Tag Archives: questions

But I Said I’d Go Anywhere.

Way back when, I told Jesus that I’d go anywhere He wanted to send me. I’d be obedient to anything He told me to do. I’d hold nothing back.

And in classic Maddie fashion (is this just me, y’all?), I had a sort of idea about what that would mean. The sentiment to go anywhere was genuine, but my imagination and affinity for biographies won over my expectations. I was ready for “anywhere” to mean the 10/40 window, somewhere without running water and that I’d have to wear a head covering. Honestly, I’m still ready for it to mean that.

I was not ready for “anywhere” to mean Europe.

If I’m brutally honest, I didn’t want it to mean Europe. When I returned from my vision trip to Turkey, the Lord was quick to highlight Europe and I was as quick to shut it down. Decades of prayer leading up to these practical, “rubber meets the road” moments of my future and calling, and I found myself arguing with the Lord over the specifics. Excuse me Jesus, I said anywhere. Going from first-world to first-world on mission wasn’t what I had in mind.

Note: what I had in mind. Per usual, Jesus has different, and infinitely more incredible, plans.

Maybe you don’t get my hesitance. You’re pumped about what God’s doing in Europe; it makes perfect sense that He’d call me there. You’d love to partner with me, and really, with Jesus, in this.

If that’s you, thank you. The response of your heart amazes me.

That wasn’t mine. And for as much as the Lord has spoken about His heart for Europe and His Kingdom strategies in sending people there, I’d be lying if I said that the questions don’t still creep in. He’s graciously and patiently undoing years of preconceived ideas about missions, effective ministry, and serving the Lord.

When I was first introduced to the concept of missions, I met missionaries serving in Europe and the Western world. I loved what they were doing and got excited about God’s movement when they told stories, but I still held a subconscious notion that it was the missionaries working in the 10/40 window who were doing the hardcore work. I never would have said it (because, I like to think, who am I to judge what God is doing in other people’s lives), but I had this idea that those who were willing to go anywhere were sent to the cool places, the gritty places in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. You must not be as hardcore or obedient if God calls you to the minority world. If you get sent to Western Europe. 

There are so many reasons it’s strategic and practical. But even more than the things that make sense about ministry in Europe, God has been abundantly clear about His hand in highlighting and leading me there. Or at the very least, undoing my preconceived and prideful notions about His heart and work there. I’ll go into more detail when there are more concrete answers, which lends to more specifics on why and how. I’m just giving you the precursor to that.

Consider this permission to question how it makes sense for me (or anyone else) to be “called” to a place that traditionally missionaries have been sent from. The kinds of questions I never really felt free to entertain.

This summer, I wrestled with the Lord over this for weeks, afraid to ask Him for His heart for Europe because, deep down, I knew He’d give it to me. And I didn’t want to be called to Europe. We’ve done a 180 since then, but it was weeks of His tender, but firm, guidance and opening my eyes to how much of His Kingdom and plans I don’t get. So know that when I tell you, with all humility and open palms (aka if Jesus does a sharp-right-turn redirect, we won’t be shocked), that the Lord is opening both practical and emotional doors to Western Europe, I’m also giving you permission to have questions. I’ve spent months wrestling with the Lord through mine.

These are not “the hardest questions that missionaries get asked.” These were my questions to Jesus this summer. They come from the deep, often ugly, childish, or confused places of my heart. Way back when, I had these sorts of questions, buried deep down, and it never felt right to honestly ask them. Maybe if I had, there wouldn’t have been so much arguing with Jesus this summer. You don’t have to feel rude or like you’re being judgmental, because I’m going to voice them for you.

And if you’re past the questions, thank you for being one step ahead in the journey.

Lance and Heather, Hillary and Sol, Becca, Kristin, Dr. Pierson, Phillip and Stephanie, the women at Velvet Ashes, Kathy and Peter, Lane, and many more – It is your faith, your stories, and your prayers that have literally carried my heart to a place of more complete obedience. I’m eternally grateful for y’all and your heart for all the nations.

