Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Caught Up (revised)

Along the way at some point in my life, I got caught up. I can't pinpoint the exact moment I was swept away. Perhaps it was during my adolescent years or maybe the age I became a teenager. But one thing is for certain, I have been caught up for many years.

For all of my adult life I have been in church. Not just any type of church either. The churches I have gone to have been beautiful. Beautiful churches with beautiful people who have beautiful things and drive beautiful cars. The church is in a beautiful neighborhood surrounded by beautiful homes or beautiful landscape. Beautiful children with their beautiful moms and dads run through the beautiful doors. It's suburban bliss to say the least.

During my time at one of the churches, I sang on a vocal team. At that time all of the team had to coordinate our outfits and many times I did not have the color or item needed for that weekend. I hated this! I wanted to fit in so badly. So almost every single time I was up to sing for the weekend, I bought a new outfit. It was then I began to whiten my teeth at the dentist office. It was then I began to shape my eyebrows. It was then I began to spend $100 to get my hair done. It was then I chose a very expensive apartment in a very nice area to live in. It was then that I began to want so many things in my life that I had never wanted before. Some could afford this lifestyle and some reading this may think there was nothing wrong with the decisions I made. There was nothing wrong with the church I was attending but there was something wrong with who I had become while there. But, I knew. I knew I was caught up.

As a woman I know that we all struggle with wanting more. Don't say you don't because you do. You have to! It's a curse. Let's go back to Eve in the garden. The fruit looked desirable and delicious, so she ate it. The story of this woman fascinates me. I have heard many say that Eve was not content, she wanted more. She represents you and me, she started our journey and at that moment I believe Eve was caught up. In modern day, what would Eve struggle with? I think it goes something like this. She is invited to someone's house for dinner and as she drives up to the house, she notices the outward beauty of this home. Then as she walks inside something happens, she is swept away. Inside the home is new furniture, pretty pictures, spacious bedrooms, extra bedrooms, a huge kitchen and a big backyard. As Eve sits at the dining room table eating her dinner with friends, she realizes all the things she doesn't have in her home. When she leaves, she feels discontent. She wants more! She wants her home to look like that! She wants new shoes, new clothes, new clothes for her children and maybe even a new car. As her thoughts gather around her discontent, she feels empty. Now, she is completely caught up.

A few months ago I came to a harsh realization about myself. I have been caught up and that part of me needed to die. The Holy Spirit began to show me how ugly it was and how dangerous it was to walk around feeling like I had to have the best of everything. It's not that I shop at Nordstroms and spend a ton of money on my outfits. It's more of addiction for me. A trip to Target once a week to buy a new shirt for church on Sunday. A stroll into Baby Gap to make sure my kids have something new to wear. Even if I did get something on clearance and even if the shirt was only $14.99, I realized my addiction to have to have something new. Back in October, I remember walking into a home for a jewelry party that was beautiful. The woman that lived there was a fabulous decorator. Her furniture was gorgeous, her taste was impeccable and as I surveyed the rooms, I realized all the things I didn't have in my home. Instantly I imagined running into Hobby Lobby, Kirklands and Garden Ridge to make my home look like hers. It's not that there was something wrong with this lady having a beautiful home, but there was something wrong with the way I felt. I was completely caught up.

The church my family attends is a wonderful, amazing, life changing, community changing church. It's not in a pretty neighborhood, some would even say it's not in a safe neighborhood. We have white people, African American people, Hispanic people and I am sure many other kinds of people. Our Pastor doesn't have a different outfit every single week, neither does the Music Pastor or the Choir Director. The people that sing in the choir don't have color coordinated outfits. The parking lot is not full of brand new cars, some are barely running. And would you believe that not everyone speaks English? We are all different, with different walks, different ethnicity, different pay checks, different tithe checks, and somehow we all worship together. I know that in this place, so many things don't matter. Our church is not attracting a certain kind of person or trying to hone in on a certain demographic. Our church is in the hood! And this past Sunday I realized God is doing a new thing in my life. I am not saying that the churches I have attended in the past are bad or caught up in being materialistic. Only God knows that. But, I know that I have been. I am tired of being caught up and I am ready to be set free.

Last week our Pastor told us to pray for him. There is a gang in the neighborhood surrounding our church and the Holy Spirit spoke to our Pastor about meeting with the head of this gang. Sunday morning, sitting on the front row next to our Pastor was the gang member. This past weekend, he met Jesus. He is now a believer, praise the Lord! As our Pastor began to speak to us, I realized he was not going to preach. He had something else planned. "Are you ready to do the stuff? Are you ready to tell people about Jesus?" A few moments later, he ushered the entire church out the front doors and sent us to minister to the neighborhood. It was the most amazing sight. Hundreds of church members scattered into groups of three and began knocking on doors to apartments and homes. We prayed for people, invited people to our church and asked them if there was anything we could do for them. We did the "stuff"! It wasn't a pretty suburban neighborhood filled with white people. In fact, I was praying as I knocked on doors that we would be greeted by someone that spoke English. As we walked, I realized my walk was not where it needed to be. In order to do the "stuff", I can't be caught up.

