The Strength to Journey Far

You’ve been working hard. You’ve chosen how you will spend your time and your life and you are working to remain faithful.

But you may be getting tired.

Your steam may be running low.

In this case, it may be important to note the regular rhythms of work and passion and vision.

There are always times of cloud-shrouded uncertainty of task and days. This is really, really normal.

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As The Future Comes Together

It is July 1st. Some months back I had thought that come this time I would be in Uganda. But as the time approached there was simply no clarity regarding the multiple details that would have to come into place and I soon (although perhaps not soon enough) realized that I was not to be in Uganda in what is my home-time season of summer.

I needed to be home in the early parts of September and so this detail set into place the only other possible time to make this three month trip to Uganda. We began thinking and planning toward mid-September to mid-December.

Continue reading As The Future Comes Together

The Power of Your Journey

Each one of us has a journey. Each one of us has parts of our journey’s that we would rather leave behind, with pain and shame and regret woven through. How do we overcome these things? Can we move forward and on what basis?

Do you know the value of your journey?

Have you found the gift of your journey?

 

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Are We Really Listening to God? Are We Hearing?

There is an ongoing conversation about something in which I’m not even interested. It’s making for interesting thought.

Without implicating anyone or giving away too many details let me try to set the stage.

As you know I work alongside overseas rural indigenous pastors. It is a privilege and an honour and most of the time things go amazingly well.

Within the amazing, the biggest area of disconnect comes in the conversations around church buildings.

Continue reading Are We Really Listening to God? Are We Hearing?

I’m Not the Christ

Its been a bit of a rough day. Actually a few rough days. Not all the way, but in terms of a difficult conversation that has taken a fair bit of emotional energy and tenacity to stick with.

So I’m a bit worn out. But I’m remembering, and drawing strength from, the memory of an interview some years back with a fellow (sorry I can’t remember his name right now) who was working for the Dream Center in LA.

He was in charge of the food distribution to skid-row some 4-6 days a week where they fed hundreds of homeless folk every day.

I was at the time beginning to understand that no matter how much we give there are things still beyond our ability to really put a dent in, and I thought he just might know what I was talking about.

So I asked him, “At the end of the day when you’ve fed hundreds of people, and having done this for years, how do you keep going when it still isn’t enough?”

Without a seconds hesitation he immediately replied, “Well, you know where in the Bible John the Baptist is asked about his identity and his reply is, “I’m not the Christ” This is what I remember, I’m not the Christ.”

And this is what I am remembering today as well.

It’s strength to my bones and heart.

Given Over

I’m at the start of month four of having no home of my own.

Not taken lightly and not entered into quickly, these past few months, and any number of years to come, is simultaneously challenging me and blessing me.

‘Home’ has boiled down to where I unpack my toothbrush and toothpaste and where I have a place to lay my head at night.

Thankfully my family has been stellar. My parents have given me a corner at their place and my extended family has ok’d me staying (i.e.:camping of sorts) at our family house on Mayne.

I’m a bit of a professional bum at the moment.

And so far, in the months since August I’ve not been any one place longer than 1.5 weeks at a time.

This giving my life over to the Lord’s compelling, vision, calling (whatever you want to call it) has come with its cost.

I’ve given over so many of my rights.

I’ve given over the right to have my own kitchen stuff at hand. Because it’s all packed away for the long haul I am always a guest in every kitchen I’m in. Using pans that are not my own, utensils not my own, cookware not my own… any woman will recognize the sacrifice this is.

I’ve given over the right to have my own children sit around my table. When will I ever have them over to my place again? I have no idea. Now I go to them and (bless them) they welcome me and extend their homes to me.

I’ve given over the right to decorate and arrange furniture just as I like. I’ve given over the right to have things just so and to make a space as I would really love to have it. I’ve given over the right to have my own pretty and familiar things at hand.

I’ve given over the right to privacy and that unique north american product of doing life with few watching. My life is now a communal experience with many ‘in on’ the logistics of where I lay my head each night.

I’ve given over the right to earn a decent wage. Living below the poverty line everything I am and make goes to the work of Capturing Courage Int’l. As anyone knows who has risked to begin a business, company, or organization, significant sacrifice is the modus operandi for some years; you would be shocked to know how little I am living on.

I’ve given over the right to financial privacy. I have those who know every single dime I spend and on what and when. In quest for transparency and integrity I am completely and totally financially naked.

I’ve given over the right to giving gifts. For the third Christmas in a row now (and for birthdays too) I’ve not bought one of my children or grandchildren one gift. Nothing. Zip. Zero. I’ve just not had the funds for it.

I’ve given over the right to comfort and ease. Most everything and everywhere I am and go asks of me inconvenience, some of it significant. My most prominent pleasure at the moment is simply keeping a few of my favourite mugs at my various ‘homes’.

I’ve given over the right to friendships. Many (I’ve lost about 20 friends this past year alone) cannot or will not move along with me as I enter into that which is bigger than me, and I’m not sure I will ever truly get over the sorrow of this.

I’ve given over the right to be understood. There are still those actively shunning me, there are those who gossip and assume the worst about me, there are those afraid of endorsing me, and there are those that don’t care enough to actually ask or get to know me or the work of CCI but rather simply pull back into the shadows… and are gone.

I’ve given over the right to my own bathroom. Most everywhere I go others know my bathroom habits. Overseas using a toilet or taking a shower is never a private affair, at my folks we must jostle and wrestle each other for bathroom time – well not quite. 🙂

I’ve given over the right to washing my clothes on my time. Except when I’m on Mayne my clothes must be washed in sync with others schedules and availability everywhere I go. This too is never private – I still feel an intruder in this way.