1.) Questions about the surety of “my call,” rooted in the idea that there’s no way that I’m actually hearing God fully – I’ve deluded myself, for some reason or another.

You’re just afraid. You said you’ll go anywhere, but deep down that terrifies you. Western Europe feels safer and you’ve convinced yourself that it’s God because of your own fears.

You’re right to assume that I’m scared. I’ve differentiated the posture of my heart between being afraid and being scared. Being afraid means that I’m living into a debilitating sort of fear, the kind that would causes me to to doubt God and His goodness. I’m not afraid. But I sure am scared, and I’m scared because I’m human. Yes, the idea of moving overseas by myself scares me. The prospect of making all new friends, of starting my life over in an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar customs scares me. All the logistics involved in the process scare me. The thing about being scared, that makes it different than fear, is that it can live in tandem with excitement and obedience. None of those things feel like a weight that would keep me from getting on the airplane; they just feel like being human. I’m not invincible and I’m not omniscient and therefore, things scare me. And the things that scare me? They’re as true for moving to Western Europe as they are for moving to Turkey, Uganda, South Korea, or Laos. It’s still a different culture and it’s still moving overseas.

This process has been a decade of the Lord doing and undoing things in my heart. I might not have been able to say two years ago, five years ago, or eight years ago that there aren’t certain fears attached to particular places. Or being single. Or being a woman. Or living among people with a language that I don’t speak. Or any of it. Jesus had not shied away from doing the work where He puts His finger on things and says, “can I have that? What about that? And this too? Are you willing to give me this too?” I groan, we wrestle, and, after awhile, He always wins.  I could point you to specific points in time, reference nuanced journal entries, where the Lord brought things up and we dealt with them.

If you’re calling me out for being scared, I won’t argue with you. You’re right. Call me crazy or normal or human, but it’s true – there are parts of this process and the reality of the unknown that feel scary. But if you think I’m afraid and am basing my obedience on that fear? I’d be open to that wise counsel if it was coming in the context of mentorship and deep relationship, because believe me when I say I know I don’t have it all figured out. But with all honesty, I can say that it is not fear that is guiding my decision or my prayers; if anything it’s the kind of foolishness and faith that Paul says is a mark of following Jesus.

 

You’re in it for comfort. There’s no way that you’re genuinely called to the place your family vacationed this summer. You’ve convinced yourself that it’s God just because you want to live somewhere you’ll have running water and a nice bed.

The best way to answer this question is to be straightforward and honest about the part of it that is true: there are some physical realities that are much easier in Europe, particularly Western Europe, than in other parts of the world. Running water, electricity that doesn’t cut out, and access to grocery stores are a few simple life realities that missionaries often struggle to adjust to in developing countries; you don’t have those challenges in developed countries. But that doesn’t mean that life, or more specifically, ministry, in developed countries is easy. Stigmatized Christianity, closed cultural attitudes towards relationships, and independent attitudes makes adjusting to specific places in Europe difficult in their own way.

Along that same line, it’s also helpful to clarify the kind of life I’m committed to living, both currently and on the field. Just because the overall culture may live in wealth and comfort doesn’t mean that will be true for me (or other missionaries, for that matter). Living like Christ means living generously, simply, and radically close to the marginalized. This means things like living in the same apartment complex as refugees, driving a used car or taking public transportation, and shopping second-hand. In places where the exchange rate is higher, support money doesn’t go as far. That requires budgeting, trusting, and a faithful frugality in stewardship.

To be transparent about the process, part of my conversations with the Lord and my mentors also included looking at the practical realities of my situation: I’m aware that I will be a young, single, white, privileged, recent college-grad. A place of difference that touches on every area of life – new dress, language, cooking, sleeping arrangements, lack of running water, no electricity, etc – would feel jarring. Obedience may mean foolishness for the sake of the Gospel but it doesn’t mean stupidity. I don’t want to find myself burned out after two years because I needed, in my own strength, to go to “the hardest place” I could think of. There’s going to be culture shock wherever I go, but if the goal is long term sustenance on the mission field, there’s a way (and people who’ve gone before know this) to do that transition well.

