Today I am reprinting with permission a guest post from my daughter, Lauren. She wrote this in early December and I was blown away by the transparency of her heart as well as the beauty of her words. I wanted to share them with you as we counted down the days to celebrate the birth of Christ, Emmanuel, God with us, but in some His-ways-are-not-our-ways timing glitch, it never posted so I am sharing it now on New Year’s Day. I believe His timing is perfect, so we must need these words more today than we did in December!
At Christmas, we celebrate the Holy Babe who came to earth, but our Jesus didn’t stay in the manger. He grew up to turn the world upside down. He was crucified, dead and buried but death did not defeat Him. He rose again. And left us with the command to be His hands and feet–His Holy Body here on the earth. As we begin a New Year, with thoughts and resolutions to “be better” to “do more,” let us not forget that often times it is the small things that truly transforms our lives–especially if they are done in the love of the Christ who died to save us.
Here are my daughter’s thoughts on what that means to each of us.
“God is good. All the time. All the time. God is good.
This is one of the phrases that my parents used to send me out the door with each morning when I lived at home. It was like a daily ritual I could always count on, like saying “Loveyaseeyabye” at the end of a phone conversation. I could count on it like I can count on a clock to chime. However, there is a small problem with neatly packaged platitudes said on a regular basis; they become meaningless in our ears, like cotton placed there that we barely notice. Though I said this phrase nearly every day for eighteen years of my life, somewhere it lost its meaning.
Now, if you asked me, “Is God good?” I’d say “Yeah, I think God’s good. He blesses us with more than we need.” and I might leave the conversation there. Just an acknowledgment, nothing more, nothing less. That should be good enough for God, right? I mean, I thanked him and everything. Lets not parse words and move on with our day! I didn’t realize this had become my attitude, because I’d let myself be blessed into complacency. I had food, I had a community of friends, and I went to a school where the term “servant leadership” was thrown around like a pop culture reference. Though God was blessing me, I’m not sure I was turning around and passing the blessing on the way I should have been. Regardless, I began to see God being good as a simple, patent truth, not the miraculous awesome thing that it is.
Until I moved to Osage.
Now, I don’t want to be over dramatic here, but let’s get some things straight. My husband calls me pup. As in, puppy. Yeah, it’s a little sickening, but at least its not muffin or pancake or some other breakfast food. If you know me, you can probably guess why. At my heart, I am pretty much a lovable, loyal dog. I get excited when he comes home, even if he’s been gone for five minutes. I want to play most of the time. But, the thing that earned me this nickname? I. Need. People. NEED THEM. Leave me alone for more than 24-48 hours and I begin to get lonely and to an extent, fussy. Could I survive? Yeah. Do I like it? Not really.
So, with that being said, let me tell you of my conundrum. I don’t know anyone here. I don’t work because I am trying to finish school, so there goes the possibility of “work friends”. There isn’t a college here, so chances of meeting people my own age just went down significantly. No coffee shop, just a diner where the farmers go to shoot the breeze about where the markets closed the day before and what should be done about the algae crisis. The only person I have is my husband, who though is my best friend, is still just one human, and can’t possibly provide and meet every need, and nor can I for him.
This being said, it’s been a hard few months for me. I went from a setting where I was able to pour out and be poured in to, had many close friends to confide in, and had professors who genuinely wanted to see me succeed, to a place where I knew no one, couldn’t find a church, and found all those I’d been close to at least three and as many as seven hours away down the interstate. It was like my ship went aground, and though there were parts of my life I loved, there were parts of my life that I mourned and pined for that seemed to disappear in the wind.
The last month in particular I’ve noticed changes in myself. I felt like all my defining lines were becoming fuzzy. I started to loose motivation for school and the most basic of tasks. I began sleeping a lot. I started to realize I didn’t know who I was, what I wanted, or where God was in all of this. I’d been asking him theological questions for months, zeroing in on (somewhat) minute aspects of His character trying to ask “Is this who You are? We’ve made You out to be so many things, each with our own version of right and wrong based on the readings of different translations. Its like we’ve made a designer God of You, but I just want to know WHO YOU ARE.” I began to focus on these questions, and though I think wrestling is wise, I began eating questions instead of something that would fill me up. I turned from the fruit of fellowship to try to gnaw on the bones of questions that don’t have very many answers. I was inadvertently starving myself.
Last week, tired of walking through a desert, and tired of not finding answers I cried out. I was angry. Why had He brought us here? Why hadn’t He provided a job closer to Sterling, or nearby friends? Why were we out in this wilderness where nothing was mine and I was forced to be dependent on someone else for (quiet literally) everything? I just wanted to connect with people again. I just wanted to be motivated to finish school. Why couldn’t He give me those things? I went to sleep feeling better to have finally said my peace, but not very optimistic that anything could change.
And then God was everywhere. He gave an answer to every single one of my concerns. While I could lay out like… six examples, I want to leave you with the most poignant.
As I mentioned earlier, I have always been drawn to, and to a large extent, needed community in order to see God at work. In spring of 2011, I got the chance to be immersed in community life with a group of eight beautiful people where we shared each others burdens, prayed for one another, and tried to be intentional followers of Christ together. I saw God at work in so many ways, and I dearly miss those times and those people.
Last night, this was particularly on my mind as I sat and sipped my tea. As I thought about this, my mind turned to the church we’d recently attended. The people had been nice and many had made a point to come and introduce themselves, and try to get to know us. After we left, we both talked about how we enjoyed this service and the people most out of the other churches we’d been to. They insisted on giving us a visitors packet, and we even received a handwritten letter from the pastor a few days later. As I got lost in my tea, with these thoughts on my mind, a knock came on the door. Since we have few friends, I was startled but went to open the door. There on the porch was a lady from the church, holding something in her hands. We invited her in and she told us she had been happy to see us at church, and had baked us a loaf of bread as a welcome. Tears sprung into my eyes. We’ve gone to three other churches, and while people have been welcoming, no one has been receptive. We’ve been here six months, and no one has gone out of their way to welcome us. I was so touched by this woman’s kind heart and knew “This church gets it.” And how apt for her to bring us bread, the symbol of the Body of Christ, as she herself acted as His body.
I don’t know if that woman will ever know how much her kindness meant to us. If she will ever know that a loaf of bread changed something in my heart forever. She reminded me that more than doctrines or denominations, the love of Christ should show through in all your actions.
Welcome the stranger. You might never know how alone they feel.
God is Good. All the Time. All the Time. God is Good.” ~Lauren Lusk
Amen, Lauren. Amen. You warm your Mama’s heart.
As we enter 2013, may we take her words to heart and not get so busy in the striving that we forget that we are called to to make a difference in the place and with the people He has given us to serve.
Happy New Year.