June 11, 2010

surrender

I don't remember the exact circumstances in which I wrote the poem that I'm posting below. I know they weren't easy. Today as I saw these short sentences hanging on my bulletin board, I realized that it sums up what is happening to me yet again. God is sifting, testing, challenging me. Am I really willing to count everything a loss compared to knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord? Jesus' words to Peter in John 21 echo in my ears, over and over again: "What is that to you? You follow me."

Elizabeth Elliot quotes Lilias Trotter in one of her books:
"So long as our idea of surrender is limited to the renouncing of unlawful things, we have never grasped the its true meaning: that is not worthy of the name for "no polluted thing" can be offered.
The life lost on the Cross was not a sinful one--the treasure poured forth there was God-given, God-blessed treasure, lawful and right to be kept: only that there was the life of the world at stake."
What God asks me to give up may not be inherently sinful or wrong. What is important is that He asks it of me. Will I give it to Him who gave all for me? Am I content to offer Jesus easy things, things that have cost me nothing? Or do I want what He wants, no matter the cost?


-----------------

it's
it's the dying of a dream
the killing of a heart
the stealing of a hope and
i only understand in part.

it's the test of my sincerity
an exam on what i've learned
a measure of my sanctity
will my heart be truly turned?

it's up-showing my own wisdom
replacing my own strength
pushing out my human love for
one that knows no length

it's taking me much deeper
it's pulling me far in
it's ridding me of yesterdays
it's purging me of sin.

2007

June 05, 2010

let your single years not be a wasteland

singleness
In recent years I have spent a lot of time with single people (surprising, I know, since I am also single). Observing this subset of our Christian culture, I began to notice that some singles seem to allow those years of their lives, whether five, ten or fifteen years, to fall into an abyss of wasted time. This concerns me, because while our culture may teach us to while away our youth, this is not God's attitude toward time. As I've read, lived and observed my own attitudes and those of some I know, there are a few areas (with some overlap) where we would do well to learn while we are still single.

Roles: Learn what it means to be a woman and operate within your role even as a single. Kick the feminist attitudes that are so common in our culture and learn the Bible's view of woman. The Bible indicates that your role will be more home-related than your husband's. Your single years are probably years with less home responsibility, but it is also a good time to learn to serve. My brother and I live together and I think we could say it is "fair" that all tasks in our home be divided up 50/50, just like the rent. Even so, I realize that some ways of serving come much more naturally to me than to a man, and at times I've purposely tried to serve in ways that aren't necessarily expected or required in a situation like our own...simply because I am a woman.

Relationships: Singleness can teach an independent and calloused "I-don't-need-a-man" attitude. Living on your own can be too convenient, too controlled, too your-way...which is not good preparation for service or for living in close quarters with anyone! Learn to expose yourself to people with whom you don't see eye-to-eye and people who rub you the wrong way. Padding your life with people who think exactly as you do might seem comfortable but it short-changes you by giving you less opportunity for growth.

Reality: Our single years can be rich in that they prepare us with a deeper grounding in reality about ourselves, the opposite sex, marriage and God. In relation to ourselves, God can prepare our hearts to have an attitude of utter humility --"I am the worst sinner I know." Often single women have wrong views of marriage and men. Pining for marriage, which God hasn't given to you yet, can sometimes be put to rest by spending a few days with your friends' sick toddlers. Or, try turning your head a few degrees and you'll probably find a divorcee, a widow or an infertile friend. In a sinful world, life at any stage is not without its struggles, and marriage is no fix-all. Lastly, as singles we have time to get to know God on a deep level. God is our ultimate reality and in knowing Him we find hope for the reality about everything else.

Responsibility: Singles shouldn't shirk responsibility, but learn to shoulder it, grown-up style. Our single years allow us to serve our church, community or family in ways that may not be possible when we have other responsibilities. Also, it is easy for young singles to fall into a luxurious "me-first" spending mentality, and it is important to learn to be responsible in money management. Even among Christians, I find that singles are almost "allowed" to be a bit immature or irresponsible. This isn't God's allowance.

As Christian singles contemplate marriage, we often set our spouse ideals fairly high, and rightly so. But as we redeem our single years, we can let them not be a wasteland, but years spent becoming a person who would be ideal, as well. Set the bar for yourself higher than your culture, even your Christian culture, sets it. Try "be ye holy, as I am holy." That should keep you busy for the rest of your life!

And should the Lord never give us any marriage but to Himself? We will bless Him still. Our time will not be wasted, either way.

June 03, 2010

"but did you see the sky in the east?"

The couch is awfully comfy, especially on cold mornings. One morning this winter, as I wrestled myself out the door, I posted on Facebook: "Julie needs a warm heart for this cold, dark morning." I walked to work, in the chill.

That evening, when I came home, I noticed a comment that a friend had made in reply to mine. She said, "But did you see the sky in the east?" When I was feeling the gloom of a cold, winter morning, Joanne was warm inside because she had a different view. When I go to work, I head west. On days when I walk or bike, I don't even have a "rear view" of what's behind me, I just see what's ahead. It wasn't that I couldn't have seen the sunrise, it was just that I didn't turn my head.

It made me wonder how often my life is like this. I'm trudging under a cloud, but if I would just turn, I would see the wonderful plan of God in every moment. Are you weary? Did you see the sky in the east? Not far from your self-centred viewpoint is the eastern sky. There's always hope, it just isn't always right in front of you.