Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Walking in faith. I never understood it fully until a youth pastor gave an analogy I remember to this day. "You see this chair?" he said while gesturing to an old metal folding chair. "Belief is saying that this chair will hold you if you sit on it. You can know and say with confidence that if you put your weight on it, it won't buckle and send you crashing to the floor. Faith is belief in action. Faith happens when you sit in the chair." There are several passages about faith, with the mustard seed, mountains moving, and all that goodness... but what comes of it when the rubber meets the road? I have been called to sit in my own proverbial chair. I prayed about the chair, consulted my beloved brothers and sisters about the chair. I thought back to previous times when I was called to sit and didn't, followed by intense regret. Would the chair hurt? Would it feel peaceful? Would it lead to some sort of spiritual enlightenment? No answers; only "sit." I have told the Lord I would do what He asked because He knows the plans He has for me. They are plans to prosper me, to give me a hope and a future. Yet doubt rages. I would much prefer for Him to deliver the reasons, and let me in on the big picture. Then, I would gladly sit. I would gladly obey. But that's not faith. Faith is acting when we don't know why, walking when we can't see, and traversing straight down a path where the only visible step is the one we are currently standing on. Proverbs 20:24 says, "The Lord directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way." Touché. James 1:3 reminds me that the test of faith grows perseverance and it does feel like just that: a test. I will admit, it doesn't feel good. It feels awful, actually. But I have to believe that the purpose of my act of obedience is for the furthering of His plan. So without further ado, I think I'll pull up a chair and make myself a little uncomfortable. Hebrews 11:1 "Now Faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see."
Sunday, January 26, 2014
Everyone has problems. Lately I've been blessed with the very best kinds of problems, which are those that result from the deepening of friendships and relationships in my community. After a very long and lonely season (one I am grateful for, mind you) I was blessed with some very specific bonds I'd been praying for. I've had acquaintances and fellowship but very few deep, few super substantial that challenged me at my core. (I will exclude a few, you glorious dears know who you are) But now I find myself in challenging situations. I am subject to new pressures to increase my committment to church via volunteering and community group involvement. I now have friends who have graciously allowed me to see into their imperfections, and speak both love and guidance into them. And I allow my vulnerabilities, previously guarded like a national treasure, to poke their heads out and sniff the hands of those in my inner circle. It's scary and extremely sanctifying, and it is oh, so good. I find myself frustrated, tested, and burdened at times. It is uncomfortable to be known, for fear of being known and unaccepted. But it is right and it is good. For the first time, my most sincere prayer is for wisdom. Not for my own benefit, but for theirs. When do I offer grace, tough love, consolation, or honesty? What offenses do I address, and which do I ignore? When should I hold tighter than ever, and when do I walk away for the good of myself and the other? Like Solomon, I cling tightly to the knowledge that godly wisdom is the source of all riches. And I find myself filthy rich with the best kinds of problems.
Monday, January 20, 2014
The hardest and most confusing part of young adulthood for me is the progression of developmental milestones. Childhood is so predictable that there are textbooks delineating each step and it's cause for concern if each milestone isn't met in the expected time frame. But when first words and potty training are behind us, where are we left? When should I expect to be mature enough to master coping mechanisms when I am handed disappointments and frustrations of life? When should I be prepared emotionally and financially to start a life with someone in the bonds of marriage? I never realized these milestones existed until I noticed a pattern among my acquaintances. The posts about smart financing and photos from weddings and baby announcements from people I consider peers came pouring in. Am I developmentally delayed? I feel this ache echoed in various people around me lately. My female friends who share my single status lament their bare left ring fingers. My childless married friends feel inadequate and self-conscious. The pressure to equate value of self with a husband, child, 401K, etc is overwhelming for us "delayed" 20-somethings. It's whispered by every ad and hinted by family members and friends. "This is where you should be in life and if you are not, there is likely something wrong with you." But I exhort myself and those like me, I implore... we are no less beloved, valuable, cherished by the Most High because we are the last of our friends to marry or the least financially stable. Our worth is not tied up in these things, and our story does not always match that of our peers. The Psalms tell us "Take delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." In Jeremiah I find a comforting reminder, "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" His timing is perfect, and His plan will be sanctifying. Perhaps the sanctification includes a few years of growing pains and some unanswered questions. But I have trusted Him thus far with much grace, and I try to remind myself that as long as I dedicate my steps to His plan He will not steer me wrong. Even if I feel I may have taken a few wrong turns... It's all about the journey.
Wednesday, January 8, 2014
I am an idolater. I have always been aware that our modern idols take the form of hobbies and jobs, as the days of stone figures and the golden calf have gone by the wayside. But I always saw modern idols as something that consumes your life, like a professional athlete or musician... With their lives wholly dedicated to perfecting their craft. But as I've been trouble-shooting some lackluster behavior in my walk with God, I see my own adulterous, idolizing patterns. It's the little things that count. This cliche sums it all up. Each time I practice music for an extra hour or hit the gym in lieu of devotional time, another brick is laid separating me emotionally from Him. No wonder I feel far from him these days. It's no different than if I consistently neglected one-on-one time with any one of my friends: the relationship would suffer. There's no dialogue, no bonding. Each time I choose one of my little idols over him, I communicate my priorities. I am busy. I am busy, and I am dying. To be healthy, I need a constant refueling. My idols drain, adding nothing and taking everything. In this new year, I hope to readjust my priorities. Where my treasures and my time lie, there lies my heart also.