¨Going big starts small. Going big starts small.¨ That phrase raced through her mind as she sat listening, longing for greater understanding. ¨What are you trying to say Papa? I know that a marathon starts with a single step. I know that a great oak tree starts as a little seed, but what else are you trying to say?¨ She lunges at thin air as the revelation races two steps in front of her. She can almost see it; a single leaf, falling from a nearby tree, whipping across the road following the current of traffic as it swooshes under one car and up over the next, dancing in the breeze, but fleeing from her grasping hands. ¨There is so much more to that phrase, but what?¨ Frustration fills her mind as she tries to clear the fog, longing to hear the voice she so desperately needs. ¨Papa, please. I want you to speak. I love when you speak. I long for more of your words, to go deeper and higher, and to know the height and width of your love.¨ Silence followed her plea. She could not understand why he kept doing this. It was almost as if he loved the hunt, the chase, the journey. He would plant a clue, wait for her to see it, then go silent again as she dug into the depth of meaning behind His words until He released another. She giggled to herself as the voice pierced the silence. ¨I love the journey,¨ he smirked back, ¨I love adventure.¨ ¨I am definitely made in his image,¨ she thought to herself, as she too loved the exploration that came with learning and was fascinated by the depths of understanding and mystery this world could bring. ¨So, let’s dig into this together,¨ he responded. ¨Going big starts small.¨

I remember sitting back many times, dreaming of the day I would worship lead and speak in front of hundreds, imagining the day when hearts would be changed because of His life in me. I longed to travel, country to country, people group to people group, nation to nation, all to see His glory known and His name revealed. I sat there crying out, ¨I’ll go anywhere. I’ll do anything.¨ ¨So go home,¨ He says, ¨go home and adopt your cousin with special needs, for my glory.¨ My reaction at first was full of joy, but in time it was a far cry from happy. It’s almost humorous now as I think through what my conversations turned to and how dumb I must have sounded to the King of kings. ¨I said anything, anywhere! I meant I would go to the ends of the earth and be martyred for your name. I meant any country, any adventure. Something big God! I did not mean go home and live the life of a full-time home maker and mother.¨ Going big starts small, oh so small.

¨Remember how I came into this world, Child? Remember how I was born?¨ My mind suddenly snapped to the city of Bethlehem. The air was stuffy, but a small breeze was making it tolerable. There she was, pregnant, exhausted, and terrified. It only took one glance to see the fear that surrounded her as the contractions came and went with such intensity, almost mocking her soft whimper for help. A place to stay was all they sought. Her spouse wandered the streets, frantically seeking a room, all while trying to comfort his beloved wife. The last door, the last knock, the last effort provided the only option they had been given all night. At this point it was too late to say no, for the Son of God would be entering this world shortly. Joseph scampered over to his wife, scooping her into his arms as he raced to the stable. She had no time to worry about how dirty it was, or how much the animals smelled, for pressure and motherly instinct overtook her body. He’s coming Joseph!¨ she screamed. ¨Breathe Child, for I am with you, even until the end of this age.¨ Her heart stilled as the voice of her Father broke through the chaos and she was able to draw a deep breath as the King of kings broke violently into this world. His cry pierced the night as Heaven and earth sang. Little did anyone in this quiet town know, but their Savior was just born, a baby, fully human but fully God, sent to restore them to a partnership with the Father. A baby. A tiny, crying baby. Going big starts small, oh so small.

¨The kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.¨ I was reminded of this verse as I typed about our King entering this world violently. It’s rather interesting now as I think about it. I’m not sure why I chose the word violent, but it seemed fitting. As I prepare for labor in the next few months, all I hear are stories that definitely make it easy to fear what is to come, but as I sat writing this, I couldn’t help but imagine Mary and what she must have been experiencing in those moments. She pushed the Son of God into this world in a stable, totally uncomfortable and exhausted. Just the mere fact that God chose labor and delivery to be the way that His Son, the Savior of the world, would enter back into His creation, blew me out of the water. What a testimony to the violence that it took for Jesus to take back the Kingdom. Now, let’s get a better understanding of that term violence, because it may be a little confusing. Instead of the violent take it by force, let’s read it as the forceful, singleminded, passionate, all in- take it by force. God saw his creation rebelling, and as he longed to have them back in relationship with him, he still had a choice. He could sit back and wait on us, or he could come and step into our world and bring his kingdom by force. I am so grateful that our Papa chose to come into this world as a crying Baby and die for my sins so that I may live. Now, we have the privilege to continue advancing his kingdom and not giving up or backing down. It blew me away today to realize that he came into the world through the pain of labor as Mary fought, with force, to violently push him into the world, and I will have the privilege to labor and struggle as I bring life to my baby girl, who will be a warrior that will also help take the kingdom by force. My struggle to accept his call on my life, no matter what it is in the moment, is simply the pain that comes with contractions. As the Lord births something new in your life, it will bring pain and suffering, but suffer violence, and take it by force, for the kingdom is worth it. And Child, take heart, for going big starts small.

She sat, thinking, listening, and believing as the tears streamed down her cheeks. “I never went big. I never started big. I never thought too big that I missed your thoughts and your prayers.” The reality that her Father thought so highly of her, despite her flaws, took her breath away. He was truly stunning. “Never think too big that you miss the human I have placed in front of you. Their life is worth me dying for, and I am a violent force that is fighting for them,” her Papa whispered to her aching heart as she closed her eyes, allowing the stream of tears to break. “Will you be a violent force for the call I have given you? Will you be so passionate that when people see you, they see my violent entrance in this world? Will you be so singleminded that when others look at you, they see my forceful eruption from the grave?” Her mind was drawn to that simple day, a day his followers must have thought would be another day of mourning. She could see him, standing there, folding the linens that had just bound his body, slowly setting them to rest, and walking out the entrance of the tomb. The sun momentarily blinded him as he smiled, slowly looking around him as his feet hit the barren land. He had just conquered death, but he was in no rush, for you see, kingdom violence is on no timeline. There is no rush to the heartbeat of the Father. Jesus walked, step by step, heartbeat by heartbeat out of the grave. She could understand now why it was hard for the Jews to recognize that their Savior had come; they were expecting a “hero,” one who would ride in on a horse and take the kingdom with violence, but she now saw that the violence that is required to take forth the kingdom is the immeasurable violence that we call Love, a love that would walk humbly, do justice, love mercy, and lay down its life for those around it. It’s a love so incredible that a simple blink of your eye, and you can miss it. It is a love that walks out of the grave smiling but at ease, a love that three days prior had hung on a tree, dead for those who mocked it. It is a love like no other, and that, that she saw is what taking the kingdom by force truly is. The biggest act this world had ever encountered was done by a baby grown to a man, who gave his life for the ones he loved, who conquered death and lived sinless as God in human form, and yet many missed it because it didn’t look “big.” It simply kept no record of wrongs, was patient and kind, believed all, hoped all, endured all, and forgave all. It was the greatest act of all eternity, and yet it wasn’t seen by thousands and is still missed today by millions. Going big starts so small. “So, will you be a violent force for the call I have given you? Will you be so passionate that when people see you, they see my violent entrance in this world? Will you be so singleminded that when others look at you, they see my forceful eruption from the grave?” He repeated as she sat in awe. “Yes,” her heart whispered, “yes.”

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