06 November 2007

Ministry in the City

I have been thinking a lot about urban ministry, especially since I am part of an urban church plant, working at what could be considered an inner-city school (although it doesn't carry the negative connotations of that name) and volunteer with a few urban ministries including Sunshine Gospel Ministries and GRIP. This thinking has involved a lot of wrestling.

Tomorrow I turn 29 and I have no idea how my life is going to look in the next year. This is not what I imagined for myself 10 years ago. I would have never guessed that I would be living smack in the middle of Chicago with a delightful roommate, no romantic interest, several part-time jobs, and a wonderful church. It is a beautiful life, all told, but often trying and never easy. When I think I have reached the end of my tether, and the idea of living a "safe" suburban life seems irresistible, God brings another encouragement to keep hanging on. The most recent form this encouragement took was a sermon by Joel Hamernick at my church last Sunday. If you want to hear it in full, you can listen
here. If you just want to see the main points you can check out Joel's blog post here.

All in all, what seems to keep coming up is this:
  • My heart for missions and cross-cultural exchange has never dampened in the last 10 years or more, but the focus has definitely shifted several times.
  • There is no doubt in my mind that living and working in Chicago is a cross-cultural situation.
  • The need for the Gospel in Chicago and other American urban areas is just as great as any foreign need that I have seen or heard of.
  • God has strongly impressed on my heart that I need to put my roots down deep in Chicago, regardless of how long my life here may be.
How this will work out in my daily life is beyond me. Some days it terrifies me and others it seems totally reasonable and right. I just wish that I wasn't doing it alone. Sara is a fabulous roommate, but as her relationship with Jud gets more serious, I realize that I cannot count on her companionship for the long haul. This brings up questions about possibly finding a new roommate, moving to a lower-income neighborhood? and what to do about being so decidedly single. If God is really calling me to go deep in Chicago and I take that seriously, I need a man who is committed to the city as well. Am I asking too much? Good men in general seem in short supply, so putting such specific provisos on a match seems almost ridiculous.

And of course, the most disturbing thoughts then role in and they all seem to revolve around that perennially difficult question: Does God want to keep me for himself? Is the best life that he could give me one that does not include a husband and family? Some days I think that would be difficult but amazing. Other days, it sounds like the worst torture possible! Most days, my feelings are somewhere in between.

Any thoughts on this? I always appreciate the insights of my friends and family. And you can always remind me of what Sara says all the time "You just think about these things too much!"


Momma Amy said...

I think the main thing is to just keep doing what you feel called to do. Take things one day at a time. God knows what is in your heart and he will take care of all the details. (I know that is much easier said than done!)

I truly believe you will get married some day. I have no idea why God hasn't brought him along yet, but I believe it will all be made clear soon enough.

Or, you can just stop thinking about these things so much! :)

Love You!

My name is April. said...

Well, I definitely don't have any advice, but I do appreciate what you have written and I wanted to stop and say that.
I'm a few years behind you but I often wonder about being single. I have so many adventurous and abnormal dreams that it's hard to believe there's a guy out there with the same goals. And I am NOT going to wait around, putting life on hold to see if I can find a guy. It's weird how time flies. When I'm focused on living and being brave and running after the things that matter, I don't seem to worry much about a life partner. Then I stop, take a deep breath, and realize that I feel alone.
I won't say "you think about it too much" because while that may be true (for myself as well) it's not so easy to stop thinking about something so huge. But I guess I will remind you that just as God has been faithful for all of your years thus far, he'll be faithful in the years to come. It seems like even the things we stress about end up being small matters whent he time arrives. Maybe that's because God gives us the grace we need for each situation. My pastor always says "God give us the bread TODAY that we need for TODAY". And tomorrow will be a new prayer.
Anyways, thanks for being open and for writing about your thoughts.
And Happy Birthday!

TulipGirl said...

Have you listened or read the sermons by Tim Keller (NYC Redeemer?) Definitely worth it, if you haven't. . .