Just Can’t Fight this Feeling

I can’t fight this feeling that I’m not making enough difference in the world these days. I get out of what feels like very productive meetings, or a good conversation or a good days work and just when I’m feeling in my zone…

I watch a video of workers pulling a crying child out of rubble in Syria. You can watch that here…but it will break your heart.

I see a friend who is desperately trying to get her nieces and nephews out of the war zone and to safety with their mother in another country and everything that can go wrong seems to be going wrong as she navigates the bureaucracy of other countries.

I read articles about the wrong being done to those most vulnerable in our country.

I see children being wheeled out of schools in cribs because of bomb threats.

I get a news update on my phone about another sketchy or shady thing that is happening in politics these days.

And I wonder if what I spend my hours and days doing matters in this world. I feel paralyzed and overwhelmed with the needs that are out there.

How did we let it get this bad?

Will we ever move many churches beyond the conversations about what happens with the church kitchen or complaints about Sunday School rooms?

Will people ever really care about anything more than power?

The hurt and the pain and the fear and the grabbing for power seem to be in the air we breathe.

This is a season of awakening and reawakening.

Many days it feels like a shedding of an old snake skin. The old one just doesn’t fit right any more and we need to get it off in order to be able move on.

I feel my heart is breaking for the world. But it is also breaking apart the things that have been holding it hostage so that it can grow back with a new freshness…so that it maybe be a little healthier than it was before.

I feel my eyes seeing the world, seeing our culture, my culture, in ways I never have before.

I’m writing this not so that you will worry about me…Mom, don’t worry about me because I know you will read this….but I write it because I can’t think I’m the only one.

I can’t be the only who feels a little lost. The only one who is being stirred. The only one who is asking some really big questions about life and purpose. I can’t be the only one. The only one angry. The only one broken. The only one questioning how I spend my days and energy.

My prayer for me..and you, if you find yourself wanting to scream, “does this really matter” or “you’ve got to be kidding me” or even “am I making this world a better place at all”…is that we keep doing the next thing in front of us. We work to be kind to the next person we meet. We try to give people a little extra grace. Give a little more of our resources to make a difference.

It can’t stop there though. My prayer is also that we lean into the pain. We don’t try to wriggle out of what makes us uncomfortable, what makes us angry, what breaks our heart because God is working right there. God is calling us. God is stirring us. God is in the big questions to push us to people, situations and realities we never could have dreamed.

We have to be faithful where we are, all while paying attention with our new eyes, listening to the beating of our new heart and listening to the voice of God. I know I’m not the only one who can’t fight this feeling and I don’t think we should fight it. It is a gift from God. It is a calling. May we answer the call to something bigger than little lives we can easily control.

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All Things New

A few years ago, after my uncle passed away, I was sitting around with my extended family going through old family photos when we found the one below. It looked just like me! when I posted it to social media, one of my closest friends even commented, “O that freaks me out. I seriously thought you had your photo taken at one of those old western style places.” It seems there was consensus that this family member is sitting on the front porch of my great grandmother’s farm house and was probably my great aunt. There was argument about which great aunt is pictured but it was agreed she appears to be holding a bottle of Jack Daniel’s.

old family pic I’m not freaked out by the picture, in fact I find great comfort. Knowing my roots helps me to understand myself better. It helps me to feel part of something larger. I put a lot of pressure on myself to make the most of my gifts, the most of my life. Sometimes, that pressure to “not settle for less” keeps from enjoying the moment or making the most and the best of situations right here and now. I like thinking that some distant relative will be looking at a picture of me in the future, and even if they don’t know my name, know they are somehow linked to me.

In ministry we often feel like we have to be the newest, the biggest, the best. Churches are looking for the next big fix. We are looking for the inspirational leader with the suave speak and all of the answers. I used to work for an organization whose vision was to “become the strongest force in the history of this Convention for reaching people with the message of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.” There is nothing wrong with wanting to make a difference in our world, and we do need to do things differently but we cannot lose site of where we have come from. Ecclesiastes 1:9 says, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”

When we begin thinking that the future of the gospel rests fully on our shoulders, that we are going to save the church, that we are going to save Christianity, we put ourselves in the God’s position. I literally just had to say to myself in the kitchen last night, you cannot think that you can fix the decline of the church when it has taken over a thousand years to get us where we are today.

No matter our calling, we walk the same path with the same purpose as our ancestors did. We have to figure out faithfully how to live humbly, love mercy and walk justly with our God today. We have to in one hand realize how small we are in the grand scheme of the vast gospel of Jesus but on the other hand realize that we are so valuable that God knows how many hairs on our head, that we have been created for just such a time as this.

Live humbly, love mercy and walk justly with our God.