Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Quitting comfortable.

I'm unsettled.

My dear friend and mentor, Marla, mentioned reading this book, and because I like to live on the edge, I joined the read-along over on her blog. We are one week into this thing, and already it's been a wild ride leaving me all sorts of rattled and jumbled.


Not exactly the feel-good book of the year.

And though my heart is SO not ready, Radical is exactly what my soul needs.

I am overflowing with so many thoughts and emotions and realizations, but I am far from being able to articulate most of them.

And though I fear the vulnerability that comes with putting my crap out there, stick with me as I begin to process one of those realizations that is really working its way down, down, down into a more digestible form.

David Platt, the book's author, is on a mission to take back our faith from the American dream. On page 7 he writes, "somewhere along the way we had missed what is radical about our faith and replaced it with what is comfortable."

Comfortable. Comfortable. Comfortable.

That's exactly what I am.

Comfortable.

And that's when it hit me. Comfortable is exactly what I don't want to be but I'm so afraid to quit.

You see, in my heart, I've always had this urge to do more - something bigger - something more profound than living this cozy life in the 'burbs, surrounded by the cushions of my generous family and dear, dear friends. Even yesterday I found myself in a conversation with a friend, telling her that if my husband was up for it, I'd move to a "lesser" part of town (aka, the ghetto) as a way to reach out to a hurting community. Take it a step farther, and I'd even move to a lesser part of the world, if my husband felt called.

But I'm realizing that much of that desire has little to do with Jesus and a lot to do with me. You see, I can visualize myself in the ghetto (just a few highway exits away from my warm and hospitable extended family) opening my door to neighboring Americans who happen to have a smaller checking account balance than we do. I can even visualize myself in Africa singing Jesus Loves Me with children who look nothing like my own but still call me Ma-Ma and think I'm somethin' special because I'm from America.

But here's where it gets ugly. I'd be willing to move in the name of Jesus, to a place where nobody knows my name, but I haven't been willing to open my doors to equally "needy" folks in this sheltered and thriving community because of my own selfish motives. Sure, I've thought about it. But then satan slips in and tells me, "Why would you want to do that? They'll just think you're crazy once they really get to know you Jesus freaks, and heck, they don't need your hospitality anyhow." You see, I don't want these people who know me as "the sweet girl next door" to know me as the "Jesus freak." Because that'd be plain awkward.

And about Africa. In my cute little daydream, we're sitting in a circle, singing songs and braiding hair. It's like something you'd sail by on It's a Small World. We might stay a while, pass along a box of Bibles and leave behind a generous check, and then return to the land of greed and consumerism via an air-conditioned 747.

But if Africa was really Iran, and those cute little kids were actually men with weapons accompanied by death threats and severe persecution - Are you kidding me? Keep me the hell away from that.

But here's the radical reality. Those terrorists in Iran are just as deserving of God's Kingdom as those beautiful African babies. You see, I don't want the radical calling. I'm only cool with being called if it's cute and returns me safely to cozy.

And my have-known-me-as-the-girl-next-door-for-four-years neighbors are EXACTLY who God is calling me to love IN JESUS' NAME right now. Forget inner-city fantasies. God has me in this zip code, within these walls, at this very time. Why the heck would He call me to serve in a different community if I can't even get my stinkin' act together in the one where He currently has me? Especially when this community comes with freedom of religion?

Crap.

But before I let satan tell me I suck, because trust me, I'm tempted to end this entire blog post with those two words in bold font - all caps, I am going to thank GOD for humbling me enough to realize what desperately needs to change in my life.

Comfortable. Comfortable. Comfortable.

I live in the most comfortable country in the world, and it's about darn time that I step out just a smidge in an attempt to share my Jesus.

Am I really so darn selfish as to not glorify God in my interactions with those around me? Do I really have so little faith that I don't believe God will take care of what people think when they see us pray or read the Bible or make a decision based on Godly principles as opposed to secular ones?

Thank you, Lord, for speaking directly to my heart and soul as I begin this radical journey. And help me as I take steps of faith toward you and away from me. Because my nature tells me to think of me, me, me. And then me some more.

But I know, deep in my heart and at the core of my soul, that there is so much more to be gained when I think of You. And I never ever want to quit that.




*For more reactions to Chapter One of Radical, check this out.

32 comments:

  1. "But if Africa was really Iran, and those cute little kids were actually men with weapons accompanied by death threats and severe persecution - Are you kidding me? Keep me the hell away from that."

    Preach.

    Ok fine, I'm in. Really didn't want to read it, especially with other people on a blog... but after the sermon on Sunday and reading this I'm in.

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  2. I am thankful God has you in this zip code. :). People in Dublin need Jesus just as much as the people in Africa and Iran. If everyone left for Iran, Cambodia, Africa, who would be Jesus to the people in the suburbs? Any and all...not just Dublin. I love you, friend.

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  3. I don't think I like you anymore. Because this post made me WAY too uncomfortable. You brought it HOME instead of OUT THERE where I like it. I want to be on the It's a Small World float. That's radical, right??

    Man, I love you.

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  4. Jess - You rock, gal.

    Amy - I hear ya. But there's something so unsettling about the fact that Americans have heard the Gospel over and over and over again. And there's upteen churches lining our streets and freedom to worship promised in our Constitution. But then there are parts of the world where people haven't even heard of Jesus! And parts of the world where church means sneaking underground to gather in a dark room. And parts of the world where lives are threatened for even speaking His name.

    It certainly doesn't mean that I'm on the next flight to the Middle East. But it does make me wonder how we can better use our resources to help those who have never even heard the Good News.

