I’ve been personally challenged and changed during my time in Uganda. Three months is plenty of time to hear the heart and requests of many people to go to the next level of presence and ministry within the country.
What is ‘covering’ in the Lord, how does it work, what are the misconceptions about it, how might we walk in greater covering?
These are questions that many have attempted to answer and I am going to do the same today. To begin with I share a bit of my own journey, for it is here in my experience that my theology of covering has been thoroughly threshed.
Nearly five years ago I had a church leadership team tell me this, “You cannot have God’s blessing, you cannot have his favour, you need to come under our oversight or you will lose all influence, all ministry, and you will not have the covering of God.”
Continue reading Covering in the Lord
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.
I am constantly amazed by the connections of my past experiences with the requirements of my current work.
About twelve weeks ago I was requested by one of our indigenous pastor families in India a resource and Biblical references to assist them with the men in their congregation. Here is the exact request:
“Sister I need a study or a sermon on husband and wife relationship according to Bible or marital life with Christ because in our church we have many broken families. Women are hard working and their husbands are fully drunkards and they beat their wives like anything. Kindly I need a sermon like how they can change their husbands…..”
It took me some time to finish this material. I worked on it in bits and parts, due mostly to the necessity to write in the Spirit of our Lord, to check and double check what I was saying and its accuracy against scripture, and in terms of truly being in service to men who are caught in patterns of spousal abuse.
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.
The Lord really began telling me about the work I was to do in the year 2000. And as I slowly came to believe and trust that this was indeed from God I entered into a process of waiting. Way back in 2002 I have in a journal entry, ‘the time is now, pray that the way would be opened.’ In 2004 another journal entry records, ‘pray that the doors would be opened for all over the world do I choose to use you.’ In 2008, ‘pray that the doors would be opened.’
And so I entered into the longing and the waiting and the praying alongside these directions of the Holy Spirit. I spent my time investing in my own inner healing and wholeness, for I knew that if these prophecies and the accompanying visions were true I would need to be a clean vessel for the Lord. Come forward to 2010 and our Capturing Courage team prayer times recorded, ‘pray that the doors would be opened.’
Well, the doors are open. Internationally speaking its been just over two years since the doors opened and we couldn’t now shut them if we wanted. I have invitations to 11 countries on three continents. Most of those countries have multiple invitations representing hundreds of churches and a number of Bible Schools.
The doors are so open that we cannot go through all of them at once. Most invites are followed by about 2 years of long-distance communication and relationship building before I ever arrive at that particular place, and every time I do travel the invites become multiplied to that country.
The doors are so open that we have now entered into more waiting. I recently wrote about the power of longing (which is closely tied with waiting, you can read it here), and yet I hardly have the words to speak of the incredible investment made in the wait. I feel I am barely poking at the significance each time I write about it.
When I was young I was a ‘I’d like it yesterday thank-you very much’ kind of person. I like to say I’m a recovered driver-personality. I am now a firm believer of waiting and I encourage leaders and would-be-leaders to enter into waiting whole-heartedly and with faithfulness.
This duo of longing and waiting is in many, many ways the work. Really. Longing and waiting IS THE WORK. And I realize now when I travel and as I write and encourage and equip even over email and Facebook and phone calls that this is the harvest season for me. The multiplication of the waiting has already, and is still continuing, to take place.
All those years back then when I could hardly see my hand in front of my face for all the waiting on the Lord I was doing (many personal things as well as CCI), I never imagined that I was in fact and in that faithfulness doing the work. But I was. Today, we are simply reaping the harvest.
I’m so glad I didn’t go around the waiting. Thank-you Lord for keeping me faithful.
It’s interesting though that the ones closest in during those waiting years seem to have missed the significance of them. To them I was just going through difficulty and trial. Even the ones who knew of the visions and prophecies spoken over my life, even a few who did the prophesying, cannot believe it today.
And I think this is so true of all of us. We see waiting and we see the outward difficulties and we miss the work going on under the surface. We aren’t able to realize that faithfulness produces its own harvest. That staying the course alongside our Lord is an investment in great things to come. God looks at the heart after all, we on the other hand, seem to have trouble doing this.
Today, thought its a bit different, I am still waiting. Where will I go in 2014? I don’t know. I know my first trip will be back to Uganda, but when, what month? I don’t know. And I can’t know when I will know. What about the other places and people pressing in on my heart, India, Pakistan, Myanmar, Kenya, Burundi, Northern Mozambique, Tanzania, Ghana?
