Life Interrupted

helping-others

While stopped at traffic lights on my way home from yoga last week, I noticed a man wringing out his t-shirt and socks, and hanging them over a roadside railing to dry. Judging by the state of his clothes my guess is that this man was homeless and had just washed his clothes in the San Diego River (which by the way is not the cleanest river i’ve ever seen). My first thought as I watched him dry his clothes was ‘I should go and buy that guy a new t-shirt and a pair of socks,’ but then I hesitated. Running through my head were thoughts like: I’m dripping with sweat and I’ll disturb people as I shop in Target… What if he’s not homeless and he gets offended by my assuming he is… He might not be here by the time I get back from going to the shops… I’ve got to get home and make lunch…
And so I drove on by and didn’t bother to stop and help a man who clearly looked like he was in need.

Have you found yourself in a similar situation?

Why don’t we stop? Why don’t we let our lives be interrupted?

For a life worth living is a life interrupted by indelible moments with others. There are numerous examples of people willing to let life be interrupted, giving their time and their resources for the sake of others: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Sir Nicholas Winton, Mother Teresa, Shane Claiborne, Jesus of Nazareth.

Now our interruptions don’t have to be as radical as it was for these people. We could start with simply stopping to buy a homeless guy a new pair of socks, or being late for class because you’re making yourself available for a friend who needs to talk. It could be missing the bus to help an elderly lady get her groceries into her car, or opening your home to someone who needs a place to stay while they get back on their feet. Whatever it is, big or small, we were not created to live life in isolation from one another, rather we were created to share life with the people around us and be a blessing to them. Real joy is found in being willing to let our lives be interrupted and shared with others, especially when they are strangers who cannot return the favour.

In the situation above I could say that fear for my safety stopped me from giving to that homeless guy, but I know its just an excuse because there were plenty of people driving past so our interaction would have been public. Not wishing to disturb shoppers around me because I was sweaty is also not an excuse, nor did I have anything to do that day other than make my lunch because I am on summer break. Truthfully I have no valid reason for why I didn’t let my life be interrupted for half an hour to buy that guy some new clothes, and I regret it. I’ve thought of that guy everyday since I saw him. I wish I’d let my life be interrupted in that moment. But while I can’t change the decision I made in that moment I can learn from it, and so I am going to endeavour to stop for the people around me from now on, to let life be interrupted so that I can share indelible moments with others.

Will you join me?

To My Christian Friends, Why I Do Yoga

 

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For years my husband Chris and I have been looking around in church and noticing that there are not many (if any) people our age. Have you noticed it too? While our churches might have decent sized youth groups, once those kids graduate high school and head off to university they seem to stop coming to church. We find ourselves hoping that they’ll eventually come back to church, but if we’re being honest we will realise that a lot of the time they don’t. 

That is what Chris and I came to recognise, after years of attended church and having no Christians our age to share life with. So we ventured out with a few others in search of creating a church service designed to meet the needs of twenty- and thirty-somethings interested in finding out more about Jesus. And you know what… it worked! God brought people to our church, people our age who wanted to be in community with others who loved Jesus. It was so refreshing and fun. We suddenly had a network of Christian friends our age who we could do church with, do bible study with, and do life with.

But then God called us to move to the United States, and when we got here we discovered the same old story… a distinct lack of twenty to thirty year olds attending church. So again I’ve started wondering, how do we reach twenty- and thirty-somethings who are outside of the church?

Recently an old back injury flared up and at the point of desperation I cried out to Jesus knowing that I needed to do something about it. Yoga seemed like the most obvious answer. Now to give you a bit of background information, I’ve always resisted practicing yoga. Years ago I read a book called The Death of a Guru, by a Hindu Brahmin turned Christian who explained that Yoga was designed as a means to open your mind and body up to union with Brahman. It was important for me that I did not seek to be in union with anything but Jesus Christ, so I avoided doing yoga from then on. However, I am extremely inflexible and my back injury is exacerbated when I get too stiff and tight through my muscles, so I asked God whether it would be ok if I did Yoga at a local studio down the road. Sensing God say that it was OK, took myself off to yoga.

After two sessions I cannot otherwise describe it as to say that I sensed God’s Holy Spirit say to me, ‘It is Good for you to be here’. Why, you might ask is it good for me to be practicing something specifically designed to open myself up to Brahman? Well, firstly, I believe the God I worship, Jesus Christ, is greater than any Hindu god therefore I have nothing to fear in attending these classes, but secondly because all those twenty and thirty-somethings who aren’t in church are doing other things, like yoga. Honestly, I’ve never seen so many girls and guys my age all in one room together – this yoga studio is a mission field!

So while I’m attending yoga I am seeking to gain a better understanding the worldview of people outside of the church, to know and appreciate where they are coming from. But this is also a chance for me to step out of my ‘Christian Bubble’ into the world and mix with people who do not know Christ.

