Is not something I’ve observed before. This is a multiple layered story with multiple parts. We have to take a few rabbit trails, but I promise to pull this posting back around to Lent by the end. I promise.

As part of a faith community, I’ve observed spiritual fasts before – primarily abstaining from certain foods – in order to follow after the heart of God. But I’ve never had a reason to observe Lent. I love my brothers and sisters that do – please be clear on that. Maybe if you put all of us together, with all of our strengths and expressions, you’d get a more complete picture of the heart of God.

This year, however, can I be honest? This year I’ve struggled. Hugely. A war raging in my heart with my faith – the one thing that’s been so solid all these years.

The faith that I’ve had for years isn’t waning, but it is digging down and growing some roots. That’s painful, folks. And what God has been asking my heart lately is, “What are you doing to take care of my people?” As in, “What are you doing, practically, to take care of my people?” Can I take the focus off of my “relationship with God” and “what God has for me in this season” and put it where He’s asking me to? As in, James 1:27 – “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble …”

Or how about this? Matthew 19:21 – “Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor …”

Or this – Acts 2:44, 45 – “Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.”

We have great luxury, dear hearts. The fact that I’m on my laptop, getting frustrated about this, and in a minute am going to go to a Starbuck’s to get coffee to continue my schoolwork means I have great privilege. I may be transitionally poor, counting my pennies and wondering why, financially, I decided to return to school, but I had the luxury to return to school. Seriously. To get a Master’s, for Heaven’s sake.

How many homeless people do I pass every day downtown (ironically on my way to social work classes), as well as hungry people and people without health insurance and people who need drug and alcohol treatment? It makes my head spin and, quite literally, creates this terrible, ripping, stabbing hurt in the middle of my chest. No exaggeration there – I see the need and it physically hurts.

And then I look toward the church, my place of worship, my once place of extra support, and the emphasis I hear is on our personal relationship with God. Please don’t get me wrong. That’s important. But no more important than taking care of other people. And I’m talking about all people. People who think the same as we do, and people who don’t. People who respect our faith, and people who don’t.

So here’s the part where I get a little personal with you.

In Oregon, not so long ago, there were some Measures to be voted on. Some pretty controversial measures that would have created additional taxes for some in the State and would have increased revenues to public schools and public programs. Technically, I’m still registered to vote in Washington, so I didn’t fill out a ballot. But I’m sure you can guess which way I would have voted. The negativity raised around those measures, however, and the emphasis on not giving up personal resources nearly ripped me apart. And hand in hand, enter name calling and disrespect. Even if one did disagree, I’m still wondering what the purpose of creating such a divisive split among voters was. As in, why, in the church, did we feel it was ok to feel we had the market on complete truth around voting processes and opinions? Didn’t God create us all individually? And if I felt deeply convicted to vote for these measures, and others did not, did that truly mean I missed the heart of God? Really? And where did the source of this negativity spring from (besides individual people)? Facebook.

Enter the period of observing Lent and fasting from Facebook. I need to figure out why I’m so different than people in the church and be less concerned about logging on and being grieved in my spirit every time. I need to figure out if I belong in a different denomination. I need to get closer to the heart of God and a little farther away from sources of negativity. I need to listen for myself what God is saying about all of the millions of Americans that go without. Everyday, in some way or another, millions of Americans go without. God didn’t have us prove ourselves to Him to receive His grace. I don’t believe that we need to make people prove that they’re worthy to receive resources. Subjectively, in my own personal opinion, I don’t think that’s how God would have us treat each other.

In trying to think of a way to end this posting, I find myself struggling. I wonder if there are like-minded people out there. I can name six faithful followers off the top of my head. Six. If I think of people who don’t prescribe to a particular faith belief but are passionate about the needs of people, I can think of … well. Let’s not play a numbers game, I guess. It’s significantly more. I don’t pretend to have the market on all things right or virtuous. I just know the concerns that exist in my spirit and can name six other believers with the same concerns. Do I keep looking for like minded people or do I just continue on? Do I continue in a “denomination” I struggle with or do I search for something new?

Don’t know. Guess I’ll just keep doing what I think I’m supposed to.

11 comments

  1. M on February 24, 2010 at 7:57 PM

    You can count seven. Look for like-minded people in terms of their 'outlook of life.' I may not prescribe to any religion (but I have a good deal of my life). My desire is to do God's work with the special needs, elderly & animals. Those w/out a voice. I will do this through my work as a Speech therapist at a school, clinic or just in passing. I hold God's words to me daily. I see His work in the innocent. I don't go to church to see these things. God is around us all if we let him in. Just my opinion...I haven't found a denomination that has quenched my emotional/spiritual thirst. I hope this isn't too heavy of a comment:)

     
  2. Lisa on February 24, 2010 at 8:12 PM

    Heavy comment? Maria, your comment was so life giving it almost brought me to tears. (Maybe I'm just a mess right now. ;)) Thank you (can I bold those words? Make them 20 times bigger?) for working with people and helping them with their needs - and for seeing His hand in more than the obvious. I feel a little less thirsty now. ;)

     
  3. Ronna on February 25, 2010 at 7:46 AM

    You can count eight. We recently did a whole series on the book "The Hole in the Gospel" but Rich Stearns Lisa (he's the president of World Vision) It was amazing and eye opening and made my heart ache for the needy right in my own back yard as well as globally. I too do not understand the "me first" mentality of our nation. Maybe it has to do with having children with disabilities and having had to fight for them, I dunno.

