Nothing to Prove Book Club started this week and our women are processing exactly what freedom from pretending and performing might look like. During the evening, we talked about living in the tension between the beauty and the mess of our lives. We agreed that we want to avoid separating our lives into silos, and instead allow the everyday and the mundane parts of life to become important in view of our place in God's story.
Jennie cites the stories of Abraham, Noah, David, and Paul, among others, as examples of heroes who lived their lives in small moments, acquiring skills and learning about God until it was time to step up to their part of His plan. The point being that the everyday learning, the regular people type moments were part of a large plan and every bit as holy and noble.
I think we could also look at Sarah, who fought her own battle with infertility (and jealousy, and at least one questionable decision along the way), yet became the mother of the promise. What about Elizabeth who sent her husband off to work at the Temple and he came home unable to speak? Guess who had all the explaining to do when it turned out she was pregnant with the one who announced the arrival of the Messiah?
My thought is that when we study these people, we concentrate on their great battles or victories and we've often overlooked their everyday lives. I'm inspired to think how they made it all work. I've wondered about Sarah's thoughts while she was washing up dishes after some desert banquet. How did she still the taunt ringing in her ears that a baby was no longer a possibility as the long-ago promise of an heir became harder to recall. What desperation drove her to bring her handmaiden to Abraham and hand her over? And I can't even imagine what she said to her husband on the morning he saddled up the donkey and two of his servants and began the trek with Isaac to the land of Moriah.
On the day Zechariah was struck dumb, Elizabeth began a season of ministry to her husband, to her visiting pregnant cousin, and to a newborn babe devoted to the Lord. Both of these women ran households, held countless conversations, lived within their culture, took care of husbands, and managed to keep their families afloat all while accomplishing their work in God's history. They were faithful in the everyday activities, the small tasks and that's what enabled them to walk out their faith.
I'm inspired. To love God more, to love my people more. To look for ways to do my everyday chores with more joy. To find God in the dishes and the laundry and the conversations I have everyday. To not waste another minute. Because if God is in my everyday, I certainly want to find Him and figure out how to advance His story.
“Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed[a] go free,
and to break every yoke? Isaiah 58: 6 ESV
I didn't grow up in a church that talked much about Lent. Or fasting for that matter. And if they did, I sure wasn't listening. So as an adult, I was kind of surprised that there WAS a season leading up to Easter. And I haven't been very serious about observing it until recently. I've tried food fasts and the proverbial "giving up chocolate for Lent," but in recent years, writers like Ann Voskamp, who urge other types of fasts, have caught my attention. My dear friend, Marjie gave me a book last year that has stayed in my mind and I'm revisiting it again this year. The book is 40 Days of Decrease by Alicia Britt Chole. She advocates giving up of things such as regrets, tidy faith that relies on platitudes, or stinginess. The express purpose is to diminish ourselves, so that there is room for Jesus to be larger in us.
Silly me. I thought it would be easier than fasting desserts or bread. And I jumped right in with a proclamation to my girls that I was "fasting judgement" and fasting trying to "explain God." Oh my--the next day I asked God to show me where I was judging other people. It wasn't pretty. Seems I have this idea that I can determine motives of other drivers who cut me off in traffic or dare to try to merge into my lane on 435 on the way to work. I had pre-conceived ideas of what projects colleagues would or would not take on at work. It was brutal when I began to examine my thoughts the way God might see them.
It was tough and it was hard and I didn't respond very well. I went kind of numb and withdrew. I turned my face from the One who loves me unconditionally. I focused on a busy work schedule, on learning new skills, and making sure dinner was fabulous every night. Those are all good things and I was busy, but inside I was lost and feeling off-center, missing something.
The course correction involved confession. I had to confess how totally oblivious I have been of my lack of love for people I come across daily and how much I need for Him to show me my faulty thinking. And I wonder at my natural inclination to run and hide from the One who only wants to extend love and grace to me. Again I know that I am in desperate need of Him to keep looking for me until I give in and become found. Again I know that being numb is not where I want to be.
So the hard work of Lent begins. I think it will be good.
So the forsythia bloomed. Last week. In February.
I don't remember that happening before.
And it's kind of funny because I meant to be so much further along with this website. I've had it in my plans for months and intended to get it done in between my semesters--you know, back at holiday time? But I didn't. And now you're going to get access to it anyway. It's one of the things I've learned. Just get started. One step in front of the other. And someday it will be that body of work that I intended.
In the meantime, this is kind of a sandbox area to play with ideas. So you want to come with me? I hope you like it and it's a place to meet and share ideas. Let's just try it, ok?