First Walmart, Then the Judgment (The Gospel in Everyday Life)

Wow, just got back from Walmart in Nicholasville, KY. No, I did NOT travel 700 miles to go to this specific Walmart. I am dogsitting for my uncle (who lives here in Lancaster, KY) for a week. In an effort to fight cabin fever, I took a shower today (sick) and decided to get out of the house. Naturally, my first thought is Walmart. It has Mountain Dew and chips and Christmas stuff… Why not?

As soon as I pulled into the parking lot, this was my thought (and I went on to air the thought on Twitter):

“So glad I went the extra mile to look presentable today because I’m pretty sure this Walmart should have #peopleofwalmart cameras built in!”

Funny. Just a glance around the parking lot and that was what I came up with. So funny! Quick-witted even. But what I didn’t know was that little bit of “humor” and social analysis was a red flag connected to an area of sin deep in my heart.

As I walked into the store I noticed everyone staring at me. I mean everyone. For a few minutes I pretended like I didn’t see the poor, white trash people staring at me. My mind went a million directions:

Really? Have you never seen someone with makeup on before?

Honestly! Is confidence something they don’t breed in Kentucky?

Wow, maybe I shouldn’t have worn the cute boots AND the hat…

Horrible. Look at that girl, her mama has never told her what she looks like… She probably wants to look just like me.

And on, and on, and on my sinful heart jeered.

Get in the car:

Wow, I cannot believe that just happened. I really just judged people based on their clothing and outward appearances? Everything I never wanted to be just came out in the wash.

When I’m alone, when there’s quiet, I find out who I really am.

I’m not going to pretend like this is a rare occasion for me. I’d be lying to say that this dialogue or one very similar doesn’t take place fairly frequently in my head/heart.

And I can hear you already, “Gosh Eliza, it was just a trip to Walmart, aren’t you being a little hard on yourself?” or “Really, how did you get that from those few seconds of internal dialogue?!”

The truth is that I can never be too hard on myself. For this one situation where the Holy Spirit pricked my conscience and graciously taught me about his grace, there are 1,000 more that I’m too busy or too uninterested to recognize. The depths of my heart are dreadfully dark and cold.

BUT GOD.

God in his mercy…

MERCY!

Looked on me and said, “You’re mine. Your clothes are unpardonably dirty and worn but I’ll replace them with MY righteousness. You’re not lovable but I’ll love you. You are illegitimate and born into sin but I will adopt You. Your heart is so self-centered and self-absorbed but I’ll die for it.”

I can’t handle the Gospel. I don’t understand it. When my heart quiets down enough to see the firestorm of sin that is truly all around me, I am wrecked again by God’s ability to break down my own walls of sin to save me.

I went to Walmart and God taught me the Gospel (again).

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Dogsitting, Day 3


 

Who EVER thought a remote could be so important?! Nothing to inspire a little neuroticism than to lose a shock collar remote in a house full of 9 dogs…

My non-doggy thought for today is: Christopher Hitchens is dead and the evangelical world is sad. If people choose Hell, shouldn’t we all be happy for him that he finally got what he always wanted? Read more.

the danger of preferential dating…

what is preferential dating?

most of my friends have heard me throw around the term more than once in the past few weeks and here i am again…

not even really sure where i got it from, or if it even gives you an accurate picture of what i’m referring to but for me it simply means shopping.

yeah, so, shopping… you pick out stuff that you like, you try on stuff, you steer clear of whole racks of clothing, you like different colors, basically you just want to find something that makes you look good.

wow, it’s not hard to imagine how that translates to dating. at all.

so, dating… you pick out people that you like, you try them out, you steer clear of whole personality types of people you don’t enjoy, you [even] like different colors and you basically want to find somebody who makes you look good [read: i want to date “up” in every category, not across or down].

so my problem is not that we like to shop, it’s that shopping sometimes makes us forget what we really NEED. like, i’m so worried about how this tank top fits me, that i don’t even remember that the purpose of clothing is to cover my body, keep me warm, etc. once again, i’m so worried about dating that i forget that the purpose of dating is to love someone. really love them. not for what they offer, not for their SES, not for their likes/dislikes but for love.

