Call Vignettes- A Series of Surrenders 6

Not all surrenders happen in a moment.  Some surrenders have come over time, as Jesus continues to invite me into a deeper relationship with him.  The notion that God interacts with his people directly has fascinated me since I was little.  I couldn’t understand what adults meant when they talked about God speaking to them.  How did you know it was God and not your own crazy thoughts?  What did you have to do for him to talk to you?  Should you talk back?  I had so many questions about the interaction.  In Junior High School I would lie in bed at night and practice hearing from God.  I would lie on my back and look up at the ceiling and say, “Lord, I want to hear your voice like adults say you speak to them.”  And then I would lie quietly.  I would examine each thought that came into my head, “Nope, that was my thought.” “Nope, that was definitely me.”  And on and on until I fell asleep. 

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Call Vignettes- A Series of Surrenders 5

In the last few posts I wrote about certain times in my life when I made definite decisions to follow Christ.  The moment I asked Jesus into my heart, although I remember it, was not near as hard won as other moments of surrender.  Rather, these defining moments are times when I have been faced with the questions, “Who is lord of my life?  Who do I choose to submit my life to? To me or to Jesus?  Do I trust that God is good?  Will I say “Yes” to his leading, however frightening or boring or wise that may or may not appear to be in the moment?  

And so God’s call on my life has really been the call of Jesus to follow Him.  Responding “Yes” to that call has got me to where I am today.  There was never a moment when God called me to be a community developer, or when He spoke a career of full-time ministry over me.  The call has been to follow Jesus, and in my particular case it led me right back home to a community of people I was mildly curious about before I met them, and to a city I love dearly.  Reflecting back, I can see that God had been planting experiences and seeds in my heart all along that led me to this place, but those experiences were not significant apart from the foundation they built toward me saying “Yes” to the things Jesus was asking of me.

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Call Vignettes- A Series of Surrenders 2

I was a headstrong child.  When I wanted to do something it was hard to stop me.  I don’t remember why I decided it was time for me to be baptized but I remember telling my dad that it was time.  I figured if baptism was something you had to do to follow Jesus, then I wanted in.  I was nine years old and we were sitting at the kitchen table, Dad at his spot at the head of the table and me across from him.  “I want to get baptized.” I told him.  “Getting baptized is a serious thing, Crissy, are you ready for that?” 

I don’t remember my exact answer but I remember him kind of trying to talk me out of it, implying that I wasn’t big enough.  Whatever I said must have convinced him because come Easter Sunday I was in the second row of baptism orientation.  I was the youngest one there, and the most excited.  No one else seemed to share my enthusiasm.  I volunteered to be the practice example for crossing your arms.  I raised my hand to answer the questions.  I was ready.

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Call Vignettes- A Series of Surrenders 1

I am often asked, “How did you get in to this line of work?”  I assume they are referring to me living and working in neighborhoods that many people purposefully avoid.  Sometimes others will answer for me, “Oh, she feels called to this ministry.”  Which I suppose is true, if by called they mean compelled or led by Jesus into these choices.

When I think of being called I think of Moses and the burning bush or Abraham setting out for Canaan.  My journey has been more like a series of surrenders, a progression of saying ‘yes’ to the Father’s reign in my life.  Each surrender has led me deeper into relationship with the poor and with my brothers and sisters in Christ.

I suppose the first person who taught me to love the marginalized was my mother.  It wasn’t so much that she reached out to the poor but she gave me eyes to see them.  Before school each morning she would pray that my sisters and I would see the kids who didn’t have friends and befriend them.  That’s how I started bringing home latchkey kids and newly arrived immigrants, kids who stuttered and were generally marginalized.  Even when I didn’t reach out or was held back by wanting to be accepted by my friends, I still noticed the lonely kids.  I believe it was because of my mother’s prayers.  I would hear her in my mind while I played at recess and moved about in our classrooms.

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