Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Death of a Car

Yesterday I heard the news that my 2001 Ford Focus would live no longer. This was hard for me to fathom, because I have never had any major problems with my car…until the day it just wouldn’t start. With only about 80,000 miles on the odometer, it should’ve lived much longer. Sure, it has been well loved since I moved to the city: three bashed-out windows, a jacked trunk, and a nice bullet hole above the left rear tire. But I just counted those things as character building experiences for my “first” car. I’m not very automotive-savvy but the guy working on my car said something about a thrown rod, some splintered metal thingy, a huge gash in the block…and well it’s not fixable without completely replacing the engine.

I took the news pretty hard. Andrew said it was my “justice mentality” because it just wasn’t right that my car was dead so young. It doesn’t make sense. I admit there were a few tears shed as the news sank in. I loved my car, it had been good to me, and I had been comfortable with it.

Meanwhile, the guy who pronounced my car as dead was fixing an older stick-shift Escort with over 200,000 miles someone had donated months ago. I hate stick shifts. I mean, I hate them. So, the thought of getting the Escort as a replacement to my beloved Focus added a discontented anger to my sadness. I was mad.

Later that evening I went to a women’s Bible study where we talked about faith. As the women talked about what faith is and where it comes from, the Lord started talking to me about my attitude. The situation played over in my head and I started to be ashamed of my discontented anger. Here I was angry that I was going to have to learn how to drive an old stick-shift, when God had clearly opened a door of provision in the very moment that our need became known. Our study discussed how our faith should only ever be placed in the promises of God, instead of having blind and ignorant faith in something that God could do but that is probably more in line with our desires than His. It was then that God said, Hellooo, Adria, what you need is a car, what you want is to be comfortable and to avoid change. But He didn’t stop there.

I then realized that not only was I getting mad about my wants and not my needs being unmet, but I was also placing some of my identity in having a car that I bought, that was my own possession, and that I thought looked fairly nice. Sometimes being a missionary is a humbling experience, as much of what we use is donated to World Impact and often isn’t pristine, isn’t what I would choose, and wasn’t acquired through any independence on my part. I can’t say that I always enjoy this. However, although Andrew and I don’t always get what we want, God has always made sure that we have what we need…in amazingly obvious and attentive ways. Too often I get spoiled by this care and feel entitled to more.

The death of my car and the Holy Spirit brought this to my attention, and I was very humbled at the sight of my pride and ungratefulness. The truth is, I still went home from the Bible study and cried a little at my loss. And I can’t say that my heart is completely on board with these realizations, but I want it to be. It’s a process and I’m hoping that as I attempt to drive that stupid stick-shift around an empty parking lot somewhere, my heart will attempt to work at a little more Christ-likeness. Perhaps the death of a car will be the birth of greater faith and humility. Not a bad trade off for my 2001 Ford Focus.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Ahh Family...

Some great times recently spent with family...

...there's always time for shopping!

...and sometimes you need a time out.

...Andrew, did you just say that St. Louis was the 2nd best free city in America, again?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

October Update

October 1, 2008

Dear Family and Friends,

Ministry sometimes feels confined and defined by the meager dollar amounts we are allotted for our program expenditures. There is always something that lies outside of our realistic program plans. Our ministry center is located almost directly across the street from the very large and well funded Herbert Hoover Boys and Girls Club. With ourselves being located in an old YMCA building we have a tiny overlap in Recreational facilities (a gym and rec room, etc). So, when we do a Sports and Recreation program we do it in the shadow of the Boys and Girls Club’s football teams and basketball and cheerleading programs. And when we gather our kids into our beat up ministry vehicles and head off for a field trip, across the street they line a hundred kids and nearly as many staff in matching t-shirts behind several new buses to head out on their day trip. If you compare our money and resources with the Boys and Girls Club we look puny and pathetic in comparison.

Sometimes I am guilty of making this comparison. When looking at our programs I sometimes feel like there is nothing we can do that will be better than the programs they offer. However, this is a grave mistake on my part. Truly, there is no comparison. Albeit sometimes our programs overlap a little in their structure, but our purposes and visions are at their core nothing alike. Someone could argue that there is no point for us to do youth programs since Herbert Hoover can offer bigger and better programs with more staff and more bling. But we are not doing youth programs just to give kids a safe place to hang out after school, or even just to give them new opportunities that they would not otherwise have. Now, do not get me wrong, I have great appreciation for what Herbert Hoover Boys and Girls Club is doing for families in our neighborhood and what they do needs to be done, but it is not what God has called us to do here. Our facilities and programs are not our primary goal. They are merely tools we use to invest in the lives of families in our neighborhood in the hopes of building up men and women for the Body of Christ.

This reality was reinforced for Andrew and I the other afternoon when some of the neighbor girls stopped by our house just to talk. They were on their way to the Boys and Girls Club, but they came to our house first to tell us about their day and all the things that they were excited about at school. We barely had time to open the door before one of the girls started pouring out the details of her “grown-up” classes (she is in her first year of Jr. High). I have at times, I admit, felt a twinge of jealousy when the kids talk about what they like to do across the street from us, because we could never offer that program to them on that scale. But sitting on our porch that afternoon confirmed that we are not in competition with the Boys and Girls Club, our functions are completely separate in the lives of our neighbors. We get to be Christ in their lives. What can compete with that? We get to be full-time participants in their lives and put our emphasis on relationships instead of programs and on Christ instead of orthodontia care. Maybe someday the scale of our programs will be able to compliment and collaborate with those of the Boys and Girls Club, but for now we are grateful for the work that they do in our neighborhood and would not for one minute give up the work that God has called us to do. Thank you so much for being a part of our ministry team. Andrew and I are continually grateful that because of you we are allowed to witness and experience what embodying Christ to our neighbors can do to change lives.

For His Kingdom, Andrew & Adria Medlen