For this week I have grown and realized change that must happen in my life! Folks, it's all about Jesus! It's not about your clothes, your pretty highlights, your perfect makeup, your perfect body, or how many times you ran on the tread mill this week (I'm talking to myself on these things), it's about doing the "stuff"! I don't want to be caught up! I don't want to bombard our budget at home with me trying to figure out how I can get a new shirt, new jeans, new shoes or new clothes for my kids. Those things don't bring people to Jesus. Women, don't be so caught up! (Yes, I have highlights, nice clothes and nice shoes and my kids are dressed well. We live in a very nice home in a very nice neighborhood. There is nothing wrong with this. I love being fashionable. But there is something wrong when you are driven by it and I have been.)

Ecclesiastes 6:9Enjoy what you have rather than desiring what you don't have. Just dreaming about nice things is meaningless; it is like chasing the wind.

Father, I know I will struggle with this again. I know I will want nice things, new things and better things in my life. But, help me to not be caught up in those thoughts. Father, I want to bring people to Jesus. I want to be bold to the lost. I don't want to just plant seeds, I want to ask others if they know Jesus! Thank you Lord for your conviction for I know that you are doing a new thing in my life. Send me opportunities to do the "stuff"!

11 comments:

Gina Camp said...

Amen, Amen, Amen,
Let's get the world" out of our heart" and get it " on our heart!"
God is at work in all of our hearts. He is so good to finish the work He started. He is committed to you! It is all about Him, His glory, His purpose. Life is entirely too short to be "caught up" in anything except His Love and sharing that love with others. You are beautiful to Him because He sees you "in Him".
Praise His Name forever!
I love you.

Laura said...

AMEN sister! I love this one! WOW! It's all about the great commission...He doesn't say, "go where you feel comfortable and safe", He says, "GO TELL!!" It's not about us or what we look like or what we have...it's all about Him and telling others!! I love it!

Sonya Terrell said...

Wow! Good one, Amanda. I love that story of what your church did on Sunday, what a way to do the "stuff"!

Believe me I know we can get "caught up", I am guilty of it. If you read my blog today you will see my "caught up" was in self focus. Being sef-focused and not getting Jesus to the people.

Thanks for bringing the point home to me again!

Cindy said...

Wow, your blog really hit home today. Brandon and I were both complaining the other day that we are just passionless about God these days and what a heavy heart we seem to be dragging around. I've been trying to put my finger on what has happened with me to cause such a feeling of distance from God lately. I have been very "caught up" lately. So much so that I have lost sight of all the blessings we have had this past year. Thank you for writing your blog! I may not comment every day, but I definately read everyday and always enjoy what you share!

Christy said...

People don't normally talk during surgery but I must say OUCH! OUCH! OUCH! That was wonderful ! Sure needed that encouragement today.

V. said...

Your church sounds wonderful. I too go to a church in the part of the city that is "less than desirable". Every week we send out teams on our ADOPT a BLOCK programs to do what you described...talk to people, share their hurts, pray with them, and we also rake leaves, shovel snow, and do minor repair around their houses.

I co-ordinated the Alpha course at our church which saw many community people from the Adopt a Block giving church/Jesus a try for the first time. Jesus and his message have become more real for me too since being immersed in this new culture. It may be uncomfortable, and in some cases, it takes me back into memory banks that I don't care to re-visit.

There is a great song on the Christian airwaves these days ( I'm so bad with remembering artists and song titles) but it says something like "how can I further your Kingdom if I'm so wrapped up in mine". Your blog was so right on it how it SNEAKS up on you. Little by little, the message of Jesus is squashed, even sometimes in Christian circles.

You're right to see that God is doing things in Bono's heart, in your heart, and in other's hearts. He is directing some changes in his world-wide church and it is exciting to see that it is taking us back to the "love our neighbour" part. That neighbour might be down the street, in a different suburb, or in Africa...but we are being required to love others. And that is so central to others being responsive to the gospel.

Amanda said...

Well said V. Thanks for writing what you did. You know I have to remember to go back to who I was as a little girl. I lived in a trailer park and another time I lived in an apartment with my Dad where we did not have electricity for months. I was so ashamed back then. I can't imagine living that way now but it's a part of me. I can't deny it.

Karen said...

Mandi, Mandi, Mandi! I too will never be the same after Sunday. We walked those streets together and as we walked, God changed us. I remember walking up to a house and you saying, Mom, this is MY blog." OK, this is your blog. You can read MINE later. What an awesome experience. God is changing you -- for His glory and His purpose. I love you. MOM

V. said...

Even tho' I wrote it months ago...check out today's blog entry at:
http://bricksmom.voxtropolis.com/

I sense a theme....

Kelly Ann said...

RIGHT ON! RIGHT ON! RIGHT ON!

This blog post was AWESOME! Keep speaking the truth as God reveals it to you!

I love you!

Anonymous said...

I love this!!! I have been there - so caught up!! Still get that way at times - not gonna lie and say I don't!!! But right now - being and school and being able to start working on the goals God has for me and knowing I am being shaped into the woman he wants me to be has really helped to keep me on track and not get caught up!!! For me when I was all caught up - I felt like if I did not have the pretty clothes, well dressed kids, big cars, big house that people would think I was not being "blessed" by God b/c He was not providing me with all these material things - it was like I was somehow saying look at me in this expensive outfit - see how "spiritual" and "blessed" we are!!!! Sounds stupid I know - but I did it!!!!
Like you - I still like the nicer things and newer things - but all in moderation ;o)))
Nancy