instagram of the old barn the first time we saw it
This one is hard for me, dear readers. I have written it in my head over and over and over. And each time it takes a different turn depending on which ugly becomes unleashed. Or which deep cesspool of my inner mind threatens to swallow me. The facts of the story are safe to share, but the emotions, well, that is scary. And dangerous. And really, where to start? What words could I possibly write that would make you understand the agonizing battle with myself that I experienced during that week of waiting. Alone. And wondering if I had the faith to live what I believe and what I have had the audacity to ask Him to accomplish.
“If you think it, live it. If you don’t live it, you really don’t think it. You are not what you think (or what you think you think). You are not what you say you are. You are what you do. You are Adam, charged to name yourself. But you cannot do it with words made noise – only with words made flesh” (N.D. Wilson, Death by Living). Ouch. Easy with the low blows, Mr. Wilson. Don’t you know that is a sensitive spot with me? Because I live in the world of ideas. Whether I am reading them, writing them, or dreaming them. When the Father began knitting me in my mother’s womb He picked up the thread called “vision caster” and wove them in a pattern named “prophet.” Doing is difficult. Dreaming, ah, that is my mojo.
But there comes a time when a story begs to be lived, not just told. A vision dares to be realized, not just seen. A word demands to become flesh, not just thought. And here I was. My moment. And it smacked me in the face with all my humanness and spoiled Americanness. And I am grieved by how I could possibly have spent all these years walking with Him and still trip on the same stones (and my verb tenses keep shifting – told you this was dangerous territory).
Stones like safety, good schools, privilege, opportunity, materialism, pride, prejudice, closet space. Because you know that last one is the hardest to swallow. Where on earth am I going to put all this stuff that I wish on a daily basis that I could just get rid of? Or maybe its having only one bathroom. Because someone, somewhere wrote the rule that we must have a toilet for each person and an extra for guests. That seems reasonable and necessary, right? Oh, and I forgot a walk in pantry. That’s a must. Surely God would not expect me to live without that. (We’ll save some of the deeper issues in the list for later, because I simply do not have the strength to unpack that case of crazy right now).
Nothing quite like realizing you could potentially walk away from the answer to years of prayer & longing all for the sake of closet space. Cue the self-hatred. And Mr. Piper keeps playing in my mind (insert the entire book, Desiring God, here).
And this, “Most men are not satisfied with the permanent output of their lives. Nothing can wholly satisfy the life of Christ within his followers except the adoption of Christ’s purpose toward the world he came to redeem. Fame, pleasure, and riches, are but husks and ashes in contrast with the boundless and abiding joy of working with God for the fulfillment of his eternal plans. The men who are putting everything into Christ’s undertaking are getting out of life its sweetest and most priceless rewards” (J. Campbell Wright).
Never mind that I could possibly live debt free on 20 acres in a renovated farmhouse, no less. And that barn! Apparently, I can’t live without a powder room.
And then this, “And once you live a good story, you get a taste for a kind of meaning in life, and you can’t go back to being normal; you can’t go back to meaningless scenes stitched together by the forgettable thread of wasted time” (Donald Miller, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years).
Never mind that I have and I can’t. And that I could have the opportunity to live a little bit of Haiti right here. Apparently, I need a closet bigger than most of their houses.
Really? Am I struggling with this? How?! How could I be struggling with this when I know that living among the least is when I feel most alive. Not because of what I can do for them, but because they show me how to truly live. Simply. And to love deeply. When all I want is to spend my life for the sake of others & the kingdom that I may know Him and the fellowship of His sufferings.
And, I know what you are thinking. Can’t you just do that from where you live now? Yes I could, but I can’t. Not when He whispers a different story to me as I sleep. Our story. I am not implying that our story is the only way for people to live and minister to others. But it is the only way for us to live. Without missing out on some very important chapters and the adventures & blessings they contain.
Of course, I forgot to mention that the farm is located a mere ten minutes from my house, my family, my friends. But, if you have ever taken a wrong turn in a big city, you know exactly where ten minutes can take you.
And what about where the girls will go to school? And who will be their friends? And I need a laundry room with a big sink in it. And level floors.
“Lay your life down. Your heartbeats cannot be hoarded. Your reservoir of breaths is draining away. You have hands, blister them while you can. You have bones, make them strain—they can carry nothing in the grave. You have lungs, let them spill with laughter. With an average life expectancy of 78.2 years in the US (subtracting eight hours a day for sleep), I have around 250,000 conscious hours remaining to me in which I could be smiling or scowling, rejoicing in my life, in this race, in this story, or moaning and complaining about my troubles. I can be giving my fingers, my back, my mind, my words, my breaths, to my wife and my children and my neighbors, or I can grasp after the vapor and the vanity for myself, dragging my feet, afraid to die and therefore afraid to live. And, like Adam, I will still die in the end. Living is the same thing as dying. Living well is the same thing as dying for others” (N.D. Wilson, Death by Living).
And right about now is when I begin swearing off books. Stupid books. They are nothing but trouble and anguish.
And then the day peace finally came. I just wish I would quit dropping it.
I was running a route near the YMCA that takes me through a neighborhood, on 86th Street for a bit, down Main and then back. I was heading back in and had reached the track at the Y. Should mention here that I had been pushing myself pretty hard desperately trying to outrun the demons of doubt and the spirits of self-hatred. With heavy feet and an even heavier heart, I was struggling to finish (or even start). Slow steps and fast breaths and tears mingling with sweat. And the snot, oh the snot. I. Just. Couldn’t. And then the rush of wings behind me. Strength floating on air. Majesty in the wind. The hawk swoops down beside me for only a moment, but time stands still. A “thin place.” He ascends, perching on the wire just above me. “And God raised me up with Him and seated me with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (paraphrase of Ephesians 2:6-7).
And I can, because He will.
“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).
And, if not, He is still good.
Even if I am destroyed, I will have lived fully and free from the what-ifs of regret.
But consider this, “What if we trusted the Author to write the pages of our days and finish the book of our lives for His glory and our joy?” What a story that would be! Words made flesh. Risks taken. Lives spent. Nothing left. But Him. Forever and always. Amen.