as possible. We were already so drenched by grief, this unfathomable news about the bombings washed over us without understanding the scope of it…the pain of it…for all the rest of America.
Later in that day, with April receiving the best care possible, and me watching by her side, I could take in some of the loss coming at us on the small t.v. mounted in the hospital room. Egyptians were telling us how so, so sorry they were for us (as Americans). If they only knew, they were our mourners for our loss of Genessa, too. In the din of world-changing news, and a country brought together in grief…we grieved, too, a continent away…for the losses of 9/11 and the day before.
That was 13 years ago…April healed from her injuries (only she and God know what all that took on the inside), the other young people in our program have gone on to careers and families across the US and around the world. We have also gone on…back to the US for now, and to other work.
Two things have not changed…a beautiful girl, who fell asleep by the window of a bus in the Sinai night and woke up in Heaven…and the God who welcomed her Home. There is so much, much, more to this story, but I have to close with this. As her family back in the US were pulling the pieces of their lives back together, and going through Genessa’s things, they found a little cassette player on her bed…there left by her, two years before, as she left for Cairo. In it was a cassette where she’d made a tape of her singing one of her favorite songs, I Long for the Day, by Dennis Jernigan. If we look at Genessa’s life through the lens of some American dream, then we would think how tragic to die so young, so full of promise. Look through the lens of how much she loved God, and knowing Him was what mattered most to her…and all who knew her knew His love through her.
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. – Jeremiah 29:11
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. – Romans 8:28
Everything You Are strikes so many chords in my heart. It was written in 2012 by Hope Darst and Jaime Jamgochian. The story of the song speaks to a season when Jaime was disheartened by how God was answering some of her prayers, and her friend, Hope, spoke His truth into her struggle.
Thank God for friends like Hope and Jaime who love God and love each other…and then put that message into a song that encourages the Church.
I love worship songs that talk right to God…because that’s what worship is about. We are called to worship God, and to speak out His character and His promises through the words of this song ministers to my heart. I’m sure it pleases Him to hear His children agree together, in worship, that He is working everything out in us. He has our past, present, and future covered by His love and according to His purposes.
I love the friendship that speaks truth in love…and how this song sets us singing right to God. Lastly, I love how honoring it is to Jesus. It baffles me that the whole world doesn’t love Jesus…if anyone did a critical study of His life, they would see how good He is…and how GOD He is. Each of us has this life He’s given us…these moments passing through…to reflect Him to those who don’t yet know Him…and to lavish both truth and love on each other, like Hope and Jaime in the writing of Everything You Are.
You promise a hope and a future
You promise good
You’ve given life everlasting
You’ve spoken truthChorus:
Everything You are is everything I need, Jesus
Everything You are is good.
Everything You are is everything I need, Jesus
Everything You are is so good.You offer love and forgiveness
You offer peace
You’ve given strength for my weakness
You’ve rescued me
You’re my rock, My salvation
In You I’m not shaken
You work all things for good
There’s no shadow of doubt that can silence my shout
For I know that You are good.
Everything You are is everything I need
How I need You.
Everything You are is everything I need Jesus
Everything You are is so good
Everything You are is everything I need Jesus
Everything You are is good
I need You
I just finished re-reading Surprised by Motherhood, because I wanted to write about it, When I first heard about this book, this Spring, it wasn’t a title that would have captivated me. My children are grown now. Yet, I am surrounded by mothers and see them doing battle to raise their children up to know God and to be honoring in their relationships and responsibilities. I also see the battle fatigue in parenting, in mothering. Lisa-Jo Baker wrote this book for you, Dear Ones. Surprised by Motherhood is not a “how to” book; it is a “go through” book – a story of life and family and God in the midst. You will find it full of shared experience; wrestling with what’s important; discovering joy in the chaos; laughing and crying and resting in Him.
Lisa-Jo Baker is a real woman – bright, funny, intuitive, and capable. I also envision, from her writing and the images on her blog, that she struggles with our same messy stuff of life that comes with little ones. Sticky table-tops, full laundry baskets, and very public, sometimes embarrassing displays of emotion by our kiddos. Yet, as you read, she speaks grace on herself, and on you.
I like her. We both are third-culture adults (people whose hearts are knit to two continents, at least). We both see God in the craziness of our lives…and have grown closer to Him as moms. We both have two sons and a daughter, and our passionate second-born sons have taught us both the most about ourselves. We both had children in our later 30’s. Our hearts have also been broken by the terrible problem of human trafficking in the world, and we want to change that. We have both spent much of our lives without our moms, her more years than me, but I resonate with that heart-ache of missing them. Her mom-in-law and I are both Debbies and we both pray for our children. I’m glad Lisa-Jo has such a woman in her life.