    I know you are loaded down with reading but if you get a chance, that book is a great read. And I don't think it's about the denomination, I think it's about the leader and the heart of the body.

    If you need some good teaching in the interim, Life Center has their weekly services online, I think you can even go back and listen to the complete Hole in the Gospel series (it was only 4 weeks long but powerful). Pastor Joe has such a heart for missions and for people, and it spills out all over the body.

    Remember Proverbs 3:5-6. He has you in the palm of His hand and He is teaching you exactly what he wants you to know. Keep trusting.

    Love you :)

     
  4. Ronna on February 25, 2010 at 7:47 AM

    Ugh, I should edit before I post

    "by rich Stearns, Lisa."

    :)

     
  5. Lisa on February 26, 2010 at 9:37 PM

    Ronna, you know that you know that I love you. I can't believe I moved farther away from you. Spring break is 3/22, and I'll try to track down the book for then. I need to figure out which church to visit this Sunday, and for the first time in months, I actually feel like going to church won't drain my soul. It's been a long year.

     
  6. Caleb on February 27, 2010 at 4:22 PM

    Lisa, this post made me sad yet encouraged. Sad that you are encountering this, and encouraged that there are people like you. Please continue seeking Jesus' will for the people around you.

    Also, I totally feel the Facebook thing, I have to be careful what I comment...

     
  7. Lisa on February 27, 2010 at 4:45 PM

    Caleb, you're one of the six I was thinking of. People like you encourage me.

     
  8. Sarah's Blog on February 27, 2010 at 6:40 PM

    I am encouraged by this post, because, it makes me feel like I am not alone in this chaotic world.

    Political views are individual expressions and because we live in the great USA we have the privilege to make choices.(And with the up and coming social networking privileges I guess we are able to rant about them as well...blah!)
    I struggled coming back from Africa and seeing people who had nothing, but were willing to give all they had to help their neighbor out. There is JOY, HOPE, and I believe with that they live a very prosperous life.

    Here there is so much opportunity and possibility that people forget how hard it is to come by. They want to keep their prosperity to themselves and look past other's needs. We pass by the unfortunate and think they have chosen the position they are in. (Wrong on SOOO many levels)

    As a believer there are principles that we were taught from Jesus himself. He taught us to love our neighbor and to care for the sick and needy. He also told us to care for the women and children. (nuf' said)

    Thank you for wearing your heart on your sleeve, It is good to hear what you have to say. I think it is good to have "like-minded" people in your circle of friends. BUT I also think you need to have others in your life that are different from you so it challenges you to dig deeper. It is not easy but it is what shapes and molds us into who we are.

    I will not even begin to discuss the current DRAIN I am having trying to find a church in the metro city!! It is like the Sahara out here.
    LOVE YOU

     
  9. Lisa on February 27, 2010 at 8:22 PM

    Sarah, *I* love *you*! And your husband and your daughter. You three and your bridges to Africa and God are going to do amazing things - so much more than a short term mission trip (although, of course, there's great value in that). This is your family. Your DNA. You're going to see amazing things, I promise you that. People know that you love them, Sarah - your absolute sincerity is so refreshing. I so appreciate that about you. I think you're absolutely right - the diversity present in the church is amazing. I do hope that we're eventually able to come to the place where we're able to own our own, individual opinions while keeping the negativity at bay, but I hope for a lot of things .... ;) And I know that we all have different passions - I guess this is mine. I'm at a loss for a church, too. It doesn't help that I'm never in town on the weekends, though, so that's my issue. I've been thinking for awhile, "there's no such thing as a perfect church." I hope just to land somewhere that's harnessing their power for the good of the people. For all of the people. Are you guys going to be around for spring break?

     
  10. Sarah's Blog on March 3, 2010 at 9:59 AM

    We LOVE you too! (even Edwin!) We will be around for spring break.I think mine is different then most(3 weeks from today is my last class before spring break) BUT even if it is different I am ALWAYS available for you. Is shoes coming for a visit?I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to meet this prince charming.

     
  11. Lisa on March 3, 2010 at 2:13 PM

    Sarah, we WILL get together. I keep saying that, but I'm not TRYING to be untruthful. ;) These next three weeks are going to be terrible, but things should slow down by the first of my term, which looks like it corresponds with your spring break - yay! I am so excited for you to meet Shoes, but he just found out he's going to be going through some big life changes, so I don't think he'll be coming up for at least a month or so. But when he can, I'll be calling you guys!

     


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