Wednesday, June 27, 2012

An Uncomfortable Life

This is a post I wrote some time ago that was previously posted on my personal blog, but I like to refer back to it from time to time as a reminder when things are a little rough.

 Do you ever stop and think that life would be so much easier if you just stopped doing so much and led an “ordinary life?” Here, I am not talking about setting priorities and ceasing to strive. I am talking about those moments when the life you have been called to just seems too much. I will be honest, I sometimes grapple with this very feeling. Sometimes being a woman in Seminary seems like too much work. Sometimes being in charge of new programs seems like too much work. Sometimes being a Christian seems like too much work.

Can I say that last statement? Is it too raw for Christians to say that sometimes our lives just seems like too much work? That the calling on our lives is too much, that the spiritual warfare we face is just too daunting?  That sometimes we just want to be people who go to work and take care of our families. Yes, we want to love Jesus but not in that dangerous, stand out on the end of a cliff type of love. We want to be safe. We want things to be just a little bit easier.

I am gone through these moments in my life because I have this very interesting inner struggle. In some ways, I thrive when I am walking in the destiny that God has for me. Yet, sometimes the task in front of me seems so daunting. As a woman, I will always face an uphill battle in the arena of Christian academia. I will always struggle against those who say I don’t belong in Seminary or those who say that I am not able to teach.

So, then, I begin to back pedal a bit into this more comfortable area. But here too, I am uncomfortable because my heart is aching for something that is missing. My mind spins with the vision that God has given me for my generation. So I have to make a choice. Either way, some aspect of my life will be uncomfortable. Will I choose to be uncomfortable because of the sinful world I operate in or will I choose to be uncomfortable because I am defying God’s plan?

This is a choice that I made some time ago, yet I was reminded of it again this morning and I sat and looked out the window of my office. Many new opportunities are presenting themselves, which would put me exactly where I would need to be for this vision to start to come into being. Yet, I am very much standing on the edge of a cliff. Not many people get my vision, fewer believe in it.

I thought for a second about retreat. I thought about my to do list, my laid down dreams, my tiredness. I thought about ordinariness and a simpler life. I thought about the work ahead and wondered what my future holds. But then I remembered that I would rather be uncomfortable because I am standing in opposition to the world than uncomfortable because I am embracing it.

I may not know the whole plan that God has for my life, but I know enough. No Christian is every meant to be ordinary because we all have a predestined role to play in the kingdom. To be sure, life is a continual balancing act in which we must determine priorities and boundaries, die to ourselves daily, and learn to rely on the strength of the Lord. It is messy and beautiful at the same time, exhausting on one hand and thrilling on the other.

The world is not the way it was meant to be and we are a sinful people who are continually being sanctified. The reality is that we will always be uncomfortable until the Lord calls us home. Today, I choose to be uncomfortable because I embrace my call to stand opposition to the world.
Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Writing on the Wall

My husband and I are in a bit of a pickle. What it is and how we got here is somewhat irrelevant. All we know is that we are having to trust God for the outcome. Time is ticking and we are still waiting. As always this is the hardest part about trusting God.

I have been working through a Bible study on Daniel and the author of the study summarized the writing on the wall in Daniel 5 as I AM, I KNOW, I ACT. We could argue that she took some major liberties with the text, but I get her point. Belshezzar thought he was getting away with something, but God stepped in. Daniel's interpretations of the writing on the wall was clearly a rebuke of Belshezzar's behavior.

But my husband and I were talking this morning and encouraging each other to just hang in there for a while, those words rang in my head. I AM, I KNOW, I ACT. He is Who He says He is - the God of the Universe with everything under His control. He does know what is going on, what we need and how this is going to end. And He does act. He is not powerlessly sitting by watching us wait; He will do what He will do when He will do it, and however He will do it.

And so we wait....
Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Fat Cat

I saw a fat cat lying on the sidewalk as we were driving out of our neighborhood this morning. There was a bird doing a dance just a few feet in front of the cat, but the cat did not even blink. As I was, once again, running late for work all of a sudden I felt very envious of the cat. It was laying in the shade just starting the day with nothing on its agenda – not even catching the bird. I wanted to turn around, go home, make myself a latte,  finish my quiet time with God, finish cleaning the kitchen and putting away the laundry, call some friends I have not seen for a while, and just chill.
In the past few days I have been reminded from several sources how we in America are the richest 1% in the world. I struggle with feeling guilty about that, but this morning as I was processing a passage in James, I told God that I did not choose my circumstances, the time and place of my birth, or the social status I was born into. How then do I not feel guilty about that and live in my circumstances honoring God with what I have, enjoying the blessings, but being a good steward and help those in need. It sounds simple, but it’s really not. Do we not go to the movies? Do we never buy new clothes? Are we allowed to take care of our skin? Do I buy vitamins that keep the effects of the approaching menopause away? If I did not have a car I could not go to work. Should I even work? According to the statistics 99% of people in the world do not even have a choice to ask those questions. Which is the blessing?
But then I looked at my last week and have to admit that the time I spent with my two friends going to the movies was a huge blessing to all of us. We all needed some time to just be women. But then again we all live overloaded lives – some of us out of sheer necessity – and if we didn’t, could we do that without having to create that time.
Sometimes I find myself wishing that I would be content with being at home. But I also know that my academic, overactive mind would go crazy in about a week. I love my job. I am blessed to work with people and in an organization where the advancement of the Kingdom is the goal. I get to encourage amazing women who feel God has placed a calling on their lives. And I know that God called me here and I see Him working in many of the things I do.
James 5:1-5 says:
Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.
I may not have defrauded anyone by what I do – or have done – in my life, but who is suffering because of the pace I keep? Are my children missing out? Or my grandchildren? Is my husband having to pick up too much of the slack? How about the very lonely single mother and grandmother who just can’t step into the grace of the cross because she is afraid? Or my sister-in-law who, finally after 12 years, is starting to ask for help in getting into the Word?
I heard a very convicting poem over the weekend.
Babel-on in Babylon
Brimming closets shoe racks bulge
One in every color, I’ll just indulge
My wildest whim will oft be met
Bigger, faster, give me, get
Travel-on, in Babylon
May I go first, No you not care
My time is precious, you’ve lots to spare
I’ll slip in front and off I’ll go
See, I’m quite fast, and, well, you’re quit slow
I and me, fast friends, lifelong
Prattle-on in Babylon
Nip it here, just there a lift
I just turned 40, it was a gift
The eyes, the lips, the bosom’s new
Sculpted, lazored, injected too
No wrinkles left, the tummy’s gone
Journey-on in Babylon
Enough of me, how do you view me?
You get one, but give me three
I couldn’t bear to just say no
It’s my desire, and rightly so
Add another and on and on
Shuffle-on in Babylon
No end in sight that I can see
Today is blocked by the mirror in front of me
A wreck, a death, tsunami tide
It mildly stirs me, I must confide
TV claims thousands gone
Oh well, let’s see what else is on
Numb to the stunning sight of each new dawn
Sinking fast in Babylon
Like a lobster in a pot
Who begins to like the water hot
I’ve been duped, been tricked, been had
Convinced that truth was somehow bad
Evil coddled and cooed and purred
And beckoned me and called and lured
Now in a place with the light turned on
I’m racing home from Babylon
Which of my motives for what I do, want to do, and wish I could do are from God, and which are just about bigger, better, and me?  I don’t have answers to any of these questions, but I don’t want to stop asking. But this is what I think God says:
’Cause there's a bigger picture you can't see
You don't have to change the world, just trust in Me
'Cause I am your creator, I am working out my plan
And through you I will show them, I Am (Ginny Owens – I AM)