Seeing the Unseen

I’ve never wanted to stay in America. It was bad enough when God pulled me out of the ministry in Alaskan villages. I came to the Midwest with a silent understanding that I would stay just long enough and then… I could leave. Basically, I forgot that when I tell God, “We have a deal” it’s beneficial to get the Divine Head Nod before I start telling people God and I have a deal.

I am currently surrounded by a subculture of Christianity which puts a million-to-one emphasis (*slight exaggeration, but you get the point) on reaching the Nations. That means leaving the Bible Belt of Indiana, in case you were wondering. When I came to the Midwest four years ago, I chanted (metaphorically) with the best of them. I’m in one of the most churched towns in Indiana. Do ministry? Here?!  In this town? But why? How?

Reach the Nations? Yeah, no. Not here. Its not… Um, I don’t know. Its just not… It just lacks… something. I’m a missionary transplant. You don’t take a missionary out of the trenches and put them in this town. That’s uncalled for, isn’t it? I could do so much more in the Philippines, Indonesia, China, Africa… Anywhere! What the heck can I do here?!

After I came back to the Lord in 2010, I started saying that, “God has called me to the unseen.” Before you freak out and think I meant I saw demons, no, that’s not what I meant. In reality, my just-off-the-press experiences as a closet-Christian had made me well aware of how easily struggling Christians and/or ostracized non-Christians fall between the cracks. I found myself drawn to the people ignored within the churches, rather than the high profile challenge on the street corner.

But still, regardless of that perspective, I wanted (and only saw) those people if their skin wasn’t white. Ironic, no? Talk about wrong-side-out racial conflict. I’m not proud of that.

God hasn’t been subtle in calling my sin into the spotlight. When I strive to “see the unseen,” how dare I put weight in one person’s spiritual healing over the other? If God has called me to Indiana, how dare I tell Him its not good enough because the Culture Shock isn’t as easily identified as it would be if I was in a place like Guatemala? 

Recently I saw pain so deep, it shook me to the core. As I bit back tears and the all-too-familiar feeling of Spiritual Warfare, I caught a glimpse of the street sign my companions and I were passing. I was entering into Warfare, and I was in Indiana. I could feel God whisper, “Loving people is what I made you for” and I was in Indiana. 

Americans, we are no longer steady on our feet when it comes to ministry. If we send everyone to the enthralling and exciting zip codes, we have no one for the people still wounded within our churches here. Be passionate for your neighbor directly across the street just as much as you’re passionate for the concept of feeding orphans and living in grass huts. 

Don’t take as long as I did to figure it out. The souls being ignored here in America are still important.

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Bondservant, Slave, Beloved


It means slave. Bond-servant in some English translations, but the definition is pretty easy to capture. Slave. Property. Dependence on a master. 

So very American, right? 

This season has been the epitome of transitions. Instead of calling me to singleness, God’s giving me into marriage (Awww-frikkin’-YAY!). Instead of sending my life to the Middle East, He’s asking me to be content in the Midwest. Instead of guaranteeing a career that keeps me comfortable, I’m being asked to redefine comfort and press into trusting His sovereignty. 

If you know me at all, δοῦλος (Doulos) isn’t me. Slave means trusting God’s goodness. I question it more than I want to admit. Property means I don’t belong to myself. Heaven knows I have enough narcissism in me that such an idea doesn’t sit easily with me. 

Dependent. Just by looking at the emotional strain in learning how to partially depend on another human is bad enough. Fully depending on an invisible, sovereign Deity? Yeah… Not me. Dependence is a choice, because of my sin-nature it’s rarely an immediate desire.

The pictured design is getting tattooed on my dominant wrist. Because I’m a Sign Language dependent adult, I look at that wrist a lot. The tattoo gets to be an ever present (even when I don’t want it to be) reminder that I signed up for my faith to be so much more than just a word.

I meant it to be an innate characteristic of my very being. I’m a servant who lives with Christ in the foreground. I’m His property, His creation, and yet He calls me His co-heir. His Beloved. 

He serves, therefore I serve. Even when the particulars scare me to death, frustrate me to tears or excite me to the point of anxiety… I choose to serve. 

Pain Helps Me

“Wait, my friend told me you have a pacemaker? I have a pacemaker!”

I’ll be honest, that was the last pick-up line I ever thought I’d hear anywhere. Subconsciously, I put my hand over the scar above my collar bone and made eye contact with the inquirer. I call my Vegal Nerve Stimulator a “pacemaker-like thing” to nonmedical people because most people couldn’t care less what epilepsy-related operations I’ve had.

What the heck was I supposed to do with someone who has an actual pacemaker?

Living in a small town affords for random people hearing my medical story from other super random people. Too often, self-made storytellers get my story wrong, though. I come to my quiet coffee shop in the mornings to get some alone time, but there has been more than one occasion where God whispers to my heart, “You and I have all morning. This person needs you.”

Sometimes, I act like I don’t hear Him. That’s when I discover God has a sense of humor as He throws me into super awkward pick-up conversations.

Twice I’ve been set up to chat with people who are still getting their minds around the fact that they need hardware in order to survive. Once, the man had only had his pacemaker for a month. This morning, my random new friend was processing having a pacemaker for a year and still facing complications. 

