Of Glasses and Vanity

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I’ve come to the realization that my eyesight simply isn’t what it used to be. An optometrist told me a few years ago that my age is at fault for my ocular malfunctions. After recovering from the “age” comment, I felt somewhat betrayed that my eyes would rebel against me to the point of requiring full-time vision correction.

At first, I only needed glasses for reading, I was able to swallow that pill easily enough and carried on with life. Fast forward just a few years and everyday tasks became impossible without my glasses – reading recipes, deciphering the lettering on my measuring cups and spoons in the kitchen, recognizing someone’s face on the other side of a parking lot, all became difficult. I found it cumbersome to put my glasses on and take them off repeatedly during the day and finally succumbed to the need of wearing them all day long.

Vanity has driven me to great lengths to find the perfect pair of frames and I have yet to find them! Vanity also drove me to wear contact lenses; I happen to like my green eyes and am now in the throes of wearing daily contact lenses in order to keep them from being hidden behind my glasses.

As irritating as it may be to wear glasses, use contact solution, order new contacts all the way from my optometrist (Dr. Reiter who is amazing, and did not make the age comment, if you’re in South Florida and need your eyes taken care of she’ll take great care of you) and have them delivered by FedEx to Malawi, I can’t imagine not correcting my vision when it’s in my power to do so.

Yet, when it comes to seeing what’s really important in this life, there have been times that I’ve been in need of a heavenly optometrist. I’ve been guilty of neglecting to correct my vision, finding it inconvenient to open my eyes to what’s at stake: the souls of men and women. The noise of life, the angry TV news reports and overboard social media blurbs, have made me focus on the “rights” and “wrongs” in society rather than keeping my eyes on Kingdom business. It’s easier to take sides than it is to be a Kingdom worker, for God sees all humanity equally through lenses of love. Those lenses force us to see not only the true condition of others but also of ourselves in light of Who He is – the Great I Am.

Has the truth of John 3:16, that God loves the world, become so foreign to us today that we conveniently edit out the truth that everyone means everyone? Everyone not only means those who we think fit into the mold, but also those who especially don’t fit into the mold. Everyone from the Midwestern housewife, the school janitor, exercise instructor, orphan, billionaire, and Syrian refugee is seen equally through the eyes of our Father. He simply loves them and wishes they would become part of the family.

I wonder how much our spiritually poor eyesight keeps us from working with the Father to grow the family; how much have we actually harmed the effort to bring the prodigals home?

2 Peter 3:9 Voice Now the Lord is not slow about enacting His promise—slow is how some people want to characterize it—no, He is not slow but patient and merciful to you, not wanting anyone to be destroyed, but wanting everyone to turn away from following his own path and to turn toward God’s.”

The next time you see someone at the grocery store or sleeping homeless on the street or even see angry newscasts on the TV, dare to look behind the veil of what this world would have you see. On the outside, people appear to have it all together or be the authors of their own misery or at the mercy of a ruthless dictator. Their external circumstances belie who they really are: the apple of God’s eye.

It’s time to put our glasses on.

I Didn’t Walk Through Business Class

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I just checked.

We are flying at 37,000 feet our way back home to Blantyre, Malawi. Our flight, that I’m watching on the conveniently located flight map on the seat in front of me, has so far been uneventful (save for a few bumps of minor to moderate turbulence). Our overall progress, however, seems to be advancing so very slowly! The outside speed is 561 mph (903 kmph) but the trail indicating distance traveled is moving at what appears to be a turtle’s pace. This may or may not be due to the distance we are flying, by my calculations, about 10,000 miles (approximately 14,000 kilometers), give or take some few hundred miles/kilometers.

Since I’m well aware of things not appearing as they seem, I am not worried. Traveling for the past 30+ years in the developing world accustoms one to the regular odd happening such as the travel map not reading the correct destination. I mean, I am supposed to land in Africa, not Dublin, Ireland as indicated on the map.

