I sent out an email at work last week. Mostly to the believers, just let them know about the incredible opportunity of hosting/befriending international students at the U of A this year.
Not five minutes after pressing send, she was standing here, right here in my office. She told me to come see her when I had time. Gulp. I hope I didn’t offend her, I think to myself. I hope this wasn’t too much, too personal. I wrestle and doubt.
The gospel and the workplace is hard for me. So is going to campus at lunchtime and realizing I don’t have the same freedom of college life, that the real world has snatched away much of me, taking my athletic shorts, oversized t-shirts, bed-head and chacos with it. Okay, so I never wore chacos, too bad really. Now, I am committed from 8 to 5 and live in dresses with sandals. I digress.
I walk into her office and she invites me to sit. I smile and tell her I hope it’s okay that I sent this to her. She smiles bigger and tells me God answers prayers. I rest and hunker back into my seat, relief settles in.
We talk well into the afternoon hour and I am encouraged. She pours out her heart, the depths of it. She tells me of this commitment phobia, this one I think we all battle to some degree. She wants to be apart of a church body so badly, but she doesn’t know where or how and she prays and the loneliness continues to flood, weekend after weekend. She stops moving and forgets the dreams.
I have noticed that she wasn’t up at the top pew in church lately, arms raised during worship but I just figured it best not to push the topic…not to make her feel uncomfortable. So I stayed silent, while she stayed alone. Us both paralyzed by fear, as the bricks we wear begin to build and His voice begins to grow quieter and we lose sight of the dream.
Maybe if I stop dreaming, if I stop thinking about all He could do, then He will just stop speaking and I will stop being afraid, I rationalize.
We talk and I tell her there are people her age—to try to do something outside of a Sunday morning, something relational. She is relieved and she rejoices. We talk about membership and our phobia of commitment. I tell her of the year it took me to commit to a church body after the hurt from the last. We decide we need community just after we need Jesus and we dream. She tells me these words, this email, this moment here with me, this is her prayers come to life . I smile and tell her He is faithful and He knows so much better then we.
I don’t tell her that I am scared too. That some days I wish I could silence His voice to calm the trembling inside me. I don’t tell her that I hear His voice tell me to use the name Jesus in a story I am telling the unbeliever I love in the office beside mine, but I hear Him that clear and I say no, it’s too hard. No, I just need to build more trust, more relationship. No, she will stop being my friend. No, I am having a bad day. No, I will get in trouble. I don’t tell her that because I am shaking and stuck.
I leave her office and I kick myself. Why do I clam up at work? I can walk out that door and onto campus and speak gospel all night to my international friends, but I just can’t seem to say a word at work. God is gracious and uses me, lack of obedience to his prompting and all. I don’t forget because there will come a next time, another chance to pass the test I have learned to fail. He tells me to tell her—to make sure she knows we are all obedience-phobic at times, hearing His voice and all.
On Sunday, she is standing up at the top pew once again. She meets some people and in an only God breathed gust of wind, she ends up in membership class that very afternoon. Yesterday, we had lunch and got her all ready for hosting her international student this year. She is going to be fabulous. And when she hears His voice, it is going to move through her words. She committed to a body and a student because she heard His words so clear through my lips that she couldn’t say no again, she chose to move and shake and dream.
Oh Jesus, give me that faith, give me that obedience. You speak and I move. Simple.
Let’s just remove the complication and doubt—this is what we tack onto His otherwise clear and simple language proclaimed in our ears. We digress and before we know it, forget His command all together. That’s when the phobia rushes in and we stop moving again.
Truth—I didn’t expect Him to work quite like this, that He would really come through, that the Spirit was willing in spite of the weak flesh. But He is moving and shaking things up around me lately and it is challenging me to commit to Jesus, to dream with Him. To commit to the body He has placed me in but mostly to commit to His glory above my phobia, my people-pleasing pride stuffed phobia that silences the gospel right off my tongue.
For the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
Do not be deceived, and do not forget. Hear the word and do it. Keep on moving and shaking and dreaming, because here in this place His words liberate and we bless.
We are all a little more lonely then we would like to admit and we all need to be liberated, shaken into action and moved to dream. We all need to be reminded to listen for His voice and act.