I genuinely believe the grace of the Lord is sufficient and that He will sustain me wherever He sends (both now and in the future). In my heart, I am genuinely ready to give up every comfort that I’ve grown accustomed to in my twenty-something years of life. Jesus knows better what my embodied personhood actually can and can’t handle (and for how long), and, to use an education term, scaffold me into deeper places of discomfort.

 

2.) Questions about the effectiveness of missions in Europe or strategic advancement of the Gospel in the nations.

But the unreached need it more. It’s not that the people of Europe don’t need the Gospel, it’s that the unreached people have never heard it. There are workers in Europe – there aren’t in other places of the world. How can God be calling you to people who have access to the Gospel and not to those who don’t?

The short answer to this is yes, people should be going to the unreached places of the world – but there’s a lot of complexity in that. First, in many of these unreached places, Westerners can’t even get in. And if people do cross the border, they often aren’t free to share the Gospel; their lives become a dance on eggshells, wondering who they can trust and doing the difficult work of contextualizing the Gospel in an unfamiliar place. I think that’s why, the more I study missional movements and read testimonies of the Lord’s work in unreached places, the more I’m noticing how often it comes from nationals. And in a lot of places, like South America, Africa, and places in Asia – they’re already doing it. There’s something to be said for the empowerment of locals, particularly in developing countries, in pioneering their own ministries. Let them be the ones to share the Gospel – they know the language, the culture, the nuances. Trust is present by nature of who they are. That’s not to say Western missionaries don’t have a part to play – it just often looks a little less glamorous than we may like. It’s often a background part, of support through resources, prayer, and short-term trips in the context of long-term relationships.

This is part of what makes Europe, particularly Western Europe, so strategic. The recent refugee crisis has people coming by the millions from unreached, creative access places. People who you could never share the Gospel with on the streets of their hometown are now living in places where you can. And the recent political and international climate has a lot of them open to it. It’s created new opportunities to walk with the marginalized and do life with people. And there are incredible practical, felt needs – for things like English teachers. I’ll be working with people from these unreached areas in a setting where they are more open, the government is less restrictive, and I have more freedom to build mutual relationships.

However, I want to be careful about minimizing the fact that it’s still Europe. It feels too trite to claim that I’m trading one way of working with the 10/40 window to another; I don’t want to make it seem like I view them the same way, because I don’t. Going to Syria is different than working with Syrian refugees in Europe. Because even if my “primary calling” to Europe is to work with refugees, that won’t happen in a vacuum. Having a heart for the nationals in Europe is important because they need the Gospel too. And in their post-Christian culture, most of them have never heard it. They need invested relationship, discipleship, and the Holy Spirit too.

Christianity is in decline in Europe and even though it’s still considered the major religion of the continent, most of it is an ancestral identity. State churches and cultural legacies can lead to the mindset that to be European is to be “Christian.” Secularism and Islam are both thriving. In many European countries, a vibrant life in Christ, rooted in the love of Jesus and active in the Holy Spirit, is all but non-existent. Working with my middle and highschool students has also highlighted that I’d love to do youth ministry with students who haven’t grown up in church and don’t know the Gospel.

To read more on global Christianity and Christianity in Europe, see European Christianity’s Failure to Thrive, Christianity is Shifting DramaticallyRestrictions on Religion, and an Interactive Map on Global Christianity. And beyond the statistics, listen to some of the stories of the people who’ve lived and worked in places like Germany, France, Sweden, and Scotland; believe me when I say they need the Gospel too.

 

But there are refugees in America. If you want to work with refugees, you can do that in America. It’s a lot of work and resources to move overseas, especially when there are similar needs in the States.