Or, should I be worried? Is the map showing anything correct at all?

Nah, I’m now hours into the flight and it’s too late to turn around. Things will work themselves out, they always do – but I wonder a little bit about the map and will do so until the end of the flight.

My daughter, who is sitting between us in our ever-shrinking economy class seats, is playing every game that the airplane system has to offer, my husband is alternating between nodding off to sleep and watching movies. While I sit here on a 13+ hour long flight failing to do little more than watch the odd movie and play a few games of Scrabble on my iPad.

Slowly the “food trolleys” pass by with plastic wrapped sandwiches that everyone, in this nearly full flight, devours with great gusto. This may sound strange as most of you probably haven’t had the delightful experience of landing at our next stop before finally landing in Blantyre: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Addis, as we who travel through there affectionately call it, is an interesting airport.

Let me explain.

Upon landing in Addis, the level of noise in the airport is amazing; there are people everywhere. I’ve learned that it’s becoming a major African air travel hub that is now struggling to keep up with the increasing volume of people passing through on their way to various destinations on the continent. The noise, combined with the movement of so many people to their various gates, creates a fascinating environment. It’s easy to decipher who is patient and who is not.

Not only is it noisy in Addis, but there’s no “easy seating.” What do I mean when saying there’s no “easy seating?” This is a term I have conjured up myself to describe the near panic that grips your heart when you realize there’s nowhere to sit for the next several hours while you wait for your connecting flight. Every available seat is jealously guarded by the fortunate one who managed to get it before anyone else.

Even the most frugal person would, at this point, try to pay to get into the airport lounge. Once the lounge is found, entrance is denied if you aren’t a member with the airline. Tears sting at the backs of your eyes as you are forced to return to the swirling masses of humanity in the concourse where you find yourself resorting to some kind of instinctual behavior as you scout out possible seating.

Still, we keep making these trips over and over!

The remaining part of our journey, once we leave the busy Addis airport, is where the plot thickens even further. We will fly to Lilongwe, Malawi (about 3+ hours from Addis), and be on the ground for about an hour dropping off and receiving passengers. Finally, after departing from Lilongwe, after a very short flight of less than an hour, we will land in Blantyre where the lines are long and slow and luggage carts are broken.

The chaos that ensues upon landing is a mixture of joy for the journey’s ending, jet lag, and struggling to get through customs and immigration. The heat this time of year is suffocating, but my eyes long to see the dusty roads of Africa.

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Home for me has never been wrapped in the comfort of my natural citizenship. I have longed, painfully at times, for family and friends but have learned to accept the longing of my soul for the people of Africa. To fight against it would be tantamount to fighting against my very breath.

So, I embrace this discomfort: economy class and all simply that I might see Him someday and pronounced faithful to His call (see Phil. 3:10).

I am thankful that at least this time I didn’t have to walk through business class to get to my seat.

 

 

 

You Don’t Have to Wear the Panty Hose

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I’ve been traveling for the past several weeks with my husband Jamie and our youngest daughter Andreya doing what missionaries do when not on the field: visiting churches and supporters, giving reports of what is happening with the work overseas. It’s been a great time of renewing friendships and meeting new friends.

Nevertheless, traveling so much has given me the unique opportunity to catch up with what’s trendy and new. I have to say, one of the coolest “new” things I have seen has been ordering food online and having it delivered to whatever address is entered into the proper fields. It’s possible to order a complicated burrito without speaking to a human being!

Another crazy new trend is the “virtual assistant” craze. A virtual assistant (or VA) is someone who offers administrative support that can range from making phone calls and writing emails to marketing online. This is something I’ve never even imagined but as I think of it, I can see how in today’s fast-paced society that having a virtual assistant could be a great benefit for certain people.

With the spread of the internet now reaching far and wide, people are able to upload ideas at an amazing speed and, with the right people reading those ideas, they can grow into “viral” trends in what seems to be the blink of an eye.

