What No One Tells You About Fear & Comfort Zones & How To Change. the. World. [Final Update: Saturday Evening]

**[Final Update (!!)  at bottom of Post!] click below if you’d like to listen to the audio reading of this post? You can fold laundry, wash dishes, whip up dinner, and I’ll just read to you, ‘kay? We’re all about making it easier & doing life together here (warm smile)  {Consider turning off music by clicking the speaker bar near the bottom of the left margin?}

The heads are turned down now.

Could only be a matters of day now.

A few more days of drying sun and all the gilded wheat to the east will be ready for the harvest.

I was born in the middle of wheat harvest.

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Slipped into this mess back about 41 circles around the sun now, four decades and almost one of thick heat and wheat harvest.

Polyester and bell-bottoms and blowing out a ring of candles on a cake taken out to wheat fields where Dad was harvesting. My Dad has always wore flannel and plaid, still wears flannel & plaid and the peak of his farm cap pulled low. Like he says, his gnarled hands punctuating the words, “Time can change a lot of things, but not the important things.

The headlines keep changing: Cease-fires. Bodies. Borders. Big guns. Debates and death and babies and downed and forgotten planes. Gaza, Ukraine, Iraq, Libya, girls in India made into village pawns and violated, exposed and left for dead. The inescapable heat of August can make the grain ripe, can make you feel more than a little mad in the mind, more than a bit sore in the gut.

They say dogs can sleep easy because they have no newspapers, but who knows if that’s the truth or just more spin.

We’ll roll into harvest now by the end of the week, Lord willing and if the sky will hold. They’ll make this wheat into bread soon. Man doesn’t live by CNN, The Times, Twitter or bread alone, but by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God.

The news, it will keep telling you to be afraid — to be weary and very afraid.

The ads, they just keep telling you that you’ll need to buy — buy more stuff to be enough, to be happy, to be bigger and impervious to the looming news. Really, it could be breaking news that the King of Kings and Lords and Lords had about returned in a blaze of global glory and most news channels wouldn’t carry it because that doesn’t sell big ad space for half-price shipping from Walmart.

Either way, the message too many spinmasters keep shilling is that you’re only either an inevitable victim to fear or inexorable consumer of stuff.

But you can find yourself standing out in a field of wheat under a sky that wraps itself right around the whole world and you can feel small and you can feel connected to everyone under the sun and you can realize:

I’m only afraid because I’m comfortable. It’s too easy to let the stuff make you comfortable, to use stuff as a shield to protect you against the headlines. 

What if we are all only afraid because we’ve settled for being comfortable? What if we are all only afraid when where we’ve settled is not where the Comforter is — because where the Comforter meets you is precisely when you are outside of your comfort zone?

More than being afraid of a dangerous world, maybe we should be much more afraid of comfort zones. Frogs have died that way. 

What if we all were more afraid of comfort zones because this more than possible: 

What if every comfort zone — is just a death trap?  

It can happen when you’re looking out at a field of wheat, looking out a window on an August morning:

When you’re tired enough of the news, you can go make news of your own that tells of Good News. 

When you’re tired enough of your comfort zoneyou can start living in the dangerously alive zone. 

When you’re tired enough of listening to all the talking heads, you can listen to the One who speaks to your soul. The One Who calls you to freedom of the expanse outside of comfort zones, to give yourself away and not be afraid. Life is too short to miss out on the harvest opportunity for which God has specifically blessed you for in the first place.   

Under the same sky where we’re growing a crop of winter wheat — they’re growing winter wheat in India. In India where the headlines keep unravelling a hell that could be our daughters, where  last month, the alleged rape of a six-year-old girl in a school triggered a series of street protests by angry parents and political activists over the lack of safety for women and children in one of the world’s largest countries.

A 16-year-old girl in Delhi was gang-raped at gunpoint in June, and a seven-year-old girl was found hanging from a tree in a village in West Bengal state.  Locals suspect she too had been raped. In May, two girls in another state were found hanging from a tree had been gang-raped in a case that sparked public outrage. Government elected ministers trivialize the violation of the girls by saying one happened accidentally and another said the rapes were “sometimes right, sometimes wrong.” One party leader opposed a recently introduced death penalty for gang-rapists, saying: “Boys make mistakes.” 

Now it bears repeating: When the prevailing thinking is boys will be boys — girls will be treated like garbage. And it’s only when a man looks to Jesus, that a man knows how to treat a woman.

If women are half the sky over every wheat field, women from India to Gaza to Ukraine to a hundred different borders, are raining grief. Begging change. 

