Friday, December 16, 2011

Me, God and My Job

“Faith refers to loving God with all that we have and all that we are, our hearts, souls, minds and strength.  Faith means fidelity, loyalty to the God who loves us, who rescued us.  All that we do, in word and deed, must be done in the name of the Lord Jesus.” ~Jack Wisdom (pretty cool last name, huh?)

In thinking on this phrase, I have realized that not everything I do at work is done as an act of faith.  In fact, I think of much of my work as a penance. 

As a single mom, there are countless ways I have willingly died to self - and each of those little deaths have brought me untold blessings in the form of joy, deepened understanding, greater capacity to love - give - receive, and taught me what it is to be truly thankful for a God in control of everything. 

Why then has this been so hard for me at work?  I think in large part it is because I do feel called to something entirely different than what I’m doing now.  My work does not equal my calling and my workplace is a pretty negative and dark environment.  So at work I have allowed the negativity to blind me to my overriding call as a Christian - to die to self in order that my life might glorify God. I think this is probably true of many believers who work in a secular environment.

In loving God with all that I have, I have neglected to love him with my job - a job I have told Him I’m thankful for (after all, it does pay the bills) because when I landed this job five years ago I definitely considered it one of God’s many successful rescues in my life.  But in regards to current thankfulness for my job, I talk to God out of both sides of my mouth - from one I profess gratitude, from the other I beg Him for a speedy deliverance from what I now consider my own personal hell on earth. 

What is my job really though?  A place where I can daily use my God-given strengths to minister in such a way that my efforts might restore and redeem brokenness in my workplace and greatly glorify our God.  My prayer: Show me the way Lord!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Curioser and Curioser!

Recently, I read an interview of a man named Dr. John Medina who talked about how curiosity is a really good thing. Questioning is a really good thing. Doubt is what generally leads to both curiosity and questioning. God isn't afraid of doubt, curiosity or questions – and that as believers, we shouldn’t be afraid either, not if we believe that God is the source of all truth.  Dr. Medina states that curiosity actually sets us on the road to God. He equates finding God with true success and does not consider social or professional status, money or worldly possessions success.

I agree with the belief that the closer we get to Jesus and the more we let Him into our life the more truly successful we will be. This is why I also agree that curiosity is important – in fact I believe it is vital to our faith and our life. We should always want to know more - more about who God is, the world He created, the people He’s placed in it, and our purpose while we take up space here.  That’s why I believe it is vital to realize that:

Our social and professional status can be reduced.
Our money can be lost.
Our possessions can be taken away.
Knowledge is ours forever - as is our relationship with God. No one and nothing can take either away. If we are curious about who God is and what His plan for us is, and we endeavor on searches to satisfy our curiosity and follow them all the way through to the limit    I believe those searches will always lead to Jesus. As we become more curious about Jesus, who He is and who we are in Him - He becomes the center of our lives. When Jesus is our center we relinquish our attempts to control (they are absolutely futile anyway). We stop living or doing or being by our human will and instead live by God’s will. Our efforts are then in His awesome and capable hands.

When we are in line with God’s will, we are fulfilling our purpose in God’s plan for His Kingdom - we are doing Kingdom work.  Is there any greater success? No.

Can we ever know all there is to know about God, Jesus and the Kingdom of God? No.

As we follow searches to satisfy our curiosity will we come to the realization that the more we learn the more we have yet to learn? Yes.

Will we also come face to face with our own human failings along the way? Yes.

Will we find Jesus (and God’s mercy and grace) even then? Definitely.

Praying that we all stay curious and search for more of Jesus always, but maybe especially during Advent.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Venom, Wounds, Grace & Facebook

Several weeks ago, as the Casey Anthony trial wrapped up and Casey was released from jail, I was heading to bed and as is my usual bad habit I performed one last iPhone scan checking for any especially inspiring tweets on Twitter or for any newsworthy status updates by family or friends on Facebook. And there, posted by a friend, was a horribly cruel, crushing, thoughtless and almost hateful status, followed up with several equally cruel and insensitive comments. The status and comments were not directed at any one person specifically, and especially not at me. The poster and most of those commenting or “Like”-ing the post do not know every detail of my life’s story, and the ones who did, were simply commenting in agreement with the opinions of the poster. Everyone, from the poster to the commentors, are professing Christians. I know each one and love them all dearly. We attend church together, serve together, and just “do life” together. Still, I was hurt.

I was hurt by these quickly typed and uploaded statements, about as deeply as I can be hurt.

The things on Facebook that night – those kinds of heated opinions and broad thoughtless and cruel statements are the very things that make others cringe when they hear the word “Christian” or think negatively of anyone who says “I’m a Christian.” It’s what makes the general public – both non-believers and some followers of Christ - distance themselves from “believers”. The statements on Facebook that night weren’t “Westboro” crazy – but they were statements made from a (I think unconscious) self-righteous bend that if followed all the way absolutely would end up Westboro crazy. These were my initial thoughts (and I still do think this).

I tried shutting off my thoughts and shutting off the phone off and going to sleep.

But I couldn’t.

Those posts and my hurt wouldn’t let me rest.

So, in a flurry of iPhone “typing”, from my tear-wet pillow, I penned the following Note.

Title: And we call ourselves Christians.

Really? Whatever happened to 'They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Love' ?

It's status updates and comments like I see on here tonite, which dear friends sometimes post, that make me honestly want to just shut down my fb so I don't have to see such venom spewing from the mouths of people I love so dearly. I saw some posts/comments tonite that cut me - very personally - to the core and break my heart.

I know that the statements weren't even made with me in mind, they aren't statements directly about me and not a single friend of mine would intentionally seek to hurt me - and therefore I feel no anger toward anyone. What I do feel is a real concern for the hearts of others, and just really sad.

No matter how well any of us may know each other, none of us can know entirely every experience, situation, or circumstance others have faced in their lifetimes. So it is impossible to know these things to any degree at all about total strangers - yet we are super quick to condemn, aren't we? We've no right to, and judging others in this manner is a sin.

God is all-knowing and He is the source of all wisdom (the wisest among us are ignorant in comparison). I for one, am overwhelmingly thankful for God's ready supply of mercy and grace, two most precious forms of love that we humans find great satisfaction in withholding from others, others who are usually the ones most in need of seeing mercy and grace from us who are supposed to know about it. I am forever grateful for the forgiveness He has given me and I praise Him that there is NO condemnation in Christ!

I beg of you my friends, I beseech you even - do not be so quick to judge! And if you are, please don't be so quick to post your judgments to fb. When you draw harsh conclusions about people you don't know who are facing circumstances you never have, you draw blood from the wounds being carried by people you DO know.

It is my prayer tonite that God will show all of us what it truly means to be Christ-like and that He will show each of us the areas in ourselves that are so desperately lacking in compassion for others. And that we would be reminded that to the same degree we cast judgment on others, such is the judgment we will face.

God's peace and love to you all, and know that I love you too!

(I shared this here, not for sympathy – the Lord, through his overwhelming grace and unfailing love, gave me comfort for the life wound that made me sensitive to those particular posts. I share it here because I think it bears repeating and remembering – I know for me it does. I’m certain there have been times in the past when I have posted some opinion I held, and I probably thought nothing of it at time. I pray that I haven’t unintentionally brought fresh pain to someone’s healed over past wounds.)

I did also, that night, make a commitment to myself and to my Facebook friends to be more intentional about what I post and how I comment in the hopes that what I put out into the social media world is positive, loving and full of the same grace God gives to me daily. I hope you’ll join me.