Lower Expectations

"There is no greater jail than the one man tries to build to separate you from your God." LM

I think it is an ever present flaw within us as humans to lower our expectations.  We are afraid to believe that the nearly impossible things could become possible so we gently and consistently steel ourselves for disappointment.  Therefore I cannot say I was surprised to hear the words.  I was perhaps even less surprised to hear that another adult had spoken them to my children.  Bravery comes much easier when mama bear isn't wihin ear shot of her cubs.

"You shouldn't get your hopes up about the adoption.  It's been over three years." (actually, as of this week it's been four but who's counting, right?)

"I'm tired of people saying God called them to do something.  God doesn't speak to people."

....and my personal favorite

"If the bible tells us to take care of orphans then why doesn't everyone have a widow or orphan in their home?  Your parents first priority should be you kids living at home right now."

There was more in between the conversation lines and a lot of defending our family's choices by my children.  And like we always do, the kids and I talked about it because there's some lessons to be learned about who God is and who we are.  There's some really good stuff in the middle of this mess so I'm going to share it with you in case you have some messes of your own that need wading through.  Ready, here we go, deep breath now.

You aren't always going to understand what God is doing but that doesn't mean he isn't doing something extraordinary. 
 God did not explain to Joshua and the Israelite's why they had to march around Jericho in the exact manner in which they did for a week.  He supplied instructions and they obeyed.  They trusted that God had things handled.  And so do we.  The same God who brought down the walls of Jericho is my God, the same God who delivered the Israelite's from 400 years of Egyptian bondage is my God, the same power that delivered his son, Jesus, from the grave delivered me from mine.  God did not love them more or this family less.  And there is no reason to believe he is not at work here.  He is working.  Just as he always has.  Once again he is orchestrating our deliverance from this captivity.  We don't need others to believe it for it to be true.  And neither do you.  
"For I know the plans I have for you, " declares The Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call on me and come and pray to me,  and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you, declares The Lord, and will bring you back from captivity...." Jeremiah 29:11-14

We don't need anyone's permission to do what God has asked us to do.
  It might be unpopular and confusing to a LOT of people but that's not our problem or yours.   Our only concern should be the things he is asking of us.  We should face our challenges the same way Christ faced the cross, steadfastly. (Luke 9:51)  

Not everyone is going to believe what you believe and you're going to have to learn to be okay with that.  
In life and definitely between religions there are many, many different opinions.  Being polite and respectful to others is the best option but know what you believe and why you believe it.  Be very sure of who you are in Christ then hold your ground.  This does not mean arguing or self-righteously shoving your beliefs in others faces.  God doesn't need that kind of soldier.   "He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.  For through him we both have access to the Father by one spirit."  Ephesians 2:17-18

No one gets to define your relationship, your gifts,  and your work with God but God.  
The bible is filled with examples of God taking the most unlikely people and calling or asking (however you want to phrase it) them to complete tasks.  He transforms them into his servants.  I cannot explain everything about my quiet time or my out loud time with God because mere words do not do it justice.  If I had to guess I'm sure many of you would say the same about your God time.  He uses all of us in the most unusual of ways.  Unexpected.  Undeserving.  Absolutely.  But this world is really his story.  I did not choose my part although I have accepted his will for me and wherever it may lead.  It is neither my problem nor yours if someone else is struggling with this area.  Each of us must wrestle with God in our own way to determine where he seeks us to be.  So try as others might they will not rob me of what he is doing or how he is choosing to do it.  I will hold fast to what he has written on my heart.  I urge you dear one to hold fast to yours.  "He has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace,....Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you-guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us" 2 Tim 1:9, 14 italics mine:)

Sometimes people can know the truth and still not act upon it.  
"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this:  to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."  James 1:27
It's always easier to find the reasons we cannot do something.  Trust me, I know.  I am the best check writer in the world.  But real work seemed somehow, I don't know, a lot like work.  A lot like being involved.  A lot like trouble.  So here's the thing.  I didn't want to obey.  Hear me when I say I DID NOT WANT TO OBEY.  But God will never leave us where we are.  Ask Jonah.  I was midstream in trying to live a life for him.  Half in the water trying to swim and half out.  And I think he got tired of me.  I think he shoved me in the deep end of the pool because he knew it was go time and my stubborn heart was going to keep considering obeying instead of SUBMITTING TO HIS LORDSHIP.  So he took the things that tear me apart the most and laid them right before me and said "Here it is.  Here is the worst this world can do to these kids. What are you going to do about it?"  And I stopped questioning who was in charge because the price of disobedience was more than this heart could bear.  Perhaps right now, for you it is not, but that is a dangerous game to play with the maker of the heavens and your heart.  And as for my children let me say this.  They are loved more than I thought this heart was capable of.  But God loves them more.  My biological children are no more precious to God than any other child in any other time zone.  Mine have had the luxuries of clean water, vaccines, healthy food, and a loving family.  But my care for them does not excuse my responsibility for God's other children.  Until every child has the same opportunities that mine have had then my work is not done.  

You might think I was angry upon hearing this conversation and for a moment there was a flash but somehow I understood where that person was coming from with their argument.  You see I've been there.  I've been the one who couldn't understand why someone would choose to do something so radical, ridiculous or impossible even if it was for God.  I spent the first half of my life putting limits on what God can do.  Believing God wasn't interested in my day to day life.  Ignoring the hunger for relationship with him because I didn't know how to connect with him.  Settling for the manna in the wilderness when he was trying to lead me to the Promised Land.  I can understand the hows and the whys of people editing God's greatness but that doesn't mean they get to do it in our house.  Or yours.

I can't tell you how our story will end.  I cannot.  Everyday we wait for the phone to ring.  Everyday.  1, 460 nights we have prayed for our deliverance.  This story will end how God chooses for it to end.   In the waiting we have learned patience and we have learned peace.  We have seen a benevolent God who has walked with us thruogh every disappointment and every triumph.  We have seen his people rally and we have seen them rail but through it all we have seen him.  And what a sight it has been.

"As for me, I will always have hope;  I will praise you more and more.  My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds, of your saving acts all day long--though I know not how to relate them all"  Psalm 71:14-15