HOPE…another word that continued to bounce around in my head throughout this process, a constant reminder that there is so much good to come….
A while back our church began the “Give Your Life Away” campaign in which they encouraged members to find their God-given talents and a passion/cause that stirs them–one that they could fight for– and combine the two to create a specific ministry opportunity almost uniquely tailored for that individual person. While at small group one Sunday, everyone got the opportunity to share theirs with the group and we wrote them down and had plans to expand on them more later as well as brainstorm to find ways in which all of us could “give our lives away.” Rewind a bit….
Several years ago, when I was in college, I randomly attended a missions event at the Baylor auditorium. I remember bits and pieces of it. I remember a video about orphans that had me in tears mid-way through, and I remember them giving statistics on the number of orphans in the world and specific countries, and I remember them saying that there would be a room set up at the back and if you felt God calling you towards overseas missions or were just interested in missions, etc. to go back and talk with the people in that room. I also specifically remember China being the main country they spoke of, and I remember being turned off by that and mentally telling God that I would do anything He asked but overseas missions. Anything. And especially not China. That night after the conference was over, I was on my way out the door and I literally could not leave. I could not do it. I walked that long hallway towards the room they had set up for people interested in overseas missions and I turned around and went back to the door to get out of there. Hand on the handle to leave again and I couldn’t do it! It was ridiculous. I ended up walking into that room, terrified, curious, frustrated, nervous….and oddly, a little excited–which made me mad b/c I had already said NO. I stayed for over an hour and was one of the last ones to leave.
Back to the present. 🙂 So, as far as the “Give Your Life Away” campaign goes….my God-given talents I wrote down as photography/art and my passion–something that I could literally stand and fight for—orphans/adoption. This call to orphans and adoption had been sparked in college, as you now know. TANGENT…we hope to someday adopt from another country and had been in the process to do that very thing over three years ago when we found out we were pregnant with our first son. So, obviously we put adoption on hold, but still hope that is in our future. So the process of praying through this idea of ‘giving my life away’ in a way that put my passion and gifts together started. And then came the storm of the last couple of months. And it got put on the back-burner, a little forgotten, but not totally lost. Until lately. A couple of weeks ago, I listened to a sermon by Matt Chandler that dealt very specifically with recent life events…as well as his own life events. He said something that really hit home for me. He said that (in a summed up version) we all live like we’re going to live to be 80 and see our kids grow up and get married, have kids, be grandparents, retire, travel the world, and die in our sleep…..when in reality, that’s not what is going to happen for us all. Some of us will die young, some of us will lose a spouse or a child, suffer extreme tragedies, etc. He said much more and the sermon was awesome and I’ll provide a link to it if I can remember exactly which one it was. However, that’s what hit me the most. And I started to realize the truth in that, and the extreme brevity of life, and this feeling of urgency started to come over me that I couldn’t shake. The urgency of living for the gospel, the urgency to make a difference in the world, our community, to step out in faith and take a risk. Life just became so short…..maybe it always was, but for me, it’s just now hitting home. We are ‘a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes..’ James 4:14. So as I began to process and deal with this fact—that truly, we all will die (not that I didn’t know this–but you know what I mean)…and for some of us it could be soon, and for some of us it could be when we’re 80, 90, 100….I just started to remember what I had been praying about before all of this happened. How to ‘give my life away’ for the gospel. And I realized, if life truly is so extremely short, why are we all living like it’s not….why are we avoiding and ignoring the suffering and tragedies that are happening every second of every day for fear of getting too close hence they happen to us? Why are we not standing up and fighting for what we believe in, fighting for the injustices in this world, fighting for the gospel, fighting for those who can’t fight for themselves? Why are we not ‘giving our lives away’ and trying to make a difference in the brief amount of time we have here on this earth? I could probably answer those questions pretty quickly for myself in one word: fear. Fear of a lot of things….fear of the unknown, fear of others, fear of tragedy, fear of what people would think, fear of being uncomfortable, fear of fear, etc. And since God does not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self control, why do we let fear control us a lot of the time? Good question.
So, I began to pray again for a way to combine my gift with my passion in order to make a difference. I needed some direction. What I kept thinking about and telling my husband was that what I would really love to do is go over to China and visit an orphanage first-hand and have the experience and the opportunity to take pictures and bring those back home and share that with our church family as well as others, and in that way, raise some awareness as to what occurs halfway around the world. However, there was no opportunity for that right now and I don’t see that happening for some time. Especially considering the fact that we have two young kids and hope to have another in the future. I can’t even begin to tell you the amount of fear that comes along with that idea anyways. The first-hand experience would just have to wait several more years. So I begun to think of ways to raise money for orphans or people in the process of adopting, etc. I still didn’t have any direction as far as what organization, or if I was to start something up, etc. A million different directions to go. That’s when I stumbled upon Show Hope.