I had the privilege of hearing from Jill Briscoe at the IF:Gathering this past weekend. As she made her way across the stage, my ears perked up. The only true veteran among the group, this white haired 82 year old woman had my attention before she even opened her mouth. And then the moment she did, I was riveted. Poetic, humble, and wise, she spoke winsomely and with authority. I waited for God to tell me, through her, what I had come to hear. I forget though, he tells me what I need, with no guarantee it will be what I want.
I had been primed with the theme of the weekend, calling us to the small daily acts of faith, rather than the grand large-scale endeavor. Called to the invisible. Can I just confess that that feels like a let down? Don’t we all hunger for the magnificent? And (is this a safe place?) don’t we all crave being seen? I’m not talking about the spotlight.Not everyone craves that. But don’t you long to be recognized in some way for what you do or who you are?
But what Jill had to say to me was an affront to those wants. Speaking about her own conversion in a hospital bed at Cambridge, she said:
From now on, the orbit of your life, the place between your own two feet at any time, is your mission field….And what we’ve got to do is go where we’re sent, stay where we’re put. Unpack; as if you’re never going to leave. And give what you’ve got. And he might move you on and you say it again. Maybe circumstances will move you on. But until you’re moved on to whatever, you give everything you have, between your own two feet….What is the Calling? Matthew 28, Go into all the world and make disciples and teach them to make disciples and teach them to make disciples. That’s what we’re supposed to be doing. Between our own two feet. Now. Don’t worry about Judea and Samaria, guys. Where are you now?
And if that wasn’t hint enough, I got in small group with discussion questions crying out the theme, like the beating of a drum:
What holds you back from believing God wants to use you right where you are?
How might God be wanting to use you right where you are?
What is the risk in letting God use you right where you are?
Yes, God. I hear you. Right where I am. Be right where I am. Stay right where I am. Unpack.
Of course, I wasn’t physically going anywhere. But in my mind, I have voyaged elsewhere….taking with me all my desire. Can I confess that as a stay-at-home-mom I have struggled with the joy in it? That as a person who loves mental stimulation, art/beauty, and adventure, that reading board books on repeat, playing “I Spy” on repeat, finger painting on repeat, “adventuring” to the grocery store on repeat have left me feeling deficient? When I still have so many things I want to do and the opportunity seems gone already?
But as I work this out with God, as Jill put it, “sitting on the steps of my soul in the deep place where nobody goes” I have come to see that what I want is not to NOT be a stay at home mom. I want to not be a disciple-maker. I want my time, my gifts, my adventures to end on me. To serve my purposes. My life. Me. My. Mine. Because I can’t agree there isn’t glorious purpose in it. Just a purpose, God help me, I have a hard time desiring. One of being invisibly poured out.
And Jill keeps going:
It’s not a glamour trip. Well you know that because he said, “Take your cross with you.” You’re going to need it. You’re going to have to die to yourself, you’re going to have to die to your choices, whether I get married or I don’t. You’re going to have to die to your prejudiced little mind. You’re going to have to die to what you’d like to do.
I heard myself saying in discussion, “It’s so hard to say, ‘I’ll do that later. It can wait.’ But the truth is that I can do that later. The opportunities before me now have an expiration date. They won’t ever be mine again.”
I am reading through Ecclesiastes. Solomon is explaining the futility of toil for everything under the sun:
All streams run to the sea,
but the sea is not full;
to the place where the streams flow,
there they flow again.
But let’s rise up above the sun. Enter the upside down Kingdom of God and the opposite is true. You pour yourself out and stay filled. You lose your life to keep it.
One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.
And there is God on the steps of my soul again. You need to make disciples. Not that you can. But it’s what you really need. It’s the adventure and beauty your soul thirsts for. The reason you feel deficient and unsatisfied is that you haven’t been making disciples. You’ve been reduced to a stay-at-home-mom under the sun. That’s not what I’ve called you to. Rise up.