#3. I thought I smelled Coffee, but God just wanted me to call out false disciples.
I thought I smelled coffee, but I guess God just wanted me to wake up and write. And making the coffee is something I really do need to learn to do on my own.
It doesn’t feel like I slept last night, but I remember the tossing and turning, and I remember the dreams, so I guess at some point I slept, albeit tumultuously? I know at some point, I woke up on a church pew, in an old church, where I was apparently living because I was homeless, and then the entire graduating class of Lakeside High School showed up at that church to eat Caesar salad and honor some famous football coach who had done something that I didn’t understand in the dream and so couldn’t possibly make-up to replicate and explain here. The point was, I was being exposed, in my opinion, to people, but the only person who gave a damn or was concerned or looking down upon me was…. Me.
Material possessions. Things. And Me. That’s what I’ve wanted to write about for days but haven’t had the chance. Because, I’ve been DEALING with my material things, packing, and unpacking, and repacking, and repositioning, visiting the incredible mini-storage my retired father generously pays for each month for us so that I can keep some of my childhood memories near me without having to utilize my in-laws anymore than I have at this point, etc. etc..boxes, tubs, etc.
Actually, there was a time, probably not in the so distant past, that these things held the answers, I believed, to whatever were the problems. The things of the past, I held as memories and keys to whatever needed to be dealt with and grieved or celebrated, and the things of the current, I upgraded. I have really nice mirrors. I love my mirrors. But remember that story about the man and bigger barns and stuff? I know I even worried about that when Dad offered the storage for us, but I accepted his offer at the time because I couldn’t function in our apartment even though it was the most well-organized and prettiest hoard upon which you had ever laid your eyes. It was NOT TLC hoarders, one would think.
But making space in an apartment doesn’t fix a life. Material possessions can’t provide sustainable joy. None of it builds a church, just like a marriage can’t exist without a relationship. God builds churches, and two people choosing to be vulnerable with each other and give themselves to each other in love, (love as defined in 1Corinthians, 1John, Galatians), that builds a marriage, I think.
Honestly, I can’t promise you I know because I worked 14 years building a church and then 10 of it supposedly a marriage too, just like my husband. God built his church though. And we are not your relationship mentors by any means. And now I’m headed to South Carolina with a portion of the material things that comforted me along the way- little need for manhattan mini storage. Because so much that I’ve saved wasn’t even worth saving or didn’t even care to be saved, and it’s time to let go in the freedom of trusting Jesus, the way I used to live when I moved here to serve the church.
SERVE- that word…perhaps therein lies some of my answers. Maybe what we should do with our gifts and our callings to follow Jesus is use them to SERVE Jesus, and not use them to work for people or paradigms. When ministry is arduous to the extent that you are choosing to WORK to matter or make enough money to make ends meet or buy a mirror so that you can find enough joy to endure the miserable Christians around you, then you need to pause MINISTRY and re-meet JESUS, and hang out with more non-Christians. AND, there’s no shame in that.
Churches are filled with PEOPLE and run by people, and most people…in fact all people, are not Jesus, and are used to the ethic of “work” and “perform” and “make us proud.” We all say we want honesty and integrity, but if it means calling out a sex-offender when we’ve known him our whole life, or admitting that maybe God hasn’t called us to be a church with huge numbers and a giant program or a sister-campus but actually a church with a sustainable budget AND some ministries that SERVE the neighborhood, THEN we end up backing down because THOSE THINGS are hard, not as glamorous, and don’t bring people or pastors or staff, or even laity, as much glory as they’d like.
Everyone wants glory. Some people find it IN Jesus. Some people buy mirrors. Some people pick apart pastors. Some people … well, the list is endless. MOST people, my point is, glory in _fillintheblank_ but not the cross of Christ, when Scripture asks us EXPLICITLY to have THE CROSS be the one and only thing in which we do glory.
I have “posted” so much over the years, over-shared, yet apparently properly shared somehow by some miracle of God in some people’s opinions, which still boggles my imagination, so I guess that spurs me to continue being transparent in this journey that started when I was just a kid and thought being a disciple would be fun.
I’m not ashamed to share what discipleship looks like for real though, and the truth is that I am no different than Peter, who even though he literally walked with Jesus Christ, still found it in his heart to deny him three times. Trust me, I’ve done my fair share of “denying” Christ. But how was Peter restored? Jesus asked him to tend His sheep, feed His sheep, if he indeed loved Him, Jesus. I don’t know that I can feed or tend anyone right now. It’s hard enough to keep food in the dog and out of Eden’s hair. And let’s just say I REALLY hope Grampy gives Eli TWO baths while the kids are at his house. But I can share that- and I can confess. And I can be honest about what God teaches me. I live authentically, in freedom and integrity, and in humility, submitting to Christ and where He leads.
Themes in my heart as of recent, in regard to this whole journey of discipleship and tending or feeding the sheep have in fact been those: FREEDOM. and INTEGRITY. And I suppose HUMILITY too because you cannot be free and honest without learning to be humble, IMO.
I may not have all the answers, and I may do a lot of things WRONG on a daily basis, but my children are going to know that I’m looking for the right answers and confessing my wrongs daily, and calling out those wrongs, not settling for them, and not hiding them because I’m too ashamed of what others would think if they knew I was just as broken as they are, or living in a church, and sleeping on a pew. (I’m not really. That was a reference to my dream. Calm down.)
If we give our lives to Jesus to be disciples or to set captives free as I so brazenly did when I was a young chickadee just off the adrenaline and endorphins of deliverance from my first round of traumas and supernatural, miraculous, salvation by grace through faith, then we have to be willing to keep at it when God digs even deeper into the idols of our heart and our faith and exposes that disciples often disciple out of fraudulent hearts and thus make fraudulent disciples. Gasp.
Blink once because it’s true. Blink twice if you actually already knew this and just wanted someone else to say it too…. like maybe one of those dang disciple-makers.
We have to keep at it when God chooses to use our living sacrifice to call out the fraudulence that permeates so many pastorates and myriads of marriages as well as ourselves. We can’t be ashamed to be counted among the sinners and those who are in need of the body and the blood. There’s no way I can teach anyone how to do something I didn’t learn how to do myself. Amen.
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