It is not easy to be a sold-out, wear your big girl panties kind of Christ follower. It really isn’t. When Jesus talks about denying himself (Luke 9:23), he isn’t talking about not eating chocolate or Fritos. He is talking about doing what God wants us to do regardless of whether we want to do it, whether we feel “called” to do it or if we think we are equipped. It is denying ourselves comfort, a tendency toward complacency and usually it means denying doing what we feel like doing in order to do whatever seemingly illogical thing God wants us to do.
I have been meeting monthly with my friend who is gay for over a year now. Do I have a passion for gays and lesbians? Did I feel “called” to be the voice of the church to the homosexual community? And what about my new inner city friend? Not only did I NOT have a desire to help orphans, I asked God respectfully to NEVER to call me to them (I know that sounds terrible, but I have my reasons). Is working with inner city teenagers my spiritual gift? Hardly. Did I feel a burning passion in my heart to help this boy? Not in the least. And last week after leaving two meetings in tears, meetings I had on the same day with my friend who is gay and my orphan buddy, I looked up at the sky and had only one thing to say to God. Really?
After about a day and a half of being once again, a little frustrated with God and how incredibly hard it is to follow His bizarre “follow me” callings, He spoke to me. Not that Morgan Freeman, hallelujah chorus kind of speaking, but better. I was driving home and I looked up at the sky. This may not seem like a big deal, but I’m not what you’d call a nature gal. I am what you call, a hurry gal. I don’t stop to smell roses, look at sunsets or other things that do not to me equate to being productive. I am a world class race through life and always, always take the freeway (aka, the shortest distance between two points is straight line (going 80 mph)). But in my frustration, I looked up and noticed the sky. The clouds were hiding the sun but the sun’s rays were coming down and illuminating everything. It truly was breathtaking. When I looked up again, I had a Spirit inspired thought (aka, God speaking to me). The clouds were hiding the sun and it was a good thing, because if they weren’t, I wouldn’t have been able to look at this amazing and beautiful sky and landscape; I would have been blinded and probably run into a tree. God reminded me when I saw a glimpse of that brilliant sun, that although I feel like God is often nowhere to be seen He is really a lot like the sun behind the clouds. Just like we cannot stare into the sun, we cannot look directly at God. Like the sun, all of Him is too much for us; too powerful, too brilliant, too omniscient. But just like the sun pouring out that immense light, beauty and strength from behind the clouds, God is not only very present, He is making everything radiant and more beautiful. His presence is as real as the sun whether we see it or not. It is out of His grace that we don’t see Him in his fullness, yet even in the limited way we experience God when we choose to look around, the God of brilliant lights has us in His full view and protection.
“Dear God, thank you for the roller coaster ride you have allowed me to ride recently. Although it is uncomfortable, I never know what I’m doing or what the outcome will be, in your sweet way you reminded me last week that You have this. You are making everything beautiful whether I see it, feel it or believe it. But that’s the point, isn’t it? God, help me trust that you are near, that you are who Your Word says you are and that denying myself is not about a “successful” (or fast) outcome. The point is that I trust you in today through tears and in scary places. The point is I keep the faith (trust what your Word says) when everything seems to be a disaster. Thank you that although the situations and resolutions often seem to be a complete mess, these two people you have called me to love and minster to, are nothing short of amazing. Thank you for making them easy to love even when they get mad at me or don’t understand why this crazy Asian loves them, loves you and wants them to know and experience Your love too. Nothing in the last several months has grown my faith and my capacity to love more than these two special individuals. So thank you…and thank you for speaking to me in the mysterious ways you do. In Your Name, Amen.”