oh, and then we hit the nerve that reminds us that we don’t have a really super awesome working definition of love. i mean, we do. like: we force ourselves to love certain people (because we just KNOW we’ll never like them)… we love our lives (because i did cool things today on twitter)… we love our families (because if we didn’t say love, we would interchange strangle)… we love our friends (because they reciprocate). ok… so maybe we don’t.

i’m pretty sure it was God in the covenant with abraham that gave us the best definition of love and also the vision of how he would love the church well (there’s some strange, remote tie between the way Christ loves the church and the way husbands are supposed to love their wives but maybe i’m pulling that out of thin air). he essentially makes a covenant with abraham (and consequently with anyone who is in relationship with him) that says, “i love you. i love you so much, i’m going to sacrifice for you. i’m going to buy you out of your sinfulness with my blood. and i’m going to do it whether you keep your part or not. i want you to, i want you to love me like i love you, but this holds no matter what.”

and so then i look back at dating and i’m really confused. i don’t really know of a ton of people who are dating because they’re willing or wanting to enter a covenant with another person that requires so much. i see a LOT of people dating because they both play disc golf, both enjoy the same kind of movies/tv, both want to kayak, both want to chase the same dreams (or something), etc. i see a lot of people starting off on a selfish foot… a foot that is imagining what someone else is going to “do” or “be” for them and not wondering how they can best love selflessly with a covenantal love like Christ.

basically, i see a lot of shopping and not a whole lot of loving.

you see, at the end of the day those things, those preferences that we all have are just going to bridge the gap between liking someone [read: commonalities] and choosing to love them. if we go into marriages delighted because we’ve found someone who lines up with everything we ever dreamt of, we’re just waiting for the bridge to collapse.

i’m not saying i don’t like shopping either, i do. it allows me to be human and self-centered and have 1,000,000 different choices that i never needed (thanks adam and eve) but i am saying, when i find the perfect outfit, i hope it keeps me warm.

Catchin’ Ye Up!

American friends and family! New Irish friends [and grafted-in family]!

It has been entirely too long since I was last able to update you! We’ve been moving at break-neck speeds these past couple of weeks between different parts of the city of Dublin and even around the country–so, allow me to catch you up!

After Dun Laoghaire, we had a three day (Sunday – Wednesday) retreat to an abbey on the mountains just outside of Dublin. It was a great time to decompress after nearly four weeks of intense work and study. There I felt like the Lord really confirmed why I was in Ireland, again. He wants to show us each how he loves us and in order to hear his voice, we’ve got to slow down and be still sometimes. That is a FOREIGN concept for anyone who knows my life… So, the magnitude of what God did with a couple of days of silence and solitude is still being revealed. It was a really important part of my trip here in the sense that I’ll bring the practices of solitude & silence home with me…because it’s something I’ve recognized I need to build my life around. There are so many voices all around us and in my case I realized I wasn’t listening to the One that really loves and cares for me most. Part of the journey…

After the spiritual direction retreat, we had a few days of holiday in Dublin. That was a great time to just do tourist-y stuff… So we went to Riverdance [and the Irish minus Enda snicker], hit up the ever famous Guinness Storehouse, ate at some pretty sweet joints and just relaxed before going into Prayer Week! It was a good time of refreshment as I got to see my friend, Denise, again and just hang out in a non-ministry related environment.

After vacation, we entered into Prayer week. This was a really cool opportunity to see the different kinds of ministry that are taking place all around Ireland. God’s Spirit is moving here but as many workers here would say, it’s slow work and requires a lot of intentional relationship building. That said there are mini-revivals popping up all over the place. People are deciding that it’s their turn to step up and be the light to a dark world. Pray for the church in the Republic of Ireland… It is growing slowly but strong!

