I needed hiking boots. For years I’ve been managing hikes in sturdy, well-gripped trainers, but for this week’s excursion my hiking buddy insisted I find some sturdy, well-gripped, waterproof boots designed to keep my limbs proper and face out of the snow. You see, my face and limbs are arranged a certain way and I prefer to maintain their current order for as long as possible, so wisdom I heeded.
Maybe you can relate.
I also value- equal parts- form and function, while preferring to maximize resources, so after shopping retail I decided to see about the possibility of a mutual need & fulfillment opportunity on the LetGo app and there she was- a pair of sturdy, well-gripped, waterproof hiking boots, with high mile potential and only three days of trail on them for a third of their retail cost. Win. I grabbed some cash and pulled-into our rendezvous point- the Target parking lot. I let the seller know I had arrived.
“Are you interested in the socks? Or do you have socks?”
She and I had not discussed socks in our app chat convo the night before. She did mention that a salesperson advised her on sizing and blister-prevention when she bought the boots, but that was the extent of it. So why did she ask as though we had discussed it? Maybe she’d had a bunch of inquiries and got our conversation mixed up with one she had with someone else. Maybe she had a brain fart and thought she asked me the night before- it was pretty late. Why am I even taking the time to tell you about this? Here’s why: Though she and I hadn’t discussed it, (trust me- I read and re-read our chat thread), when I saw her question, I didn’t read it as an unfamiliar, not pre-discussed, unwarranted question as it may have seemed to come, but instead as a naturally flowing question in an on-going conversation that she and I shared without having an actual interaction. It was as if she had read my mind and I expected it. With possible -2℉ of frigidity ahead of my toes and me, I had planned to stop at a sporting goods store after meeting with her in case she didn’t bring socks; the only reason I had a backup plan was my own doubt.
God had told me before I left the house that the she would be bringing socks and that I should gift her a jar of my homemade fig spread and that she’d need prayer. After pulling cash from the ATM He said I should not try to bargain with her because she really needs the money. All things I understood personally.
We chatted mildly about the boots and the 24 miles that she hiked in them. She, in active wear and a petite frame, looking quite healthy, wore a medical bracelet. Eventually she mentioned that she became very ill a few years ago and hadn’t been able to use the boots after those three days on the trail. What is it that we’ll be praying for? I was eager to get to the good stuff. I sought her heart and pried with delicate inquiry, aware that to her I was still a strange woman who contacted her online just the night before and was now trying to buy her boots in a Target parking lot. She had no idea the Lord had set her up for a divine encounter. Turns out, she is a walking miracle. Literally.
Not too long after her three day hike, she became pregnant and had a child. Soon after that, her body began to weaken gradually; an autoimmune illness had caused paralysis of her entire body and after three years of complete immobility, the Lord brought gradual healing to it. Her driving to meet me and handing me a five-pound box of boots while she walks on her own is a miracle. She squeezed my hand that I had placed on her shoulder as we thanked God for his love for her, his healing power and his provision for her and her family. After the prayer and a vision He gave me of a time in the near future when she’ll be standing on top of a mountain, feeling so moved by his love for her and all he’s brought her through, we shared an embrace. “I have a sister!!” she cried, hardly wanting to let go. We exchanged phone numbers and agreed to spend time together in the near future if the Lord wills.
Look at that.. I reveled as I drove away. I didn’t even have money for the boots until this morning when Rachel agreed that the amount she had initially intended to give me for my next trip to the chiropractor would go toward the boots instead. ...the boots I need for a very cold weather tent-camping trip- in the snow; I hate the cold. I won’t go swimming if there’s a chance I’ll be even a little cold coming out of the pool. Going to the snow just to be in it? I’ve shirked recent invitations quite successfully and have zero apologies. So why, when a friend invited me to sleep in the snow at the Grand Canyon with her in below freezing temps, would I agree? Because I want to spend time with her? Because I don’t feel comfortable her going alone? Because I crave adventure? Because every now and then I need to test my meddle and prove to myself what I’m made of? I suppose my answer is yes, all of the above. What is God’s justification of my contrariety, I wonder. What if the sole purpose of this trip was to put some cash in his daughter’s hand, let her know that He tells strangers on the internet that she’s going to bring them socks before she mentions it herself, and that she has a weird sister who makes fig jam (but doesn’t remember what pectin is called) and delivers it to strangers she meets on the internet, just to prove His love for her?