I know it’s a lot of work to move overseas. And I love working with refugees in the States; I’ve built a lot of connections working with refugees in the States. I wouldn’t be pursuing this if I wasn’t sure it was the Lord. Like I said before, while the “primary” motivation may be to work with resettling refugees overseas, there is also a motivation to work with the nationals. It’s not a matter of numbers, it’s a matter of obedience. Jesus is on the move everywhere, including in America; the U.S. needs more people working for transformation and caring for refugees and immigrants (if you want to get more involved, let me know!). But so do other countries. There’s a couple reasons, beyond obedience, why working with resettling refugees overseas makes sense.

First, it gives the grounds for a different sort of relationship. To teach people English in a place that is also not my home means that I’m offering a practical skill while also being a fellow sojourner. I need their community and fellowship as much as they need mine. A different level of trust and vulnerability can be established on the basis that I’m figuring out a new culture too. Because of the location of Europe, working overseas also enables easier (and cheaper) access to working in other places that need more short-term or establishment type work, like in a refugee camp. It may not be sustainable or appropriate to relocate to some of these places, but the ability to set up a short, cheaper flight to help set up something like an intensive summer English program makes the location of Europe strategic. It’s also more connected to the heart of refugee resettlement, like the UNHCR headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland or the receiving base for Syrian refugees in Lesbos, Greece.

 

Don’t let the conversation stop here. If you want some outside resources on this topic, here are some good ones: TEAM: Does Europe Need Missionaries, World Venture: 9 Misconceptions About Being a Missionary in Europe, 10 Reasons Not to Become a Missionary.

My Dual Identity

It’s one thing to say that my identity is in the Lord. It’s another to actually walk in that. It’s yet another thing to begin fully grasping at what that exactly means. Jesus has been clear in these past few weeks that there are two pieces to who I am in Him. What’s more, I so easily confuse the two; it’s humbling and convicting to realize how much of what I perceive as my identity is actually deeply rooted and a little backwards

On one hand, I am (or strive to be) the good and faithful servant. It’s the Matthew 25 or Luke 19 principle, the master’s praise to the hard-working, mindful, selfless servant. There are countless verses and stories that detail our call to obedience: to love the hurting, feed the hungry, share the Gospel, shelter the homeless, fight against injustice. To do for the least of these and imitate Christ. After all Luke 12:48 makes it clear that if we’ve been given much, much will be expected. We are called to obedience, to follow the Lord into hard things, to love our neighbors and lay down our lives. My prayer becomes “Lord, let me be faithful in all that you’ve given me” – whether big or small (which, in and of itself is really just my hierarchical perception of what “big” and “small” even mean). I want to be found faithful in my commitment to the Lord and to loving His people, regardless of the cost. And that’s a good, biblical, God-glorifying thing.

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However, when I start or end with my identity as a good and faithful servant, while partially true, I err in terms of living into who God actually and fully says that I am.

Because first and last, I am the beloved. I am only able to love because He first loved me, irrespective of anything I’ve done or deserved. I’m called beautiful and whole by the one who’s very body was broken for my redemption. It’s the childhood truth of Jesus’ love for us that comes not by anything we preempted or for anything other than the fact that He simply loves us. Except it’s not simple, because this love is deeper and stronger than we will ever comprehend; no human love even comes close to measuring the love through which God sees us. The only reason I can even think about leaning into my identity as a faithful servant is because I’m doing it out of a place of being unequivocally loved by Faithfulness Himself.

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I don’t know that the church has always done a good job at explaining the relationship between justification and sanctification, or our place as both faithful servant (sanctification) and child of God (justification). Believing that I’m simply the beloved seems to negate the command for obedience, for love of neighbor, and for service. It trivializes or minimizes everything I’ve ever done, sacrificed, or stepped into on account of the Lord. And if it doesn’t mean anything, I’m not super compelled to continue walking into costly obedience.