There’s a medical term, “social jet lag” that refers to the condition of falling victim to erratic sleep patterns causing exhaustion and a litany of other symptoms. This definition hails from the jet lag one experiences when travelling across time zones (a condition that I am well-versed in). However, I have begun to see social jet lag in another light. I define it as “the condition one succumbs to when trying to keep up with all of society’s trends.” I’m not sure if my definition will reach the heights of the online masses, but when I try to keep up with all of the trends in society today I feel socially jet lagged!

I remember when all the rage was to keep your roots colored; every 4-6 weeks women would flock to their local beautician to get their roots done so they wouldn’t have the dreaded line of “roots” showing. Fast-forward to a few years ago and the “ombre” look became all the rage. “Ombre” is having the longer parts of the hair colored a different color from the roots. Those of us who have been struggling to cover those roots for years became seriously confused. I still don’t know whether to color or not – am I in or am I out???

I remember when having a perm was all the rage – I sure hope it doesn’t come back any time soon. I was so relieved when I no longer had to perm my hair! Give me a hair straightener any day.

I remember when all the rage was to wear panty hose. They had many styles: sheer, control top, ultra-control top, sheer toe, reinforced toe, not to mention the rainbow of colors that were available.  These were to be put on by rolling them up and beginning at the toe, you rolled it up over your legs up to your waist. Either the hose would pull up seemingly to your chin or hang uncomfortably near your knees. If they were control top, they served as what felt like a corset (you couldn’t breathe too well wearing them).

Suddenly, after years of  wearing hose, that often came in cool egg-shaped containers, someone decided it was time to throw them away. Women everywhere struggled to adjust (and shave their legs more regularly) and some, like me, rejoiced thinking that we would never have to wear hose ever again.

Until someone invented leggings, jeggings, and skinny jeans.

Now women everywhere who had been liberated from the form-altering panty hose flood stores looking for the newest legging, jegging, and skinny jeans.

Aren’t these items simply panty hose with no feet?

Social jet lag, I feel it. I can’t keep up. I can’t be relevant at the pace with which society dictates I keep up.

Thankfully, I’m no longer 25 for when I was 25 I worried far too much about what was in and what was out what people did and didn’t like. I’ve learned as time has passed that it’s impossible to please everyone. In fact, it is very difficult to please more than 1 or 2 people at a time, if even that many.

Pile on top of my inability to keep up with the trends, the fact that I’m a missionary Jesus-lover. What would cause me to leave my own children, grandchildren, extended family, friends, and country? This is a question that is really very simple to answer and is not a very politically correct one: my life is not my own and I live to please Him Who gave Himself for me. I was a case before I came to Him and was on a road whose destination led nowhere but to sadness, but now that I know Him, every day is filled with hope and an expectation for something better. I don’t have all the answers as to how this change came, but I know Him Who changed me and that is answer enough.

This fact pushes me to live for Him and not myself. Don’t get me wrong, it stings to be away and I’m not sure I even fully understand this pull I have with my husband to work in Africa. I cry just like everyone else when saying goodbye; I miss my children and now grandchildren. Yet, I wonder how helpful living here would be for them when God has called their father and I to serve Him elsewhere. What kind of example would that be in the end? What would that teach them?

All of us, in different ways, have been called to serve the King and be part of His Kingdom. This call is not popular nor is it in any way relevant. The Gospel at its core confronts people with their need for a Savior, and this is not a popular message. We definitely need to use culture to appeal to those around us, but we must be aware of the fact that we cannot mute the voice of the Gospel that calls everyone everywhere to surrender to the King and His will.

Paul, when preaching at Athens in Acts 17, he studied the culture of the people (vs. 22,23) and appealed to them through using what he learned. Once he had their attention, he gave them the full download of truth from heaven that included confronting the parts of their culture that displeased God. I wonder how well we would receive Paul’s message today in our approval-driven society.

