What the Hatmaker Said When She Interrupted Me

God keeps interrupting me.

It started with this appetizer last week. On top of that, having just moved to a new place and flexing my “get acquainted” muscles, I’m looking for the places to plug into my community where I can have an impact for Christ. Then, I was chosen to be one of 250 bloggers to receive an advanced review copy of Jen Hatmaker’s updated book, Interrupted. I was primed for Jen’s book, pondering and praying about God’s next move in my life.

For the next few weeks here on Predatory Lies, I’m going to plow through Jen’s book with you. By the time we’re done, you’re going to have to read it just to see if you agree with my revelations from it. (But that’s okay because through July 31, you can get a 20% discount on the book here. Oh, and I’ll be giving away a copy on Predatory Lies, too!)

I’m only a few chapters in right now, but let me tell you, Jen Hatmaker kept me up last night. No, not reading. I’m pretty good about turning the lights out at a reasonable hour even when I’m reading a great book. But she got under my skin; she kept me awake pondering whether or not I’ve totally missed God, if all my attempts to follow Him, to work out my salvation, to hone my vocation and use my little life for His glory—whether I’d gotten it all wrong.

Here’s Jen’s first epiphany: “And from the heights of heaven, this is what I heard: ‘You do feed souls, but twenty-four thousand of my sheep will die to day because no one fed their bellies; eighteen thousand of them are my youngest lambs, starving today in a world with plenty of food to go around.’”

Gut punch.

Jen follows that excerpt from her conversation with Christ with dozens of statistics. It’s heart-rending. Honestly, the statistics have always been available, but most of us have learned to scan over them when we see them in print, or change the channel when the Compassion International commercial comes on, or squirm in our seats when they take a special collection for missionaries in Uganda.

Before you squirm now and bail on me, take heart, I’m going to take a different spin on Jen’s message. Yes, she kept me awake, but it wasn’t God leaning into my heart saying, “You’re not doing enough.”

I wrestled all night, “God what do you want from me? Where am I supposed to go, what am I supposed to do? Is all my Christianity filthy to you because I’m not on my knees cleaning a leper’s sores in India?”

No.

(I know I’m kind of all over the board right now, but bear with me.)

Jen’s right and I’m not wrong. I’m not averting my gaze from her statistics and I’m not going to quit reading the book because it makes me uncomfortable. In fact, I’m going to change my prayer life, increase my financial giving and take brutal inventory of my excess. I’m making a commitment today not to buy anything else this year that is not consumable—no new clothes, dishes or decorations. I am committing before God not to live in blissful ignorance of the needs of God’s global, precious image-bearers.

But God hasn’t called everyone to take up Jen Hatmaker’s mission. God hasn’t called every Christian to march under her banner.

A couple years ago, God wouldn’t let me out from under James 1:27, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”

About that time, He opened doors from Brave and I to become a certified pet therapy team and we’ve been visiting the sick, elderly and lonely. I am passionate about this. It’s not easy. Sometimes it’s boring or frustrating trying to carry on an encouraging conversation with someone on the brink of senility or trying to appear interested when a lonely child won’t stop talking, or pretending I don’t notice a disfigurement, an ugly wound or the dirty hand gripping mine. But I know that I know this is what God has given me to do—and He’s given me a passion for it as well.

Additionally, God has opened doors wider than I ever thought imaginable to speak hope and healing into the lives of several girls pinned down under the weighty lies of an eating disorder. This is brings me joy, challenges me and affects my heart. This too keeps me on my knees asking God for wisdom, words and grace.

Summation? Jen’s book is going to cost me some sleep. She’s awaking my heart to a deeper level of need that I’ve either been unaware of or not wanted to acknowledge. However, her clarion call will press me deeper into my own calling to serve the least of these, dig my hands deeper into the soil of my own mission field and follow the Servant-Savior wherever He leads.

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Receiving, Re-gifting Life

[Re-posted from Finding Balance]Brave for FB

My dog Brave and I volunteer at a nursing home with an organization called Pet Partners. He has an uncanny way of making even the sternest face brighten. Frustrated, puckered expressions relax when he wags his tail like a dust mop over a patient’s knees. I love to watch wrinkled hands cup his furry face and touch noses with him. Brave, like many dogs spreads life like a contagious, happy disease.

Just last week, an elderly woman asked me if I really intended to keep Brave. She said it wasn’t fair, because she needed him. Laughing, I told her, yes, I plan on keeping him, then pulled my beloved puppy into my chest. She has no idea how much I need him. In more than one way, he saved my life.

One of the reasons that Brave and I got involved in pet therapy visits is because of the role Brave played in my recovery from anorexia. I had been a compulsive, long distance runner for several years and despite the advice of counselors and nutritionists, I felt physically unable to relinquish the addiction.

Lies rambled nonstop through my head, “If you don’t run as many miles as you did last week, you’ll be fat by the time you wake up tomorrow.”

When I got Brave, he was only five pounds; there was no way he could manage to keep up on my runs. But he did need exercise and I felt magnetically drawn to spend every spare minute with this little bundle of life. Almost over night, and almost unintentionally, I reduced my runs to leisurely walks. And guess what? I didn’t get fat!

By the time Brave came to live with me, I’d been in and out of vicious battles with anorexia for fifteen years. My family and my husband were tired, exhausted from the strain of worry and frustrated by their inability to help me get well.

I’m walking in health now, but I still struggle sometimes. And to this day, Brave never tires of my occasional tears or a lingering irrational fear of food.

One of the most surprising ways that Brave has helped me recover is simply in the fact that I have to feed him. At first I was paranoid that I might feed him too much. I hated the thought of owning a fat dog. Suddenly, I realized I was projecting my own fear onto my dog and I could see with clarity that going hungry could hurt him, even kill him, something I had a hard time believing about myself.

More than once, as dogs will do, Brave has found his way into the cat food or a patient at the nursing home has given him her whole lunch. On those days, his little sides are distended, but he seems unaffected by the momentary experience of fulness. Within a day, his stomach recedes to its normal boundaries and his happy life goes on. To think that being full is not the end of the world!

I’ve taken so many lessons from my four-legged friend. Yes, I’m thrilled to share his encouragement with others, but I’m fully aware of the gift God has given me in this little dog. I’m grateful, and I intend to keep him.

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