Names I’ve come to love: Timothy, Ravi, Ravindra, Esther, Alex, Charagh, Philip, Michael, Caliph, Walter, Daniel, Innocent, Patrick, Elizabeth, John, Irene, Edward, Praise, Evan, Joyce, Victor, Whisky, Edison, June, Annet, Grace, Moses, Joseph, Jacob, Mildred, Swen, Pascal, Lydia, Scholastic, Geoffrey, Nicholas, Mehtab, Anthony, Peterson, Kigozi, David, Alex, Mamma Bosa, Edith, Aaron, Nelson, Godwin, Bena, Elijah, Paul, Nabeel, Mathias, Honey, Jacob, Anniebel, Stephen, Isabel, Daniel, Camota, Vologa, Huda, John, Dombay, Paul, Isaiah, Lino, Rui, Armando, Oondo, (please forgive me if I missed you).
I’m waiting on the Lord. It’s really hard work. Every day I bear the load of it and invest of the longing alongside it. Yet gladly and with great privilege.
Not for myself any longer, but for those that the Lord chooses to touch and heal and make glad. My job is to show up. The Lord does the rest.
What has become very amazing is that I’m not waiting alone. Weekly I receive emails and phone calls reminding me that they are waiting for me. Hundreds of people in multiple communities are praying and praying and praying for me to travel to where they are. How many full days and services have been set aside over the past couple years for the express purpose of praying for me and my journeying I have no idea. I just keep hearing about them.
It’s an amazing thing. And I get it now. I’m not the only one waiting. Rather, we wait together. And in this I am convinced that the compounding investment of our communal waiting will bring about the Kingdom of God in mighty and powerful transformations of lives and leaders and churches within the body of Christ.
We wait on you Father. Together.
“The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.” Lamentations 3:15
“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” Psalm 27:14
“For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.” Habakkuk 2:3
Amen and amen.
Longing, what do we do with it? That ache, the ache you carry, how do you carry it, honour it, invest it, live with it?
Longing is hard work.
So hard in fact that many shun the work. Many rush to fill longing with less-than options, with quick fixes and veneers that keep ache away.
I’m dealing with deep longing myself these days. A strong, quiet, yet shouting-at-me ache.
I know others who are dealing with longing. Caught by an ache that as yet is unfulfilled but just won’t go away. There is no reprieve.
In fact, it grows stronger.
Longing seems to be a lost art form requiring honesty and recognition, faithfulness in the secret spaces of our souls and with great strength and courage.
Longing grows capacity deep within us. Before longing we have these ordinary hearts, ordinary lives, and while there is nothing wrong with ordinary its not always up to the hard task of longing and of aching.
Longing takes us beyond ourselves, beyond our normal, beyond our comfort, beyond anything we’ve ever known.
Longing only asks of us that we carry it. Like a woman pregnant an investment is made in the very core of our being that in turn affects everything else.
Longing demands to be recognized, acknowledged, reckoned with.
Once longing takes hold of us there is no turning back. Longing brings us to courage. It breaks us. It stands us on a sheer cliff where the only option is to keep standing. We will not jump but there is no way back.
For longing opens the soul and mind to possibilities we once never dreamed of. Where before we didn’t know what we didn’t know, now we’ve had a taste and we cannot un-know it.
I myself once rushed to satisfy longing quick as a wink. I refused to remain in the longing, to taste the ache. Today, these last few years, I’ve come to see that longing is in fact an art-form. It’s a skill to hone and craft and grow.
And rushing to fill our longings won’t hone or craft or grow anything.
And in the rushing we deny longing. In the rushing we push away the work done in aching.
Yet all good things of this world have been set in place by someone who ached, by someone who longed and invested themselves in the hard work of that longing.
There are no instant transformations or freedoms or giftings. There are no miracle ministries or immediate fruit.
Everything we know has been preceded by someone willing to carry ache, to invest in longing, to bear the weight and the pain of it.
This work done in the secret spaces of our lives will reap a harvest at the appointed time. But we cannot rush it. Cannot force it. We simply must bear it.
Carry it well.
Surrender to it.
Come under it.
Let it change us.
What are you longing for today? What ache are you carrying?
Know today that there is nothing wrong with you. In fact, you are about as alive as they come. Longing is the seed-bed of profound things.
It all begins here.