That’s the tension we are asked to navigate everyday – because being good and faithful servant does matter. It matters a whole lot. We please the heart of God when we walk in tandem with His Spirit. We are called to follow Him, to die to self, and care for others. However, the tension comes when we realize that we can never start with that. That can never be the whole foundation of our identity. Because if base who we are in being a good and faithful servant, we inevitably come back to a view of God’s love that makes sense, something that we control. “I know God loves me . . . after all, how could He not when I’m so clearly following Him?” It no longer becomes the whole, pervasive, inexplicable love of the Father but the kind of love we can earn, maintain, and understand. The kind of love that feels comfortable and makes us feel worthy.

I feel like the mental shift should be easy: I am beloved first, faithful servant second. Both necessitate one another. However, I think that this tension will likely take a lifetime to master. Because being beloved, for as beautiful and amazing as it is, carries with it some fearful connotations.

We know that perfect love casts out fear, but the fact of the matter is that my only concept for love is human love. For as much amazing human love as I’ve experienced, it has not been without failures, heartbreaks, and conditions. If I lean fully into the eternal, incomprehensible love of God for me, I inherently strip myself of any control. It becomes this wholehearted trust in the heart of God for me, that it will never fail or diminish. That none of how He sees me is contingent on what I do or don’t do. And even though my theology tells me that nothing can separate me from His love, the questions still seem to arise in my heart from my flawed, fleshly concept of love. Because what if I’m too messy? What if I lean into being beloved and then He gets disappointed in me? What if I’m not good enough for the Lord or He decides He doesn’t want me anymore? What does it mean if my obedience isn’t changing His view of me, isn’t earning me more favor in His sight?

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He’s pleased with me as His faithful servant, but He loves me as simply His daughter.

I think that’s a dichotomy worth wresting with, since it has everything to do with who we are, how we approach life, ministry, and the posture with which we go before God. I’ll probably be wrestling with it for the rest of my life.

Crying in a Coffee Shop

The other day one of my roommates and I were sitting at Blackberry Market, our post 2:00 class decision to hang out and pretend to do homework. It’s like the Holy Spirit decided to meet me in the midst of the lemonade I’d been craving all day and a rainy day coffee shop. Why He chooses these moments, I’ll never know. As conversation topics rolled into reading a devotional together, the tears quickly surfaced. What the heck. I promise, I don’t plan on crying as often as I do. It’s not like I plan to have these heart-to-hearts with Jesus and the people in my life, they just kind of happen. Pretty soon we were both crying and laughing and sharing the hot cinnamon roll in front of us.

After our verbal processing session, a quick run to Target, and some literal running on the indoor track of our gym, I went to drive my car back to our apartment only to find that my key wouldn’t unlock the car. The unlock button wouldn’t work and I couldn’t get the key to turn in the door. What the heck. . .again. I found myself on a long walk back to my apartment to get the other set of keys. A long, rainy, cold walk to the apartment and then back to the car. A walk through puddles that I’m pretty sure could be classified as small sized ponds. My sneakers are still wet y’all. Needless to say, the Lord and I had a pretty honest conversation through the rain and my chattering teeth. To give you a glimpse into the state of my heart last night, I may or may not have said out loud: “well maybe Your plan for me is to just get hypothermia from being out here and then I’ll die. At least then I don’t even have to worry about any of this stuff you are asking me to deal with! I wouldn’t have to wrestle with questions of who I am or have to trust you with my future. And I wouldn’t be wet or cold anymore!”

Did I mention that I don’t ever plan for these things to happen to me? They just kind of do, leaving me shaking my head and sometimes my fists but always marveling at the means the Lord uses to draw me back to Himself.

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These moments didn’t lead to some profound realization. They were just simple, unplanned moments where I met the Lord. Moments where He revealed pieces of my heart that I hadn’t been willing to look at. I realized that old fears had resurfaced. Old identity issues had came back up. There were things I thought that I’d worked through, until the Enemy snuck them back in and I’m reminded yet again of the lifelong battle that we fight.

