My heart is often heavy and I feel insecure about our position of wealth among those around us who have much less. I worry about the way we decorate our home, what we eat each day, or how we spend our money on other things. I am generally satisfied with our discipline with money, but I still find myself feeling guilty over my privilege while others around me struggle to make ends meet.
While I am certainly open to ideas of how to meet the needs around me in productive ways, I have also been comforted by the words my husband has spoken to me time and time again: “People won’t resent us if we share our wealth with them.” It’s amazing to me how he can get right down to my deepest fear even if it was not even close to being clearly communicated. I fear being resented.
I know I can’t control the feelings of others towards me, but I do believe there is wisdom in this advice. I’ve since found great joy in inviting others into my home to watch our “Internet TV,” eat desserts made in my “foreigner-style” oven, and even wash clothes in my washing machine. Children particularly enjoy our abundance of toys and books. My son’s school has even borrowed some Dr. Seuss books for the last few weeks! I try not to show up empty handed when visiting friends, and I try to offer up my best even when unexpected visits occur.
Yes, we have inherent privilege in terms of financial wealth. But it occurs to me that we also have a greater privilege. We have Gospel privilege — a privilege many in this world do not have. And this is the why of it all — much more than materially wealthy, I am spiritually wealthy. I have received the immeasurably precious gift of the Gospel and will inherit eternal life.
So while I share any material wealth I acquire as I follow God’s urgings to give and to open my home, I am also impressed to share my spiritual wealth. Not in an effort to not be resented because, as it appears, many resent me for telling them a truth that is hard to hear because of what accepting our message would mean in this culture. Rather, I share my gospel privilege so that others may be rich like me — Gospel rich.
I agreed to this life — living overseas, church planting, and raising my kids in a foreign land. It has certainly come with a few surprises and plenty of challenges. While sometimes it may not be all I expected or dreamed it would be, it is what I wanted. When the reality of what this all really means hits me in the most disheartening ways, I have to remember that. I have to remember why I started if I want to keep moving forward.
I agreed to serve Jesus because He gave His all for me, and I am compelled to do all I can to magnify His great love.
I agreed to work alongside my husband as we cross-cultures to share Christ because I trust him completely and believe in him wholeheartedly.
I agreed to learn a language and culture because there are millions of people that haven’t heard the Gospel in their heart language, and I may have the opportunity to change that — even if only for a few.
I agreed to raise my children away from the comforts of our home and our family because Jesus is worthy, and I want them to know that more than any other lesson I could teach them.
Jesus is worthy. Because of that I will agree to keep serving Him every day He gives me, trusting one day that the impact of that decision will far exceed my expectations.
“It is only an appreciation of His love that can motivate genuine obedience.” -Elyse Fitzpatrick
I was teaching my Sunday school babies this past weekend our first lesson in the series, “What’s in the Bible?” I did an overview of what the Bible is, who wrote it, how many books and chapters it contains, etc. The pre-teen boys in my class snickered and elbowed one another when I compared God’s word written for us to a letter penned by a husband living in a faraway country — a well-understood concept here — to his great love back home.
In this letter, He explains His love for us in great detail. He shows us through the acts of love He recounts to us. He tells us He will be coming back to take us home with Him so we can live out our heavenly ever after with Him for all eternity. He tells us who He is and what He is like. We gain confidence as we learn more of His great love for us, and we are inspired to faithfulness and to obedience. We are motivated to move towards Him in love and towards others in showing His love.
But the greatest part? He’s not far away. He’s right here with us as we wait for Him to sweep us up to spend our days praising Him for all the goodness He embodies. He is love, and He is with us every day and every step of the way. We love Him because He loves us so well, and He empowers and enables us to obey Him as we respond to Him. His perfect love obliterates our fear to live a life loving Him back.
I hope my babies at home and in my Sunday school class — which strangely enough is on Saturdays — will understand it. I wish with all my heart they will open up the letter and read it for themselves. That they will see the heart of our personal God who desires to have an intimate relationship with each one of us, wretched as we may be.
Until then, I’ll keep telling them. And I better keep telling myself, too. I want to obey Him with all my heart, and that starts in within my heart where I’m instructed to dwell in His love.
And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us. (John 4:16-19).
Celebrating birthdays overseas requires early morning Facetime calls complete with birthday hats on both ends. My mom is great about sending a “birthday in a box” which includes decorations, cakes, and gifts for the birthday boy or girl.
While it is not typical or traditional, this time is treasured. It is special in its own way. The extra planning, financial sacrifice, and intentionality required of the whole thing speaks to my heart in a way that a Wal-mart spree or a more convenient birthday party ever could.
I’m thankful my son’s birthday falls before Christmas, and I got this reminder right as the memories of holidays at home began to weigh heavy on my heart. We do what we can. We make the most of each opportunity to spread cheer across oceans or across the street. And the time is sweet.
Whatever God calls us to this year, I pray we would steward it for His glory by His grace. If trial trumps tradition, may He carry us through these days with His mighty love. Whether we are pouring ourselves our for others or find ourselves on the receiving end of acts of service, may we know that we know that we know we are treasured by the Lord.
When I walk around this city, I carry with me an unrelenting awareness that I am different. Even though I’ve learned this language and have adapted to the culture in many ways, I still speak differently and do a million and one things differently from the way I dress or wear my hair, relate to my husband, and raise my kids. With the Christmas season upon us, that awareness has become stark and severe.
I don’t want to be different, but since that is inescapable I will say this: I don’t want to be different because of my skin or my hair, the way I celebrate holidays, or make my home. I want to be different because I am a woman that loves and fears God. I want to be different because His name is continually on my lips, sharing what He has done for me and that His love is big enough for the whole lot of us. I want to be different because the focus of my life is Jesus Christ.
But I don’t want to remain different for long. I long to see God change this country and change the people I love and live each day with. Not to be more like me but to be more like Him.