If you were to ask my closest friends how I fare in relationship matters, they’d likely tell you that I am “intentional”; I go about scheduling meet-ups and other social matters “intentionally”. I suppose that is true. However, recently, I needed to take a step back from a good deal of socializing in order to receive rest and intentionally let go of some weighty commitments for a season. In this season I found that even though I was being unintentional with my scheduling and the more traditional ministerial duties and service commitments I carried, I witnessed evidence of God’s working power in ways and places I would have easily overlooked when I was in “ministry mode”. Serving from a place of rest has been so much more rewarding than serving from a place of kind-hearted compulsion. “My ministry” has truly gone with me wherever I’ve been- makeup or no-makeup, “prayed-up” and feeling super spiritual or hardly prayed-up, but filled with joy.
“As it is written: “He has scattered abroad His gifts to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.” Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your store of seed and will increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous on every occasion, and your giving through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For this ministry of service is not only supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanksgiving to God. Because of the proof this ministry provides, the saints will glorify God for your obedient confession of the gospel of Christ, and for the generosity of your contribution to them and to all the others.” (1 Corinthians 9:9-13)
I wonder- What if my only intention of being Love and the Light wherever I go is enough, as long as I simply “go”? What if my crazy, snow camping trip is (low-key) a mission trip dotted with divine encounters- moments full of His love for His children who are in need, seeking provision and a hand to hold? I am fully convinced that in order to truly see what we carry within, we must step out and into places that carry unknown. What if simply living a life to be His Love to others is a mission trip we can accomplish while running errands?
-Deep post alert- (3 minutes)
Was sitting in front of this gate and thought about how accurately this position depicts my current season of life. Maybe you’ll relate.
If I said that I’ve been “sitting back” or “sitting comfortably” on the sidelines of life I’d be lying. Truth is, for the past decade I’ve been nose-to-the-grindstone, hustling. I’ve been run ragged, pressed to the bone; I lied, cheated and stole. I’ve been to the depths of darkness; hopeless, full of self-hatred and disgust, wishing I was someone else- anyone else- as long as she was thinner. But thin was never thin enough. I’ve been on both sides of disappointment, abandonment, rejection, bullying, criticism, and ignorant judgements in the name of faith. I’ve been on my knees in puddles of tears and snot, pleading for mercy and I received grace. I’ve dreamed and given-up dreams, learned to walk by faith and to love without expectation. I’ve been unemployed and seen miraculous provision, learned to be a servant before becoming a better leader and was stripped of pride and clothed with humility. I’ve been forgiven, redeemed and completely transformed. And all of that came with a price.
At points, the price came as a large slice of humble pie to the face of my unchecked ego. [🤤...mmm...pie...] A good deal of the time it came as great discomfort; of choosing to be vulnerable with others instead of concealing my hurts, allowing them front row seats to the process of my healing- my ugly cry and the painful, ugly truths attached; stepping out of my comfort zone and into places where I felt exposed; wanting to get married, yet letting go of relationships with good men- not because we weren’t getting along, but because prayer revealed the increasing distance between our paths in the future; letting go of *my* idea of just how my life should look as it pans out and looking to God for guidance and direction, even though it doesn’t seem to make any sense humanly, (which is pretty much the greatest secret to eternal success, btw 🔑 ). And sometimes the price came as the need to sit still, to stop running; to show up consistently enough that others would have the opportunity to Love me so that I could learn to receive Love. So that I could learn how to give Love.
With every hardship, every struggle, every sleepless night and every desire and justification to “sit this one out”, run toward a different direction or quit, with support of the Holy Spirit and those precious folks God placed around me, I pushed through. I was called batsh*t crazy to my face and heard only a few of the unsupportive things that weren’t said to my face. But I didn’t quit. Can’t stop won’t stop.
And so now, the last step before a new level of life lies beneath my feet and like every time before, I have the option to sit this one out and wait another few years before this season comes back around (it often does)- or get up and step through that gate, not knowing what might jump out at me from the right or offer itself from the left (maybe that garage door will open to reveal fixin’s for a startup that needs a heart), or how I’d get over that fence if I need to. Who even knows- in the time it’s taken me to write this and for you to read it, maybe someone’s already come to knock that fence down. Or brought a ladder. Or a big trampoline and pie. Or a helicopter to take me to a plane that will take me somewhere white sand-exotic so that I may lay in a hammock and write to you about how tough life is, laying in a hammock somewhere white sand-exotic, especially if there’s no pie.
(Part of) My point is- if you’re sitting in front of an open gate, get up and walk through it. The other part that I didn’t allude to, because you’ve probably heard this your entire life- please close the gate behind you. If you don’t, the dog’ll get out, and that’s just an unnecessary inconvenience for the person whose backyard you’ve been trespassing.
Different seasons in life will present us with the invitation to ask ourselves, "Where am I?" Am I stagnant, playing it safe on the shore? In spite of feeling that I’ve not moved an inch, am I actually wading hip-deep? Am I on the boat?