I travel a lot. Interestingly enough...I rarely get lost out on the road. I put 4100 miles on my car in May and was successful in finding my way through rain, wind, dust and even a blizzard in the High Sierras. Then I get home and I lose my way...can't find the road that will lead me to this blog and to save my life. So 53 days later I finally turn on my GPS...my God Positioning System and God leads me right back here. "What do you want me to say?" I asked him in a panic. And he said the same thing to me I like to imagine he said to Moses, who had stone in his hand and not a Mac, "Sheesh! Just write already!"
So here we are again, my friends. These past weeks have cemented many things in my life...and I don't mean the throw-me-in-the-river kind-of cement, although now that I think of it, I have been drinking from a very cool stream I like to call Living Water...but I digress. For many months now I have known that there was a call upon my life to something of service for the God who dealt me the Grace Card, knows all about everything I have done in my life...and wants to use me anyway. I really tried to tell him he had the wrong girl, but then in his Word he kept showing me that it is exactly ragamuffins like me that he has a propensity for. Moses stuttered so badly that Aaron had to speak for him, Paul held the coats of guys while they stoned Christians, ( OK his name was Saul then...but still), David murdered a man, Peter denied knowing Christ, Rahab was a prostitute....I mean come on now. A flawed bunch to be sure. So I said bring it on...show me what it is you want me to do....you like 'em flawed? I'm your girl.
That's when he gave me a bad bout of insomnia.
So night after night I was having trouble sleeping. Now trouble sleeping used to mean tossing and turning until 1 in the morning. But this was a super-strain of insomnia that liked to show me that 5 o'clock came twice a day. I fought it at first and then I started doing something I did last year when the same bug bit me. When I couldn't sleep I didn't wrestle with my pillow in a Jacob-and-an-angel-kind-of-way....Instead I would get up, go into the living room, turn on the lights and say out loud..."Speak Lord for your servant hears." It's scriptural...it's what Samuel said...and it somehow sounds better than looking up at God and in the middle of the night and shouting " WHAAAAAT? (although I have been known to do that.) Seriously...I'm listening and I want him to know I am listening, 'cause it's the darndest thing...if you listen...he will often speak to you. So one of those nights I spoke those words, sat on the sofa, picked up a spiral notebook that was on the coffee table and the next thing I know I am writing.
Now...let me explain...I love the Word, I read it and study it daily, but I am no Bible scholar. I can tell you stories from it and suggest how they mean something to our lives today and quote scriptures that mean a lot to me, but rarely can I tell you the address where it can be found...although in my studies I am working on that. So when I picked up a pen and wrote "See how Jesus of Nazareth filled with the Holy Spirit and power went about doing good." No one was more surprised than me when I ended it with "Acts 10:38." Holy gasp Batman...she knows the book and verse!
I read the verse over and over. Jesus. Holy Spirit. Power. Doing good. My mind was racing (not a good thing when it's the middle of the night) and everything I had been reading and praying about, not to mention taking copious notes about...as I searched for what it was I was to do...began to clarify in my mind. I longed to follow the Christ of the Bible, not the Jesus who has been Americanized in order to satisfy our re-writing of the gospel that makes him the Grand Marshall of the prosperity parade. I had seen first-hand the glaring absence of the Holy Spirit, which goes hand-in-hand with many Believers leading powerless lives. And I knew God meant that love they neighbor thing. I could almost see it...but I needed it to not be another one of my creative ideas...of which I have been known to have a few. "Come Spirit come." I whispered. And he did.
The next thing I wrote (writing is where I go in these kinds of moments) and I have the paper right next to me as I write this.
The 10:38 Project:
A small community coming together regularly to study the life of Christ, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the power found in a life of doing good for the least of them. Jesus didn't stay in Nazareth and do a coat drive. He met the poor where they were. Get involved. Get messy. Stop thinking we ascend to greatness...in reality it is when we descend to help our brothers and sisters...that real joy, true greatness is found. Come Spirit Come.
And as I lay in bed a half hour later with the words The 10:38 Project repeating themselves in my head...I asked God to show me if this was what I was supposed to do. And with the fragrance of those words still lingering in the air I heard an awful sound from the street below. A drunk driver had hit our car...totaled it in fact...and sped off. Immediately all thoughts of The 10:38 Project disappeared and I knew God has just given me the confirmation that I had asked for....
The drunk driver hit our car so hard that it pushed it up the street onto the sidewalk in front of our neighbor's house. It also hit it so hard that his bumper stayed attached to our vehicle. So he sped off drunk and bumperless. And oh yea, did I mention his license tag was still attached to said bumper. God has a cool sense of humor sometimes. Cops come, neighbors are out in the street, bumper is peeled away and hauled off by our helpful Longmont police officer and our sad, little Saturn spends the night at the neighbor's.
