What's Holding Me Back
I'm afraid. Man I hate seeing those words in black and white. I would argue with them, "I am not afraid, I'm bold and courageous." But I really can't.
Life has grabbed me up in it's jaws by the scruff of my tender neck and yanked me around. The reality of living in this broken place will do that, to all of us, now and then. Have you been jerked around by life lately?
The smoke and mirrors of the lies this world tells has left me searching for the purpose I was just holding on to a week or two ago.
The day after I found out my Mom has cancer I got an email from a friend who has sensed God laying ministry to Serbia on her heart as well. Her letter was filled with the same heartache of life that I was feeling. My friend Nichole, who traveled with me to Serbia, called me that week with her own painful news. Hurts and disappointments had piled up at her door as well. Each one of us was experiencing a family crisis, a limiting of resources, the weariness that seeps deep into a soul from being in battle.
It seemed that Mom's illness was the straw that broke the back of the proverbial camel. I was shaken. It pealed back and revealed other wounds tucked away. This past season of ministry left more scars than victories on the tender skin of my heart and I've realized I really haven't dealt with them. I've let the experience define who I am rather than what God says about me. Truth be told I wonder if I've really dealt with the scars from the ministry experience before that.
I found out that a young woman I mentored has divorced, I really don't know if she's walking with Jesus, and it grieves me. Could I have done more? The question drifts in on the wings of pain, "am I enough?" Maybe you ask that same question.
I fight with words regularly. Are they a gift God has graciously set in my hand, or a wisp of smoke, a dream I chase. Am I really a writer? It's hard to tell. Homeschooling, well maybe we shouldn't even go there. I've loved my time with my children, but I'm not at all certain this year has been effective in my son's educational process.
Just a few months ago I felt confident. What happened? I find myself in a slow crawl instead of a brisk stride.
Moving forward with passion and conviction to love the residents of Dom Veternik scares me the worst of all. What if I fail? Public humiliation, international exposure of my weaknesses, it's the stuff nightmares are made out of.
Laying Fear Down
I think, though, that a hands and knees crawl is a good place to be. Bowed down for blessing. Isn't that where so many men and women of the Bible found themselves blessed? Mary giving birth, prostrate, vulnerable, and in pain received the fulfillment of promise into her waiting arms. I remember childbirth, it lays you flat, takes your breath away, and drains you of yourself. I'm amazed that in that moment Salvation exploded onto the scene, as a helpless child. God sure has a funny way of doing things.
And so I find myself once again, obsessed with God's glory. More afraid I will miss out on the light of salvation dawning on the people of Serbia than that I will expose myself to public, international, humiliation.
In the midst of all of these vulnerabilities came words that spoke to my deepest fears of not being wanted, needed, or enough. An anonymous comment (actually there were a few) on a post telling me I was an enemy to the Serbian people, not wanted or needed, accusing me of false humanity. Instead of deleting the comment I've left it. Because really words intended to wound were a gift. They caused me to look more deeply at my motivation and ask God to purify it, to use what was of him and strip away my own pride and self, there is always work to be done in that area. The Serbian people don't need me, and I needed to be reminded of that. Traveling to Serbia, praying for God's goodness in their lives, witnessing love and mercy, that's a gift. God merely invited me to see what he is already doing, honoring his own name and offering mercy to anyone who wants it.
So, I guess for the last few weeks the fight has been one of engagement. Will I gather my wounds and fears close to my chest and protect them like treasures, stepping away from people and circumstances that could wound me further? Or will I lay them down as an offering at Jesus' most worthy feet as a gift of trust, bearing the scars as a reminder of his grace, and walk back to the fight of loving, praying, and going?
I choose the later, but it's a daily, if not hourly, choice. I don't really know what that means for my future with Serbia. I pray to return, I desire to work for their good, I hope to be a part of their story. And in this new season of church ministry I'm still looking for my place. I'm waiting on God's leading and provision for the next step. So, I stretch my hands open in availability to him, palms up, ready to receive the blessing.
Maybe you feel the same way, a little gun shy. Afraid to engage in life. Perhaps you'll be as emboldened as I was by this quote I heard in the movie "Mirror Mirror" recently. The King says to the Prince on his wedding day, after victory is won, "You found this kingdom caught in the clutches of greed and vanity, yet you did not retreat, you entered the fight, we all owe you and your brave compatriots a great debt of gratitude."
Our elder brother, Jesus, didn't retreat from this world, he entered the fight and now he holds open the door for us to join him. I want to enter the fight. Will you?