The Mafia and Falling Asleep Anyway

by Laura on October 9, 2013

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Perhaps I’m an adrenaline junkie.

15 months ago, my husband texted me, “I’m working a case involving the mafia.” And I can remember the holy ground that was my bedroom when I read that sentence on my computer screen; it was one of those late nights, after kids were in bed,  just me and Him. I can taste the closeness as I prayed and worshipped and journaled, clinging to words like,

Out of the ashes we rise, into the darkness we shine . . .

And if our God is for us, then who could ever stop us?

And if our God is with us, then what could stand against?

– Chris Tomlin

And I remember the desperate that propelled me forward, the fear that forced me to cling, the scenarios my imagination spun at 2:30 am when I hadn’t gotten a text in over an hour.

My guy brushing soldiers with the Russian. Mafia.

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But here’s the thing– yesterday I got the same text. “I’m working a case involving the mafia tonight.” And I went on a run on a mountain trail soon after, listened to the same music that had moved me to tears when he was out on missions last year, and . . . nothing. My heart just felt tired, dull, sleepy.

tried to muster that same desperate trust I tasted last year, but all I could gather was slightly-less-numb.

I used to think that living overseas was harder spiritually– what with its extremities of isolation and fear, constant transition and utter discomfort. But, now, living back in the United States for an entire year, I think that living in affluence is much more difficult on a soul. It’s harder, for me at least, to stay awake here in the land of schedules and microwaves and screens. The battlefield feels foggy and distant, and the Kingdom is a vague ideal that I can get around to once at Christmastime or when the kids’ soccer season ends and my calendar frees up.

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And I ran through Colorado woods by myself this morning, in all my anti-climatic-ness. Father to my children asking for children from the mafia– somewhere in Asia. And I longed to go back– back to that place of live-or-die intimacy with this Jesus I was getting to know all over again. Back to those spiritual mountaintops born in the Valleys of Extreme Circumstance. Back to those soul-rich nights where I drank heavy doses of adrenaline, fear, and suffering.

But we don’t always get to be on the front lines. There are seasons when we are called to stay, to do the quiet, to walk the mundane, to practice a “long obedience in the same direction” (Eugene Peterson).

Because the waves might come sometimes and smash me into the Rock of Ages*, but its when the sea is glass and trouble feels distant, that perhaps the real alarms should sound for me.

Because these are the days when adrenaline doesn’t show up, when good intentions pave a quick road to apathy. These are the quiet seasons when even my well-meaning soul can easily be lulled to sleep–

a sleep so deep even threat of the mafia has a hard time rousing.

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Are you in a season of adrenaline-extremism? Or fall-to-sleep mundaneness? Which is harder for you to see and feel God in? 

* “I have learned to kiss the wave that slams me into the Rock of Ages.” – Charles Spurgeon

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In other news, thanks so much to all who bought my book last week on Amazon! We sold nearly 500 copies in three days! If you have read it, I would so appreciate you stopping by and leaving a review of it on Amazon. Thanks, friends!

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Jessiqua Wittman October 9, 2013 at 9:08 am

My family and I were just talking about this yesterday. It seems that in other countries, the difficulty is staying faithful to Christ in hard times. But in the United States, the difficulty is staying faithful to Christ in easy times. It’s such a paradox…

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Laura Parker October 9, 2013 at 9:44 am

Yes– totally. Both ARE hard . . . I am just finding I think I prefer (somehow, maybe I’m sadistic) the challenging times instead of easy street. It’s just hard to stay awake here, for me.

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Angie Washington October 9, 2013 at 9:59 am

I think you might be an adrenaline junkie. :-) Yes.

If I might, I’d like to give you a different perspective on the ‘mundane’. I give a sidelong glance of suspicion to the emotion surrounding the inevitable burst of novelty at the start of a new thing. But after a year, fifteen months, of dedication a broad grin of pride spreads across my face. Deep change happens with the slow consistent plod of individuals who have counted the cost, yet keep paying it.

That’s great that you don’t want to get sleepy. But don’t discount the great work that God has done to bring you to a place where you can walk through these once fear ridden experiences with a new found level of confidence and trust that allows you to peacefully go for a run knowing that He is taking care of things.

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Laura Parker October 9, 2013 at 2:04 pm

Oh, wow, you always seem to know what to say, friend. I like your perspective of my life I think!

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Kelley J. Leigh October 9, 2013 at 10:04 am

Well spoken. Such a great picture of contrast in heart and culture. I am challenged by it. Thanks, Laura.

