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.
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!"