Monday, August 13, 2007

Living Vicariously

So, today I had the utmost pleasure of having lunch with a relative of my husband. She has been doing extraordinary things with her life--doing ministry outreach in Africa, educating people about violence against women, putting faith into action, etc. It is inspiring and it warms my heart to know that there are young women out there making a difference in this world.

At the same time, it fans the flame that resides inside of me and makes me envious that people are having these life-altering experiences and are actually DOING the gospel in other parts of the world. Am I DOING the gospel here in little ole' Central Illinois? Of course. But, there are so many opportunties I am not taking.

Sure, I preach and teach justice whenever and however I can do it. I subscribe to the newsletters, magazines, journals that inform me and keep me up to snuff on these issues. I donate money to causes I believe in. But....

Is this the right time to move my family to another location, nay, a continent? Probably not. But, is there ever a GOOD time? All I can hear in my ears are the words of Micah 6:8.

1 comment:

Thomas said...

I'm not really sure if you're reading these or if they're sitting out there in the ether of the internets but I'll probably facebook message you this as well...

My first reaction to your post is one of empathy. I have a friend who is crazy-involved with a literacy program in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Fortunately Sarah and I have had some opportunities to see her while she's back state-side at her home in MPLS. When she tells us stories of her experiences in Haiti & the DR, it is amazing and a great blessing to hear of how God is working through her gifts, abilities, and selflessness for the people of that region. It is also, rather humbling, admittedly in the 'i ought to be doing more' sort of way. I suppose if I allow myself to continue in this mindset, I end up with the rest of humanity. I think to myself, "Well, I don't really help with literarcy so I'm not adequately using the gifts of God to spread His name, work for His justice, and further His kingdom. I'm not even confident of my understanding of being called by God, so I'm not adequately using any gifts of discernment to the extent that they ought to be. I'm sure not an ordained Pastor who graciously helps their congregants escape from the imprisoning logic of the world with compliments, empathy, compassion, and prayer, even when those congregants are in another state. (That last one was you by the way). I'm know I'm not empowering the citizens of an impoverished community. I'm not even suffering in and among such a community in a show of solidarity with the poor. I do an enormous amount of work and produce an enormous amount of effort to _avoid_ such things; buying too many DVDs, drinking too much Starbucks, focussing too much on personal relaxation than service of the other. But eventually this mindset, this downward spiral, and this logic train must stop or we will find ourselves running 'full tilt boogie' into the side of a mountain. This mindset is not one that frees us, is not one which validates the sanctity of life we are given in the image of God, is not one which keeps us in a gracious faithful relationship with Him or one another, and may even be the beginnings of a poison which sickens the body of Christ.

So what must we do when we feel these sorts of things which diminish the life and work Christ has privileged and called us to lead? I think we must first return to the cross, to realize that these are sufferings we have in the midst of our walk with and following Him which must too be left at the cross, for he has conquered these sufferings as well. It is at the cross where we must leave these pangs, doubts, and questions. And it is from the empty tomb where a new well-spring of life must come forth which renews and restores us for our own lives and for the lives of our communities. I may not be doing all that I feel I should be doing, whether that should be is falsely understood as something to earn salvation or understood as something in response to the grace of God, but not even the quality of our faithful relationships (good or bad) can seperate us from the love God has for us in Christ Jesus. Whether you know it or see it or hear it enough, you are doing God's work in a way that is healing, renewing, and leading others in Christ's service. Your advice, compliments, and kind encouragement are a great blessing to me when I need them the most and they strengthen me to (hopefully) be a better student, husband, and friend. Even the shoddy vessel quality of facebook (ugh so many applications!) cannot stand in the way of the healing light of God you reflect onto me in my dark places.

While I do not know how pervasive the doubts and questions you are having may be, it gives me pause to stop and wonder if these are related to a personal sense of calling? Is this regret/doubt/confusion a true thing, a real pang of 'unresolution' with your current place? Could God be calling you to work for His kingdom in a different congregation, a different town, a different country? Possibly. Maybe these questions need serious consideration, then again ... maybe they're part of some old adam/eve trying to sneak back in the old noggin.

My thankfulness for your companionship, your prayers, your advice, and your inspiration continues nonetheless. I'll keep you in my prayers and am hoping that you may experience all sorts of warm-fuzzies and cheerful-bubblies at the upcoming marriage of your mum :)

God's peace to you and yours,
Tom Jackson