I’ve given over the right to a closet of clothes. The extent of my clothing could fit into one medium suitcase. I’ve learned to wear the same things over and over, to buy one pair of jeans and wear them till they die (before buying another), and to keep my tops to a system and uniform of sorts; clothing that works for both at home and abroad.

And finally, I’ve given over my right to independence. Everywhere I go, the places I settle into, require that I am okay with depending on others for their hospitality and generosity to me. Whether I am at ‘home’ ( the lower mainland, the gulf islands, in Alberta with my daughter and her family) or whether I am at ‘home’ overseas (with Daniel and his family in Mozambique, with Mamma Bosa or with Edith in Uganda – or any number of the smaller villages and homes which host me in various countries) I am dependant on others. Completely.

My main concern and query at this time is how to manage this for the long haul. What and how might I settle in my heart and mind so that I can sustain this kind of living? I am fairly certain there is an expiration date on such a style of life, but I am equally certain that for me that won’t be for significant time down the road.

I’m therefore working at setting routine into my days that remain the same no matter where I am. Habits of silence and contemplation, quiet time with the Lord, writing time to clear my mind, these things I can do anywhere thankfully.

When I was twenty I wanted nothing more than to sell everything and travel around north america random happenstance style for a years time. Now, nearly thirty years later, I’m getting to do this but on a much bigger scale – around the world happenstance style (well… certainly nimble) and for many years.

Those who pray for me tell me that my time is now and while I’ve been preparing for this for years I am quite aware that significant investment, significant results, require significant sacrifice. Something that is in fact an incredible honour to give.

Refusing to Fix

I work with indigenous leaders around the world. Many of them are in third world countries, some of the poorest in the world. Many of these leaders are working amongst the most difficult of circumstances trying to live the love of God to their own people.

Due to difficulties, both the chronic and the unexpected, I am often approached for tangible assistance with the needs facing these pastors and evangelists and early on as we were nailing down the scope of our work at Capturing Courage we were tempted, and tried on a few occasions, to fundraise to meet various needs around the world.

All of these efforts met with dismal failure. We couldn’t even raise $1 to help with a toilet door! And we began to realize that our work is not one of tangible help with the problems at hand, rather we truly are only called to grow leaders in terms of spiritual transformation, emotional wholeness, and in strong leadership skills.

In this and as I continue to work with leaders, those given assignments bigger than themselves, I have really settled this year on the fact that I would be doing them a disservice if my help removed from them their difficulties.

My eyes are wider and my view is broader and I understand like never before that for leaders to be leaders they must be well versed in difficulty. They must in fact be grown in capacity to head into trouble and to creatively look for solutions that are right at hand but often just out of sight.

This inner capacity within each one of us is only grown and strengthened in the face of difficult things. Difficult things grow us up. Our stamina is increased when we learn the love of God in what is the worst.

The ability to carry on, to remain abiding in God no matter what, is a skill all its own and one that must be acquired by leaders if they are going to go successfully forward to which they are called.

For it is not difficulty that undoes us. It is the nagging questions about the presence of God in the midst of these difficulties, these are what really undo us and it is only in difficulty that these questions about God can be fully answered.

Tree roots must go deep in order to withstand storms and it is drought that sends them deep.

What the many who approach me for help don’t know is that I’ve weathered my own many difficulties. I’ve walked a path of strain and faithfulness woven together for many, many years. And while I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face for a lot of that time I now look back and see that those years were the investments years paving the way for the rest of my life’s journey.

The spiritual authority, the leading that I am called to was birthed and nurtured and grown through those most difficult years. And now, as I visit and mentor and pray for leaders be it online or in person or over the phone across oceans I encourage leaders to embrace the difficulties that they are facing.

Are they hard? You bet. Are they crushing? Yes. Are they pushing them to their edge? Yup.

But this place where we end and our Lord begins is the richest place to be. Standing in the tension between faith and all that doesn’t seem to be working is in fact the call of all leaders. For leading is not about telling others what to do. It’s not about organizing building projects or arranging pastors conferences.

Rather, those who truly lead us, showing us the way, do so on the basis of how they themselves have met God. Where has God become real for you? This is where you lead from. And here in the shadow of your own journey others are nurtured and grown and empowered to go forth with strength of their own.

Every capacity a leader grows and allows within is a capacity that all around can catch hold of and make their own.

We need to be capacity building people. And capacity is built in the difficulties. Period.

What satan intends for evil the Lord makes good. What has been robbed from our lives will be replaced many times over. The losses we have experienced are the seed-beds of fruitfulness for others.

Imagine a portion of your heart, the part that all the stress and harm and difficulties go. Imagine that as life goes on and the difficulties surmount that this portion of your heart is stretched out of all proportion. Imagine your heart being stretched by difficulty as hard circumstance after hard circumstance is poured in.

Now, imagine that this portion of the heart can contain just one of two things. It can contain the grumbling, the bitterness, the rushing to fix things, the impatience, the complaining, the disillusionment, the harm, the hatreds, the unforgiveness, the doubts about God, and more.

Or this stretched out part of your heart can be inhabited by the living God. Entering the Lord into our grumbling, into our bitterness, into our rushing to fix things… you get the picture, turns our cauldrons into reservoirs.

And once we have been pruned and threshed with all chaff burnt away we are then in possession of strength and stamina, belief and wisdoms that cannot be taken away. Ever. The solid knowing of our Lord Jesus Christ is a possession that will not rust or decay. And this is how leaders are made.

I don’t rush to fix anyone’s problems any more. I wouldn’t do them the disservice.