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Monday, September 20, 2010

Ripples in the Water

For years I've heard others preach from the pulpit and to one another that the church is not a building. Nor a denomination. Nor even a pastor. And oh my lands, y'all, do I agree with those statements. Because a church? Really, truly is a group of Jesus-followers who choose to gather together for worship, teaching and community.

I believe that.

But never - growing up inside the comfortable walls of Methodist churches from Rhodes Island to Hawaii - did I EVER think at one point I'd belong to a church that didn't have a building. That didn't have a denomination. And that didn't have a pastor.

I know! We take things literally around here, don't we?

Our little church, that meets in a high school (set-up/ take-down team anyone?), has been pastor-less for almost nine months. It's been challenging. I know that each of us is responsible for our own spiritual walk - a pastor or lack-of-pastor is not to blame - but I must confess that I've found this year quite challenging. If I'm completely honest, I've struggled these past three years in my walk with Christ, but the past nine months have felt particularly rough.

The amazing thing about God, though, is that He manages to work in our lives even when we fail to put forth our best efforts. Even when we are reluctant. Even when we run away from Him.

About six months ago, I wrote a blog post that scared me to death. I didn't actually publish it for several weeks... because I knew many would feel angry with my words. But God kept pushing me and prodding me until one day my finger clicked that mouse on the word "publish." It was my post entitled God and Adoption. And although many people loved it, just as many people hated it. Several emailed me privately, sharing that I was going to hell or that I didn't know Scripture as well as they did or... well, you get the picture.

I had a couple of panic attacks that month, mostly because I didn't understand WHY God wanted me to write on such a controversial issue. I must confess I felt a little like Jonah running from God's call to Ninevah during the weeks that post sat in my drafts folder. And when I finally did hit publish? That was me jumping into the sea just as Jonah did, before the whale swallowed him.

But that little post of mine? It was part of a ripple.

You see, Kristen of We are THAT Family read my post. She and her husband, considering adoption at the time, didn't know for sure where God was leading them. Kristen shared with me via email and with others via this post that those thoughts - ideas God led me to share - made her pause. It made her husband pause, too. And they continued to pray and educate themselves and to wait on the Lord. It awes me to know that the post God directed me to write six months ago played a small part in something so God-sized.

Even when I've been struggling in my walk with Him.

Because Kristen and her husband eventually heard from the Lord. And what they heard was that God did NOT want them to adopt. I know those of you with a passion for orphan care might find this heart-breaking news, but I didn't. Because I just knew God was going to use them in a very large way. I knew God had something special in mind.

I just didn't know what it was.

I found out a couple of weeks ago. Kristen and her family, praying for months and learning more and more, felt led to create Mercy House in Kenya. It will provide transitional housing, medical care, life skills training, counseling and education for women and girls experiencing crisis pregnancies. While some women within the program may choose adoption for their children, the focus of this ministry is to assist women in crisis pregnancies who wish parent their children long-term.

This brings tears to my eyes, y'all, because most "ministries" that provide care for women in crisis pregnancies say that care is not dependent on the "choice" of adoption. But the reality? Is far from that statement. I believe Mercy House will be different. Because I believe Kristen heard from God that it NEEDS to be different. And I believe that Mercy House will be a True Example of the love of Christ.

I feel so blessed to be a part of it.

I also feel so very humbled - and so very cherished - by my God when He allows me to be a part of such a thing, especially when I've been busy running to Tarshish, away from Ninevah, for so very long. I don't typically share our personal family giving because I truly believe in the Biblical Truth of don't allow your right hand to know what your left hand is doing. But for some reason I needed to share this story with y'all. Because it's meant so much to me personally. And because I truly believe in this ministry and others like it.

We'll be giving as monthly sponsors. And I pray that y'all will do the same with a ministry that God prompts YOU to feel passionate about. I am far from a cookie-cutter "good Christian" at the moment. I recently dusted off my Bible. My thoughts are selfish. My patience is thin.

But the ripples in the water continue to widen.

God used me as a ripple in Kristen's life. And last week He also used one of my archived posts as a ripple in the lives of readers at We Are Grafted In. God uses me... me... sinful, impatient, running to Tarshish ME. He doesn't forget me. He remembers.

He remembers so well, He led a pastor to our small, meets-in-a-school, almost-no-budget church. A pastor who will join our community in less than six weeks. A pastor who preached on Jonah and the whale yesterday morning.

(Can you tell?)

Ripples in the water, y'all. Ripples in the water.


Cedar said...

I have read God and Adoption twice since I found your blog. I keep thinking maybe I'm ready to express my thoughts on "Meant to Be" etc. then I read your post and realize I actually have nothing to add. Before I found your blog I attempted my thoughts on "saving children" here:
but I find my attempt pales to express my heart as your post says everything I've been thinking.

Aus said...