As approval-driven we are, we might project some of that onto our relationship with God and risk having the loving relationship He wants to have with us. God’s approval of us is not based on what we do; it is based on what He has done for us and our surrender to Him, our understanding that He did it all when we couldn’t do anything.

This life is too short to live for the trend of the moment. Rather, seize life for the adventure it is meant to be and live fully in the moments you have.

 “We shall have all eternity in which to celebrate our victories, but we have only one swift hour before the sunset in which to win them.”   Robert Moffat

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Getting My Roots Done

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I was really irritated; it seemed I had just come from having my hair done and I woke to my hair rebelling and growing. It needed to be retouched and I simply can’t easily find time to keep myself sorted. I mean, looking this way doesn’t just happen by chance.

Yes, I’ve fallen as most of us have for the lie that we need to work hard to keep things at least in a satisfactory condition. I won’t stop doing my hair any time soon, although I wonder if there might come a day that I’ll opt for something simpler than having my roots done every 2 ½ months or so, but I do know that there’s a nearly invisible line that I need to keep myself from crossing in order to keep things in the right perspective.

There are many things we allow ourselves to think are important when, really, they fall under the “optional” category. Some of those things might even fall into the “unnecessary” category. Finally, there are things we may entertain with the hope of improving ourselves that fall into the “don’t do it” category.

Why have we allowed ourselves to believe we need to adjust who we are in appearance, personality, or ability to the point that we become almost unrecognizable? I wonder if we are simply trying to fill a void inside of us that only God Himself can fill for when He fills us – His satisfaction of Who He is fills us.

God isn’t in the middle of an identity crisis nor does He feel the need to change His appearance according to the eclectic whims of society’s norms.

Jeremiah  9:24b TLB “Let them boast in this alone: That they truly know me and understand that I am the Lord of justice and of righteousness whose love is steadfast; and that I love to be this way.”

When we come to know God, when He becomes our Father and Jesus becomes our Lord, His desire is for us to know Who He is and to understand that He is very secure in Who He is. He doesn’t try to make Himself out to be anyone other than Who He is – and He wants us to be just as secure in who He has made us to be.

As a parent of 4 amazing children (3 grown and one 9-year-old), there’s little that moves me to tears more than having my children believe that they aren’t “enough” as individuals. I know, and their father knows, that they’re amazing – and if someone doesn’t recognize this and tries to get them to change who they are, my heart is grieved!

I can’t imagine what our Heavenly Father feels every time we bow to the pressures of society saying,

“You’re not enough.”

“You’re too young to understand.”

“You’ve lived overseas, what do you know about America?”

“You’re now too old to make a difference.”

“You’re out of touch with what’s relevant today.”

“You take God too seriously.”

Such statements make us feel very uncomfortable and bring us to question our internal values – those values we used to hold dear. That we are the children of God, that we are redeemed, that we are loved, that we are cherished, and that He makes up for all of what we lack. He makes us to be enough for Him which astounds me.

Since when have we stopped loving who God made us to be?

God, our Heavenly Father, is the only One I can take seriously in a day and age when opinions change daily. Everything from earthly friendships to politics are subject to change moment by moment according to what is acceptable – according to what is relevant and politically correct at the moment.

So, in response to everyone who may think I’m not enough, or think that I take God too seriously I say:

Yes, indeed, I take God very seriously because He takes me very seriously and won’t discard me as I am tomorrow. When I wake up, He is with me and when I sleep, He will be there. I am His, and He is mine, and that I have found is enough.

Psalm 139:17,18 NLT “How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered. I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!”

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The “Why”

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“Why?”

It’s the question of the ages that has gone largely unanswered: Why do bad things happen?

The past months, our world has been inundated with bad news; catastrophe after catastrophe, loss after loss, and without much explanation. We struggle to get behind the reasons for the trouble; if we could know “the why” perhaps, we reason, we could come to terms with the outcomes we are facing.

