Thursday, February 28, 2008

Lent: Walls, Windows, and Maturity

I am married to the girl of my dreams. She is gorgeous, and a pleasure to converse with. We have a peaceful home (other than three rambunctious children) where we love, challenge and mature each other. Disagreements are seldom, and resolved quickly. We both enjoy the others company over any of our other relationships. My wife is my best friend, and I could not be more in love.

I own a decent house, in a nice suburb of Chicago. I walk to work, so I am able to place my daughter on the bus each morning before I mosey to the office. I have a great job, where I get to be challenged intellectually and work with a group of people I genuinely like a lot! I have an amazing employer, who uses his resources in AMAZING ways to build the Kingdom of God. I have great friends, a home church, and a wonderful extended family. We are financially comfortable and within reaching distance of being debt free (other than the house).

My life is near perfect. So I had to wonder to myself, why I resonated with James 1:2 -"Consider it pure joy my brothers when you face trials of many kind." After all, I live a fairly trial free life. I have no challenge to make ends meet, no challenge in my relationships. and no health issues looming over my head.

So, to be most honest I must confess it was all the physical things like the house, the job, and the financial security, that came to the forefront of my mind. These comforts, which I have deep gratitude for, feel like a wall between myself and my relationship with God. My trial is being on hand to the Kingdom in the midst of all these comforts. I need to be free to be at hand for obedience to God.
When we do something out of obedience to the Lord, there can be no other explanation-just obedience. That is why a saint can be so easily ridiculed and misunderstood.- Oswald Chambers
Even amazing Godly people whom I love have ask me
  • "Are you concerned about your kids education?"
  • "Are you being financially wise for your family?"
  • "Is the 3rd world a healthy place to raise kids?"
  • "Why do you need to be so radical?"
I can not answer these questions to any satisfaction of my inquisitors. The reality is I'm still here. I'm still doing everything the same as I have always done. The question I ask myself is if this is obedience? Would choosing the path of foreign missions be the difference between a wall and window? Is Chambers right that the path to maturity, is not the well travel road that seems right and logical instead it is the overgrown trek through brambles and weeds that can not be understood and is constantly questioned and second guessed.

The whole first chapter of James deals with this. The wisdom of God is in James 1:22 - "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. DO WHAT IT SAYS!" I am thankful for this trial which is calling me to side step the wall, and instead choose the window that leads to obedience. Here Am I Lord, Send Me!


Elysa said...

Asking similar questions here, Kevin.

The kids and I were reading about God providing manna and quail in the wilderness. He told them not to store it up but to just get daily what they needed and HE WOULD PROVIDE FOR THEM! All too often I think that we Americans let fear and "wisdom" keep us from stepping out and being radically obedient to God.

Pray for us. We are struggling and seeking and I'm terribly hurting right now.

Praying for you all. Let me know when I can send your first support check. ;)


Christi Bowman said...

Funny you should write this right now...we've been saying that a lot in all actuality there is probably nothing coincidental about I believe God is putting us on the same page for a reason.
As you know, I was reading Karen Gerber's blog last night...and I have been wondering, since last night, just what really are my storms/trials, and I think you have helped me to see what they are. I have been REALLY HAPPY for several months now, and for the first time it has NOTHING to do w/ stuff...and that has been SO freeing. The happiest part of being happy though is the feeling of being pulled away from my comfortable life...from my stuff. We are both being called away from our comfortable lives.
I read Seth Barnes blog earlier this morning and in it he said:
"Those who aspire to follow Jesus would do well to ask: Have I struck the right balance in my life? In what specific ways have I made myself dependent on God?"
I think this has a lot to do with what you are talking about. With all the things that make us comfortable, how are we dependent on God? We aren't. We LOVE God, but we just aren't dependent on him. I know a way we could be "the overgrown trek through brambles and weeds that can not be understood and is constantly questioned and second guessed."

Niki said...

From a friend who HAS to rely on God (and Him moving in the lives of other believers)for every cent we make, let me tell you that we all have our gifts and callings. Obedience is the only way to go and when there is obedience there is both hardship and great blessing. If you are called to foreign missions, then ignore the nay-sayers - there's never a shortage of those - and do it. If you are called to serve where you are, sharing out of your abundance, then do it. Ask God to show you what your wall is. Comfort can be a wall, but it doesn't have to be.

Some are called to give up the American way and live among another nation to share the love of Jesus. Like our friends the Hixson's who are living in Rwanda for the next 3 years - with their two young daughters. Some are called to take what they have and be light and salt to the neighbors and co-workers and other friends they have right here. It's the perfect example of the parts of the body.

Don't let others criticize you for being was Jesus the way he turned the existing world on it's head. :)

And for the record...we like your "uniqueness"! :P