My story doesn’t feel similar. I’ve been post-operation for eight years now.

If it was up to me, I wouldn’t talk about my pain with these people. First off, I don’t know them. Second off, my pain is regulated and in the background. Their pain is most assuredly in the foreground. It doesn’t seem fair to them to be lumped in the same category. My pain means chest-pain and thirty seconds where I can’t control my head movement. Totally different from people who can’t trust their heart to keep beating.

But, it’s interesting how God shows up despite the fact that these strangers’ facts about my life are inaccurate. I’ve learned to chuckle when I’m asked about my “pacemaker scar” from someone I don’t know. Then, without much effort, I ask the only question I wish people asked rather than asking me if I was, “doing okay, today.” 

“What’s your new normal and how has that new normal made you look for Jesus?”

I sat with a total stranger today and discussed how pain is a conduit for God’s grace, rather than a cause for depression. As I walked away from my newest comrade, she smiled and asked a question I never thought I’d hear.

“Isn’t it weird how our pain makes Jesus’ love show up in a deeper way?” 

I Can’t Pray For You

I have one real enemy in my life. It’s so deep that those who love me best protect me from the mere memory of this person. We use phrases like, “You know who I mean,” or “You know, past experiences.” Even using a name just feels wrong. There’s fear there for everyone because they know the chaos this person can create without much effort.

But then, there’s silence and there’s Jesus. A trusted friend asked me recently if (why) I still loved this person when there were so many aching scars remaining. It’s not easy. Despite the reality that I no longer perfectly remember a menacing voice or mannerisms, there are still the rare nights I’ll wake up in cold sweats because… Well, you get the picture. I have peace, but I still struggle with saying I love my enemy.

Loving an enemy is a choice. It’s a blood-curdling scary one. But there’s Jesus.

Praying for this person used to be a flippant, “Yeah, whatever, Lord. Just… Do something. Amen.” There was no intercession, there were no heartwrenching requests that the Spirit move mountains to get through to a stone cold heart. Jesus commanded me to pray, so I did. But I didn’t do it well.

I had to come to grips with fear, confusion, and love in regards to the punk of my life because I saw what those loose ends did to the people in my life. Fear became pity. Pity became worry. Worry became a very guarded, thin and frustrated love. Love remains obedience. 

When the Bible commands us to, “love our enemies,” don’t ever think that means joyfully mingling your life with theirs. Don’t ever believe it means putting yourself in danger. Please, with all of my heart, I beg you to never allow those memories influence the rest of your life. 

However, do yourself a favor and remember that loving an enemy is a process. Whatever caused the schism in that relationship is something to be pitied. If you believe that Jesus Christ saved you from your sins, rose again on the third day and is the only way to Heaven, you have more power on your side than your enemy could ever have on theirs. The Bible speaks truth saying, “No weapon formed against us shall prosper (Isaiah 54:17).” 

The reality is, no matter how deep the wounds go, Christ is the answer. He might not feel like the answer, but pray anyway. Watch the bitterness morph into pity and the pity turn into a Spirit-deep desire for your enemy to experience the same love of the Father you have experienced. 

Watch God win. 

Disappointment, Anger, or Love? 

Quiet disappointment is the epitome of what breaks my heart. I’m familiar with angry eruptions. With those reactions, my next move is quite literally to get out of the way and attempt to calm the person down at a distance. I don’t pay attention to the cause of their anger, but focus on fixing their reaction. Though my attempts to make peace can be fear-filled, it’s easy enough. 

But with quiet disappointment I’m drastically aware of my failure, and my reaction is based heavily on wanting to restore fellowship. It has very little to do with fear and everything to do with correcting a wrong. I may possess peace during those occasions of righting a wrong, but it’s dreadfully hard to claim. 

For the last day or so, I’ve had to mull over the difference between feeling the anger of God and feeling His broken fellowship and disappointment. It’s not a joyful occasion to stand before God and only have one thing to say: “I know full well I broke Your heart. I put You second in line to my attempts at control.” 

It’s so much easier to picture God as an unemotional, tyrannical Lord who deals with my sin with outbursts of anger. With that approach, my attempts to seek forgiveness become mechanical: Throw a few sacrifices of praise His way, sing peaceful songs… 1, 2, 3, thanks for forgiveness, I’m out the door. 

However, I’m fully aware that He is an emotional, fellowship-seeking creator who deals with my sin as a father dealing with a rebellious child. With that, I’m deeply reminded my sin disappoints the One I love most. My sin caused a rift in our fellowship with each other. 

My sin did not, however, erase His love toward me. Despite that glorious truth, healing still takes time. Anger screams, “You’ve done Me wrong!” Disappointment cries, “We need to fix us.” 

Christ constantly asks us to rebuild what our sin has torn down. He never promised total healing would happen overnight. But above all, He never leaves us to restore our relationship alone. 

His disappointment in our sin feels heavier because He’s weighing our character, not our deeds… But His disappointment is proof that He believes intimate fellowship is still possible. 

His overwhelming fellowship-seeking love proves He has called us to so much more.