I have been up at all hours of night the past week playing phone tag with the migration board in Sweden and my case worker and my host at Rescue Mission. But finally, I have confirmation that they will go ahead and process my visa for Sept 1, 2009- Sept 1, 2010, since they already missed my original start date (beginning of April). This doesn't mean it's approved, it just means IF it is approved, that will be the time period...
But what it does mean is that I was able to call the consulate in New York and request my passport back so that I can fly out to Sweden until the weddings in August and get back to the ministry there now! And how right is His timing after just helping at the Women's Retreat last weekend and having my ministry-heart re-ignited and my calling re-confirmed...
But still it is such a strange feeling. I have waited and worked toward this for so long.
I look back at what I wrote in my first week back in the states this past November, and recognize that it's now the same sort of strangeness, only in reverse:
November 22, 2008:
Coming home after living abroad for 3 1/2 years and not visiting for a year shouldn't be so hard.
I'm afraid I'm more European now than American..
Yet, I am still and will always be American.
Where does that leave me?
Homesick... at home.
Yet somehow, when I am "on the field", His grace covers all that and I don't feel the lack of them so much as the excitement of what is there. So... He'll do that again, surely.
I was growing too comfortable. And He's not called us to comfortable lives, really. But lives of passionately living out His transforming love, radical lives pointing to His righteous kingdom we were all made for and will someday confront face to face. That day is coming soon. And I so long to see as many hearts ready as possible... There is so much more at stake here than comfort.
And so, back to Europe, the field where He's asked me to lay down my life for Him, and back to the bittersweetness of living for Him/dying to myself there.
I am so excited, and so sad, and so eternally torn. I guess that's what living as spirit&flesh is all about...
(I'll fly out Wednesday, arrive Thursday afternoon)
There are a few books I've read I consider particularly life-changing or focus-shifting. I would recommend these to anyone. Among them are "Blue Like Jazz" & "Searching for God Knows What" by Donald Miller, and "A Chance to Die: The Biography of Amy Carmichael" by Elizabeth Elliot, and "The Journey of Desire" & "Waking the Dead" by John Eldridge.
Tonight it's "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan.
Read it, read it, read it!
Tonight as I read through the amazing Chapter 4, some of the scripture he quoted just hit me so hard. Luke 21:1-4 especially.
As He looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. "I tell you the truth," He said, "This poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on."And about Matthew 13:44 ("The Kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.") he writes, "In this account, the man joyfully sold all he had so that he could obtain the only thing that mattered. He knew that what he had stumbled upon-- the Kingdom of Heaven-- was more valuable than anything he had, so he went for it with everything in him."
Just today I sold my last earthly possession of any worth to anyone (besides my computer, but that's necessary for my ministry!) for $50.00 (a camcorder).
This journey can be so lonely and I fight feeling a fool all the time for taking such a different road. But HE IS WORTH IT. I know it. And if only one other person can come to see it because of how He leads my life, then it's worth it, right? No matter how hard it feels in the flesh, the spirit can rejoice and rest in His greatness, His love, and His care.
"I quickly found that the American church is a difficult place to fit in if you want to live out New Testament Christianity. The goals of American Christianity are often a nice marriage, children who don't swear, and good church attendance. Taking the words of Christ literally and seriously is rarely considered. That's for the 'radicals' who are 'unbalanced' and who go 'overboard.' Most of us want a balanced life that we can control, that is safe, and that does not involve suffering..."
Shake us up to follow You truly, and not Christianity as a man-made religion. May we be unafraid to take You at Your word...
You are not safe, not in our narrow view of what "safe" is. But You are so very good. May we not miss out on the goodness for fear of the unsafeness...
Teach us to be taken right up into Your heart
and hold us there.
May we give you all we are, right down to the last two pennies of our bodies and souls.
I'd rather have Him.