land of milk

Holding my pregnant belly in my hands as I slowly strolled around a grassy meadow, I heard a still, small voice say: ” this is the land of milk and honey where I will deliver you.” These words touched something deep within me as I surveyed the expanse of my in-laws’ 140-acre working farm. Indeed, this season of my life felt very much like wandering in a barren wilderness, waiting for God to move.

We were vacationing as a family while my husband continued to seek employment near our California home. We had no certainty of employment, we had moved all of our belongings into storage, and we were temporarily living 3,000 miles from the place we were seeking employment. God was giving all of us a break from the stressful realities of unemployment so we could really hear His next directions for us. Our days were filled with the contrast of simple joys of country living and the everyday hope for employment news from California.

The bliss of “vacation” came to a halting reality when my husband’s job offer came at last— through an employment agency in Michigan! We had never seriously considered living outside of California and now I stood on Michigan farmland with a strong sense that God’s words to me had been gradually leading our family to live in this rural, small town.

Four months later, my husband and I delivered our third child in Michigan, navigated icy frozen roads and dark days of winter, wandered the maze of church hopping and house hunting and had only one constant in our lives—the fact that God was totally in control and we were not. It took time, but we finally saw God’s purpose in moving us so far out of our comfort zone. We watched God provide financially and professionally for my husband’s career and were able to buy our first home. We ended up planting a church out of a denomination that was more traditional than we had ever attended. The challenges of hibernating indoors through brutal Michigan winters pushed us to find creative ways to meet and build community in our small town. In the four years we lived in Michigan, God taught us daily what it looked like to trust Him out of our comfort zone.

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a blurry kind of life

A blurry kind of life
It is a hard pill to swallow when I consider the myriad ways I am lulled to numbness by my pursuit of material things. I am that girl who has grown up and swallowed the pill of trend, pursued individualist ambitions, and created a homogenous community.

So here I sit and listen to the song of justice being sung and I must admit I am extremely challenged. I am left with many questions:
How do I mourn seriously for the world passing by?
How do I, a people pleaser, become willing to know criticism for taking a position that might make other people feel uncomfortable or not want to be in my community?
Will I continue to ignore the consequences of my shopping?
How have I become detached from the global Kingdom of God?
How can I become a leader who is not marked by the love of power and prestige and reputation but by the power of love and insignificance?

Because of these questions (and many others) it is not difficult for me to see the need for a greater transfusion of justice systemically, not just personally. Ezekiel gives this warning 2600 years ago:

Ezekial 22:26-29 “‘Your priests violated my law and desecrated my holy things. They can’t tell the difference between sacred and secular. They tell people there’s no difference between right and wrong. They’re contemptuous of my holy Sabbaths, profaning me by trying to pull me down to their level. Your politicians are like wolves prowling and killing and rapaciously taking whatever they want. Your preachers cover up for the politicians by pretending to have received visions and special revelations. They say, “This is what God, the Master, says…” when God hasn’t said so much as one word. Extortion is rife, robbery is epidemic, the poor and needy are abused, outsiders are kicked around at will, with no access to justice.’ (The Message).

If the global systems in our world make it easier for us to choose a song other than justice, how can we simultaneously move in authentic formation toward systemic right-relationships with others? It begins at the beginning; with Jesus. DeBorst exhorts us to follow Jesus in “penetrating the numbness” in order to “make visible the odd normalities that have become business as usual” (RPD, Song of Justice). Oppose oppressive politics, call for the economics of a shared community, free people from oppressive relationships, speak out a deep yearning for things to be right! If Jesus cause was to uphold the week, ours simply will be to uphold the week. If even death could not stop Jesus from reconciling relationships, then there is no limit to the ways Jesus calls us to reconcile relationships. With all of this influence and power and wealth and education in our nation, there is limitless potential for those of us willing to take this power and utilize it as the hands, feet, head, and heart of Jesus. Even if my song is an “awkward inarticulate cry that blends with other throughout the ages” let it “well up from a profound dissatisfaction that beseeches CHOOSE LIFE” (RPD, Heart of Darkness).