I hope you’ve gotten off to a great start in this new year; this period of 365 days that stretches out before us full of… What, exactly?
What will 2014 look like?
What do you want it to look like?
What will you do over the next twelve months to make the year ahead better, easier, more productive than last year… to be more thoughtful, compassionate, attuned to needs in the world around you?
I have my own list of things I’m choosing to focus on differently this year. I want to be the “new and improved” version of me when 2015 rolls around. In some areas, it’s way past time… You don’t have to know what’s on my list–and I don’t have to know what’s on yours–but we can still encourage each other… and hold each other accountable. Just writing these words “for God and everyone to see” is one giant step for this woman.
I suspect you’re here because you and I have something in common. Perhaps we met because we both enjoy playing in the dishes… or because we both have a “thing” for vintage linens… or because we share a love of children.
I’m pretty sure we both want, in at least some small way, to make our world a better place. Otherwise, I seriously doubt you’d be hanging around here.
But since you are – and I’m really glad you are! – I’d like to share something with you. Something I’ve noticed for awhile about women here in Blogland and in “the real world”.
Something that stirs my spirit… and scares me silly.
I’ve noticed it because I’ve been those women. Both of them.
For many years, I was the woman who professed to be a follower of Christ, attended church every time the doors were open, living her life–and raising her children–according to biblical principles. I provided supplies for Vacation Bible School in the Summer, non-perishables for “needy families” in the Fall, and filled shoe boxes for Samaritan’s Purse at Christmas. I regularly attended a women’s Bible study, sang in the choir, and occasionally invited senior adults to my home for lunch. I practiced stewardship of time, talents, and money. I prayed regularly, observed a daily “quiet time” sporadically, and knew the names of some of my neighbors.
I liked nice things and, as family income increased, I rewarded myself with a few of them. I knew I was blessed, and, if I’m honest, I guess I thought I deserved it. Lucky me being born in an affluent country. How sad for the poor people who weren’t… or who were but fell upon hard times. I was thankful there were people “called” to help people like that… and thankful it wasn’t me. Thankful there was no need for me to reach too far beyond decorating my house or entertaining my friends.
Oh, I had committed years ago to always be involved in missions–reaching beyond myself–but I was perfectly content that God hadn’t called me to go anywhere… or to adopt. Doing an occasional hands-on project or writing a monthly check fit just fine into my lifestyle. Obviously, God didn’t expect me to do anything more than shake my head in sadness, and perhaps say a quick prayer, when the daily news contained stories of broken foster care systems, nursing home abuse, meth lab busts, sex trafficking, human slavery, homeless children.
A few years ago, I began to shake my head in sadness–grief, really–for how misguided that woman was. How a “good Christian woman” could miss the Truth so badly for so many years.
Today I still profess to be a follower of Christ and strive to live my life on biblical principles, but I’m beginning to understand that being a follower requires much more than professed beliefs and a few good works. Following Christ means having a faith that requires me to get my hands dirty when I walk out the church doors. To be willing to turn into reality the words of Scripture I say I believe. To be food for the hungry; clothes for the naked; home for the homeless, voice for the voiceless; freedom for the prisoner.
But dirty hands require a different perspective, and to view things from a different perspective, I have to change where I’m standing.
But I’ve been in this position for a long time, and it used to be comfortable… but now it’s not… and what does that mean?
Where do I go from here?
I know I’m not alone in my questions. I’ve watched God stirring complacent hearts of women; mine–and some of yours. I’ve seen women the world over choosing to re-focus their lives, replacing mental and physical clutter with a renewed faith. I’ve felt the hope, the excitement, as small steps were taken out of comfort zones and into new places of obedience; sensing, like Esther, that things are changing and there is something very right about this journey into the unknown. That somehow they, too, have a “for such a time as this” role to play… even if the script is unfinished.
That’s where I find myself here at the beginning of 2014: stepping into the unknown. Oh, sure, I took similar steps several years ago when Renaissance Man and I became involved with Hope Unlimited for Children… and there’s still a whole world of “unknown” surrounding that part of my life. But, quite honestly, the more I watch God work in lives of desperate children, the more I understand with my heart (not just my head) that all Christians are called to minister to people Jesus called “the least of these”. To practice hands-on, dirty-faith obedience in the everyday parts of our lives. To choose to look beyond the walls of our comfy homes and churches and see the ugly, dirty, smelly reality of need. No amount of church attendance or Bible study participation, worthy as it may be, can replace that.
My hands-on work with the children in Brazil is very limited, so I don’t get to “ride on the coattails” of Hope and say I’m doing enough. No, this God-stirring I feel in my spirit tells me there’s more required of me… and so I’m praying and listening and looking around me to see what’s next. God, you know I don’t like ugly, dirty, smelly… or too hot… or too cold.
God, help me.
What about you? Are you content with your life as it is here at the beginning of this new year, or is there a voice deep inside telling you, “There’s more”?
Are you wanting to be willing to step into the unfamiliar but need some encouragement–or maybe just some courage?
I hope we can spend 2014 having an ongoing conversation together. Now that I’ve told you where I am in my life, I hope you’ll tell me about you–at this point in your life.
- Are you happy, or is there something missing?
- Have you discovered your purpose in life, or are you searching?
- What tugs at your heart? The elderly, children, prisoners, illiterate, homeless, terminally ill?
- What keeps you from stepping out of your comfort zone?
- In your quietest, most honest moments, what message is your heart whispering?
If you don’t feel comfortable leaving a comment, then please send me an email. I’ll be reading the words you entrust to me–and praying for you–and I’ll be here in 2014 to encourage you.
I hope you’ll be here to encourage me, too.
Oh, and one more thing… If anything you’ve read here has caused you to pause/agree/disagree, why don’t you bring up the topic with your friends? Share this post on your social media–or via email and get their input, too. After all, if we’re going to have an ongoing conversation, we may as well hear what people have to say!
If there’s any truth or benefit to this stepping-out-and-getting-our-hands-dirty-thing, then I’m just crazy enough to believe that the more women there are who catch a glimpse of the end goal, the bigger difference we’ll make in the world.
Why not sign up to get future conversations delivered straight to your inbox? Just think… Someday we can look back and say it all started with a conversation among friends!