The posts from the STAR Retreat 2013 are on their way, slowly but surely the words for all the process are coming together, being formed on paper as they are being formed in me. Thank-you for your patience in waiting!
I am leisurely drinking my second cup of coffee for the day.
It’s winter and my house is seventy degrees.
I have a closet full of clothes to wear.
My stomach is satisfied.
And the words of Ah Ping turn over in my mind, rotating like a wheel, throbbing, pounding. My head hurts, my heart aches.
She said that Ah Ping, he could talk when he got warmed up. She said that she respected his honesty because few Chinese ever tell Westerners what they really feel about them.
And what he said? My head pounds with his words.
“You Westerners – you come here and tell us about Jesus. You can stay for a year or two, and your conscience will feel good, and then you can go away. Your Jesus will call you to other work back home. It’s true that some of you can raise a lot of money on behalf of us underprivileged people. But you’ll still be living in your nice houses with your refrigerators and servants, and we’ll still be living here. What you are doing really has nothing to do with us. You’ll go home anyhow, sooner or later.”
I remember what Rocio said, when she held my hands in her own. “Why do you have to leave?”
I remember how my tongue felt glued and my mouth wouldn’t move, because really…why did I have to leave?
I have curtains in every window.
I sleep on a most comfortable mattress.
We don’t have one dresser, we have three.
I spent almost $30 on a game in December. It was on sale after all.
I have oranges in my fridge and apples and bananas on my counter.
My freezer is bursting full.
I walk nervously through my house and I touch all this beauty and my heart fidgets. The rain falls on the righteous and the unrighteous. What is all this? Am I blessed…or selfish? I wrestle. I wrestle through this torment, because I don’t believe in it – that only some are called to be missionaries, to walk away from everything, to give all for the sake of the Gospel.
As I burrow through the questions, I can hear it. All God’s people saying it, all together. God gives good gifts. And my heart cries out, WHY? WHY does He give good gifts? What are all these gifts for? Why am I so rich when others are so poor? Am I just to accept this and go on living a luxurious lifestyle? I know what it is to have only fifteen dollars in the bank, to stare into an almost empty freezer, and yet even then I know it, the startling truth I simply can’t comprehend…that I have always always always had more than enough. That my poor is their rich. That I really don’t know what it means to give.
I know that God delights in beauty and has created us to be lovers of beauty. I know that He’s okay with us decorating our homes and bringing more beauty to our world. I’m glad I am free to delight in creating beauty and I’m glad that pursuit isn’t frivolous in the eyes of my Creator.
But what is beauty for? Why does God give good gifts? What does it mean to give all for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
Why do we create beauty? What is beauty for?
Two thousand years ago He said it, the words that keep running through my mind.
Freely you have received, freely give.
Ah Ping, he saw through the facade that mission work can be. And my heart aches because has this not been true for me? Have I ever known what it means to sell out, give all, sacrifice? My heart bleeds because my heart has not been bleeding for the nations. My life has not been centered on the call to make disciples…the call given for every man and every woman…not just the Hudson Taylors and Jackie Pullingers and Amy Carmichaels.
When Jesus said to freely give of all that we have freely received, He meant it literally.
Lord forgive me. I know not.
I know not.
The fingers uncurl, the fist unclenches, and I swallow hard and say it with Isaiah.
Here I am, Jesus. Here are my hands. Here are my feet. Here is my agenda. Here is my day planner. Here is my house. Here is my time. Here are my goals. Here are all my opinions and ideals. Here is my money. Here is my food. Here are my books and my curtains and my blankets and my clothes. Jesus, take it all and use it all.
Brick by brick, Lord, build your Kingdom.
May I be spent completely for You.