But there is a generation, an Esther generation of women of every age, who want better news to travel around the world,  news of how Jesus values women, how Jesus sees women, how Jesus carries women. An Esther Generation, you, us, this community right here, who raised $68,000 (!!) in a handful of days to fund the first phase of the Esther Initiative with Wycliffe’s The Seed Company. The Esther Initiative that had, instead of pastors working with male Bible translators to bring the Bible to men who can read, it had a different vision:

Female Bible translators gathering with women, most who can’t read because education has been denied them based on their body and their chemicals, not on their value and their worth, and giving voiceless, invisible women voice to share their stories and trials and lives and female Bible translators would open up God’s Word and give them stories of the Women of the Bible and the God who values them.

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You funded it, our community together here, you and I and all of us, and The Esther Initiative, together with Him, and it is happening: women Bible translators have travelled to Asia, and women across a province of Asia are meeting together for two weeks at a time — and will continue to as we support them, six times over the next two years — several stages and phases and workshops —  to share their stories and to orally learn the stories of women of the Word like Hagar and Hannah and how God meets and sees and values women.

Once these women learn the craft of telling these Women of the Word stories in each of these workshops — the women carry these stories back to their villages to their sisters and mothers and daughters and neighbours, carry back the important Good News that never changes.

And then the Women of the Word stories are passed from woman to woman, recorded and played on small mobile devices, how God meets and sees and values women — with the potential to reach more than 60 million people.

What you, us, what we together are all funding here, The Esther Initiative, this is new, this has never been done, this could change whole world for young women, for little girls, for the next generation. And Wycliffe’s Seed Company translators have very clearly told us: 

“When this model of women translators gathering and empowering oppressed women around the humbling, powerful love of God’s Word — when other hurting women and Bible translators in the world see this model… we need to be ready for what will happen —-

Tsunami. Be prepared for the Tsunami of women around the world — half the sky — asking for these Women of the Word stories too.”

This is happening now, the stories from Phase 1 of the Esther Initiative are happening and filling in my inbox: Together, we’ve supported the training of 32 women storytellers. Women who wanted to tell God’s stories to other women so badly they resigned their jobs in order to join this project.  Women who hiked for hours out of their village, then travelled overnight by bus for 10 – 15 hours.  Women who experienced rejection from their extended families for choosing to serve God full time. Women whose father announced that they were no longer his daughters.

And all I can think: What are you and I and women here sacrificing to be part of a better story, to be part of Good News? 

One Esther Sister reported that she trained 8 other new Esther sisters to tell the first five Women of the Word stories.  Several more Esther sisters reported that they’ve shared the Women of the Word stories — and people are listening and giving their lives to Christ. I don’t know what I’m doing with all my time but our Esther Initiative Women? Are spending up to 6 hours of their day in storytelling, in telling the Women of the Word stories. 

Our Esther Initiative Sisters are meeting with women and telling Women of the Word stories to them as they lead their cows across fields.

Two Esther Sisters spoke hope in a family where the husband lay sick. Countless trips to the doctor had proved futile. Our Esther Initiative Sisters told far better news, the news of the woman being healed and of Jairus’ daughter. The two women told them good news and prayed with the family. And the man felt well.

And it happened — it happened right there like a harvest: The whole family accepted Christ as their Savior. And when the man fell ill again, when he knew he was not long of this world?

He called his wife to him and told her the two stories of the bleeding woman and Jairus’ daughter and then he told her to stay strong in her faith and to not to turn back. To not turn back. Then the man died.

And his family? They are asking to be baptized and make a public profession of their faith in the one true Lord of this world.

When we’re tired enough of the news, we can together go make news of our own — that tells of Good News. 

In July, our Esther Initiative Sisters met for three days. Our Esther sisters gathered in small groups and learned how to tell the stories of Genesis 1-3 and Mark 4, Jesus calming the storm, learned how to tell God’s Word with expression and accuracy and joyful hope — and now our Esther Initiative Sisters are going to carry that Good News right into girls’ hostels.  Because we are here for such a time as this, because the world has enough women who know how to do their hair —the world needs women to do hard and holy things.  

Women under all our sky are facing daily violence, carrying invisible wounds and unspeakable rejection and our Esther Initiative has planned the next workshop to work on the stories of Ruth, to focus on God’s stories of loyalty and compassion, to visit a nearby hospital where our Esther Sisters will learn some first aid care for wounds — and then talk about the invisible wounds women carry, rejection and grief and bitterness and self-hatred, how we can support and care for each other as we heal from our invisible wounds.

Our Esther Initiative sisters are going to be Key Women for each other, releasing each other from boxes and cages and pain. I know and can testify with our sisters:  Storytelling is key to self-healing — and telling our stories and His Story can help our souls and our violent, warring world to heal. We are all here— you, her, here — for each other for such a time as this. 

