God’s Not Done

  
The fact that this blog post is going live past July fourth is the perfect example of why I could never be a journalist. I’m a ruminator – I like to chew on and think about things, leaving me very little to say at the time of the current event. So, pardon my late-to-the-field commentary. 

And, I’m not one to write about current events in general. I don’t really think that debating over politics is the most effective way to “bring others over,” at least not through a blog. And I hesitate to write this because I don’t really desire to engage in the debate, or to place myself square in the way of trolling comments. But occasionally I stumble over a soap-box I can’t help but stepping on for a while.

 As you all know (because I’m definitely in post-current status), the Supreme Court recently legalized gay marriage. My Facebook feed was evenly split between rainbowed profile pictures and passionate articles about the dire fate of our country. It was a little exhausting. And heart-breaking. And hard to process.

 I believe that the biblical definition of marriage is pretty black and white, and I think it’s devastating that our country does not define marriage along those lines anymore. But that day, on Facebook, the statements that bothered me the most were not the celebration of “equality” by those in favor of gay marriage. The statements that irked me the most were those made by Christians, about God’s abandonment of our country. “God moved his business overseas,” “God is done with our country,” etc., etc.

 These statements are heartbreaking to me. For many reasons.

 I’ve been thinking about God, talking to Abraham about the impending destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. We all know this story. Abraham asks, “But, God, what if there are fifty righteous? Forty? Thirty? Twenty? Ten?” And God says, “If I find ten righteous, I will not destroy those cities.”

 Then I think of the promises to the Remnant – those faithful Israelites, those kept to and by God – the promises of nurture, and green pastures, and beauty instead of ashes that weave their way through the major and minor prophets in the last half of the Old Testament.

 And I think of Jesus. Jesus, who by all expectations, should have come sweeping in, Romans falling left and right. Jesus, who should have eradicated a government that was perhaps one of the most perverted, immoral, unjust, and corrupt governments in all of history. Jesus, who instead submitted to the corporal punishment of a cowardly leader, an irate crowd, and an unjust conclusion. Jesus, who told his disciples to pay their overly-exorbitant taxes. And Jesus, who seemed more concerned with hugging children and feeding the hungry and washing disciples’ feet than debating politics in the public square.

 And, then, after the Supreme Court decision came the fourth of July and another stream of comments on our miserable, awful, God-forsaken country.

 

And now I’m mad.

  

   
I live in America. My husband lives in America. My mother, my father, my husbands’ parents? Live in America. I know pastors, friends, cousins, writers, artists, speakers who live in America.

 

Duh, Jenni.

 

Here’s the deal: God’s business is not done here, because his business? It’s with the righteous, with his Remnant, with his people. And there are hundreds, thousands, of us here, like those I listed above.

 And how dare we. How dare we package the Lord of Heaven’s Armies into a tiny box and ship him overseas and render him impotent. How dare we tell him his time is up here.

 How dare we corrupt the Gospel story, the story of God squeezing himself into flesh for the sake of the soul of the homosexual, the prostitute, the adulterer, the liberal, the liar, the luster. How dare we shrink that story down to political decisions, calling it ineffective and over.

 

The Kingdom of Heaven is an upside-down kingdom, and as far as I can tell, lasting change and God’s business don’t happen on the micro levels of governments but on the macro levels of personal, soul-changing Love.

 

And our job? Is bringing the kingdom of Heaven to the hearts of our neighbors.

 

So, can we make a deal? Let’s repent of our hopeless, apathetic approach to the Gospel, get on our knees, and start praying for revival. Let’s humble the scoffing parts of our hearts that say our country is too far gone, and ask God to make the Gospel powerful in this land once again. Let’s ask for courage to continously hope in the power of the Gospel to change lives.

 Because our business is this: to keep hoping and believing and glorifying this Gospel until God takes us home. And though God is powerful enough to bring nations down, and to make them rise again, that’s not our business. We are never once commanded to worry about that. So let’s not stop hoping that the Gospel can work mightily in those around us.

 

I guarantee you, our neighbors, even our enemies, will be more compelled toward Jesus and his righteousness through hopeful expectancy in the Gospel than by apathetic, cynical damning of our country.

 

God’s not moved overseas. He’s not done here. He’s with me, delighting over me, mighty to save, ready to the finish the work, not wanting to lose a single soul. And he’s with you. And here’s my declaration: I will not stop hoping and asking to taste his goodness in the land of the living, in this land, in my country.

  

there’s no place like home

And, here we are. Thom and I have officially completed our move from Long Island, New York, to Portland, Oregon. Well. Officially we will be living in Tigard, Oregon, but our apartment isn’t free until the 10th of July, so we are crashing with my brother- and sister-in-law in the meantime.

  The move was romantic and adventurous. We sold all our furniture, packed what could fit into our car, along with our two orange cats, and left the rest. After months of minimalizing and trimming down, the decision to leave most of our things felt natural and easy and light.

We drove across the country in a zig zag, visiting my good college friend and her new baby in Ohio, holding hands in the blazing sun on the college campus where we met in Fort Wayne, eating baby back ribs with my grandparents in muggy Illinois. We sampled handcrafted ginger ale and rootbeer with my brother and his fiancee in Des Moines, and walked along the high waters of the Arkansas with my parents in Colorado. And then we felt the treachery of the desert in Utah and slept in a skanky, only-room-available motel in Brigham City. My ears plugged through the mountains and mesas of Idaho, and we fed a sheep and a llama at a gas station in the Middle of Nowhere. No, really. 

     And then, Oregon. And we held hands and we said, out loud, a hundred times, that this is home now. This is where we belong.

We swore off talking about “home” as the cottage that is no longer ours to rent, no longer holds our possessions, or our daily lives, or our cats.

We went out for brunch our first day here, drinking coffee and fresh smoothies and devoured a vegan waffle breakfast sandwich. Very Portland of us. And then went for a jog around a gorgeous golf course, marveling at how very much “us” this new place was.

And then today, we went to a new church.

  You only have to talk to us for about two seconds to know that the thing we miss the very most about Long Island is our church family. And don’t get me wrong, the church today was very lovely. The worship team was talented, the pastor profound, the mission statement biblical. But it wasn’t family.

Not that we expect to find family right away. We get it, really. We know that family comes as a result of time, commitment, intentionality, and putting roots down. We know this.

Honestly? We could care less about the possessions we left behind. And though it was nostalgic to leave our first home, we don’t desire to spend another night in our cottage. The home we are really missing, that is leaving us feeling a little un-anchored today, is our family. Our brothers and sisters, our missional community. They are home to us. 

 So, today, as very “us” as our new home is, we are missing the home we left behind – the community and barbeques and times spent over dinner tables and the times in prayer. Do we doubt that God has brought us here, at this time, on purpose? Absolutely not. We are clear, on mission, intentional, and inspired to be here. And tomorrow we will start new jobs and pick up the tools to begin building new family and new relationships and new home.

But tonight? Tonight we tell you to hold your loved ones close. Invite them over for dinner again. Linger a little longer over yet another cup of coffee. Peel back another layer of your lives, and let them in a little deeper. Tell them one more time that you love them, that you are thankful for them. Lean in, dig deep, give them a hug. Pray and laugh and cry and ask for help.

Because, no matter where you live, no matter what possessions you have, or how much money in the bank, or whatever stressors you are facing, this is home: to love and be loved and to live in community with each other.