It’s nothing new. These questions of am I enough? And more than that, is Jesus enough?

Am I enough in the midst of my sins and recurring struggles? The circumstances I can point to where I’ve obviously failed in loving the people around me? The ways I’ve failed to guard my thoughts and submit my desires for sanctification in the Lord? Am I enough for the things He’s calling me to that I feel incredibly unprepared for?

But then again. . .is He enough for the uncomfortable, challenging things He calls me to? Enough for the moments when I feel painfully alone? Enough for the sins that, despite the disciplines and fighting on my part, seem to have no problem resurfacing? Enough for every hope and desire of my heart?

Obviously, I know the answer to every one of those questions. I’m guessing you do too. I know the Scripture that combats every one of the questions. But just because I know doesn’t mean that I won’t forget. It doesn’t mean that I don’t need these moments in a coffee shop or in the rain where the Lord reminds me of who I am and who He is. It doesn’t mean I’m falling apart or that I’ve somehow failed Him again. It means I’m human. It means I’m in need of His grace. It means I’m still living in a broken world where the Enemy can still lie to me. It means there will never be a day where I don’t need to proclaim truth to my heart.

The truth that I am beloved. He is for me. He is near me. He is enough.

The Result of a Pensive Mind. . .on the Church

This summer has provided some much needed reflection and perspective, especially on things I’ve never really considered or questioned. Recently, that’s included the idea of church.

I’ve gone to church my whole life. I was never allowed to open my Easter basket before the sunrise service, and any money I made my senior year of highschool was basically spent on gas, driving to and from the church or the local Starbucks with church people. If there was ever a model church girl, I am pretty much it. I’ve been a part of churches that run the denominational spectrum. I’ve volunteered in every childcare room for every church we’ve ever been a part of. I’ve run lights and sound and slides and small groups. I went to every youth event, even ones where it was just me, my sister, and a leader. I’ve been on mission trips and service days, serving food, cleaning homes, painting walls, or playing with kids. Dinners, sleepovers, discipleship dates, and small groups. . .and the kicker is I don’t resent a single bit of it. None of my church attendance was forced. My parents never coerced me into service and I never begrudgingly followed friends to an event. I was happy to do it; all of it. I have always been a happy church girl. And I keep doing it. I’d do it all over. None of my questions ever convince me to stop, that this “church” is anything but worthy of my time and energy.

One hundred religious persons knit into a unity by careful organization do not constitute a church any more than eleven dead men make a football team. The first requisite is life, always.“ A. W. Tozer

So it’s not from a lack of love that I’ve been questioning what the church is and does; it’s actually from a place of deep care and affection. I truly love “the church,” because I love Jesus and His body with 100% of my being. I feel like there’s a lot of people talking about “the church” as the body of Christ recently, rather than the building everyone migrates to on Sunday mornings, Saturday nights, and Wednesday evenings. I’m so grateful that truth has resurfaced; we don’t go to church, we are the church.

But I wonder, do we actually get that? Does what we do really reflect that truth?

In the David Platt sermon I was listening too while driving to my grandparents house, he said something along the lines of: “We shouldn’t be inviting people to church. Stop asking people to come to church, because you are the church. The church should be going out to the world.” When I read through Acts and 1 Corinthians, I see the radical, communal, selfless, everyday life nature of the body of Christ. And when I look back at the programs and drama and punch-my-Sunday-morning-ticket or I-come-just-to-receive mentality, I wonder how we expect them to align?

