I read about a little girl sold into sex slavery.
Seven years old. Tied to a pole and raped again and again every single day by multiple men.
Then I read about another little girl who is abducted. Molested. And buried alive in a trash bag.
Her body found days later, clutching to her teddy bear.
And I’m boiling with anger, cracking at the seams, weeping into my hands because my God, this stuff is so hard to digest, hard to comprehend, and stabs so deep, and why, why, why does it have to happen!
The evil running rampant makes me feel so helpless.
It almost makes sense to just look away because what can I possibly do?
But as I observe the life around me and my so called problems, I wonder if my faith is costing me anything.
. . . . . . .
My flesh constantly wants to be comfortable.
It is constantly afraid of opposition.
My beautiful daughters. My incredible husband. My little circle.
In an instant I can lose it all, everything can come crashing down.
And I tell God I don’t want it!
I pray for everything to go well, be well.
I plead with Him.
Thing is, what my heart should really be crying out for is a steadfast spirit, a spirit that is not afraid, a spirit that is brave.
Because who are we kidding?
Even though there is power in our words and in what we believe, even though great faith pleases God, it’s not always about what we want and how we want it.
We can’t twist God’s arm.
We can declare again and again but we can’t avoid trials.
His plan involves struggle.
Genuinely following Him means walking through the fire.
Yet none of us want to.
. . . . . . .
While driving in the rain, stressed out and running late, I listen to Chris Fabry on the radio discussing the topic of faith.
“Faith without pain is what,” he asks, “what would you put in the blank?”
The calls start pouring in.
People from all over the nation share what it is to them personally.
One woman takes the words right out of my mouth.
“Faith without pain is shallow,” she says.
And ain’t that the truth!
You can say all you want about how much you trust God.
You can say all you want about how much you love Him.
You can sing and dance when everything is always flowing like honey.
But if you haven’t walked through raging flames, you have very little idea of what it means to truly worship Him.
To praise Him when no miracle or breakthrough is in sight.
To seek comfort in Him when it’s hard to hold on, hard to go on day in and day out.
I listen, I wipe my tears and nod.
Yes, yes, yes!
Faith without pain is shallow indeed.
. . . . . . .
Our desire for peaches and cream, cherry on top, blue skies and smooth sailing is completely understandable.
We are human.
We don’t want to hurt.
And there is one popular website that helps us chase the ideal life.
I know it stirs creativity and inspiration.
But, it also encourages self preservation.
I scroll through all the beautiful images and within 20 minutes I am thinking about how I need to do something nicer with my hair.
I need to do my nails that color.
I really need to work on my thighs and my abs.
I need that denim vest.
I need that Chevron maxi skirt.
I need to put some festive pillows on my couch.
Actually, I probably need to redecorate my house altogether.
Soon my mind is flooded with thoughts of what I don’t have and I’m sitting there thinking about how to better my outer appearance, how to better the appearance of my home, how to dress my girls better, how to make my little world perfect because apparently it’s not perfect enough.
Make yourself comfortable, it whispers.
Focus on yourself.
Make yourself happy.
Fulfill those wants.
She says it so well.
How we all want the prettiness of Pinterest but true beauty is found in wrestling with the ugliness of the world.
It’s about facing the injustices head on instead of turning a blind eye.
Being activists instead of hiding in our palaces.
Living sacrificially by disadvantaging ourselves.
This is what matters, this is the definition of beautiful.
. . . . . . .
I feel like sometimes our faith in Christ is filled with a whole lot of empty talk.
“Tell me what a man owns and I’ll tell you what he really believes in,” I read, “track a man’s time and it will show you who he really worships.”
I stare at the words, scribble them in my journal, and repeat them again because I am blown away.
This faith walk.
We make it all about us.
Our little bubble and it better not pop.
Then I watch this short film and every fiber of my being wants to scream in everyone’s face to snap out of it, to wake up.
Because my God, if our faith isn’t costing us anything then what do we really believe in, who are we really worshiping?
There is a world that needs us.
Us, believers, who talk so much about how blessed we are, how fortunate we are.
It needs us.
And yet we go on our merry way, filling our schedules over and over with pretty and splendid and fun, doing whatever feels good and easy.
. . . . . . .
Saturday morning I sit with my husband and we discuss taxes and bills, my next prenatal appointment, and what’s for dinner.
It’s the same ol’thing of dirty laundry and dirty dishes and the toilets need to be scrubbed and the girls are running wild in their room.
He drinks his coffee, I sip my tea and I tell him how tired I am, how the mundane sometimes drives me crazy, how I want to go on a vacation.
A long, long, long vacation where I can forget about everything.
And we dream for a bit then wander into the topic of suffering.
I tell him all the horrid stories I read about, how mind boggling big the harvest is, how the book Your Church Is Too Safe is wrecking me.
“I don’t want to live in that bubble of self worship,” I say, “I want to be brave.”
Many women out there are walking on a cloud of elegance and I want to ask them if they would be willing to get their hands dirty, if they would be willing to step out of their fancy brunch outing and into a world that is filthy and dangerous.
I think of the priest in Russia.
Father John Sergieff.
His every day thing was to go where none of us want to.
While people of privilege and status insulated themselves from that crowd of muck and misery, Pastor John did the opposite.
He would walk into the ugliest parts of the city filled with addicts, thieves, prostitutes, predators, orphans and widows.
He would lift their downcast faces with his hand and look into their eyes and tell them the most beautiful truth.
“This is beneath your dignity. You were created to house the glory of the living God.”
. . . . . . .
On my way home from a farmers market, I wait at a traffic light.
I look to my right and see a woman sitting on the edge of a sidewalk.
She’s covered in dirt, lost in thought, with no shoes and empty hands.
And I think of the words Sergieff spoke and they fill me with so much sadness.
Because I clearly see how much I have yet to learn about loving like Jesus does . . . . .