Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Question Mark

I read this quote this morning: "The gospel is not a truth among other truths. Rather, it sets a question mark against all truth." It's a quote from Karl Barth, who turned liberal theology in Germany on it's head around the time leading up to WWI. Questioning accepted truth has been the mark of great revolutionaries throughout time, and this includes Christian reformers.

But does anyone notice how uncomfortable life is with all these question marks everywhere? We as people grow comfortable with the status quo and don't like it when people begin asking pesky questions that ruin our comfortable worldview if we actually think about the answers or the implications of the answers.

I know this first hand! The life of a church planter seems to be one giant question mark. Where are we going? How will we live when we get there? Will people be receptive to the radical message of the Gospel? Will we ever be able to afford to have kids, buy a house, or go out to eat ever again?! Is there a right and a wrong way to do church? If so, how can we do it right for our context? What does loving the city truly look like? Is it as messy as it seems? (hint: YES!) Do I truly love my neighbor enough to live this kind of question mark life in order to serve him? That might be the most disturbing question of all!

I can't answer most of these questions. There they remain with their question marks behind them, a constant reminder that I am not in control over anything of importance in this life. The only thing that remains without a question mark is the Gospel and more importantly the God who orchestrated it. It is beside this truth that I must weigh all questions I have and trust the God who knows and loves me. He is the God over the all the question marks, commas, exclamation points and full stops of life, and I trust Him.

Period. :)

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Oh boy!

Yesterday we had our 18 week ultrasound and saw for sure and certain that our little kicky baby is a boy! I prayed that baby would be less than modest for us, and indeed the very first thing we saw on the screen we all sort of stopped and stared at... The sonographer said, "See that? Girls don't have that!" I started crying and was in disbelief, as I had convinced myself I was having a girl, although I have always wanted boys. My husband looked pretty emotional too. When we got home, he announced, "Okay. I think I'm officially excited!"

But the past few days and weeks have not been all joyous. Along with the growing love for our baby, we are experiencing a deeper and deeper love for our church family, as well. But as soon as people hit the earth outside the womb, love gets a lot messier, and at times much more painful. I've heard people say, "Ministry is difficult and you must count the cost." I had no idea what that really meant until I actually began investing my whole life into ministry.

We have moved across oceans and continents at the call of God, given up jobs we love, friendships we cherished, comfy houses and routines. Like many of my other brothers and sisters in Christ, we have put our hand to the plow and not looked back. (Luke 9:62) We have left mother and father and sisters and brothers for the sake of the gospel, and in doing so gained a whole new family in Christ.

But as always with family, or sinful humans rather, there is pain. There is heartbreak and rejection and misunderstanding and offense. It hurts. It is messy. It is painful to have dedicated your past, present and future to something, and to feel as if people don't care at all.

However, I am re-learning in Gods grace that my past, present and future isn't dedicated to an idea, and it isn't for people to approve or disapprove of for its validity. It is dedicated to the cause of Christ and His Kingdom, and it is done only out of love for Him in hopes of being lovingly approved by Him. My true, sacrificial love for people can only stem from my love from and connectedness to God, or I am laboring in vain.

Like the child kicking around in my belly, I continue to grow and be formed by my Maker, loved unconditionally, and it is eagerly anticipated that I be fully formed and mature by the time this life is over. But I've got lots more living and learning to do before that happens, hopefully. So I submit to sanctification, no matter how it hurts.

And believe me, it does.