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To be painfully honest, I’m struggling with it, this idea of church. And nothing is exempt from my struggle. I’m struggling in the services with the loud, emotional music and dynamic teaching. I know the people and their hearts and I don’t doubt the genuine nature of the experience, but I’m struggling with the idea that people are searching for an individualistic, emotional, satisfying experience, rather than self-denying service and relationships and the powerful (and yes, emotional) Holy Spirit that’s in everyday life. I’m also struggling with the quiet, reserved traditions and routines of church. Was a sparkling chalice and soft wafers, held by a stranger, really what Jesus had in mind when He said “eat my body, drink my blood, and do this in remembrance of me?” I love the diversity of the body and worship. I love how modern technology enables things like podcasts and Christian music and conferences. I don’t doubt the good in them because I’ve been a participant and recipient of that my whole life. I just have to wonder. . .is that really what Jesus wanted to be the head of in Colossians 1:18?

“I lack the fervency, vitality, life, in prayer which I long for. I know that many consider it fanaticism when they hear anything which does not conform to the conventional, sleep-inducing eulogies so often rising from Laodicean lips; but I know too that these same people can acquiescently tolerate sin in their lives and in the church without so much as tilting one hair of their eyebrows.” Jim Eliot

Don’t misunderstand: this isn’t a rant about the church. The last thing I want to do is discourage the good work the church is doing, especially the wonderful specific churches I’ve visited and been blessed to be a part of. I love the church because Jesus loves the church, which, as everyone is saying, is really just the body of believers. And I get it – this is the way things have been done for centuries. I can’t even write this post without using “church talk.” The physical structure of church is necessitated by the numbers and the brokenness and the need for organized systems. This isn’t 1st century Jerusalem; we don’t have to meet in communal, underground house churches anymore. So how do we “devote ourselves to the apostles teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and prayer” (Acts 2:42)? How do we “have all things in common and give to anyone who has need” (Acts 2:44)? How are we supposed to “meet together everyday. . .breaking bread in our homes and eating together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God” (Acts 2:45)? I don’t have all the answers, I don’t even have some of the answers.

I have to wonder if I’m wrong for wanting more simple Sunday’s, filled with worship and people and life. I can’t help but wonder if we’ve got it backwards. One of my favorite quotes is this one by CT Studd:

“Some wish to live within the sound of a chapel bell; I wish to run a rescue mission within a yard of hell.” CT Studd

It’s one of my all-time favorites because it’s one of the most stirring and convicting statements I’ve ever read. I want nothing more than to proclaim it boldly with my whole heart. It stirs me because I know it should be the burning desire of my heart, if my heart truly believes the truth of Scripture and the goodness of the Gospel. It convicts me because it causes me to examine how I truly live. Am I more comfortable being in church than I am actually being the church? Do I know what it means to be with and love “church” people, my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ . . . so I wonder, why does it usually center around the busy, stressed, cranky, rushed, forced, awkward, limited encounters I seem to have inside the physical church walls?

The perfect church service,would be one we were almost unaware of. Our attention would have been on God. C.S. Lewis

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I don’t know how a New Testament church is supposed to look in 21st century America. Greater than me have written much more in depth and theologically accurate books on that. I don’t know how a service like C.S. Lewis is talking about could work inside a church building. I’m not advocating for anything specific because I’m still fuzzy on the specifics of what I’m thinking and feeling. I just know that I feel like something’s off. That tears have come to my eyes in a brightly colored stained glass, organ echoing church and a dimly lit, drum pounding church. Standing next to people I don’t know, or people I do know with needs and wounds. People who find something inside these buildings but struggle in their daily life. Where are their hearts? Where is the community, the for-better-or-worse-you’re-stuck-with-us family? Where is the Father, and Jesus, and the power of the Holy Spirit?

I just don’t want us to miss the real Jesus. I don’t want us to miss each other. I don’t want to get to heaven and see how we just didn’t get what it meant to really be the church. And I may not know at 19 what it means to “get it;” I don’t know if I’ll ever fully “get it,” but I know that I can’t stop questioning just because I’m afraid of how the questions may shake the cultural notions I have of what “going to” and “being” the church means.

Just thoughts, just questions. When you let a pensive, happy church girl word vomit on her blog. . .