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Laura Parker October 9, 2013 at 11:20 pm

Thanks, friend. :)

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Teri Miller October 9, 2013 at 7:41 pm

I definitely relish the seasons of adventure…after the fact, that is. In the midst of it, I find myself longing for simplicity, comfort, down-time. And yet when things are going along oh-so-ho-hum, I tend to get all bored & apathetic… Oh, Lord, help us to be content with the present!

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Laura Parker October 9, 2013 at 11:21 pm

Yes, oh, content with the present. OhsoHARD.

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Dalaina May October 10, 2013 at 12:03 pm

Laura, you are speaking my heart. As we moved back to the USA from South America, I had several conversations with God that were something like “Please don’t make us stay in the USA!” I know that I have a much harder time not being sucked into caring too much about things that don’t matter in the land of comfort… and I fear that for my children too.

Yet, in this, I really believe that there is a wealth of joy and fulfillment for those that choose to walk the path that God points them to no matter where it is. I admire you so much for doing the gritty (probably boring at times), behind-the-scenes aspects of your ministry that much less glamorous but absolutely CRITICAL to the empowerment of so many others to provide rescue for our sisters and children around the globe. I pray that God will remind you of the great significance of your work even while you miss the adrenaline of the front lines. May your heart be full of joy and contentment and peace today, dear sister.

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Laura Parker October 11, 2013 at 2:51 pm

Thanks, friend– know that you are tasting that too and can i say i LOVED talking to you the other day on the phone!?!

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Christa Sterken October 10, 2013 at 6:40 pm

Laura, this really touched my heart. I am in a mundane season and searching out the passion again. Getting closer

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Laura Parker October 11, 2013 at 2:53 pm

Thanks, Christa, glad it was encouraging. Hang in there and keep fighting for your heart.

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pastordt October 10, 2013 at 7:16 pm

I’m with Angie on this one, I think. I do understand your concern that you might be growing in apathy, but I’m not sure it’s warranted. Absorbing and getting used to things is not the same thing as apathy. And one cannot live on adrenaline for a lifetime, unless one truly wants to live a really short life. It’s good to be aware of the seductions of security. It’s also good to be aware of the blessings. Finding that middle way is sometimes tough, but writing this out? That’s a great way to enter the search.

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Laura Parker October 11, 2013 at 2:52 pm

Thanks for your grace. i do just think its a general numbness I battle here of late, but I totally agree that getting used to things is NOT the same as apathy. That IS an important distinction. And oh I loved this phrase of yours, “seduction of security.” That’s a good one on so many levels.

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A Massey October 11, 2013 at 7:49 am

Thank you so much for expressing your heart. I am in exactly the same spot now, longing to be on the “front lines” overseas, but learning to be content with being stateside for now. Your words express my feelings so perfectly. I pray that God will send us back, but in the meantime, I am trying to “do the quiet, walk the mundane and practice a long obedience in the same direction”. Thank you.

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Laura Parker October 11, 2013 at 2:53 pm

Thanks for stopping in, and prayers to you as you taste purpose in the faithful plodding.

Plod on, sister, plod on.

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Lana October 12, 2013 at 4:55 pm

Oh, Laura, I feel you. When I live overseas, I can’t even get in the car without praying, and I’ll probably pray most of the way because the traffic is so hard. But in the states, I hop right in without giving it a thought.

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Richelle Wright October 14, 2013 at 12:51 pm

just wanna say – i’ve missed you writing here. i’m still so disappointed that i didn’t get to meet you and yours in person last summer… and i love it every time i see that you’ve posted again. and i can’t wait for this weekend (we’re not traveling) to have a few minutes to read your book.

and i get it. i’m so here and so homesick for niger and so unsure of how to walk this road if He keeps us on this side of the water. i think i fear for my children in this place more than i fear for me, especially my biggers who are no longer in a place that encourages and facilitates service bigger than what any would think teens could do and instead encourages and facilitates anything that betters or promotes self because it is an investment in their future… but then maybe that’s a bit of a snare that can easily distract and then trap me as well.

as i share with ministry partners about what God did and is doing, one of the things i’ve been challenged to share is this verse: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” we tend to come back to that verse in the hard, bad, difficult, challenging… even adrenaline junkie times. :-) but at least i easily forget that God’s using the amazing, beautiful, mountain tops as well as the valleys… He’s also working through the everyday boring and mundane because it is ALL things, HIS purposes. so i’m praying that He KEEPS showing me His hand in all things regardless of my natural response (rush of adrenalin… yawn… or snore…)

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