Tuesday, 6 July 2010

What Do You Believe?

I had the beautiful privilege of visiting Stockholm this weekend for the first time in the 2 years since I've lived in Sweden (collectively). What a gorgeous city! Built on many little islands, it's a bit of a Nordic Venice :) Especially in the shine of the midnight sun!

Mmmm, I do love Sweden.

I spent my every spare moment on the island "Gamla Stan" which means, "Old Town". This one tiny island in the middle of the modern day city was once the entire original city way back when! I wandered up and down its cobble-stoned streets and listened as He made my heart sing with gratefulness for how big He is and how small I am and how big His dreams are for me, for you, for this broken, but beautiful world and how generous His heart is, calling us to be a part of its healing...

(Mmm, I love old doorways... It's like they represent something significant. You never know what's behind them waiting to be discovered...)

(Me on the steps of the Swedish royal family's residential palace, Drottningholm. I wanted to move right in :))

(Branda Tomten, my FAVOURITE little square on Gamla Stan)

I spent hours and hours walking around the city in the perfect Swedish sunshine; thinking and praying. I also spent hours in obliging little coffeeshops writing, working on my application to a mission agency called Pioneers, and pondering life by putting it all into words. I had a rather important email to write to my family this weekend, letting them in on some important ways God is moving at the moment, and how I, awestruck and head-all-a-whirl, am trying to hold on and keep up and... be brave enough to trust Him in. (I'll be letting all the rest of you in on it all soon!)

I have a cousin in whose life God is moving pretty incredibly at the moment too. He wrote a mass email recently letting everyone know of how he's feeling God calling him to leave his Christian university to study and serve Him at a secular one. There are many odds stacked against him so a reasonable person would think, "what?" But God just doesn't do reasonable the way we on earth do reasonable (THANKFULLY! Because who of us would sacrifice our son to redeem the world?)...

I was writing him a reply just encouraging him that following Him is worth it all; that God has indeed counted the cost but also covered it in every way, remembering so distinctly my first feelings of calling to ministry in Europe and how ridiculous it seemed and yet how DEFINITE He made Himself in my heart, in places I couldn't define. And as I wrote to encourage him, I was challenged so by my own words.

I still struggle with 'the cost'. I still fall into the gap between my flesh and my faith. It is my constant "entangling that hinders". I get caught up in fear over what choosing to follow Him down this 'road less traveled' costs. Going home for a visit especially heightens the feeling. I've written many many many times before about this tension between wanting to follow Him into extraordinary, yet fearing missing out on normal. Counting costs. As if He who gave His all for me is not worth my all... a billionfold.

I struggle to look at the world through His eyes. I see only impossible where He sees possible. I see only stupidity, where He sees wisdom. I justify ways not to step out and follow Him in trust more and more and more each day, or complain to Him about how much it hurts instead of counting it all joy. I fear. And I dream too small for someone who belongs to this God...

I've been reading a terrific book called "A Hole in Our Gospel" by Rich Stearns (soon to be reviewed here for the publisher!) and just at a very timely moment for me as I've been praying for His direction for when my commitment with Rescue Mission is up in September. I am being challenged left and right about what it means to live belonging to Christ... I've been thinking about how safe we as Christians tend to play it. I've been having conversations lately at Rescue Mission with a girl not interested in Christ because of His Christians. And that kills me. What our world needs are Christians who live like our Christ. And I am so challenged... If my faith is real, I have to live like it is. James 1:22 is ringing in my ears, “But don’t just listen to God’s Word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves."

And I am too convicted to stand still when He says jump...

“It’s not what you believe that counts; it’s what you believe enough to do” --Gary Gulbranson

So, like I pondered as I wandered around this beautiful city with no one but my God... I want to ask you, what do you believe in?

I believe in Love; His Love which knows no bounds, not even the bounds of torture and death, and expressed in Grace; which sees no colour or status or past deeds or present positions, but only the heart, and has compassion on the meek and needy (and we all have poverty of soul, whether we realise it or not). I don't believe in religion, unless it's the "religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless," from James 1:27, "to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." I believe it is possible to change the world, because we are loved with the love which touched empty space and left stars in its wake, the love which draws the ocean tides, and imputes righteousness to these jars of clay, anointing these ordinary hands and feet to bring love to the loveless, hope to the hopeless, rest to the restless.

And I believe it so much that I am compelled to do something about it. Otherwise... it's just air, it's just fluff, it's just theory. He's so much more than theory... He is life, abundantly. And I so want every last precious soul made in His image to know it...

...What do you believe? And so... what do you do?

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