Monday, May 20, 2013

What Real Change Is All About

As I said almost a year ago, the Holy Spirit called me out.  It hasn't been pretty.

After several years of sitting in my PJ's, nursing a cup of coffee to the point of room temperature, reading and writing with every spare moment I had, I was challenged to do something more.  Part of the blame rests with my Thursday afternoon, Ladies' Bible Study; we read Francis Chan's book, Crazy Love.  If you haven't -- do so; I believe it will change you.  Prior to this, I'd just heard a radio interview with a seminary student and former Army Captain, who had taken a homeless man into his apartment.  It intrigued me, and I read his book as well (Stumbling Souls by Chris Plekenpol).  God was moving, and the one He was moving was me.

Since then, my husband and I have opened our home to guests at Christmas.  Not the kind of guests that fly in, you reluctantly allow stay in your guest room, and then count the days until your sister picks them up to spend the New Year with her.  The kind of guests with whom you've had, maybe, a handful of discussions, who have a need like none you've not known in ages, or maybe ever.  The kind of guests who will be, if not for Christ living out His Gospel through you, spending Christmas alone, in the cold.  I was stunned when Scott even suggested it.

We've given, literally, until it hurts.  We've tithed and gifted to the point of having to make lifestyle changes and cut back on "extras" when Scott was out of work, just to keep our utilities on and our vehicles insured.  But we never stopped giving -- we never considered it.  We have rearranged the way we shop, the way we spend our free time, and the way we work just so we can continue to give to others.  We have gotten involved in ministries within our church, and devised a few of our own: loading up on non-perishables and snacks, and heading to the city to pass them on to some of the homeless, or running others to doctors appointments and various errands.  We've done without sleep and "me time" to spend time with others, and we've been there with back aches and colds and whatever else, just to make sure we keep our commitments to love and care for them.

Our prayer ministry has changed quite a bit.  We pray actively for others... even others we don't like so much.  As I walk the dogs each day, passing through three different neighborhoods, I pray for those I pass -- in homes and schools, on the sidewalk, driving by.  My prayer time rarely resembles the "God is great; God is good" exercises of my childhood; I couldn't say that a year or so ago.  And Scott's has changed dramatically as well.  I first realized this when, during prayer at church one Sunday, the pastor asked us to call out names of someone for whom we'd been praying.  Scott was one of the first to speak out the name of someone who'd been heavy on both our hearts.  This has carried into our family prayer times at home as well.  We seem to always be searching out folks for whom to pray.  

I can no longer read Vince Flynn, Harlan Coben, Alex Kava, Alafair Burke, or any other of the myriad of novelists I used to love reading.  These days I can hardly get enough of C.S. Lewis, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, John Wesley, John Piper, and Francis Chan -- just to name a few.  And that would be in addition to reading chapters of God's Word every day!  I still have a weakness for country music, but Christian radio makes up more than half of the presets in my car.  All those "goofy" religious broadcasts my dad used to enjoy so much, waft through my speakers as I travel to and from work each day.

I post more on Facebook about my faith, than I do about my family.  I have no qualms about telling others who I am and what I believe.  I make no apologies for it, either.  And yet, none of this is the "me" that came into this world 47 years ago.  This is not the "me" that terrorized her brother, lied to her parents, drank daily, smoked weed and black tar, and cussed like a sailor.  And this is not a "me" that I have created -- a new persona developed after years of being a mom and a suburban housewife.  This is a blood-bought, rebirthed child of God Almighty, who wants nothing more than to complete the task which has been given her -- "the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God!"  I have done nothing toward becoming this new creature, but seek, and trust, and obey God.    And I am so much happier for it!  There is little, if anything, I could have done on my own to have such a life.  Know that as I boast, I am not boasting in my own strength, or wisdom, or success, but the strength, wisdom, and success that comes from knowing and trusting in Jesus, from getting out there and getting it done for Him! 

Scott and I are looking forward to where Jesus leads us next.  we are happy to meet that next challenge with Him by our sides, shepherding us toward being better people and bringing glory to His name.
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