Dan Kimball in his book They Like Jesus But Not The Church says that there are two chasms that stand in the way of those in the world accepting Christ. The obvious one is the Cross, but the other one which we often don’t recognise is Christianity itself and the Christian subculture that we have created, which causes so many outside of the church to have a negative reaction to us. It is essential that we build bridges over these chasms and seek to remove the barriers which stop people from even considering Christ. We need to get out of the safety net of our christian subculture and start interacting with the world, befriending those outside of the church and building trust with them. For we live in a world where many twenty and thirty-somethings admit to being on a spiritual quest to find purpose and meaning in life, but they never stop to contemplate Jesus, who is the way, the truth and the life. These people are probably not just going to walk into our churches, so we need to get out into the world and show them who Jesus is and how much he loves them.

So my challenge to you is this – if you look at your life and your social group and find yourself surrounded by Christians then make a commitment to step out of your Christian Bubble and into the world. Ask God to show you where He would like you to spend your time and with whom He’d like you to spend time with. It may not be at a yoga studio, it may be a coffee shop, or in a sports team or a book club. Wherever it is, let’s get out into the world and win some hearts for Christ!

‘Remember your …

‘Remember your Creator during your youth: when all possibilities lie open before you and you can offer all your strength intact for his service. The time to remember is not after you become senile and paralyzed! Then it is not too late for your salvation, but too late for you to serve as the presence of God in the midst of the world and the creation. You must take sides earlier – when you can actually make choices, when you have many paths opening at your feet, before the weight of necessity overwhelms you.’

~ Jacques Ellul in Reason for Being: A Meditation on Ecclesiastes

My Mother’s Day Revelation

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I don’t remember ever finding Mother’s Day so difficult. I think it is harder this year because my husband is travelling which means I’m a little lonely, church always makes a big deal of honouring mothers on Mother’s Day (which is a good thing), oh and the fact that it is splashed all over Facebook, so I can’t just forget about it and act like it is any other day.

I took myself off to church today and  there my Pastor preached from Romans 2:7 which says:

…to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, he will give eternal life…

The purpose of this sermon was to encourage us to have Godly ambitions and allow our own ambitions to be “ruined” by Jesus (our sermon series on Romans is called A Life Ruined for Jesus). It made me think about how my ambitions have been ruined by Jesus. My ambition was to be a mother and that ambition has been utterly ruined by Jesus, stopped dead in its tracks. But more than just having ambitions ruined by Jesus, Pastor Mark preached that as Christians our ambitions should bring glory to God, honour to others and always focus on an eternal outcome. When I reflect on my ambitions to be a mother I cannot help by wonder whether I was truly seeking to give glory to God, honour to others and aiming for an eternal outcome? I don’t think I did. I think my ambition to be a mother was to bring glory and honour to myself as a “mother” because thats what I wanted, and I did not have an eternal aim but sought to make myself happy in this life. 

The life I live now is completely different and my ambitions have been completely disrupted and ruined by God. I have new ambitions to spend my life working for God, preaching the Good News of Christ, bringing glory to Him, honouring others, seeking to see people come into salvation and freedom that only Christ can offer and ultimately my focus all of my energies on the building up of God’s kingdom so that more people will experience the joy of an everlasting life with Christ. 

Do I no longer want children? No, I long for them everyday but I give that longing to God, trusting for his will in my life, taking up my cross and following Christ. For the path that God has laid before me is far more significant than just fulfilling my desires and making me feel happy for a moment in this life, my joy is made fully complete in living a life for Christ, carrying out his plans that are far more precious and everlasting than mine. 

Best Lesson of 2013


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Looking back on my highlights from 2013 one which stands out for me is learning more fully about the importance of prayer. Since starting to read Too Busy Not To Pray by Bill Hybels I have been challenged to give more priority to prayer and I continually use this book title as my motto because I am literally too busy not to pray.  Life has so many ups and downs, so many questions, changes, and challenges that it has become clear to me that daily moments with God are essential for living life well; without prayer life becomes just a matter of survival. I’ve also discovered that the more time I spend with God the clearer I can hear his voice and his leading. When I neglect daily prayer and the reading of his word I struggle to discern God’s voice, his direction, and his will for my life. This year I’ve come to discover that God’s plans for my life are extremely different to what I have been planning for myself therefore I need to be able to tune into his voice in order to know what is going on. Being able to hear God’s voice clearly through regular prayer makes all of this a lot easier. I’ve also rediscovered the ACTS prayer model – Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication. This model of prayer has really helped grow my prayer life and refocused my attention to the most important reason of prayer which is adoring and worshiping God. Ultimately I’ve learnt that the more I invest into my relationship with God the more enjoyable my life is. Life is not necessarily easier when I pray regularly, there are still many ups and downs but my response to those constant changes is better because I am aligning myself with God everyday and constantlybeing reminded to look to Jesus as my role model in life. 

 

What is the greatest lesson God has taught you this year? 

An everyday journey with Jesus Christ

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Kate Jutsum - On Life and Love

An everyday journey with Jesus Christ