Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Great Adventure...

The Facts:

Yesterday Greg received news that he was accepted into a service/missionary intern program based in Pretoria, South Africa.

The intern program is being founded by Eastside Community Church; a church based in the outskirts of Pretoria. Eastside was founded as a mission-based church and recently they have received some significant donations of property. Greg and the other interns will get to be the hands and feet of the new ministries.

Greg's main area will be in establishing soccer programs in the poor areas of Pretoria. Many parents have to work 2 or 3 jobs to pay the bills, leaving kids with no supervision after school. Many fall into drugs, gangs, early pregnancy, and even fall victim to kidnapping and rape. Establishing community centers and soccer programs will get these kids off the streets and into safe areas where they can still be kids.

The church is also planning major outreach events during the Confederation Cup in June 09. All the ministries established in '09 will be expanded in 2010 when South Africa becomes the first African nation to host the World Cup. Greg and the team will get to lay the foundation for some amazing ministries.

The Emotion:

I am unbelievably proud of this incredible step he's taking. It's so easy to look at the world and think, "God, why is it so broken?" Greg is allowing that conviction to ignite him to follow the Holy Spirit half-way around the world.

It's interesting, because when we heard about this program I remember thinking, "This is so perfect for Greg... crap." I think I knew right away that he would be leaving. Now, it's nice because God has given me a great peace that Greg is following His path, but that doesn't take all of the sting away. It still means we will be apart for a year.

There are easy days and hard ones. Sometimes I'm so excited to think about the lives that will change in Pretoria. What if one of these programs raises up the next Nelson Mandela who will lead South Africa a few decades from now? I am thrilled by the knowledge that God honors obedience by blessing us, and using us to bless others. Greg and the other interns will get to be used by God to do His work - it's quite an honor.

Most of the time, the knowledge of how much of a blessing this will be can override my selfish heart. But nights like last night creep up every once in a while. I was furious with God because I feel like we have worked so hard to honor God with our relationship. We've fought depression, lived apart for 15 months, and always put others before ourselves. But God is asking for something bigger. It doesn't seem fair. I don't understand couples that get to meet, date, and get married. Why does God make it easy for them? We've never had anything simple in our relationship, and sometimes it brings out jealousy in me.

I know that when Greg leaves in January things will be hard. Going to every wedding next summer without a date. Not getting to say goodnight (at least for the last year we've gotten to say it over the phone). No hugs. A thousand other things...

Very often people look at me as the strong one. If I exude any emotion people frequently think that I'm a dangerous form of time bomb. So I've tried to be strong around most people. But last night things hit pretty hard and this is what I wrote...

It happens in the stillness
With the rhythm of the crickets
The tears come

It happens in the car
with the words of an old song
The tears come

It happens when my heart
Stops listening to my head
The tears come

I know the truth
I know the beauty this will bring
I know the hearts that will open
I know the lives that will transform
But how can my knowledge
Override the tears of my heart?

Knowledge is not a barrier
It provides no protection
Words convince others,
But build no fortress for me
The truth strikes my heart full force.

And with that truth,
The tears come.

Now, I'm feeling better today. And I know God is working in this. It's going to be a challenge, but with every challenge comes growth and blessing. Besides, Jesus never promised that our walk would be simple, in fact most of the time He said it would be difficult. But it's worth it right? In the end, this is what life should be about - pursuing big dreams and serving God. It's all a part of the Great Adventure...

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

God Ordained Passions

It's out there. I just know it.

You ever get the feeling that something big is coming? I feel like God wants to do something huge in my life but won't tell me what it is yet. Sometimes I get so excited about it, it feels like my heart whats to jump out of my chest. How can I get this excited about something when I don't know that something is?

Mark Batterson said in a sermon a few weeks ago, "Your greatest responsibility is pursuing God-ordained passions." This isn't about our own joy and fulfillment. It is true that in finding our God-ordained passions those two will likely come with them, but that's not the point. This is bigger than you and me. This isn't just a good idea, this is a responsibility. I owe it to God (and should I be bold enough to say I owe it to the world as well??) to pursue whatever it is God has laid as a passion in my heart.

I'm trying to be patient. Sometimes I think I'll have my head wrapped around what God is sending me towards, and other days I have no idea. Am I supposted to go to seminary or will these passions evolve out of my current job? Will I be teaching or writing or speaking? Or is there something else entirely?

I guess for now I have decided that in order to continue on this path of "great responsibility," I'm not supposed to make any big moves just now. I think God is still trying to teach me before I'm sent out to do whatever this big thing is. I feel sometimes like the little kid who wants so desprately to play in the 3 feet of fresh snow that just fell. However, every time the kid bolts for the door, his mother keeps pulling him back to add one more layer of winter clothing - first jacket, then boots, then gloves, then hat. I have to remember that as hard as being patient is, ultimately if I don't let God prepare me this big something may never happen at all.

So I will leave you with three things....

1) A scene from West Side Story between Riff & Tony. Riff can't understand why Tony doesn't want to hang with the gang anymore, but Tony feels dumb trying to explain it...
Tony: You won't dig it, Riff.       
Riff: Come on, Tony. Try me.
Tony: Okay.
Every single night for the last month...
I wake up, and I'm reachin' out.
Riff: Well, for what?
Tony: I don't know.
It's right outside the door,
just around the corner...
but it's comin'.
Riff: What is?
Tony: I don't know.

2) I can't talk about that scene and not give the song to follow it =)

Something's Coming from West Side Story

Important Note: Richard played Tony in his high school production of West Side Story
and has yet to produce the video of said production.
We must find this tape.

3) I actually think this is one of the worst songs in the play. Here's a couple of my favorites =)


And, for those of you who enjoy Aquafina commercials...
I Feel Pretty