a new thing

“I feel like we’re right in the middle of a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ book.” he said.

Jason and I were driving home from our friends’ house late one night. These are the kind of friends who let you sit on their couch for hours and welcome deep conversations about life and God.

We’re moving back to Texas. The moving truck will be here in a week and I am a wreck. I am just completely undone. Because Jesus. Because of all that He has done here over the past seven years.

We have certainly had our share of hard times.

But we have also had some really, really good times.

We had every summer. We had the Fourth of July and fireworks and a sweet little small town parade. We had the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her mountains and lakes and long summer days that finally turned into nights. And we had camping and s’mores and conversations over campfires and starry skies. We had Sports Camp. We had that crazy cowboy hat wearing children’s leader that somehow managed to make over 300 kids scream when he held up a water bottle. We had the mission teams and the block parties and bounce houses and the cotton candy machine. We had the children from the community who received their very first Bible; for some of them, it was their family’s only Bible.

We had that Sunday when we set up for church and no one showed up. We had the times when we had to add more chairs to the school gym because everybody showed up. We had the snow in the winter and the time we had to push the church trailer up the hill. We had Wednesday nights where we all shared meals and coffee and conversations together. We had the times when the children ran in circles around the house and there were so many who came to Bible Study that we couldn’t all fit in the living room. We had Baptism Sundays; men, women and children bathed in that holy water from a portable baptistry in a school gym turned sanctuary.

We had community.

We had it all.

“It’s just so hard to turn the page when I love this chapter so much.” I told him.

Questions reeled through our minds. We admitted them out loud to one another hoping God was listening and that He would answer us too.

“I am doing a new thing.” He whispered to my heart.

He is doing a new thing.

He is doing a new thing in Arlington. Jason told me as I wiped tears from my face, “The Commons Arlington doesn’t stop. It keeps going. It touches eternity.” He is right.

He is doing a new thing in Seattle. Without me. And it is going to be okay. My prayers for this city and for the people – those keep going. They touch eternity.

He is doing a new thing in me and through me. And perhaps I am so undone because I am scared of what I don’t know and what I can’t control. I cannot tame the One who set the world into motion. I can only surrender.

Maybe you have sensed it too. He is speaking a new thing over you.

Watch closely: I am preparing something new; it’s happening now, even as I speak,
and you’re about to see it. I am preparing a way through the desert;
Waters will flow where there had been none. Isaiah 43:19 (The Voice)

how do we measure success?

As I mentioned in the previous post, The Lord has been speaking to me about two things lately: success and relationships. I am pretty sure that they are related. As a follower of Jesus, I wrestle with the word “success”. What does it mean? Is it a godly thing or a worldly thing? Is it both? How do you measure it?

Maybe the question I should ask is: How does God measure it? Then, I would know that it is a good and godly thing.

I wonder if it would mean loving your neighbor as yourself? Wherever you are, whatever you do, are you loving the person right in front of you?

And yes, your actual neighbors count to. I know this is not easy because sometimes our neighbors are really difficult people to love. Most of the time, it is easier to love the stranger at the grocery store than the person who is constantly in our lives. A stranger hasn’t had the chance to hurt us yet. They haven’t messed up in our relationship or had a chance to let us down.

I had a talk recently with some friends from church. We were being open about what the Lord was doing in our lives or teaching us and I shared that God had told me that I had not forgiven someone. I was struggling. I think the struggle was not so much that the other person was “wrong” but that there was no chance for reconciliation. In my life, when I have a disagreement with someone or when I do the wrong thing or say the wrong thing, I seek forgiveness and reconciliation. This was not happening in this situation. I realized that it wasn’t between me and this individual anymore though. It was just between me and God. I had to forgive this person regardless of if they would ever realize that what they had done was wrong or if we would ever speak again.

My friend and pastor said something that I had not considered before. He said that all of the fruits of the spirit are related to relationship: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control. The fruits of the spirit are not based on our intellect, knowledge, wisdom or even discernment. The fruits of the spirit aren’t about what we know but about who we are.

This was a beautiful revelation for me.

As I’ve wrestled with the definition of success and a desire to be successful – I keep looking to the world and comparing myself. I know this is killing my soul. I shouldn’t compare myself to anyone else. And I shouldn’t give in to the world’s definition of success and think I should have a certain job or amount of money or influence.

Instead of defining success by these standards, I should ask myself: Does my character reflect Christ? Do I love my neighbor, my family members, and the parents in the PTA or the kids on the soccer team? In my life and relationships do I pursue love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, goodness, gentleness and self-control?

I know that I am going to mess up sometimes. I always do. But I can say “I’m sorry” and I can forgive and I can reconcile. I can talk it out instead of going to my room and slamming the door. And the times when it really isn’t between me and another person anymore – it’s just between me and God, I can go to Him and find comfort, and healing, and forgiveness.

Maybe to love and to be loved is all one really needs to be successful.