Six months and three days ago, I packed up my little Honda Civic with everything I owned and wheeled myself up to Kansas City. Jobless, kind of homeless (that’s another story for another day), stepping into a city in which I had only ever been a visitor. I remember feeling mostly tired and mostly stressed trying just to get here, hoping that when I landed all the flying pieces would fall into place… somehow. I like to think that I was throwing myself out upon the Lord, casting my life onto Him in a special way.
I’m not much of a vagabond. I lived the first almost-quarter-of-a-century of my life in one place and I liked it that way. My roots had gone deep and had mingled and wrapped themselves into the intricate framework of my sweet Tulsa – and I loved Tulsa. I loved its air, its roads (that remain perpetually in need of fixing), and its flaming sunsets, the tornado sirens stirring us up under the heavy smell of rain, the clay dirt, the art deco downtown, the pervasive “Southern hospitality.” And of course, let me not forget ORU, the “most joyful university in this or any other parallel universe,” as previous ORU president, Dr. Mark Rutland, used to say.
So many memories – a life full of rich memories of growing up with the Lord in the town they call “the buckle of the Bible belt.” I’m convinced that Tulsa is actually one of the sweetest places on earth. What history with God lay there – stories of the men and women who wanted to hear God and who believed He still heals and speaks and moves today. (I grew up only a ten minute walk from the three-towered complex that they used to call “The City of Faith,” originally built as a medical school where prayer and the application of medicine were both esteemed and both applied to the sick.)
So that’s where from – and here I am now, just starting to be known here in this busy missions base where prayer and worship don’t end.
The good news is that six months and my heart is coming alive like never before. A long, hard season of overwhelming rawness and hurt was kind of the prelude to my arrival here. It was one of what Dana Candler likes to call “those winter seasons,” where your heart is reaching for God while everything feels like it’s dying and all your branches are bare – so when I got here, I knew I needed healing, but I had no idea how much (or long it would take- and is still taking!) I knew God was patient, but I had no idea how much He is committed to taking the time, taking the slow, important steps day by day, and letting this little heart breathe.
The Lord is reinstating that dream of 24/7 worship and prayer in my heart once again. I moved here with so much history already with this place, but it’s a very mysterious phenomenon. Why do people get in a room to pray for hours and hours? Do they just really like music? Not quite. Prayer is a genuine labor and yes, it’s for every believer, but serious, intentional labor in prayer requires time and energy just like other kinds of work. Singing on a worship team in the prayer room is also actually a servant role. It makes it possible for a room of people to go after God together in a dynamic way, but it’s not a continual train of butterflies. Like I said, it’s real work.
With this, there is a reviving that sense of dignity concerning the simple prayers that are lifted, time and again, when the heart feels it and when no feelings come. Do we really believe that when we talk to God, He hears us? If so, then what I feel isn’t a good measure for what He feels. I’m all over the place most of the time, but He is constant and attentive and good. If I recognize this and fasten my heart to it, I can really do this and know it matters.
Among the dreams that are slowly coming alive for me, the most unexpected of all, is a quietly growing desire to reach out to the fatherless. It’s missions. It’s easy to think of the word “missions” and connect it with serving orphans in Africa, but what about the orphans in our own backyard? Why is that suddenly “not missions?” (Just saying…)
So here’s the update from the 6 month mark: it’s time for the reinstatement of dreams that got buried! (It’s time to dream again!) AND I get to dream alongside sweet, new faces that have so readily welcomed me into their affectionate friendship. I’ve learned crazy, servanthood-love from them. They’ve washed me with kindness and we’ve eaten a lot of food and prayed and cried and laughed. I can hardly believe it’s been half a year! My heart is incredibly blessed!