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  5. I love reading your posts! I am always challenged by you! I love being comfortable and this book is telling me to let go, heck no! That was totally my initial thought. Forget it! But I'm changing my mind slowly. I will have a post but I'm currently in the car on my way home! I love you

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  6. "I'd be willing to move in the name of Jesus, to a place where nobody knows my name, but I haven't been willing to open my doors to equally "needy" folks in this sheltered and thriving community because of my own selfish motives."

    I have been wrestling with God about this for a few weeks. Mostly because on the heels of Radical I read Jen Hatmaker's Interrupted which is much more focused on living on mission right smack dab in the middle of where God planted you.

    We don't live in a nice neighborhood (ask Marla) by the standards of some, but it's hardly the ghetto. But the people who surround our house . . . they are, well, a little rough around the edges. And I'm afraid of them. I'd rather go to Africa, and I'm not kidding. But God planted me HERE. And so now I have to figure out how to be a radical in my own neighborhood.

    I could have written this post word for word. I get you.

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  7. Oh, I heart this post. I am so comfy being comfortable. I am scared to take this "Radical" journey.

    But everything in your post is so right on! We can do this!

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  8. Marla - you started this mess :)
    Denise - can't wait to hear more about what God is up to in your heart!
    Megan - Guess what book is next on my list? Thanks for the recommendation, friend.
    Jaime - Thanks for the encouragement. I needed it.

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  9. your post resonates with what has been on my heart the last couple of years. i long to go elsewhere on missions, but God has kept us here. i have been frustrated, asking God why do i have to stay here, why can't i go to the mission field? then my eyes were opened and i realized how many people in my neighbourhood, at my kids' school don't know Christ. so we're stepping out and extending hospitality, building bridges and being honest about our faith. slowly, we're making a difference. nothing too big yet, but we are so excited about what God is going to do right here!

    we are blessed with living in a lower-income, multicultural community. at our children's school of just over 200 students, there are 38 different languages spoken. it's awesome!

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  10. Grace - Thank you for your inspiration! I know that God's plan for me right now is perfect. And it's about darn-time that I start making the most of it.

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  11. I understand you and I love you.

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  12. good post sister...i think it's a lot easier to go on a mission for two weeks on the other side of the world then to be a missionary within your friends a family. i'm thankful though, that i have you as a partner missionary with me.

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  13. Sweet Ali, your vulnerability and sincere love for Jesus makes me so thankful you are on this Radical journey with me. I know as a teacher I am always trying to be "politically correct" and your post reminded me that I need not be ashamed of my faith even if that makes me a Jesus Freak. Afterall as Platt said, "We will discover that our meaning is found in community and our life is found in giving ourselves for the sake of others in the church, among the lost, and among the poor."(21) I love you and thank you for painting beautiful pictures with these poignant words.

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  14. YES! Comfortable and balanced is where I've been for too long!

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  15. Morgan - Partner missionary? I like that.
    Jackie - Oh how I wish you were sitting in my living room right now so that we could process this book together! I miss you!

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  16. Amen, sister! We do have to look all around us to see where, everyday with every fiber of our being, Jesus wants us to serve.

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  17. I love your heart and can't wait to see how God is going to use you where are you are right now as your heart is awakened to His purposes! (and by the way, I just love your blog header!) :-)

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  18. Thanks for today, friend. Can Jackie come next time we talk?? And I LOVE what Mo said about you being partner missionaries. That sounds blissful. (well, hard, but blissful)

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  19. Thanks, Becca.
    Marla - When am I going with you to Warren so you can talk to all those lovely ladies about sex and stuff ;)

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  20. Jackie hasn't said anything about it lately. Why don't you ask her? ;)

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  21. Ali-Yes! I am doing the radical read along and I agree completely! I feel like if God called me to move and be a missionary I would...but if he told me to go and witness to my next door neighbor?? Um, please God, don't tell me that! I know him! Can't I witness to strangers I'll never see again? So hard to be radical where we actually are, yet that is what he is calling us to do!!

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  22. Please, please stay in your comfortable suburbs far away from people who have their own religions and will be much happier without bored housewives shoving Jesus down their throat. Yes, their are places in the world in horrific conditions but chucking a bible at these people or getting in their way is not going to make it better. Please harass your neighbor. And the fact that you look at other neighborhoods worse off than yours as "ghettos" proves your beyond out of touch and missionary work is soooo not for you. Get a hobby.

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  23. I was looking for a paper mache recipe. Sorry to ruffle feathers but you guys are so beyond out of touch. It could be a spoof on a chick flick....hmmmm

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  24. Hi, Anonymous. I love that you were looking for a paper mache recipe and found Missionary Housewives. There must be a God.

    And no need to apologize. You'd have to sign in with your actual name to achieve Feather-Ruffler status around here.

    I'm gonna go pray for you now. ;)

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  25. Amber - thanks for the encouragement. You're a doll!

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  26. I love this post. I love that you said "crap" and "hell" in the same post about reaching your world in the name of Jesus. And I love that you articulated a small portion of what my overly-active brain is trying to process after reading Radical.

    Blessings,
    Sandy

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  27. Sandy - "crap" and "hell" were the words I chose after the other words didn't make it through my filter :)

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  28. OK...your response to my comment made me laugh out loud. Too funny. I think I love you.

    Sandy

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  29. OK...your response to my comment made me laugh out loud. Too funny. I think I love you.

    Sandy

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  30. Wow! This is hard stuff, but so darn true! God has been trying to get this into my head for the last couple of years, but I feel way out of my comfort zone at times. I guess I am not called to live COMFORTABLY...I am called to be Jesus to all the people around me. Thanks for your heart! God will bless it!

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  31. Its a scary get real read....I loved your post...

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