Life Goals: Loving Well & Talking about My Favorite Person
Do you ever just want your life to have significance or purpose?
I have heard the desire for meaning is a universal human desire and we all crave it.
Yesterday afternoon, the front door unexpectedly opened and in walked our student teacher houseguest. We talked about how her day went and how she actually beat the kids home from school. A few minutes passed, and the front door flew open. Two of my children pushed their way in, taking off backpacks, boots and jackets. The disheveled/naughty-yet-adorable dog I forgot was out came running inside. A new friend (on time for our coffee date) greeted me warmly, waiting patiently to come inside past the detour of clutter and children forming in the entryway. The German exchange student who doesn’t live here, but comes over at least once a week, was (I think) the last to enter, closing the door and talking about her day. Two younger children appeared from who-knows-where and started desperately asking for snacks as though I never feed them.
An hour later, my husband, the teenage exchange student who actually lives with us and her family visiting from Taiwan, all came home. Brian started ordering pizzas.
Can you see it?
Noise. Chaos. Some ridiculousness.
Maybe it’s not always as clown-car-esque as yesterday. But yes, this feels like our normal.
This is what our life looks like in this season.
I told Brian I wasn’t going to stay up late to finish my blog post last night. He asked why. I wondered out loud if he was kidding.
But I gotta be honest. I love living like this.
In the late spring of 2017, when we knew we were moving and our real estate agent first showed us this house, I walked around, with two ideas running through my head. First, if God provided the home, I wanted to open it up to others. I wanted to use it for his glory. And second, I wanted to use this space to write and share the goodness of God.
And today, my heart bursts with gratitude, because God has fulfilled those desires in our life. In fact, he has provided more than I could ask or imagine.
A few days ago, I was flying home from an exchange student-related national meeting in Washington DC. For those who don’t know, I work part-time as an exchange student coordinator, which I like to think makes me part-matchmaker, part-advocate, part-counselor, part-planner, and part-crazy.
But truly, I love it.
Something I do not love is flying. I’ve learned to tolerate flying enough to hide my anxiety to the casual observer. And I’m not going to let fear keep me from travel. But as the saying goes, “there are no atheists in foxholes.” Well, for me, “there is no lack of prayers in an airplane.”
So on Sunday, I anxiously opened my Bible at a bumpy cruising altitude and discovered Isaiah 26:8b which says, “Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.”
Hmm… “Your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.”
And I started thinking.
You see, for most of my life, the desire to make God’s name and fame known, was not really the desire of my heart.
Instead, I was preoccupied with a lot of my own desires. I still have a natural tendency to be this way.
The Bible says that for God all things are made and move and have their being. All things belong to him. And the world exists for his glory, not mine.
And honestly, as I got older, I grew tired of a watered-down version of my faith. I grew tired of pursuing the American dream and striving for significance while pursuing Jesus on the side. I don’t know if you know what I’m talking about, but I’m guessing at least someone reading this knows what I mean.
A few years ago, I started listening to a pastor while changing diapers and doing laundry. The pastor’s name is Francis Chan and his book, “Crazy Love,” changed my life. It was as if all the things I’d been wrestling with for years were being articulated in a way I had never heard before.
If God is as amazing as I believe he is and Jesus Christ is who I believe he is, then I wanted to give him my entire life. I wanted to surrender everything- even my dreams.
So three years ago, my husband and I started praying. We asked God to show us how we could use this short life as an offering for him. We talked about missions. We talked about downsizing. We talked about adoption or foster care. We encountered various roadblocks, detours and some uncertainty in how to move forward. But then we felt God was pointing us in the direction of hosting exchange students.
After a lot of doubts, prayer, and conversation, we decided to take a step of faith and open up our home to a stranger.
We were scared. We wondered what we had gotten ourselves into. What were we thinking? Friends and family subtly (and not so subtly) questioned our sanity. But we wanted to be obedient to a prompting we felt on our hearts.
So we committed our way to him.
Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.”
I’ve been thinking about these verses about desires of our hearts, this one in Psalm and the one in Isaiah I mentioned earlier that (paraphrased) says walking in God’s laws, we wait for him and the desires of our hearts are his name and renown.
So I got to thinking, what are God’s laws and how do we walk in them?
I remembered what Jesus said when asked about the laws and commandments. “And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-39)
So how can we walk in the ways of his law?
By loving him and others.
I’m not a Biblical scholar. Nor am I some sort of saint. But I got to tell you, when I read these verses, I get excited. I start thinking, by choosing to love God, and loving people, we start delighting in him, right? I mean I don’t know about you, but it’s exciting to live each day looking for ways to soak in God’s love and pour it out. And guess what? In living like that, the desires of my heart have radically changed.
I know my life has significance and purpose but it wasn’t in trying to find significance or purpose that I found those things. It was found in desiring to love God more.
While I was in DC this past weekend, I enjoyed myself. I love diversity and people and so every opportunity I had, I was asking people about their background and heritage. I had three teenage foreign exchange students with me and we had a great time exploring museums, learning how to use the Uber app, and laughing about our adventures. I learned how to be a better exchange student coordinator. I made some new friends. And I even got to live out one of my teenage fantasies of being a news reporter by using Facebook Live and a beautiful balcony that overlooked our nation’s capital building.
So much fun.
But I have to tell you, in the back of my mind, I kept thinking that my desire was no longer to live in some fabulous big city or eat takeout every night or be a famous advice columnist...
The desire of my heart is to know God and to be a light for Jesus Christ wherever I go.
Jesus Christ has changed my life. He offers hope for the hopeless. He came to seek and save the lost, to set the captives free, to bring light to the darkness. And the more I see of this world, the more I am convinced what he offers is more than enough and better than anything this world has to offer. He is better than the perfect 10 boyfriend or the world’s best husband or the dream job or the model-worthy body or the million followers on social media or the viral video or the bestseller’s list. He’s better than anything else we could ever desire or want.
And not only is he worth talking about, he’s worthy of it all.
I want to be part of what he’s doing- however he wants to use me. And in that place of surrender, every day is an exciting opportunity to love him and love others.
So maybe on a practical level, that looks like Facetiming a girl who needs encouragement who lives thousands of miles away. Maybe it means a coffee date with a new friend or an early morning Bible study with someone who’s hungry to know more about her faith. Maybe it means opening up our home to new family members and embracing the daily chaos with grace, love and forgiveness. Maybe it means doing the laundry for people who’ve run out of socks and displaying some servant-like leadership. Maybe it looks like calling that friend or taking that child out for some one-on-one time…
Maybe it’s writing. Maybe it’s waiting. Maybe it’s…
Up to him.
One thing I know, when we ask God to be a part of his business, we will never run out of assignments.
There is always more love to give.
And in that mission, our desires change. We are part of a purpose bigger than ourselves.
And that surrender feels like total freedom.
And loving like that? Living like that? Well, honestly? It feels just freakin’ awesome.