“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” -Jim Elliot
the details are long, but the short of it is that we could leave now. the market has shifted in town and this little run down house could be sold for 4 times what we still owe. elementary school has ended for us and the middle school years are just plain hard. especially here. we could retreat. sell this house, and re-locate.
it is true that i need rest. i have responded to the Lord’s invitation into hiddenness with a wholehearted; “i am willing, show me the way.” the danger has been in the timing of the real opportunity to leave it all behind. it would seem logical that if the Lord is inviting me to ‘a solitary place’ that leaving the noise of the city for the quiet of the mountains would be precisely the solution.
except that it’s not…..not exactly.
we didn’t move here to start a ministry. we didn’t even move here to love our neighbors. we moved here in the midst of a real trauma, doing the best we could with what we had. it was the God of the Samaritan who had a ministry in mind for us, a church, a school, and neighbors to love. the only thing that has shifted now is the financial freedom to choose a different location. couldn’t we relocate and love those we’re called to love from afar? put a little distance between us and the constant visible needs of those around us?
the reality is, the reason i have a bus schedule on my fridge to share with the friend sleeping on my couch is because we are familiar with utilizing the city bus. i cannot love well from afar.
it is costly, this way of the Samaritan, this daily dying to self, this obedience. He’s not asking me to stop obeying in order to rest, but into a deeper obedience.
“A decision to release the world and our fate to God runs contrary to everything within and around us. We have been had by a system of behavior that was here before we were and seeps into every pore of our being. “Sin,” Paul tells us, “was in the world,” even before the law came. it forms us internally and pressures us externally. Hence we must learn to choose things that meet with God’s actions of grace to break us out of the system. These things are the disciplines of life in the Spirit, well known from Christian history but much avoided and misunderstood. For those who do not understand our desperate situation, these disciplines look strange or even harmful. But they are absolutely necessary for those who would find rest for their soul in God and not live the distracted existence….solitude and silence are the most radical of the spiritual disciplines…” -Dallas Willard in his forward to Ruth Haley Barton’s Invitation to Solitude and Silence.
what i’m being asked to do is walk the path of entering His rest, of withdrawing by myself to a solitary place, setting aside the needs of those around me for communion with Him….while at the same time moving out with compassion for those who come my way. it’s complicated, it’s messy, it takes discernment to know when to set aside my plan for the day for the need of another and when to shut my door and turn off my phone. it means knowing full well that i am in a season of stepping back from actively serving in order to tend to my soul, yet making a bed up on my couch to ‘provide the poor wanderer with shelter.’
it’s trusting Him to provide what i most need.
He knows the way that i take. He’s walked this same road of compassion and self-care. He shows me the way. He says there is more for me here in this little house, that it is not finished. i believe it’s more of Him. more of learning the disciplines of life in the Spirit through staying the course, persevering, lifting my eyes up to the hills and remembering where my help comes from. there will be days of retreating up to the mountains for a time but more often there will be days of taking a walk by myself through my neighborhood to pray. i have much to learn and a patient Teacher.
i’ve counted up the cost, oh i’ve counted up the cost…and You. are. worth it.-Rend Collective
to draw further in: Matthew 14; Isaiah 58; Hebrews 4