Working in Central Africa years ago in Burundi during the time of civil war, I had my first real wrangling with trying to answer that question. The violence, which began in the country’s interior, had caused a migration of thousands to the capital city, Bujumbura, where we were living and pastoring our first church. Within a few weeks of the escalation of fighting, makeshift displaced persons camps were set up in the city. Initially, those in the camps were the elderly, women, and children who had fled the violence. Of course, as the weeks and months went by, those having less than noble characters hid themselves among the innocent making their plight in the camps even worse.

Hunger gripped the city and those fleeing the violence felt it more than most. As it is with most of these types of situations, the NGOs and worldwide community took a long time to respond and it was up to the local community to react – and spring into action we did. The ladies of the church and I, there were only a few of us at the time, decided to pool our resources and cook whatever we could find for the children. At first, we thought our outreach would last only a few weeks as we hoped along with everyone else in the country that things would “cool off” and life would return to normal. Little did we know that this situation would rock on for years to come.

God blessed and we found ourselves suddenly feeding hundreds and thousands of hungry mouths. We worked to bring children’s church lessons to the children as well as finding ways to provide medical care when needed. It’s easy in these situations to get swallowed by the need and allow the pressures of the situation take a front and center position in life. After some time of being witness firsthand to the anguish felt by mothers who watched their children suffer the effects of the war, I found myself pulled into the whirlpool of “why?”

“Why, God, is this allowed to happen?” Became the mantra of my prayers, and it went largely unanswered for a long period of time.

The stress of having to find the answer to that question produced an anger in my heart that I couldn’t immediately shake. It pushed me at first to work harder, which caused me to nearly neglect my own family and health. I became exhausted and felt as if I was the “only one” who cared if the children lived or died. I went to meeting after meeting of NGOs, who by that time had tried to involve themselves in the relief effort going on in the country, and felt I was unheard by those who apparently “knew more” about the situation even though all they did was dictate how to work from their air-conditioned offices surrounded by private security. Meanwhile, the rest of us on the ground scrambled to bring what help we could to the children.

One morning, I went to the local market to purchase some food supplies and while there I saw, for the first time, stacks and stacks of food clearly marked “not for resale – for distribution only” for sale. Incensed, I reported it to the organizations responsible, but there was no change. Those items continued to be for sale in the market and no one took notice. I was disillusioned and disappointed by those saying they wanted to help but only seemed to profit from the pain of the people. It seemed no matter how hard I worked, it wasn’t enough to mean much, adding further complication to my “why?”

Once I grew tired of being angry, tired of asking why and not understanding, I surrendered to God and changed my question from “why?” to “how can I help without being swallowed?” For I came to the understanding that the answers to the “why’s” were so far-reaching that it went beyond my ability to explain:

Why do people hate one another to the point of killing those they hate and their children?

Why won’t more people help?

Why are the poor marginalized?

The answers to those questions lie within the hearts of those committing hate motivated atrocities; there’s no understanding that can be applied to hate. There’s no rhyme or reason to it and if we aren’t careful, we, too, can be “rightfully” infected with a hate for what we cannot understand and, in the end, does that make us any better than they are?

The only answer I have found for hate is love. Loving more, loving extravagantly, loving when it is easy, and when it is hard for love is an easy load to carry. Jesus never asked us to take up something we can’t bear, for He bore it all for us and what He calls us to carry is light in comparison to what this world would lay on our shoulders:

Matthew 11:29-30 NKJ “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

As time has gone on, I have learned to keep reaching out, keep caring, keep loving people even though I can’t understand the motivations behind their situations. I only carry in me a better way to live – through the love of God.

Galatians 5:6 NLT For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus…. What is important is faith expressing itself in love.”

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My Kingdom Go

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“May Your Kingdom come, Your will be done,” is part of a prayer we pray almost without giving thought to its meaning. It sounds as if we are heartfelt in our hope for God’s Kingdom to be revealed in the earth; and perhaps there is a part of us that truly does wish for His Kingdom to come. What we miss when praying this way is that there is something that has to be done away with in order for His Kingdom to come – our kingdoms have to go.

