How disgusting did I feel? I was sitting in what would be a five-star hotel to them, beside friends in clean clothes watching sport highlights on their wireless laptop. All the while we were debating whether we should buy the touristy five dollar candy apples first, or travel through the thrift store to see if we could find any nice cheap clothing to add to our already stuffed bags. We definitely didn’t need any more clothes and we would essentially be robbing those who can really only afford the thrift store clothes. We would be stealing from the people we are all called to love and give the shirt off our back to... or is that only on Sunday that we are suppose to do that?
I don’t know where I’m suppose to draw the line, or where God has drawn the line for me. When does it become wrong to buy that nice expensive top for your mother on her birthday? Or spend more money on that pair of shoes because you’re told they’ll last longer than the five pairs you have back home? Or buy that new jacket because it will match your new pants better than your one-month old, now out of style jacket? Surely God doesn’t frown upon everything we buy to please ourselves or to put a smile on someone else’s face, but I’m sure He’s shaken His head quite a few times at all the stupid, worthless things we find such value and pleasure in but never actually need, especially while there are children dying on the street corners.
So what am I to do? Leave this program? Well I don’t think that is really going to solve anything. For me, right now, I don’t need to buy anything in order to really experience this adventure. Almost everything has been paid for so I shouldn’t need to pull out my wallet unless I have found a meaningful and reasonably priced souvenir.
We do a lot of sitting and eating. And when we sit for such long periods of time we get bored, so what better thing is there to do than eat? It becomes an activity, something to pass the time, and it’s neither healthy nor a wise use of money. For this reason, I will only eat the provided meals, drink lots of water, eat more on special occasions, and when I’m bored...I’ll actually do something! And something physically active if possible.
But as Ephesians 4:28 says, don’t just stop stealing but “begin using your hands for honest work, and then give generously to others in need.” To just stop stealing from the people we are called to love is okay, but doesn’t do much good unless I begin to replace it with something that benefits them; something that counteracts my selfish desires. And this is where I leave you. What value do you place in monetary things? Do you feel you have to buy something whenever you go to the mall? Do you turn your head at the price of something that you just really like, even if you have 3 perfectly good ones already at home? Do you super size when you should probably just get the salad?
If you trust that your money belongs to God, will you listen to or ignore that little voice in your head telling you that He doesn’t think you need to spend your money on certain things. You have a choice to make every day, the choice is yours; candy apples or thrift store clothing... or there’s always a door number three to look behind.
Lately I’ve been challenged to take a look at my faith and how it compares with the faith of those who we read about in the bible. We read about people willing to kill their children when God tells them to, people who jump into raging fires and don’t burn, we read how Jesus raised people from the dead, heal their illnesses, and feed 5000 people with just a few fish and pieces of bread. We are told that we can have a faith that moves mountains, yet we read of these biblical miracles and convince ourselves that God just doesn’t work that way anymore, not in today’s society. But I ask why not? Why do I try to limit God’s awesome power? How do I obtain a faith that believes God can work miracles, that He can bring an end to certain injustices and issues? Why do we say, “Well I can’t do anything to change the stats on world hunger or poverty.” We may do our small part in donating food to food banks and feel good about it, but even then we know it won’t change the world and we convince ourselves that God can’t use us to influence change in this world. Why don’t we dream big and allow God to do miracles through us? I want to be a radical. I want to do something huge for God. I want to allow God to use me however he wants and accomplish world changing things through me. I want God to give me passion toward something that takes it to the cover of the Rolling Stones Magazine.
…but will people in desolate places in Africa ever read that magazine? Will everyone in the world ever be able to hear of my ministry? All of a sudden, it seems like a bit too big of a goal. Mother Theresa said, “We are called not to be successful but to be faithful,” and she also use to say, “We can do no great things, just small things with great love. It is not how much you do, but how much love you put into doing it.” So am I to narrow down my focused audience? Should I just pinpoint one group that I’m really passionate about? Can I ever start big and look at the world, or can I only begin in a small town working in my community and over time develop my ministry even bigger if I can, but if I can’t, do I remain content with the work God is doing in me? But that’s just one community, maybe 100 people I would be effecting with God’s love… 100 of how many billion people in this world? All of a sudden it doesn’t seem that big of a deal. I believe God can use our dreams to work miracles, to influence change in not just one part of our world but throughout the whole world. I don’t know where to start, I don’t even know where my passions lie, but I have the faith that God can and will use me and my desire to do something huge for His honour and glory.
