I was pulling into the Walmart parking lot a few exits away several minutes later only to smell the flames burning again. Being so far away, I knew it couldn't possibly still be the house we'd passed. I smelled my shirt, thinking maybe the scent lingered still. But the smell wasn't attached to me. I started looking all around me, with it being such a hot, dry day and all. We were creeping down the side-road towards Walmart, when something caught my eye.
God used a burning bush to talk to Moses. And today, He did that for me too.
That's right, one of those perfectly trimmed, fancy landscaped bushes was completely engulfed in flames, just a couple feet away. There was no audible voice calling out asking me to strip my feet bare prior to my approach.
Rather it was a still, quiet moment and I haven't heard Him so clear in months.
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Tonight, I finally told granny about my upcoming trip to India. She freaked. She told me that was a mean joke. When I told her I was leaving in July, she went off on one of my old roommates, how that girl filled my head with rubbish. Now that girl is a wife and new mamma, I reminded granny, so obviously it wasn't her that led me to this desire to live overseas. Well, at least she will have a nice life. With her lawyer husband and little family. That's right Courtney, she has a perfect, beautiful life. I guess it's just over for you, huh? You're throwing it all away. Clink. She hangs up.
I spent time with my adopted fam this week and the conversation of dating was brought up. One of the girls said she feels like the weird one even in a big group of church friends. And I feel it too. Even amidst fellow believers, I feel like I don't belong sometimes. As I watch my Jesus-loving friends date recreationally when I spend more nights at home, I wonder if I'm right in all of this.
Just the fact that you have more international friends then Americans, grandma says, is foolish. Eventually they will all leave you and then what will any of it matter, aside from winding up alone and old? she asks. Soon enough, they won't want to hang out with you, Courtney, you're wasting your prime years here. My uncle wants take me out of his will because he says if he leaves me his money, I'd give it all away and what a waste that would be. It's better to leave to his girlfriend, he says.
This is extreme, but I feel it elsewhere. Sometimes I even think my beleiving family thinks I'm a bit crazy--extreme maybe. After quitting secular university and moving in with a homeschooling family of eleven, I get it. And how to begin to articulate all God has done through these decisions this year, how it's all lining up as He changes my desires and vision for life. I just find myself speechless and miles away. So, for now the extremes linger I suppose. And I trust more?
Some days I just want to prove the world wrong. I wanna go be a missionary to unreached people in India for the rest of my life just to prove them all wrong. To prove I'm not throwing it all away. That sometimes obedience looks radical through the eyes of our culture--it's all relative really. I don't know. I just know it feels lonely. And then there are days like today. Where I actually wonder what I have thrown away, what merit or comfort in the world's eyes I've given up in pursuit of this outwardly countercultural and presumably extreme lifestyle.
And so here I find myself, wrestling with my white picket fence fantasies contrasted against this gospel call to obedience--and what the means for me. Is the promised 'well done' enough to quiet the lack of belonging and doubt that lingers today?
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And so I gaze across at the burning bush and He quiets me.
I see you, daughter. I see the trials and the doubt. I see the struggling in and around you. The suffering, I see it too you know? But I AM WHO I AM--I have come down to deliver you, all of you. I know you're a little more broken these days and I know you feel the burden of this world. I see the oppression and I am sending you, my suffering servant to tell them of my promises. Daughter, you have learned to hope beyond the pain and they need to know it too. I know it's lonely, but fear not for I am He who never forsakes.
Who am I, oh Lord? Don't you see my own suffering seems unbearable at times and yet it cannot compare to theirs. My selfishness and pride are paralyzing. What could I possibly have to say?
But I will be with you. And this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.
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The crazy thing is, the very first time God spoke to me so clearly He told me to go to the mountains and share the good news. At the time, I had other mountains in mind. Now I hear Him again. Calling me to these mountainous villages of India. You will see miracles and you will trust me more. Little by little, daughter. I am delivering you.
And I promise, when you taste the milk and honey these temporal sufferings will be washed away. When you hear my words well done, your grandmother's voice will be but a quiet melody.
Oh Jesus, please blind these eyes to the flattery of this world. Train them to turn from the accusations and dreams unfulfilled. Bind them to you. That I might see through the filter of your gracious hand at work in my life. That furthering your kingdom would propel me heavenward with unshifting joy.
We shouldn't ever doubt right? We should hear and respond to God's voice pouring out of a burning bush with far greater faithfulness then to that of an embittered granny living miles away. And yet, it's hard. But Jesus told us not to be surprised if the world hates us. Because it first hated Him. We have to remember it's the gospel we share that is offensive.
Brothers and sisters, how do we live in this world and yet not of it? Better yet how do we align our thoughts and deeds with scripture but avoid extremes in our witness while maintaining our convictions? What do you hear God calling you to this week?