Not the exercise. Not the encouragement. I’m referring to the ridiculous posture my kids assume when I ask them to do something lately. Maybe you’ve seen it? Hands below knees, back slouched, neck and eyes straight back in exasperation. Example: “Child A, please put your toys away.” Response: Chin Up, followed by puffing, throaty noise. Here’s the translation as I perceive it:
Dad…seriously?!!!? You must not know how important I am. Otherwise, you obviously would not be asking me to complete such a silly and menial task. I will do this because you have power over me, but that’s really my only reasoning here. Oh, and by the way, it’s quite obvious you don’t love me. If you did, you certainly wouldn’t be asking me to do such stupid things. Next time, think ahead better please.
How Different Am I?
Ever hear that verse how the sins of the father are passed on? As my wife and I were complaining about how terrible are kids are lately, I got to thinking a little bit about my own attitude towards my Heavenly Father. He’s asking us to sell our house and follow Him. He’s providing amazing testimony along the way, and my basic response towards Him lately has been the “Chin Up”. Example: “Tim, sell your house and follow me. You’ve been praying for my heart, here’s the way to experience it.”
Response: Lord, I’m good! I give you my tithes, and a lot of my time. I love you! I just meant I wanted to see You do stuff. I want to see miracles and junk. I want to be in awe of You and what You can do! Why aren’t you saving America and stuff? Why aren’t you healing people and doing miracles? What significance does me leaving my home and comfort have on me experiencing Your heart? What’s the point?
My heart is desperately wicked
Basically, I want to love God for what He provides, not for who He is. He’s God, so I strive to obey. I don’t want to offend Him, so I should read my Bible, pray, tithe, and do the occasional outreach or mission trip where I can pack a lunch for someone in need. Surely, He would notice my obedience and honor me for it. Never mind the fact that I’m huffing about all the things I’m missing as I do it. He should bless me any way cause I showed up. Do I bless my kids for complaining while they do the trash? Do I hug them and thank them so much for putting their dishes away, even though they were brats about it? Of course not. Rather, I’m offended at their attitude. It’s disrespectful, demeaning and self centered. And it makes me very angry. Should God treat me different when I treat Him the same way my kids have been? Is it simple irony that my kids are reflecting my attitude towards Christ?
We are two weeks away from signing our house away. I’m sad a lot. As we’re packing up stuff and throwing other stuff away, everything has a memory. I am completely overwhelmed and uncomfortable. I know I should be rejoicing, but I’m not. I’m perplexed. The Christianity I knew told me that anything was possible. Maybe everyone else heard it different, but I never heard too much about the March of Death part of the Gospel.
The Gospel I understood went like this:
Sometimes we go through hard things, but that’s okay because Jesus loves you and will be with you. He’ll give you something even better than what you’re experiencing now, so don’t be sad. It’s only a matter of time.
That’s probably true. But that’s not what I’m experiencing. I’m experiencing a slow march of death. What my family is marching in to is not something I see us “coming out of”. I don’t see the other side, the promised land, or even a Jordan. I see us marching in to the pain and suffering of those around us, and in my present state of mind, it would seem like a shame to wish to ever come out of it. I WANT to identify with their suffering. Not to make their lives better or to turn ‘them’ into something better. I can’t fully explain it, but God has given me a heart for the low. Jesus said it like this:
Matthew 5 (MSG) [The Beatitudes]“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. 4 “You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you. 5 “You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are – no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought. 6 “You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat. 7 “You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘carefull,’ you find yourselves cared for. 8 “You’re blessed when you get your inside world – your mind and heart – put right. Then you can see God in the outside world. 9″You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family. 10 “You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.
So why are we doing this? Simply because we feel God has told us so. We asked for His heart, and this is what He told us to do. It’s painful and it hasn’t even started yet. But it’s beautiful. If our purpose is to love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength; it’s difficult to fulfill that purpose with all this ‘stuff’ to maintain. I don’t say that to tell you to go sell everything, but I can testify that I am experiencing His closeness more than at any other time in my life (with the exception of maybe when I first became ‘Born Again’) through this process. I am witnessing miracles all around me. As I write this, my wife is driving to sit with her mom who she’s seen twice since she was 5. This is a MIRACLE. Another young girl gave her life to Christ on the street last week. IT’S A MIRACLE! My heart is happy and content with nothing. IT’S A MIRACLE! MERRY CHRISTMAS TREE!!! [sorry…bad reference to Miracle on 34th St]
Here’s where I get super excited and honestly get chills all the time thinking about this. Here’s what’s coming up in the last few months of this year:
- We sell our house Oct 7.
- Move into our friends basement, pay off the rest of our debt.
- I begin work on our first ‘discipleship house’ next week. I haven’t talked too much about this yet, but a friend of ours basically GAVE US the keys to a duplex in North Minneapolis. He said we can do whatever we want with it. I’ll begin gutting it, and turning the lower level of the house into a house of worship, prayer and discipleship for the broken neighborhood. Upstairs will house 2-3 men for a 6-12 month intensive training program involving: prayer, worship, study, fasting, community service, school projects, and outreach. The goal is to restore the “hearts of the fathers to the children and the children to the fathers”. More on that to come!
- I’ll finish “Messenger Boot Camp” the end of Oct. This is my 8 week evangelism course.
- Then? Maybe run the discipleship house full time or a handful of other options.
What I know is that God is not absent or distant. He isn’t waiting for me to figure out a plan. He already has one. He’s been waiting for me to surrender to see His plan unfold. He is moving. He is healing. He is doing miracles. I was just too busy to notice.
I’ve been offended at God, and had my Chin Up. It’s been hitting me that I may never have a house again. I may never get to host another Thanksgiving. I probably wont be able to let my kids play outside by themselves ever again. I’ve been thinking about all kinds of things I’m losing. But, [I say this without any trite intentions] I am literally gaining the whole world. The creator of the entire universe has invited me into a loving relationship with Him. He’s invited me on an adventure. I would be an idiot to pass that up!
Col 3 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. 3 For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.