As a parent one of my nightmares is the thought of watching my child die. I can't even imagine the pain, the longing, the confusion, the process of grieving losing my own child, while they are still a child. I was chatting with the front receptionist at one of kids schools (my 4 kids go to 3 different schools) yesterday about the safety protocol should someone bring a gun into the school. It isn't hard to imagine both because of the regularity of gun violence in American schools but also because the media shows us every little detail. If I dwell on the possibility too long I want to bring my kids home and start homeschooling them (except for the fact that I tried that for six months and I am the WORST teacher ever to my kids.)
I try sometimes to answer my fears with the knowledge that ultimately I know the end game, I know the final chapter. I know that earth will be restored, that sickness, evil and death have been defeated. That we were created to live in the presence of an all loving God and that one day heaven and earth will be reunited as one.
But the reality of day to day life is that I would rather avoid pain. And the fear of pain leads me to this strong desire to control--my situation, my circumstances and my people. But my four little or not so little people have a different opinion. They can actually smell my fear and sniff out my efforts to control and usually they would rather move against it. They are in that stage of life where they are willing to take risks, sometimes without understanding the consequences. So I try, as much as possible to help them understand the possible results of their decisions but not to control their decisions. They, after all, need to figure out this thing called life. They have to figure out what is a healthy risk and what is reckless. When to play it safe and when to step out in the unknown.
Which means I need to address my fears, look them in the face and not let the fears control me or control my relationships around me. And usually that means I need to be willing to experience the pain of having my heart attached to 4 people whom I cannot control and who will make mistakes and suffer. I want to keep my heart open to suffer with them but sometimes, sometimes it seems easier to just shut myself off or shut them off from the rest of the world.
Lent is always a reminder though that my Father, my heavenly Father, choose to enter my pain, choose to feel my pain and to suffer, voluntarily so that one day, I wouldn't. God choose to feel what we feel, experience the consequences of sin, death, rejection, sickness and pain. Rather than control us, God let us decide and was willing to suffer with and for us to give us our freedom. And that is why fear must go. And instead I choose love. Even if that means that pain comes with it.
We are on the move…literally. 3 weeks on the road in our mini van. Then four months living with family. Then moving to Scotland. If I were to write a manual on how to move 4 kids internationally I’m not sure I would advise this process. Yet it is what we have chosen more or less. And I think it is good. We are slowly saying goodbye- like that little kids “goodnight moon” book that I’ve never understood why it is so popular…goodbye stuff, goodbye house, goodbye California, goodbye friends, goodbye sun, goodbye heat, goodbye family…you get the picture. And we are spending lots of time as a family—the 6 of us—, which is good because that is going to be life for a while.
In the midst of this transition yesterday we had a unique opportunity to receive an hour of “prophetic prayer” from the leadership team at PIHOP. We sat down with 4 people we had never met and they spent an hour listening to Jesus on our behalf and telling us what they heard. I laughed. I cried. I was once again amazed by God’s goodness and kindness. In an hour they knew from listening to the Holy Spirit—what we were about. God encouraged us through them that we were on the right path. They could not have been more accurate. As if they knew the dreams in our heart, the words Jesus has spoken to us, the faith risks we are taking in this season and the reason we are taking them.
You see we are making this move because of a dream. A dream that someday everyone would know that God is here now. That God is good. That God’s presence is healing, empowering, kind, and yet powerful and awe inducing. A dream that all disciples would know Jesus’ voice like Jesus talks about in John. And so Greg is going to study at St Andrews with some of the leading biblical scholars, going to study a biblical understanding of the presence of God. We’ve saturated ourselves in communities that are fluent in the charismatic. We’ve worked for communities passionate about biblical accuracy and there is frequently (not always) a disconnect. It is my belief that it doesn’t have to be. Holy Spirit is biblical. Healing is biblical. The prophetic is biblical. God’s presence here and now in the room, is biblical.
At one point while they were praying for me, a guy saw a picture of me folding laundry and God’s presence with me during the mundane things of my day—encouraging me that God wants to meet me during normal everyday mom life. He said "sort of like Brother Lawrence’s 'Practicing the Presence'". I laughed. Anyone who has read my blogs knows that I posted one on that very subject. He had never read my blog—didn’t know my name until during the prayer time. God was affirming me. Yes…His presence in my everyday life is where revival happens. For me it is in a life attuned to the Spirit all the time. There was more. There is more. There is more for all of us. And this is the dream for us—for us to be able to be a part of bridging the gap between the “charismatic” and the “mainline” for lack of better words. And that is why we are on the move.