Monthly Archives: May 2015

Incarnation Revolution

Incarnation Revolution

I just read Ann Voskamp’s blog about Yezidi women and their children, living in shipping containers, sharing profoundly gut-wrenching stories of loss and violation. I read it while I was walking our beast/dog/puppy who can pull my shoulder loose in a split second, so I did not even read it that closely – but what I saw at the end of the post rocked my little world.

As usual, her writing painted word pictures that went straight to my heart. As usual, I wondered at the way she galvanizes and graces, all at once. As only the Holy Spirit can.

But I stopped short when I got to the bottom of the blog. There was a banner sharing the name of an organization in Iraq called The Preemptive Love Coalition. No doubt this organization has now received a billion hits on its website, thanks to the massive platform that Ann Voskamp stewards.

The thing is, I know that guy – the Preemptive Love guy. I don’t know him well, but I had a meal with him last summer and those of us at the table lingered over conversation about life and small things.

He’s a guy. That’s it. He’s younger than I am and he struggled into this Preemptive Love place like any human struggles into a mission or a calling. Wrestling and halting…then sure and committed, but oh, so tired.

Mr. Preemptive Love – Jeremy Courtney – was living in Iraq. He was at a restaurant one day and an Iraqi guy asked him for help getting a young relative a heart surgery that she needed. Jeremy balked (“I’m not a surgeon and don’t even really know anything about that…”) but he ended up trying to help the guy out. And a mission was born – a ministry of “love first” to young, medically fragile Iraqis.

This guy. Mr. Preemptive Love. He’s a man. Not a superhero. Not independently wealthy. Not even a doctor. But he moved into the neighborhood and was willing to walk into the problems. And now his website is no doubt crashing under the weight of Ann Voskamp’s readership.

It strikes me that when we read a blog like that, even though Ann says that it’s all of our problem and it’s all of our blessing to care for the pain in the world, we easily assume that someone else (Mrs. One Thousand Gifts or Mr. Preemptive Love or some other large-website-toting personality) will step up to the plate to lead a revolution of resources and logistics.

But guess what? Those people are Ann and Jeremy. They are just people. They walk into hard places and love with the same love of Jesus that you and I struggle to hold to.

Jeremy likes stir-fry. He wears colorful shirts. He’s Southern guy turned Iraq lover.

He’s a leader in an incarnation revolution.

Incarnation. Moving in. Showing up. Getting messed up with the life across the table from you. The kind of showing up that Jesus did when He came.

This incarnation revolution isn’t made up of super heroes or men and women with different skill sets or more margin than we have. Just people.

My heart swells and it breaks tonight. It breaks for the world and the pain. It swells knowing that there is a revolution afoot. May we count it all joy to get really, really messy on the front lines. Alongside men and women not too different from us at all.


Humble, with Good Posture


adeleDoug and I saw the movie Woman in Gold last night. It is the true story of an elderly Jewish woman who fights to get a Klimt masterpiece, Adele, rightfully restored to her family. During the Nazi takeover of Austria, her very wealthy family was stripped bare of their treasures, including the painting, which had been a commissioned portrait of her Aunt Adele. Newly married, she and her opera-singer husband fled Austria and immigrated to the United States, leaving her ailing father, stalwart mother, and a treasure trove of family heirlooms behind. All were lost to the Nazis.

The woman, Maria, is now a woman’s clothing store-owner in Los Angeles. She resides in a modest bungalow, but her refined tastes now mingle with her intensely focused immigrant work ethic, and, in her 80s, she presents like a perfect lemon icebox cake at a potluck supper…humble, with good posture.

Our friends here in Clarkston remind me of Maria. Each was an owner of a trove of family treasures. Their treasure may have been an education, a career, a specialty. Their treasure may have been a family name, a family system, or a connection to the land. Their treasure may have been a treasure like Maria’s – some work of art, tangible and priceless. It may have simply been something priceless to them – a home, a favorite chair, a picture, an heirloom.

No matter the treasure, it is lost to the ravenous looting of injustice.

Nevertheless, they hold their heads high. Humble, with good posture.

Tomorrow night, the Refuge Coffee Co. truck launch party happens. The trainees at the party will be those who have forfeited treasure, but who face the world with dignity and with the knowledge that they are not who they seem.

There will be others of us at the party who have also lost treasures along the way. We have forfeited small things privately or large things publicly. Loss is universal.

May we learn to walk humbly, with good posture.

May we rest assured that the gifts of this life often come wrapped in the trappings of loss, and may we lean on the grace of Him who urges, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21)

Join us tomorrow night. We’ll be celebrating from 6-8 pm at 4170 Ponce de Leon. We’d love to see you there!