I read today of the ‘waiting room’. I didn’t know there was such a place, but if there is, we are there. We wait for a Manenberg home to appear for sale, as if by magic on the internet. We wait to begin our work. We wait to see our dreams take form. We wait to fully immerse ourselves in relationships. We wait to build.
As we wait, we work and worship and wonder. We don’t sit on our hands, following the hands round the clock. We work – sweeping floors, cuddling children, wiping surfaces, organising bank accounts and bills and insurance and all the administraion that comes with moving nations. We meet with inspiring people. We worship and wonder in the midst. We see the outrageous glory of each day and we sing a song back to Him – both with our lips and with our hands, working unto His sweet name. It is good.
Will you find your sanctuary here? I feel Him ask in the dark, as I comfort my baby-toddler back to sleep. And the question echoes thoughout my day. Spreading peanut butter on bread, opening books to read on the sofa, sweeping pink playdoh off the ground. After much wrestling and striving and surrendering, yes, I tell Him. This place is beautiful and I am grateful. Yes.
I have given Him my yes, yes to finding Him in unexpected places. Because for some, finding Him in a violent community would be hard, but for me it’s expected. For me, finding Him in the beautiful mess of suburban motherhood is unexpected. But I am learning He shows up. How He shows up, if only I have eyes to see.
I have surrendered great dreams at His feet, and when I open my eyes I find myself holding two living dreams in my hands, two sweet girls emenating His presence and love. I could – almost – move into the smartest suburb in the land and be surrendered there. I don’t have to save the world, I will love Him here in this place, with these treasures He’s given.
But then He says pick up your dreams, they are from me. Dreams to see a community healed, to see light pierce darkness. To run towards addiction and abuse and watch God redeem in stunning, constant love.
So I dream big. I remember that night, walking home from another gathering. Another night we had sat on the dusty floor of a hut and worshipped. The warmth wrapped around my shoulders and the stars, piercing and pure, glinted above me as I walked. And I felt the call echoing from the sky, the same call Abraham heard. Count the stars. I began to dream, dream again about all the lives I could reach in this lifetime. I began to dream about my descendants. Nations. People groups. I was nudged from timidity out into the spacious land of faith. I believed for great things in the orange dirt. And here, in Cape Town, I dream big again.
And I look down at my children. And my schedule, full of nappies and tuna pasta and floors to be swept and Cbeebies and playing in the dirt, and how does a mother ever leave the house, never mind change the world?
There are my tensions. I will lay it all down for my sweethearts, because they are precious beyond reason. But He also gives me great dreams and inviations, to run with Him out into the world to redeem it. Which one is possible? Many of my world-changing heroes either are childless or are away from their children to an extent I couldn’t manage. Many of my mama heroes have told me they have surrendered many desires to be the best possible mother to their littles ones. Which one do I choose? Do I chop off what I think God gave me, even if it feels like chopping off my arm, chopping off hope? And yet I will not, not ever, consider laying my children aside for anyone else. They are too valuable, and they are mine to hold.
I spoke all these things aloud to my husband, who is quiet and listens with his eyes. And as we talked, an answer surfaced. I can mother my children, and be part of a healing process in the world at the same time. But I didn’t like the solution.
It will look small.
It might look like teaching my children their letters and inviting a couple of other little ones along. It might look like coffee with another mama, whilst we hold our babies and talk about who He is. It might look like being a family, getting to know our neighbours, learning a language, asking for help. It might look so small. And I thought I believed in small, but it turns out I secretly adore big. Because I twisted and turned at this idea, this solution. It felt so right but it felt so difficult.
As we talked, I remembered who we’d spoken with earlier in the day. We had cups of hot coffee on a cold Cape Town winter morning, and listened to some sweet boys who are living with our friends and breaking free from drugs. One of them was telling us his story. “But I’m super proud of ___,” he said, turning to his friend. “Because it’s his birthday today and he’s clean.” We turned to the young man he was talking about. “Ya,” he admitted. “I’m 20 today. It’s my first birthday through all my teenage years being sober. I called my mum today and she is very happy.”
What I am calling small – just one life – He calls breathtakingly beautiful. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I remembered Him. How our friends stopped for him in the chaos of his young, precious life and loved him alive. He is so precious. My daughters are so precious. Each breathing life, with wrinkles around the eyes and a heartbeat under the skin, is so precious.
And I thought of that night, dreaming of thousands of stars, endless fruit, and thought how can that be true, but also God call us to seemingly tiny things? And then I think of His life, how He poured Himself into one at a time, God with skin on, and how the whole world lit up with His love.