Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Over and over again

There are some lessons that are just really hard to learn. "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer."Rom.12:12. That seems like an easy one, right? Pretty straightforward. But I find that these three basic instructions are some of the hardest for me to live, to really trust.

"Be joyful in hope." I have a love/hate relationship with hope. Hope is a source of strength and joy when it is in something that is trustworthy, but when our hope is in things that fade away or things that are not true, we are setting ourselves up for trouble. So when I think, "be joyful in hope," I think, "I am hoping! and it's bringing me incredible turmoil because I don't know if what I 'm hoping in will come true."  How can I be joyful in that? I can't. The only hope I can be joyful in is the hope of Christ's love for me and his work in my life. That brings me incredible joy, and I can scarcely believe it's true. That song that says, "turn your eyes upon Jesus... and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace" is so true. May I let go of hope in those things that do not last or provide satisfaction and hope in the goodness, grace and love of God. May I hope that he is leading my life, working in me and through me, and that when I see him one day, he will smile and open his arms wide in love.

"Patient in affliction." Oh, patience, where art thou? No one says to be patient in affliction anymore! Everyone seems to be saying "fix the affliction," "get out of the affliction," "be strong in the affliction," "overcome the affliction." But God here says to be patient in it. There is a sense that there is a purpose for it. That Someone else is using it. That we are to believe that God's purposes are more important than our comfort and that if we will walk patiently, trusting, in the affliction, we will see fruit, the fulfillment of His purposes for his kingdom and in our lives. The sense I get is that my attitude should be something like, "Father, this is really hard. All I want is to make it stop. But I know that you are great and good and that you are working out your purposes through this hardship. I will trust you and receive your work in my life through this affliction. I receive it for as long as you give it to me, and I will wait for your goodness."

"Faithful in prayer." This word "faithful," "proskarterountes," is not the usual word for faithful in Greek. Usually, the word "pistos" is what we translate as faithful. In this case, proskarterountes has a different emphasis. The word is literally translated to "attend continually, be steadfast towards." It carries a strong sense of continuity and active perseverance. "Faithfulness" doesn't quite cut it. This is not only a sense of loyalty to prayer. It is an active, continual participation in prayer. God knows that if I am to be joyful in the right hope and patient in affliction, I will need to be continually seeking him in prayer because these heart beliefs and choices do not come naturally or easily. I am not to pray once in a while when I feel overwhelmed, but to throw myself completely upon him through continual prayer, enduring in it even when it feels like my prayers are weak and useless. This is key to living out God's ways in our lives.

Three things. So simple, but so utterly different from my sinful nature that I must rely on God's Spirit alone to change me and create in me this new way of living and being in him. This is what his children look like. I am his child. May I live out this reality in him.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The thing about turning 30...

When I was a wise 21 year old, I remember thinking that turning 30 would be no big deal. I was perfectly content with my singleness and couldn't understand why girls would get so bent out of shape over gettting older. Even in the past couple of years I remember thinking that 30 seemed like a great age. People finally start seeing you as an adult, you begin to have a little more wisdom, you have better ideas about what you want in life, and yet you're still young and relevant. This week has been a different story...

In a sense, I feel like I am both dying and being born. As I leave my 20's I feel like there are parts of me that are dying. Parts of selfishness, of living to see what the next adventure will be, of trying to come up with a future that would impress me, God, family and world. I am dying to the norm of being married with kids by the time I'm 30. (That one I still haven't put in the casket... it's rotting on my bedroom floor.) I am dying to being "normal." We all say we like to be unique, but only in certain ways...  And yet, I am being born! I have a whole life in front of me full of God. Full of God's kingdom and the reconciliation of the world to him. I have a life ahead of me full of having the amazing privilege of growing closer to God and being free from the things I am dying to.

It's weird because if I stop and think about my life, what God has done, what he is doing and what he is going to do, I KNOW that my life is amazing and that I am incredibly blessed. I feel humbled at the privilege God has given me to be loved by the people who love me and to be used in the ways he has used me. And I know that he has really cool things up his sleeve. I know that the very fact that he loves me and knows me and speaks to me and cares for me and is gracious to me is more valuable than the most precious thing on earth. I would not trade him for the world. And at the same time, there is a sadness inside of me, a feeling that I have lost something. A feeling of love that could have been, of time wasted not loving the one I would love for the rest of my life. I think this is the hardest. It is the feeling that I am losing precious moments of loving and experiencing that one person that Christ would use to teach me about his love and unity. Yes, God has blessed me in incredible ways, and yet right now, my heart keeps going back to that one thing.

Lord, you know me. You know your kingdom. As I long to experience oneness with someone here on earth, you long to experience it with me. You experience it with the Father already and would that I, as your disciple, would experience it too. As I look around and back and down, searching for that love to satisfy, I know that you DO satisfy, and I ask that your love would fill my heart, that I would be one with you. I ask that you would be the apple of my eye, that my delight would be in you, that everything is worth just being with you. May that be what I long for now and always.