So I fly halfway across the planet for an experience that will mark my life and bits of it will be spilling from me for some time yet and really, it was his idea.
He gets home one night – walks into the kitchen – and says it like he’s heard from God: ‘You need to go to Catalyst.’ I laugh it off – like, oh that’s so sweet. But we don’t have the money and it’s selfish and how will I explain to people that we just feel that I just need to be there and again how can we spend all that money on just me and will it be worth it?
But a few weeks later he says it again. That I need to go. That he’ll make a plan – sell a kidney or something – and buy me the ticket. He’ll take leave to be with our boys so I can go guilt-free.
So I find myself in Atlanta, Georgia. I’m in between time zones, Starbucks, culture shocks, and meeting handfuls of intimidatingly down-to-earth Christian celebrities, and he texts me this bit of domestic news:
‘Scott found his sponge giraffe. Seems he didn’t swallow it.’
I laugh out loud because he’s the man who pushes me to dream big – to raise the sails – and he’s the man who anchors me in the everyday.
We Skype. Where he is, spring rains are splashing into dust. Where I am, leaves are turning red. But we’re listening to the same Still Small Voice. I tell him there’s so much that will stay with me. So much that’s hard to explain.
Like, it’s hard to explain how Matt Redman and Hillsong and the Catalyst house band can lead nine thousand people into the presence of God. Because, like, of course. Mostly, I’m a sorry mess. I stand with arms high and heart abandoned, in awe of the One who gave it all and I can’t help but let hope rise and darkness tremble in his holy light and all the very big names on stage become very small because there really is no other name than Jesus. And when that truth is magnified you don’t worry quite so much about the fanatically self-righteous or the dangerously lax because those names come and go but his name prevails and he will build his church.
It’s hard to explain what it’s like to be shaken and stirred by a cocktail of leaders like Matt Chandler, Tim Keller, Christine Caine, Andy Stanley, Craig Groeschel, Caroline Leaf, Mark Batterson, John Perkins, Robert Madu, Jen Hatmaker and about fifteen others.
And Ann Voskamp.
It’s hard to explain how even though I’m just a girl with an accent who gets to hand her bottled water for a day she doesn’t dish out condescension or entitlement. And even though I’m just a friend of a mutual friend she treats me like she really just might want to be my friend forever. She’s all about staying close enough to the Father to hear his voice – to hear the daily calling on her life. She’s all about obedience and making Christ present in every interaction. She’s doesn’t try to build her following. She just follows Jesus.
But one of the things that really stays with me is how husbands should love their wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave up his life for her. (Ephesians 5:25) How loving like Christ means, as Clay Scroggins says, leading with a towel not a clipboard. And maybe loving your wife like that means Chinese food on a Friday night or a break from the changeless cycles of kids’ bath and bedtime routines. Maybe it’s putting her on a plane. Maybe it’s challenging her thinking. Casting a vision. Giving her space to become the woman God intended her to be.
It’s hard to explain all these things. But I know when I walk into arrivals at O.R. Tambo International Airport, he’ll be there. And he’ll get it. He’ll understand the calm, quiet things God has said to me – about our continent, our country, and us. About the ease and comfort, the relief and release, of trusting God with a calling. He’ll let me tell all my stories. He’ll filter and assimilate and help me make sense of it all.
Because that’s what love does. Love leverages all of itself for the sake of another. Love looks for ways to further the work of God in the life of the beloved.
Back home the contents of my suitcase are strewn across our bedroom floor and he makes me tea and asks me with a wry smile if it was worth it? If my mind was blown? And he’s so glad.
So glad I went. So glad I’m home.
Because he loves me.
. . .
Got some thoughts on how husbands should love their wives? It would be so great to hear from you.