More tales from the road, deep thoughts and everything in between.
What Does It Mean To Be Extraordinary?
I’ve been thinking a lot about this topic lately because I am facing an extraordinary task this month: climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain. It’s an incredible opportunity ….and challenge! To be honest, it’s taking a lot out of me financially, spiritually, physically and emotionally. Being a world changer sounds like a great idea, but walking it out is an everyday fight to rise above the ordinary.
I’m joining 46 other women from around the globe who have somehow found it within themselves to believe that they can make a difference in the world. We are climbing on behalf of sexually trafficked women and hope that through our efforts, we will impact the lives of 10,000 women through projects that break the cycles of poverty, shame, slavery and despair.
We will be facing strong physical challenges, no amenities, climates as varied as the African Plains right through to the Arctic Circle and 50% oxygen by the time we reach the summit. And yet all of these unmet challenges don’t even begin to compare to the horrific lives endured by women around the world who are trafficked against their will into a trade that makes more money every year than Google, Nike and Starbucks combined. I read an article just a few days ago about a 16 year old Afghan girl who was recently married and locked in the basement by her husband and in-laws who tortured her endlessly to force her into prostitution. As I gazed upon the picture of her body full of festering wounds, I knew that being extraordinary is ultimately not about me at all, but about my responsibility as a woman of faith to speak for those who can’t speak for themselves.
And so that’s what I’m doing. There are people all over the world who are suffering various forms of oppression and have no opportunity to get out from under it. And yet here in the West we have been given so many blessings – yes, even those of us who struggle with various financial, physical, emotional and spiritual ailments. We still have a platform here through the media, through our government and through our freedoms to speak up on their behalf.
I guess I’ve been on a bit of a rant on this topic this year: I’ve been telling people at our Full Circle conferences that we all have the seed of the extraordinary in us. I really believe that God has placed something unique in each one of us that can help change the world, if only we would believe it. In my job here, I have seen stay at home moms start a home based business that impacts widows on the other side of the globe, successful businesspeople quit their high powered job to serve the least of these and ordinary middle class folks sacrifice financially to feed, clothe and educate a child they’ve never met.
What can you do to be extraordinary this year? You may not get an opportunity to climb a mountain, but it’s a simple task to write a letter to a foreign government on behalf of a persecuted Christian or to volunteer in your local soup kitchen to love those who are going without this winter. I heard a speaker once say that the reason we have poverty in the world is because we believe we cannot defeat it. But is that really true? In this new year, let’s all look to the powerful seeds of the extraordinary God has placed within each one of us to see what we can do to turn the world upside down with His amazing love.
But This Isn't What I Planned!
How is your life going? Is it unfolding according to plan? Several situations lately have gotten me thinking about the detours that can happen, just when it seems you’re getting life on track. It’s funny how when you are young you make assumptions about how your life will be. I’ll get married at this age, have kids by this age, my career will be on track by this age and I’ll have money and security by this age! Life rarely co-operates, at least not for long.
As I look at the world and the people in my life, I see that the things we trust in are being shaken. Marriages, finances, health, careers – even faith! When life doesn’t go the way we hope, we often start distancing ourselves from God because we don’t understand why these things are happening to us. Can I just tell you today that that is the exact wrong strategy? Often these circumstances are specifically engineered to bring us closer to God and to grow in us the character that will be needed to fulfill the calling on our lives.
Has someone hurt you or betrayed you? Pray for them! The Bible’s direction in Luke 6:27-28 is so counter-intuitive, but so life-giving: “….I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.” I’ve been doing this a lot lately and it’s been a daily challenge to pray blessing on those who don’t like me or do things that hurt me. But I sense something beautiful being formed in my heart – something that I’ve never experienced before. It reminds me again that God has a reason for telling us to do these things, because He knows it will take the bitter experiences in our lives and turn them into things of beauty.
People sometimes say to me, “Oh I love this quality about you and I’d love to have that wisdom or attitude or gift.” I always reply, “Well, you can have it! …… but it’s going to cost you.” The beautiful things in us that reflect the true nature of God almost always come through suffering and trials, if we let Him mold us through them. I love the saying: “You can be better or you can be bitter!” The Bible says we have an enemy that comes to “steal, kill and destroy”. Satan wants to destroy you, your faith and your family. Are you going to let him? The truth of the matter is that Satan has one plan, but God has another. The story of Jesus is the best example of how God works in our life: Satan thought he had won by killing Jesus, but he played right into God’s hands. Through his death, Jesus opened up a way for us to have relationship with God. I bet Satan was so frustrated! Even when he won, he still lost! That’s so like God.
I’m not encouraging you to seek hard times, but if you find yourself facing something unexpected or difficult today, I want to challenge you to start working with the Holy Spirit to change your perspective. Ask Him what He wants to do in you. Ask Him how you can glorify Him in your circumstance today. And be thankful for both the blessings and the trials in your life – the Bible says to praise Him in everything.
Let’s face it – we’re only on this earth for a short time. And we can live a regular, uninspired life like the majority of the world, or we can seek Him for something extraordinary, meaningful and life-changing. And in letting ourselves be changed into His image, we will also change those around us… often without saying a word. Isn’t that amazing? Think about it. The end result of this painful time you are going through can be more healing, more wholeness, more peace, more kindness and more beauty! What a fabulous gift. Will you let Him transform you today?
Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. – Romans 12:2