(continued from Part 1)
I started looking around where I was already planted (Southwest Michigan) to see if something could bloom right here. The name “Keller Park Church” kept coming up and so, on a cold sunday in February, I slipped into the back of a smallish auditorium and sat by a stranger. I immediately noticed the people there – all ages, classes and colors. I knew there was something different about this place.
After the service, I briefly spoke to Carrie and in the course of conversation, she said – “Liza, we were right where you are 3 years ago. We wanted Jesus to be more than just the dessert [on a comfy, self-sufficient life]. We wanted Him to be the whole meal. So, we sold almost everything and moved into an 800 sq. foot house.”
She told stories of being hands-on with people every day. Kids knocking on the door. Buying one kiddie pool, then two, then three to host all the kids in the summer. She talked about tutoring, youth group, bible studies and doing life with your neighbors.
A tear slipped out when she said, “Our table is two eight foot tables pushed together with 25 of those plastic chairs sitting around it and that’s how we like to do dinner.”
This resonated somewhere deep in my heart and I started swinging by Keller Park (name of core neighborhood and church) anytime I was in the vicinity to drive around, look at the people that lived there (creeper!), pray and ask God if I was supposed to be involved. A love for the people was developing and the area started to feel like home. I told God that I would pursue living here and expect Him to redirect if this was the wrong way to go.
He directed all right.
On a Sunday a few weeks later, I called Dad and said – “Is Mom around? You may want to put this on speakerphone.” They are semi-used to me announcing radical, ridiculous and passionate ideas about any number of things, but still… I know they get nervous when I want to talk to both of them at the same time. God had brought me to a place of wanting to completely honor them in this process and so, I came without defense, but I was totally prepared for them to say what any loving parent would be tempted to say – “No. It’s too dangerous.” I was just going to cross that bridge when we came to it.
I told them everything. In one breath. Then I stopped. God bless Mom and Dad. They must have been thinking a thousand different things. There was a few seconds of silence. Then Dad said, “We think you should do it. We don’t really have any concerns at all.”
“Liza, the Christian life isn’t about being safe”, Mom added.
“Yeah, in fact, do they need more helpers?”
I didn’t know what to say. I respect my parents so much and value their opinion above anyone else’s. They have been amazing parents to me and their full support of what I’m doing frees me in ways that I don’t even realize. After that conversation, I felt free as a bird to follow Jesus wherever He led. Picture the Kentucky Derby, when the horses spring from the chutes? That was me. I knew then that I was on the right track and I could run. But I didn’t quite know which lane I should be in yet.
Mom and Dad, so grateful for you and that you are sensitive and submissive to the Spirit’s leading! I have such good models to follow.
March 16th, a group of friends from here and there were gathered on a Sunday afternoon in a friends living room. With coffee in our hands, we were telling stories of how we were seeing God working in us and around us.
A friend’s husband shared how God had been challenging him to use his resources to build the kingdom here on earth, and that he wanted to build as much kingdom here as possible, so we all dreamed together about ways that could happen.
Later I shared, “I’d just love to live in a big house in the hood. Where lots of people could find Jesus. A place where we could house people that needed a safe place and have a dozen kids around the table every night and play soccer in the backyard.”
We all rejoiced in the different things that God was doing and went our separate ways. The next day, I got a text. It was my friend’s husband. “Could you show me around this neighborhood?” As we drove around the neighborhood, he said – “We want to equip you to build the kingdom of God here. We want to buy you a house. Pick one out.
“SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!! What?!? Buy a house?! I have never been so humbled or so in awe of the body of Christ coming together and everyone getting serious about what God has called them to do. You know how much more we can get done together?! But more on that later…
That’s when I realized, God is serious about this. He means business in this neighborhood and I better get serious about it too. It’s time to stop dipping my toe in the water to see if its cold. Of course its cold. Jump in anyways.
Then furniture and a roommate and a specific area and prayer warriors started pouring in in ways that you just can’t make up. I feel like a kid who just got a pony for my birthday. I’ve dreamed of it, but never quite expected it. And then, one day, not only did I get a pony, its like I got the whole herd. I cannot believe we get to do this. And, its not the stuff, its God Himself and His heart and sending us out as His personal ambassadors. That He would involve us in His grand plan.
And caring about what He cares about is blessed freedom from yourself and caring so much about things that don’t pay up on their promises for fulfillment and happiness. If you want to be truly filled, set your wants on nothing less than God Himself.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your earnings for what does not satisfy? Hearken diligently to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness [the profuseness of spiritual joy]. Isaiah 55:2 AMP
More later on the house, the body of Christ and Gods radical love for the forgotten and the least of these (and yes that includes you and me). We serve an amazing God.