If you’re not a mom, or if you’re a man who has actually read thus far, I hope you’ll consider this book as well. There is so much to gain from her story. I leave you with just a taste in her own words:
About her mom: “She made room for people, so I never noticed how the house looked or what food she was serving. I saw how they all wanted to be with her. People stayed. The kids swam. Watermelons were split for dessert.” (p.23)
About church: “When I was growing up, church was a consistent, resilient heartbeat for our family…Church was a love language that spoke peace and comfort and home over my childhood.” (p. 32-33)
About a friend who entered their grief at the death of her mom: “Alex blew into the kitchen where we were trying to decide if we were hungry. The world felt like it was underwater, and it was hard to stand up, impossible to make decisions…We sat around that old pine table…as he cut hunks of bread, spread out meats and cheeses and tomato slices, and fed our empty parts. I didn’t know I was hungry until he arrived.” (p. 48-49)
About her 2y/o Micah who clung to her at church (and most all the time): “I rocked him and sang praise for his Maker…And suddenly, all those great and powerful phrases like ‘sacrifice’ and ‘loves like a hurricane’ and ‘blessed be the name of the Lord’ took on Technicolor meaning. With this boy wrapped in my arms, clinging to me, I understood what the God parent feels for me. To die for this love – yes, it made sense…In the music, in the rocking of the baby who was becoming a boy, I poured out my gratitude. And my arms – how they ached with the weight of it.” (p. 128-9)
On lessons learned in parenting – “I didn’t know I was selfish until I had kids…But I believe God loves us too much to leave us flailing in our self-centered universes, so He delivers these tiny reflections of ourselves into our homes with earthquake effectiveness…Oh God, how I need You.” (p. 187-188)
There is so much love in this book. So much acceptance. So much real. I hope you pick up a copy and read the story of Lisa-Jo’s journey into motherhood, and through motherhood to a deeper walk with God and a sweet healing place for herself and her family…that is available to all of us Surprised by Motherhood…or just life itself.
(In)courage – “A bit like a beach house – a place where women could feel welcome without pretense, valued just the way they are. A place where we could put our sandy, dirty feet up on the coffee table and tell our real, hard stories. A place where people would listen. A place where women were brave enough to be vulnerable.”
Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls— Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.
The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, And He will make me walk on my high hills.
Reading the book of Habakkuk, we are spellbound by the devastating situation where the people of God find themselves. Habakkuk wrestles with God over this, and finally yields in faith to the God he trusts…no matter what. Whether in hunger or high places.
The thought of being completely without food is pretty frightening. The stories we hear in the news of displaced peoples, who had to flee their homes and villages and figure out how to survive on foot, are heartbreaking. I can’t fathom that situation, yet I know it’s real for far too many right now.
I’m also afraid of heights. When we fly, I always get an aisle seat, and treat the experience as if I’m on a cross-country bus trip. I love to look at mountains, but being up in them, on narrow roads or cliff-edge paths, is not what I would choose for transportation or relaxation.
Reading through the short account of desperate times, as recorded by the prophet Habakkuk, reminds me of the raw nature of life sometimes. What is that situation for you that would be the worst you could imagine? The loss of a person or the lack of a provision?
Is there anything that could so devastate me that I would take my eyes off God?
I pray not…and Habakkuk gives me hope. He cried out to God, cried out against God, in the beginning, because of the horrific circumstances of his people, God’s people. Yet, when we besiege the throne of God with our desperate requests, He hears His children and answers us. Not always in ways that suit us at the time, but He responds, with the wisdom of One who sees how all of life, all of history, fits together.
As we pray, whatever He does in answer to our appeals is up to Him – a perfectly loving, merciful and just God. Yet, there is a glorious spiritual transaction that happens, if we keep our eyes on Him. He restores our joy; He brings peace; He gives strength.
I love the passage in C. S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe where Mr. and Mrs. Beaver are trying to describe Aslan, the lion who symbolizes Jesus in the Narnia stories. Lucy and Susan ask if Aslan is safe. Mr. Beaver responds, “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
God is completely good. That does not mean that He keeps us always in comfortable places. His ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). Yet, as we look over the shoulders of Habakkuk, and see the world as he saw it…he still came around to seeing the goodness of God. We can also choose to rejoice in whatever situation we find ourselves. That is the faith that plants our feet surely on any path where God leads.