Thursday, February 25, 2010

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Brown House

Last year I met a girl. Before I met this girl, I had been reading books. Books like Irresistable Revolution by Shane Claiborne and Crazy Love by Francis Chan. Books that urge christians to get off their pedestals and start getting busy with the work of Christ. To get involved with the messy business of people's lives. To trade in the American dream for a much better reality - help for the hurting and justice for the oppressed. These were exciting ideas!
But at this point, they were only that. Ideas.

I had heard that this girl, Amy, and her husband Adam, had made the decision several years ago to sell their home and their business and move to a place called West Circle. West Circle is one of the government housing development in our town. I saw Amy every Friday. After I heard this about her, I couldn't wait to ask her about it. So, the next Friday I did. I asked her to tell me more. She was worried she would bore me with the details. I assured her... she wouldn't. So she explained to me briefly what they do and why they do it. It's a long, beautiful story, but the essence of it is this : they wanted to be the presence of Christ to the children and people of West Circle. God had called them there and they were willing to make a lot of sacrifices to go. After she told me this I did the only thing I knew to do....I asked her if I could hug her. I had to hug her. Standing before me was living, breathing evidence that these things I had been reading about could actually be more than ideas. And I needed to wrap my arms around that evidence for just a second.

I believe in divine appointments - meetings inspired by and led by God. There is no doubt in my mind that meeting Amy, and later Adam, was by divine appointment. You can't know them without being changed. For example, when God asks you to adopt a baby from Ethiopia, it's a little less intimidating when you've hugged evidence of his faithfulness to those who take risks for Him. They've inspired me to get off my pedestal and start getting busy with the work of Christ. To get involved with the messy business of people's lives. To trade in the American dream for a much bigger dream - help for the hurting and justice for the oppressed. And they didn't do it with ideas. They did it with their life. With their story.
And I just think that's pretty cool.

Adam and Amy's house is known as "The Brown House". They live there. They do ministry there. They offer Christ to all who come there.


I am not a perfectionist. I'm too much of a realist to think that I will ever achieve perfection in any area of this life. My realism can, however, co-exist with another "ism". Betterism. I may not be able to achieve perfection, but it's perfectly reasonable to think that I could be better. As a result, I am constantly striving to be better, live better, eat better, mother better, exercise better, look better, pray better, worship better, teach better, learn better, cook better, clean better, organize better, relate better, listen better, love better. Better is one of those words that doesn't look like a real word anymore after seeing it over and over. I try to be a better wife, better friend, better sister, better daughter, better reader, better writer, better Christ follower, better advocate, better, better, better.

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!""Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."
Luke 10

And with this one passage, I am reminded that my "betterism" is so exhausting because I am trying to become better without drawing near to the Only One who has the power to create a better version of me through the transforming work of his Spirit.

And how ironic that Martha was just trying to be better. A better servant. A better hostess. The better sister. And Jesus tells her that if she really wants to do what is better, she has to stop trying so hard to be better at these things. Because all of these things are things that can be taken away from her. But sitting at the feet of Jesus, and what she will learn by doing so, cannot be taken from her. Hmm.

I also find that
It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man.
Psalm 118

And my favorite
Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere.
Psalm 84

And the most humbling by far
To obey is better than sacrifice.
1 Samuel 15

Because I think deep down I tell myself that this striving to be better is an act of sacrifice. I tell myself that most often it is not even about me. It's about being better for others. And with this I justify my "betterism". But this verse really gets to me. These are the words that Samuel speaks to Saul after he has failed to carry out the Lord's mission exactly as He asked him to. He did almost exactly what God said, and he felt he could justify that which he chose to ignore by making sacrifices to God. I do that. And Samuel tells Saul that God's not impressed.

So I ask myself, what mission has He given me that I am not carrying out exactly as He has asked me to? And this I do know the answer to. He asked me to love Him with everything I have and to love others with everything He gives.

And suddenly I feel just a little less exhausted, because now I remember that there are only 2 things that I need to be better at. And even though they are 2 really big things, it feels much more manageable than the 47 things I was striving for 10 minutes ago. And I smile, knowing that if I become better at these 2 things He has asked of me, I will automatically be better at the really important things from my other list. And with this realization, I say to my Holy Reminder-
Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.
Psalm 63

And finally, this is my prayer for you, my friends:
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.
Ephesians 1

Wednesday, February 03, 2010