Tomorrow our team is heading to our second outreach team placement, this time in Wexford! Wexford is a straight drop down the coast from Dublin… It is beautiful and I’m looking forward to our time there. We will be working with a family named the Reids–Jonathan and Hazel. You can pray for our team there (the team is me, Rachael and Abby). The other two girls are headed off to a cooking school which serves as an outreach in Bantry, off the southwest coast. We’re all really excited to see a different part of what the Lord is doing in more remote areas in Ireland but sad to be leaving Dublin.

When our outreach teams are over, we will go straight into a week long camp at Drewstown House in Co. Meath. That is SUPER exciting for me because I used to go to camps at Drewstown when we lived in Ireland! The next three weeks are going to be full throttle so I will not be back on the internet until a few days before I travel back to the States. 😦

Please continue to pray for our team! Today was AMAZINGLY ENCOURAGING for us all as Abby had a doctors appointment and got the go ahead to start walking without crutches! This is really really encouraging for us all because we just prayed for supernatural healing for her yesterday. We step out in faith so infrequently but God is always faithful to answer our prayers!

Thank you so much for checking up, caring, reading, loving and most of all, praying! Keep it up… I’ll see most of you in a little less than a month!

 

Updates!

4 out of 5 ain't bad...

 This photo was taken today (our day off) in Sandycove, Dun Laoghaire. We went to a swimming area called “Forty Foot” and, all sensibility aside, jumped in the Irish Sea once again! It was a lovely 59 degrees outside when we jumped in, and something more or less hypothermic in the water itself. Craziness. We are having a really good time here and enjoying the friendships that God has so supernaturally worked out. One of the coolest things about our time in Greystones was the overwhelming feeling that everyone just instantly clicked and fell into really cool relationship with one another… Good thing because we’re around each other 24/7 non-stop until next Saturday! 🙂 More on that in a second!

Pray for this church! The Gospel is being preached faithfully every Sunday and we're praying that God's spirit would move among people in the church, even those who have been around for many years.

For the next two weeks, these girls and I will be serving together at Dun Laoghaire Presbyterian Church (pronounced “Done Leary”). We are coming alongside the staff that is already here and helping in any way we can. So far we’ve been told that will include baking 8 dozen cupcakes for a women’s event tomorrow night, providing some entertainment here and there, going on outreaches to the community and just being available. (I’ll be sure to capture the 96 cupcakes extravaganza!)

The coastline with Greystones in the distance!

And just to get you up to speed on the past two weeks, Greystones was amazing… It is a gorgeous place that makes it really simple to believe in a God who values beauty in His creation! As a team (5 Americans – all female and 4 Irish – 2 female, 2 male) we went through an abbreviated version of the Sonship Training Course. Basically for two weeks we learned what it means to be a son of God, how we don’t act like it, and how the Holy Spirit enables us to have full freedom in Christ. It was very revealing, very emotional, very intense and very transforming! Understanding new depths of the Gospel has been much like a wrecking ball, coming in to destroy the old, dilapidated patterns of sin and build a new structure in it’s place! It was great and things are still processing and unfolding but one thing is sure, the Holy Spirit enables us in our weaknesses!

One of the nights, I prayed that God would reveal His love and when I went outside, this is what I found:

A heart in the clouds... Just for kicks.

So, in short, God has really showed up here… I thought I knew exactly why I was coming here and what it would be like but in a completely different way, it’s like God has taken me on a trip across the world JUST to know Him. It has been delightful and full of adventures!

Please keep praying for us! One of the American interns (Abby) sprained her ankle today out in Trim. We’re not with her but we’re getting reports that she’s alright and just taking some painkillers now. Pray that she wouldn’t be discouraged and that God would really clearly set out for her some tasks that keep her going. 🙂

Everything is really smooth and going according to plan in my team right now but we know the longer we’re together, the more raw things get, so just pray for good conflict resolution skills, the ability to stay honest and vulnerable and a spirit of “other-centeredness” as we go on! Also, pray for my financial support. I’m more than halfway to the goal but the deadline is coming up really soon (July 1st)! So, please pray that those funds would come in, in a big way, in the next 10 days! Here’s the link for giving if you’re interested or have lost the other information!

http://www.whm.org/give/missionary?ID=22057

Thank you so much for your love and support! Look forward to updating again soon!