So how can we be caught blithely cat-napping when our girls, our daughters, our sisters are being kidnapped and our girls are driven from being kids to being our slaves, to being our whims trafficked and bought and sold, as if that chain of DNA that makes you female are chains that make you invisible.

How can we not, the Esther Generation, rise up and say for such a time as now we will risk everything inside the gate for those sisters outside the gate.

For such a time as now we will risk comfort, for such a time as now we will risk ease, for such a time as now we will say no to oppression’s disease, for such a time as now we will give up, so our sisters can rise up.

For such a time as now:  We’re all called out of our comfort zones because we have sisters outside the gate. We cannot stay inside our comfort zones when we’ve got sisters outside of the gate. 

Because there is nothing worth having inside the gate when you’ve got sisters losing everything outside the gate.

Because you could do this: Every day you can do one thing that you wish you could do for every one.

You, we, us, we could be part of the Esther Generation of every age and nationality and colour, and we could be part of changing the headlines, changing the news, changing the world.

You can’t be a world changer until you serve. And you can’t serve until you break free of your comfort zone.  

Living outside your comfort zone isn’t living irresponsibly — it’s living obedient.

And the bottom line is: We will be known by our fruits — not by what name we call ourselves or by what fame we want to be known for. We will be known for our actual fruits, not the intentions of our imaginations.  

The greatest of these is love. And love’s actual fruit is service: Love bears service. Love says: Let me serve. 

And the actual fruit of serving is peace: Service grows peace. Service says: Let me help bring peace. Which means — all of us are simply just one hand reach away from working for world peace.

In a world that needs someone to work for peace, a world of relentlessly breaking news of wars and cease-fires that can’t cease to end bloodshed and women who are bleeding grief all over the world, it comes like a quiet relief, like the breath of wheat in the sun:

God beckons you to look into your bucket of seeds and ask your heart how much of a better story you’d like to sow.   

God asks you to look into the bucket of blessed seeds you’ve been given — and ask your heart how much you’d like to be part of a harvest. 

God asks you how much you want to be part of the fields of Gold.

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Any fear of giving to God’s Kingdom is flawed.

It would be like a farmer who feared losing his bucket of seeds so he failed to plant his own field — and thus forfeited the joy of overflowing his barns with the harvest.

Your fears will most determine if you are saving for your future or giving yourself for the future.

There’s a rising when you come to know it, a collective generational rising —

how there is more grace in investing in wheat than there is in pointing to weeds. 

Malakai says it on the porch in the quiet of the evening as he looks out on the wheat, as he shreds zucchini he’s brought in from the garden, “Only a couple of days now, Mom. And harvest! You know what, Mom? Of everything we do, I always like being part of the harvest best.

Yes, Child — me too. 

And this child born in the middle of the wheat harvest, she listens for a whisper of wind, of change, in the wheat…

 

 

[Please Give to the Esther Initiative Right Here]

Related: The first part of this story:  Half the Sky: When You’re Ready to ACT to bring all our girls back…  (and how our first goal was $25,000but you all gave nearly $70,000! but that is just like you amazing people! This is who you ARE:  #EstherGeneration!)

Come to my little birthday party? UPDATE (!) BELOW:

Esther Initiative -- LET's DO THIS THING!

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UPDATE #3: Saturday Noon

The Farmer has always beat me at everything. And I mean — Everything. Ping pong, basketball, card games — everything.

And he’s racing us, the #EstherGeneration — trying to see if he can finish our harvesting our wheat harvest crop before Sunday (and my birthday) and beat us to raising the goal of $120,000 toward the Eternal Harvest of the Esther Initiative  which is all about getting the Word out about how God values and cares for women into the hands of women around the world. Because, boy, could the world sure use more than a little Good News today — and when you’re tired enough of the news, you can go make better news of your own — that tells of Good News. 

We are so close to beating the Farmer! 90% of the way there! And the Farmer’s down to 50 acres left of wheat harvest — one more dayCan we beat the Farmer to our goal before Sunday?

The Farmer versus The Esther Generation.
The Wheat Harvest versus the Eternal Harvest.
Best Birthday Present Ever if we could all win: Esther Generation & the Esther Initiative trumps the Farmer?
Eternal Harvest for the WIN!

Yes, ma’am — couldn’t get a better birthday present than finally beating the Farmer AND setting our sisters free AND making some GOOD NEWS happen in this world! Thank you. You all really are the best people in the world for putting up with me and doing a beautiful life and the hard and best things together. )

Let’s do it! Click here to help the Esther Initiative and beat the Farmer.

 

FINAL UPDATE – we beat the farmer on Saturday evening!

The Esther Generation beat him to the finish line, won the harvest race, raised $120,000 for the eternal harvest and set their sisters free!

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Let's Do THIS THING!

Photo credits:  8911131214152127

 

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