Today I found myself in a beautiful old cafe in Haga with my friend Anthea meeting a new friend for coffee and 'fika' (sort of, refreshments). Haga is one of my favourite areas of the city, and one of the oldest. It is basically one cobble-stoned street lined with cafes and antique shops. There is a character to its beauty. Aaron, a young pastor from MN who has been working in Sweden for 3 years today, is heading up The Well, a godsend of a ministry that I'm starting to get involved in, and he wanted to meet up with us and "hang" :) In the bible, the well was the meeting place in the town, a place to draw water and to share in community. This young adults group in Fiskeback, The Well, is likewise about community and Christ. It's about internationals in this city coming together to know him and make Him known, to not just "do church", but to do life! Love and authentic relationships are the only way to reach into a cynical, secular culture like Europe has, the apathy Europe suffers from. And this ministry calls to my heart so.
Anthea, my lovely bundle of South African passion, spoke easily and at length about her relationship with God, her struggles with living in this country, her walk with Him, and the way He is moving her heart to pray and intercede for this nation. Aaron and I listened with rapt attention, and it felt so... life-giving to simply sit and have coffee the 3 of us so caught up in Him, so desirous of His ways, so understanding one another on a level deeper than reason because our hearts are attuned to this incredible Father God and our lives are moving in His outstanding ways so far above our own, and landing us all in this beautiful city in Sweden for this season. I had better fellowship in those moments than I have in church in months.
I marveled again at His amazing ways and sovereignty, Paul says in Acts 17, "From one man He made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live." There is no careless happenstance that has set any of us where we are in this moment. It's no accident that I found myself in a cozy cafe watching the snow fall thickly outside the window in the company of this South African and this American. It's no accident that I find myself inside this ministry which is struggling so internally, which is going so off-track that my broken-heart sometimes just longs to give up and be free of it, but which His heart in me moves to intercede and stand in the gap and hope for and love on in. His Word in Acts 17 reminds us that wherever He has us, in whatever specific location in the world, in whatever situation in that location, "God did this so that men would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us." It's all all all about coming to know and love Him more [and we cannot do that and remain untouched, unmoved to reach out to His people]. His nature of love draws us with His ever-lasting loving-kindness to the exact place in time, exact moment in history that we inhabit, exact relationships (or lack of them), exact circumstances around us, that we might look up at Him in that moment, in that time, and reach out to Him and find Him closer than we can imagine. And be changed by His love in order to pass it on...
Aaron leaned across the table at one point when Anthea had finished a story, and looked pointedly at me. "What's your passion?" he asked with intense curiosity.
I was slightly taken aback by the question. My passion? I have to admit to being about the most passionate person I know, whether good or bad. How do I go about containing everything in a few words in a verbal answer?
But it came to me. The summary of my passions. It's Love. His Love of me and my responding love of Him and love of His people. Every passion I have is an out-working of that, because it's all about wanting others to know this Love I know because it is... the very purpose to life in this blink-of-an-eye existence. And if we miss this purpose in the blink, we miss the whole point.
And so He has brought each of our lives to whatever point they are at, to whatever place they are being lived, that we might seek Him and perhaps reach out to Him, this God whose whole character is perfect Love.
To know our lives are so purposeful, so appointed, whether we realize it or not feels like waking up from slumber. I long for us each to live in the knowledge of this appointedness. Think about it: What would the world be like if every day we lived as if we knew we had been chosen by this God to serve a distinct purpose in this moment in time? I think that purpose is to Love with His Love. And just see how it changed the world at the Cross, and still changes the world everywhere it is given.
Seek hard; love harder....