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Keep Knocking

The older I get, the more I value my village. In my earlier years of motherhood, I was too prideful to admit I needed a village. Determined from birth to do things "all by myself" I brought my first baby into this world with that same mindset. Nobody was going to come and walk the floors with that baby at night but me. I chose to breastfeed because it was best, but also because it allowed me absolute control over that little person. Or so I thought.

A ten second summary of my story lets me know the truth. These children belong to Him - always have, always will.

When I could not find the answers I was seeking in books or on web sites and when my bratty self would not give our own mothers the satisfaction of admitting I did not know all the things, God provided dear friends just a few steps ahead of me in distant cities I could quietly cry out to. If I could not do it "all by myself" I at least wanted to to maintain the front of doing so.

I heard it said recently that we are the unique combination of all the ones we have allowed to pour into us. I believe there is some truth there. We take what we love from some while overlooking what we were not interested in from others. Influence by influence, season after season, those experiences help to mold who we are and how we approach life. In His sovereignty, God determines our path, allowing people to come in and brush elbows with us for just long enough to make the impression intended before passing on. Some leave such a tender mark on our hearts that the mention of their very name brings us to tears. Some hurt us so badly that just the memory of the moments we shared suffocate us. The ones we let in change us and because we know it is true, it is hard to let our walls down sometimes.

The thing about a crisis is that it will huff and it will puff and it will blow all your walls down.

I believe, for me, it was in the rebuilding of my walls that I became so selective in who I let in. Oh, it's fine to do life with a lot of people - as long as they stay over there and we stay over here. To truly let someone in, to allow them to tread on the sacred spaces, is something far different. This is to risk allowing them to change us. Once we know what it is like to have to fight to put the pieces of our lives back together, we look a little longer and a lot harder at the ones we open the door to next time someone comes knocking.

God allows us a lot of freedoms in this life. We get to do a great deal of choosing. His Word guides us and His Spirit prompts us, but free will is ours. As a girl, my walls were high for entirely different reasons than they are high today. When God did the rebuilding as He brought the healing from the most intimate, unspeakable storms life has to offer, He changed me in the process. He brought people into my life that shined like stars and changed the way I looked at life forever. 

"For it is God working in you, both to will and to work according to his good purpose. Do everything without grumbling and arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world, by holding firm to the word of life. Then I can boast in the day of Christ that I didn't run or labor for nothing."
Philippians 2:13-16

You see, that bit about not grumbling or arguing really steps on the toes of a girl like me. Not much about me as ever been accused of being blameless or true, but I can argue like a champ and I grumble without even noticing it. One of my favorite high school teachers nicknamed me Sunshine after spending time at camp (ahem - mornings) with me, but it sure wasn't because of my bright personality. When the pain of life cuts deep, you can imagine how pleasant I have a tendency to be. God has called me to more than that.

A ten second summary of my story lets me know the truth.  I belong to Him - always have, always will.

The Lord alone can save. He alone knows what it will take for each of His children to find their way home to Him. We as believers want to pour ourselves into people. Like children, we want to stamp our foot and demand the ones we love just get it together and get with God already. It doesn't work that way. We are to love like Christ. He kept His eyes on His Father at all costs and while His actions may have been viewed as callous at times from the limited human perspective, He was never, ever harsh. 

I cannot find one example in Scripture where a broken, hurting person found the courage to come to Jesus, crying out for help, and received cold response, judgment, or a harsh ultimatum in return. Nothing about the way Jesus loved was surface level. He knew those He touched intimately and could tell them every last detail of their lives. He took an interest in people, but never became so distracted He stopped seeking His Father and the ultimate plan for His life. God's plan trumped everything for Jesus and it showed in how He loved people.

In the darkest seasons of life, I needed the ones who shined liked stars the most. They helped me find my way back. The ones who held firm to the word of life were the ones my ears perked up to listen to. I didn't know I needed a whole village. I just knew I needed one: one ear to listen, one shoulder to cry on, one person to pray when I couldn't find words. Long before I stopped grumbling and complaining, I tucked their love and the Word they shared in my heart. It did not always keep me from choosing another wrong avenue for healing with the hurt came back again, but slowly and steadily over time, I knew where to turn if I truly wanted to be whole again. 

We are called to be those people in this crooked generation, too. The more darkness, the greater the need for light. The more vile and wicked the world becomes, the greater the urgency to be helpful and obedient. Every hope the world has to offer falls short. Everybody is peddling something, but nothing is going to last apart from the peace Jesus Christ alone has to offer. 

People are seeking answers. They are trying, in their pride, to make their own way. When the going gets tough, they are going to make some phone calls or send some private messages. They don't know they need a village. They just know they need one. And they are going to have the freedom to choose who they turn to. When all the efforts to go it alone have failed, they are going to take notice of the ones who seem to be thriving in this chaos. They are going to ask why, they are going to wonder how when they see others shine. Not if but when God, in His sovereignty, allows us to be the people they are brushing elbows with, the ones they are inviting in after storms have torn down all their walls and left them vulnerable and exposed, we will be faced with greatest privilege and responsibility of our lives. 

Father, let them see You in us.

More than anything, this world needs Jesus. They don't need Christians. They need Christ.

I love the way Beth Moore puts it: "It will be come increasingly vital that we learn to distinguish between what is pro-Christian and what is actually Christlike."  May we know our Savior on such a personal level, may we be so well-acquainted with how He loves us that we naturally love with that same tenderness, patience, and intention. The longer and harder some of these have fought to put the pieces of their lives back together, the longer and harder it is going to be for them to let us in.

Keep knocking.

He moves mountains and He rolled the stone away. No man can hold a door closed forever if God intends to open it. 

We don't have to know their stories or where they have come from to know what God wants for them.  

A ten second summary of my story lets me know the truth. These children belong to Him - always have, always will.

"But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, and for the Father is seeking such people to worship him."
John 4:23


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