The announcement came forth, igniting a flame within. An upcoming sojourn, along the very paths Jesus and his disciples traveled – an opportunity to study, breathe, be immersed in the Land called Holy. Immediately, the nudge to go was felt, very real. Now, several months later, I still recall what God spoke into me that day as outwardly I gathered my purse, made way down the aisle and filed into the sea of Sunday’s best. His soft dialogue communicating vision, and by the time my car left the church parking lot, Israel had appeared on my horizon.
Time passed as it does, and in the juggling act of life I unknowingly missed the trip sign-up day. It was full. Just like that. My disappointment rang alarmingly deep. Doubt swooped in, and before a second thought, determined I had been wrong – it must not have been God’s voice all those weeks prior. It’s not my season… There will be other trips… Selling myself all the practicality in the world, the mirage of Israel faded from my horizon. Life, it presses on.
Monday morning a message received – two spots have opened on the Israel trip, leaving in one month’s time – are we interested? Smoldering flame stoked, leaping up strong again. As I spent much of the day spinning in thought, the word “extravagant” came to mind several times. What an extravagant ask – there is almost shame in the typing of it. The excessive, the lavish, the lacking restraint, causing flushed cheeks and darting eyes to my practical, thrifty and realistic. A good friend recently wrote about some extravagant asks she has made of God in her own life, and when I read her heart’s share I found myself smiling for her faith, her imagination and the unique ways God showers His love in her life. I celebrated the extravagant for my friend without ever stopping to consider the lavish requests in my own life. Little did I know the Holy Spirit would begin to use those timely thoughts of a friend as revelation knocking on soul’s door. In the quiet, eyes start to see…in all my reasoning, in the practical living, I have boxed in the excessive, abundant gifts and the God who gives them. In all my singing of God’s Song of Wonder, full stanzas I have simply omitted.
But Lord, haven’t I prayed for the extravagant?
In humility the admission bubbles up…No, not for some time now.
‘You bring me your desperate, but not your extravagant.
We talk together, reason together, and battle together, and it is good…but late have we dreamt the bold and unthinkable together.’
God, forgive me.
At first sign of a barricade how quickly I dismissed the Holy Spirit’s lavish pull to Israel. Never imagining I had heard Him correctly all along, or believing God’s path to that horizon vision simply took a few unseen turns. Even further, never entertaining the absurd idea that the life-changing adventure could be had as not just me, but we, and God would pave a way for both Rob and I to go. Confession bubbles higher: In not wanting to face my own disappointment, I surrender fast and mild, and never make the dreamer petition for You to crush a few obstacles standing in my way of the extravagant. I never ask, nor allow myself to think beyond restraint of the realistic…I have not trusted You as the Giver of Good, Wild and Wondrous Gifts.
I have jokingly (while not really joking) said in the years since completing the long, at times dark, adoption process of our youngest, how I can never ask for another prayer, another dollar, another moment of time from anyone. We were loved big, lavished in intercession and extravagant friendship for a long, long time. And in some skewed place in my mind, it is as if I cashed in all my chips, mortgaged my life’s savings of support and kindness on that one experience. The world has heard enough of you, let them pray and love on someone else for crying out loud. These- the real and the ridiculous – thoughts that have warped, and twisted. But it was not until finally pausing this week in extravagance’s dissection, did I see not only have I believed the world has heard enough, but my God has heard enough. Buying the lie in full, I have spent more than two years with an extravagantly bankrupt prayer-life.
Revelation blows open doors, chipping solid stone away from cold, abandoned wells of creativity and hopeful imagination. Isn’t that how a life with Jesus goes – waking on a Monday thinking the day is about groceries and school uniforms only to have Him show up transforming years of partial, frugal thinking? Swimming, neck-high in Mercy, I began to write down the layers being peeled away, all while still unsure if the logistics of making a journey such as Israel would come together. Humbled in conviction as I typed, yet more free than just moments prior. Freed up to dream without restraint, to pray lavishly,
to trust with a desperate extravagance.
Is there an excessive ask flickering within you? Do you allow yourself the room and the risk to dream, pray and watch for the BIG? If you feel prompted to speak it out- share your extravagant prayer here in a comment or by emailing me- I would love to join you in praying for God to blow you away with His response.
Monday evening, we sat and combed through every angle of the incredible decision we faced. Pros, cons, ideas, fears, all there spread out on our duvet like piles of folded laundry. My sensible, slow to risk best friend and husband then said something I may remember forever. Almost as a final word on the topic he declared, “We are created for adventure!” Silently, the flame within replied,
“Well then, let’s go be adventurers together!”