–Lord, make me a radical, place in me goals and ambitions and help me dare to dream big. I want to tell your story Lord, and I pray that You use me to do this as best I can-
So, how do I combine my desire to impact the world with Mother Theresa’s claims, and my conviction that I can really only truly love those I’m passionate about when directly in contact with them (if I do something BIG where it seems the higher up on the social ladder, the less direct interaction I get).
That also leads me to thinking, maybe this BIG thing will be a community thing, and as it works for me, it can be passed on to other communities to evolve into a huge movement. Or maybe God will lead me into this BIG thing –but more as a leader and I will oversee everything, training others to go out into their communities –giving them the same drive and passion that God instilled in me. I don’t know? And on top of this, I like living in the countryside/small town. More than that though, I may have these vague dreams or ideas, but what is my passion? What do I want to do? I know whatever I decide, God will be with me and guide me –but I’m lost. So, what should I be thinking for next year? This is my third year out. I wish I could be further along in my career direction –but I’ve got nothing. For sure God is guiding me, but it’s such a long, slow process that sometimes I wish was going much quicker. Am I to be a musician? A store owner/manager (I always liked the idea of a bowling alley) A founder of a non-profit organization? I think I can narrow it down at least to being that of a radical. Daring to be different, unique, not fitting into a box. To not just work for someone else, but to begin something new.
In continuation, I read something that I think I really needed to hear.
See, I want to do something huge, I feel God’s placing that on my heart –that He can use me for something big for this world. But despite my desire for this, perhaps I shouldn’t be looking at that big picture, looking at the final project. Not to doubt it’s possible, or give God the short end of the stick, but rather to start normal and believe that God can build it into something bigger as He so desires. The story I read is found on page 120 in Shane Claiborne’s ‘Irresistible Revolution.’ The story is about children dancing in a park and how they thought maybe other kids would see and join in, maybe business men would join in, maybe the whole city would eventually join the dance, maybe the whole world. ‘Maybe…regardless, they decided to dance anyway and enjoy it.’
I want to influence the world for God, but I’ll let Him lead me into that as He so desires. For now, I should just focus on my now, allow Him to show me my starting point and together we can work from there.
We began walking down Robson street posting these signs [a second sign read “It’s Your Turn To Act”], but we soon learned that the street posts designed for advertisements were to be cleaned off on this exact day. So we made a decision. The only way this will work is if we only post on the polls that are not intended for posters. In other words, we were to do something illegal. After prayer for protection and reassurance, we continued on. Quickly and efficiently we posted our 8½ x 11 posters.
Understand that prior to our actions we had recognized police cars constantly driving around almost every corner. But after we prayed about it, not one police car drove past us the entire hour and a half, except when we were just standing at the lights waiting to cross. We felt God’s protection. Our first reaction to the posters was from a man living on the streets who wasn’t too happy. He yelled and cursed at us for posting illegal graffiti in the city and told us to stop. We began second guessing ourselves but soon realized that He was the voice of Satan not happy with what we were doing. Not soon after we recognized those words were not from God, we felt His approval from the next comment we heard. It was made by a construction worker walking by, mumbling the words on the sign to himself. He responded hopefully with, ‘really? I didn’t know that.’ Thank You God for honouring our dedication of following Your voice.
It was such a blessing to have people actually look at the signs as we posted them, as well as after we had posted them. You could tell that they were reading them and our prayer was that they were causing the people to think. As we passed one poll, not an hour after we had posted the signs, someone had written ‘God is Dead’ on one of the signs. Not the best thing to read, but evidence that this person read it, thought about it, and even cared enough to respond. This and other situations told us we were successful. We were making people think, and our prayer now is that they might hear God’s voice and act on those thoughts.
This was the first glimpse for me in being a radical. Someone willing to push the boundaries, pass the limits, determined to make my voice heard on behalf of God as a call for people to follow this movement. The movement of love. Like you, I have read many stories of radical revolutionaries and their attempts to go beyond the norm for a cause they are passionate about. These stories excite me, encourage me, and challenge me to get out of the pew and do something. I was able to execute my first attempt this day, and it felt great. I felt right in my element, using gifts, talents, and passions that God has blessed me with to show His love to His people. There may be better, legal approaches for next time, but this is where God led us this time. Two-hundred posters challenging the rich and poor to love one another, posted on literally every single lamppost down the busiest ten-block street in the city that has been voted as Best Place in the World to Visit and that has the poorest postal code in all of Canada. This is where God called us this day to be radicals. May He call me to more challenging and risky places preparing me to break the sound barrier with the radical message of Christ’s love.