Morning TM - interesting post - glad you took the time to notice that God does - in fact - use all of us from time to time to do His work on earth! I've had a number of situations - some years after the fact - when "kids now adults" came to me with a "Mr. Aus, do you remember back when .... you really .... thanks" and yeah, those moments are a small part of the "rich are the rewards for rightousness".

Christians are what we are - open to all and whomever - doesn't matter what 'tradition' you were raised in....what matters is that you Believe and that you life your life like you Believe - the rest is unimportant!

Thanks for sharing the results of your Belief - it helps to understand that it all works in the end!

hugs - aus and co.

Georgia Peach said...

Elizabeth Elliot wrote these words that are penciled into the margin of my bible, "If you catch even a glimpse of the divine design (and who can see more than a glimpse of any part of it?) , you will be humbled and awed at least"

How awesome to be used by Father God as part of His plan to reach such a great need.

Patty O. said...

Wow! Thanks for sharing this story. I think it is a great example of how sometimes we really need to be courageous in following what God wants us to do. Also, it shows how we often have absolutely no clue what His plan is or how much effect our actions and words can have on others. Thanks for being so courageous!

kitchu said...

this was so hard for me to read.

i can't speak of that here, because that's equally hard. but let's just say i've been out in the desert ignoring God since i came home from China.

thanks for making me... look.

Wanda said...

Fabulous post TM - moved me to misty eyes. THAT is good stuff!


Debby said...

Great words. Also a good reminder of how God leads us in the right direction. Thank you for posting.

Wendy said...

Great post! I have been struggling with my walk too, which is tough to say sometimes because I am a chaplain. But we all go through these periods. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

sara said...

I'm really not a God kind of person. But I love reading about the ways that faith and actions and people's universes collide. Mercy House sounds amazing and you should be proud to have started that ripple.

LucisMomma said...

That's great, TM! So happy He led you to speak. Even when we feel for from God, He is just an arm-length away.

We are sponsoring an orphan in India. DD chose a girl from the list available. ;) She is not a true orphan; she is in the area that the tsunami devastated a few years ago and her mother cannot take care of her.

I am in love with Kenya. Got to spend a month with missionaries in Sotik (Kipsigis area) in 1989. So excited for Kristin and her family!


Snowflowers Mum said...

I believe that your God and Adoption post should be read by every single person considering adoption.

It resonated with me for many reasons.

You are wise enough not to get caught in the current of popular belief but to contemplate the bigger picture, and you don't have to be a Christian to get the message you helped to spread. Brava.

Aunt LoLo said...


God bless you and yours as you follow Christ and the promptings He sends.


LS said...

this made tears fill my eyes. . .thanks for the AWESOME so relevant reminder. . .

The Raudenbush Family said...

It is amazing to see God at work and be invited by Him to join in that work--doesn't take a rock star or an amazingly spiritual person. That's what's so cool. Just normal people with eyes to see where God is already at work can simply join in. Love that.

Queen B said...

I loved the God & Adoption post and I love this one. It is so cool to see those ripples...

Holly said...

:) He really is amazing. Just think..they could have adopted ONE child...but now how many children will get to STAY with their mommies and daddies b/c they paused to listen to God? Yippee Jesus!
And TM, seriously, someone suggested you are going to hell?
LOL sorry but that is just downright ridiculous!
But for the mercy of God...we'd ALL be headed there. Sheesh people!!
Thanks for sharing this. AWESOME stuff!

Laurie said...

Well, that particular God and Adoption post, I think should be required reading as well. Along with Love and Adoption.

I have no doubt that your 'ripples' are all over this world. Literally.

autumnesf said...

Amen. I mean really - what else is there to say?

And dry spells? We've been here a year now and the teen is plugged in and a member of a church...while the rest of us are still searching and feeling lost. Ugh.

Sharie said...

I struggle with this so much myself. I know that God is always with me, always guiding me, but I do not believe I need to go to church to pray. This is very hard for me considering I was raised Catholic and spent 13 years in Catholic school. I am Godmother to 3, Confirmation sponsor to 2, Amelia is baptized Catholic and my entire family is Catholic.

I am committed to raising Amelia with a faith in God, but I know I don't want that to be in the Catholic church. I just need to figure out what it does mean for us.

Thank you for sharing, it's good to know I'm not alone in my struggle.

Don Williams actually sings it as close to as what I feel: "I don't believe that Heaven waits for only those who congregate. I like to think of God as love, he's down below he's up above. He's watching people everywhere, he knows who does and doesn't care."

Colin and Jill Canada said...

The more I read about you, the more I like you! Maybe because I feel we have stuff in common...even more than adoption!


Cavatica said...

I'm not surprised that your G&A post led to such a nice place. I like that post very much myself and it made me think a lot. I know it took guts to post. Youse my kinda Christian.