There’s a price to be paid to see God’s Kingdom established in our hearts and that is the dismantling of our own kingdoms. Obviously, our kingdoms do not compare to His in majesty but for some reason, we hold onto them fiercely. Our kingdoms are what we have spent our whole lives building; how can we let go when we have invested so much of our time, strength, and money in their pursuit?

The past week and a half we have spent visiting with our families and churches in South Florida and we have enjoyed every moment. Malawi, where we live and serve as missionaries, is far from Florida. Simply having a few days of uninterrupted time with our loved ones, visiting parents, children, and now our grandchildren, is a gift and we have enjoyed our time thoroughly.

At the same time of our visit, a hurricane named Harvey landed in Houston, Texas, destroying businesses, homes, and lives of thousands in its path. The country mobilized and aid has begun to pour into the city that will take months, if not years, to rebuild.

On the heels of Harvey came another stronger, and potentially life-threatening hurricane named Irma (how they come up with these names is a mystery). Initially, the hurricane seemed to be pointed exactly where we are staying with our family: West Palm Beach, Florida. When it was apparent that Irma was on her way, we spent days preparing for the storm and prayed, in earnest, about what we should do: evacuate or not.

The science of predicting exactly where a hurricane will make landfall is not an exact one. We vacillated between leaving and staying for days until we finally felt God had given us a peace to stay. The hurricane took a slightly different path to what was initially reported. While haven’t been hit directly as was initially reported; we’ve had tropical storm force winds and rain. The power is off, candles are lit, and I’m watching the family play games and pass the time until it is safe to go out, survey any damage left by the storm, and carry on.

We can’t do anything about the storm once it has fallen except sit together, enjoy one another’s company, and trust our Father to cover us in the storm. God has, and always will, find a way to break through into our situations to answer our prayers despite our tendency to drift away whenever the crisis lifts.

I wonder if we have exchanged our faith in God for a faith in what we have accomplished. We have idols of our own making sitting in our living rooms: what we have accumulated through all of our hard work. Rather than giving thanks for God’s gifts, we work to gain what we can apart from God and, when they are torn away in some tragedy, we blame Him.

The storm has now passed and while our power is off and we have incurred some damage, it could have been much worse. The kingdoms of our own making are temporary and can end in an instant. Any security we hope to secure on earth is fleeting, at best. Indeed, may His Kingdom come; His incorruptible Kingdom that cannot be blown away by the winds of a hurricane and whose reward is sure in His hands no matter what we may pass through in this life.

May Your Kingdom come.

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Who Does That?

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As you may, or may not, know, I’m a bit of a misfit. Wherever I go I tend to do the opposite of what others do to fit in. I don’t misbehave on purpose – it’s a special talent that I possess. This talent has been cultivated through years of shifting between cultures. It began years ago (I won’t say how many years ago) as I am born American to Finnish parents, raised in a Finnish community as a child, grew up in South Florida, and moved over to Africa where I have spent most of my life.

Who does that?

I’ve never fully fit anywhere. From the time I was in school, I knew I wasn’t destined for popularity. My parents’ English was lined with a nearly unintelligible accent that made fodder for the bullies. We lived frugally, that itself was a problem in a society that measures its members by what they look like and what they possess. Mom and Dad grew up in war-torn Finland where nothing was ever wasted; their experience obviously affected them deeply. Eating out was something we never did, we didn’t have up to date hairstyles and cool clothes.

School was a chore (imagine asking my parents an English grammar question in high school), life was difficult, and I tried to fit in and be part of the “in” crowd. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that I was never going to fit in. I decided to learn what was acceptable and what wasn’t; I then did my best to fade into the background. It was easier to go unnoticed than it was to be recognized for who I was – a real misfit.

And then I met Jesus. I have a lovely aunt who introduced me to Him and when He and I got acquainted, I found (for the first time) Someone Who accepted me without condition. I became one of those that brought Jesus into every conversation and people slowly adapted to my new and crazy identity.