And as things start to settle down, we all return to what we were doing...which for most everyone was sleeping. But if you recall, at the moment of impact I was rolling The 10:38 Project around in my head....when I got terribly distracted. As soon as I began to think about it again, it occurred to me that I just been bamboozled by the Great Distractor himself. The door to 10:38 had been opened...and with it many adversaries. That one's in the Bible...somewhere. And as soon as I recalled that scripture I realized that The 10:38 Project had just been blessed and confirmed. Satan wouldn't have bothered with me and my little idea...but he would do whatever he could to stop the work of the Spirit. So I got up and made pages and pages of notes and thoughts just to aggravate him. I could just see the little demon of distraction reporting back. "Sorry, sir...but she's writing again." I'm sure he'll come after me again on a regular basis. But I don't pray to be safe....I pray to be dangerous. When my feet hit the floor in the morning I want Hell to say "Oh crap, she's up."
So one of the first things I did was re-read a few of the books that started me down this road in the first place...the first being Crazy Love by Francis Chan. Let me digress once again. I took a road trip to Southern California in February. Before I left I wanted to get this book, but decided I had a bunch of Joyce Meyer Bible teachings I needed to listen to this trip and I needed to watch my dollars. So I left without Crazy Love...the book. I did however travel two thousand miles with a God who loves me like crazy, but that's for another blog. When I arrived at the home of my friend Davi in Encinitas and she showed me to my room...guess what was on the nightstand? Yep...ain't that crazy? I asked her if I could read it while I was there and she told me she had bought it for me. All righty then. Now to find the time to read it in between teaching. Before the day was up almost every single person who had signed up for my Friday class called and said they were sick. So now not only did I have this book that I sensed was going to be important...I now had an entire day to sit on a hill overlooking the ocean and read my book.
So here's the genealogy of how I got to what's happening today. I read Crazy Love. Rocked my world...a definite 8 on the Richter scale. In that book he mentions Shane Claiborne and a book called Irresistible Revolution. Read that book. Made me wanna dance and sell everything I own. In his book he talks about one of his mentors, Rich Mullins, an amazing singer/songwriter from the 80's who rarely wore shoes and taught music to kids on the Navajo Reservation. (Rich was killed in a car accident in the early 90's). In a thrift store, not long after I first read about Rich, I came across a biography with his name on it. This extraordinary life and the poetic power of his songs and writing took my breath away. When I went to Rich's website they had links to wonderful organizations that do work on Indian Reservations around the west. My heart started to race.
Ever since reading about the crazy kind of love that was involved in living a life devoted to the poorest among us I had been asking God to show me where the people were I was to serve. I researched the homeless shelters here, the organizations that helped single mothers and women leaving violent homes, at-risk teens...I looked into them all. And honestly, and happily, I can say that Longmont is fully behind all of these things. They seemed like they had it covered. I wanted to deal with the needs of people who had nothing. NOTHING.
One of the organizations on the Rich Mullins site was a place called One Spirit. Their site and their work is devoted to the third world conditions found on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. 35% of the residents don't have running water or electricity, teen suicide is the highest in the nation, the average life expectancy is the same as Somalia. What the heck!
I am a western artist, in fact my work reflects the history of the west in particular. I honor Native American women in my art. Pine Ridge is only 5 hours from my home. I Googled the reservation, wanting to see images for myself. The first video I clicked on showed me what I feared I would see. The soundtrack over the slide show was a haunting song repeating the words "Everywhere I go I see You." When the video was over I noticed the song credit at the bottom of the screen. Rich Mullins.
So now... I am involved up to my eyeballs with the Pine Ridge Reservation and the Lakota people The same eyeballs that see the conditions there and can not stand it. I am working with them on setting up art classes which will be held at one of the new youth centers being built, I will be involved over the next weeks in collecting furniture and household items for a Safe House opening in September and I will be telling you regularly about what the needs are at the moment. I am sponsoring a nine year old girl named Liberty and her father, Charles Yellow Bird. When I talked to them the other day and asked them what they needed....Charles asked for toilet paper and light bulbs...and he was almost apologetic.
So The 10:38 Project meets on Tuesday nights at 7 (when I am in town) at The Firehouse Art Center in downtown Longmont. We will delve into the Word, studying the life of Christ, finding power for our lives in the Holy Spirit and helping others. The Pine Ridge Reservation is our universal project, but we are seeking local folks we can help, as well. We will always be working on projects for the Lakota families we work with, but we will visit the elderly in our community and help those who are brought to our attention in whatever way we can.
The website version of all this, where you, my friends who live far away can still be involved in the studies and with Pine Ridge, can be found at KC Willis Ministries.
On Sunday....join me as I tell you about a little girl. A little girl whose mattress sits on cinder blocks, who doesn't have a sofa, shoes that fit or any toys...a little girl who said she loves to play princess and she loves Jesus. A little girl named Liberty Yellow Bird. Liberty. She has set me free.
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