Anne blogs at Front Porch, Inspired about surrendering everyday living for sacred purposes. She and her husband, Jay, are founders of a ministry called The Bridge, focusing on missional living and advocacy for youth in vulnerable places of life. She holds an MA in Teaching Languages (TESOL and Spanish) and is a lover of words and the Word, culture and communication. Jay and Anne have five kids, a front door that can’t stay closed, and an abundance of messy, holy chaos at their neighborhood center/home in Iowa – of all places.
Five years ago this month, we moved our family into this half-done house on Seneca Street. What was supposed to be a house flip had flopped. As a last resort, we settled the house on this very-last-resort-piece of land on this dead-end street, and we moved our family in.
Oh, how little we understood then about God's ways and plans for this place, for our lives.
So, today we look back to that October - five crazy, busy, amazing years ago. How did it all begin anyway? I'm not sure we can even pin down a complete answer to that question. But, I do know a couple things are true of this story:
First, we were living on answered prayers - the faithful supplications that so many of you had prayed for this community before we ever got here.
Clearly, God had set something in motion, and we were just a piece of it all, together with you.
And, next, it required surrender. That much I know for certain.
Yes, how well I remember. I had come to a point where I desperately wanted to shut my door and feel justified with saying no. I really wanted to. I was already overwhelmed as a mom of four, and I could've filled a notebook with reasons why I was not equipped, eager, or excited about saying "yes" to what God was doing around us.
But, you might argue, you were already considering mission work. True enough. But, it wasn't the idea of serving that I disliked; it was the idea of doing it here. And in my home. And, it would mean laying down my schedule and my daily life.
Somehow, it seemed far more noble and dramatic to do all that over there.
And, sometimes it's just easier to think about surrendering our someday rather than our everyday.
So, I debated my points valiantly with God. I made sure He understood my reasons for dismissing it all.
But, then it happened anyway, after much justifying and wrestling with God over it...
In a very everyday moment while at the kitchen sink scrubbing dishes, I surrendered.
I laid down my yes and gave in mentally what God was doing around us. There was no angelic choir or flashes of light, but there was a quiet understanding and calm that He was going to provide and meet our needs.
And, my heart, tired of holding back, finally decided to just agree with God already.
Nothing real noble or dramatic. Just a feeble, "OK, fine, have Your way then."
Jay has his own story of finally giving in to the divine swirling of events. But, for me - God met me where I was as a mom with young kids and just asked me to lay down my everydays, my mom routine, my average days.
And, friends, guess what?
Apparently God's interested in glorifying Himself through everyday people - including grumbling, dish-washing mommies.
See, I had nothing stellar to offer, other than being super proficient at nose-wiping, snack-making, and bandage-applying. But, He's good with that. God took that hard-won yes of mine and ran with it.
So, friends, don't look for your purpose beyond the horizons of your current season. It's this. It's today. It's in the here and now.
Will you let go of your yes and place it in His capable hands?
After all, those hands, the same ones that paint rainbows and mold mountaintops, can create beautiful things with everyday surrenders and faithful prayers.
But, it will mean inconvenience. It will mess with your schedule and your priorities. And, it can never be only one-time decision at the kitchen sink. That's just how it all begins. Surrender is a practice, one we all continue in day after day.
So, take a look around you, right where you are. God's not looking for your big plans for someday. No, He wants to shine in the routine of your life and in your average days, to those people you see all the time. He's good with that - especially all that.
And, God will take your yes and run with it.