Unbelievably even those who said they were acquainted with Jesus thought I was “over the top” with my commitment. While I fit with my Lord, I didn’t fit with those who were my new family. I became “that one” that is in every family – you know the one that makes everyone’s eyes roll when they come into the room? My misfit status remained firmly in place.

My hopes and dreams of doing something for God with my life slowly began to stifle under the same kind of pressure of fitting into what is “relevant” in our Christian circles. I tried to fill that mold as well and began to fade into the background of the noise of what was acceptable. It seemed there was no fitting in no matter where I turned.

What to do with me? Someone who was American but not? Someone who loved Jesus but was crazy? Someone who had dreams for a continent and no plan to get there?

There are few emotions that are as painful as feeling misunderstood and I was willing to go to great lengths to avoid that pain. While I had grown accustomed to being a loner, it didn’t mean I enjoyed the feeling. I slowly found myself bending the truth of who God had created me to be in order to avoid the pain of not fitting in. There was a certain level of misunderstanding and rejection I was prepared to endure, but I secretly hoped those feelings would diminish if and when I would ever find someone I could fit in with.

But that was not meant to be – fitting in is not meant to be for any of us. We are not born to fit in; we are born to stand out. We will “amen” to sermons on the subject, we’ll sing songs about being a chosen generation or being brave, but few have to courage required to live our lives boldly for God.

When God breaks into our lives and we let our walls of self-defense come down, it’s as if we undergo a personality change. I take courage in understanding that the Bible is full of misfits who found their fit when they gave up trying to fit in.

Moses didn’t fit into Egypt or Israel, and even when he spoke with God, he tried to find a way out. When he finally gave up, he led millions to freedom.

Caleb’s courage wasn’t welcome. The other spies and the entire nation of Israel rejected his faith to take the Promised Land. But he stuck to his commitment and he did get his mountain.

Esther was a Jewess in a Kingdom that had called for their deaths – but she found a way to gather her courage. She became part of Jesus’ earthly lineage.

Deborah was a prophetess leading a nation where women were second class compared to men. Yet she found the courage to lead the nation to victory.

Jesus who called Himself God, was rejected and crucified for His own. Yet love found a way to break through and the world is now filled with Christians because He lived His life “out loud.”

The common thread woven between all of these (and many others) was their abandon to self and image. The roads they chose were the roads less traveled by for sure, but I wonder what would have the alternative been for them? Lives lived under the microscope to please others and stay out of trouble?

When we live to fit in or please others, it’s much like paying a bribe. You pay once, and you will end up paying again. It’s best never to pay because it’s a bill you end up owing for the rest of your life.

The only One who is deliriously happy with you at all times is your Heavenly Father. God is your Father and His is the identity you possess and fighting to change that identity only serves to frustrate you and hold you back from rising up to who your Father has destined you to be.

What is the worst that could happen? We fear the unknown to the point of hindering us from fulfilling destiny.

What if I fail?

 What if I fall?

 What if I miss it?

 Where will the money come from?

 What if my family doesn’t understand?

Psalm 37:23,24 TLB “The steps of good men are directed by the Lord. He delights in each step they take. If they fall, it isn’t fatal, for the Lord holds them with His hand.”

God is more interested in your getting it right than you are – and He has the power to get you back on track if you take a wrong turn. He’s not in heaven with His charts polling the heavenly host predicting if you will fail or not. He is in heaven’s grandstand cheering us on! He delights in each step we make, even the wrong ones for the wrong ones lead us closer to Him as we find our way in the dark.

It isn’t fatal – it isn’t irretrievable – you can and will get back in step because we are to rise and take our position against our common enemy, Satan. He and his cohorts work to keep us insecure, powerless, fearful, and depressed. Don’t give in to those emotions. That’s not part of the deal!

God has a plan, a marvelous plan for you – do you dare not to fit in with what society says is right and live out loud for Him?