Sunday, March 29, 2015

Of Ostriches and Things

Last night I was sitting up in the booth doing projection at church unexpectedly.  It had been a somewhat rough week mentally for me and this marked 4 weeks of being at church that I was doing something and honestly, I'm a little too ADD to do projection. I freak myself about every 3-5 seconds because my mind wanders LOL...I had been looking forward to just being a person going to church but it wasn't meant to be....I don't tell you that to grumble, more so you understand my frame of mind when I was listening to the sermon. I'm actually incredibly thankful for how the evening ended up. I was meant to be right where I was.  
This last week I was really mentally struggling through some things.  I won't bore you with the details but the broader struggle had to do with my very worth.  I had finally sorted out that what I think I am valuable at doing and what I can offer as contribution...I am not doing. I also sorted out that, culturally speaking, my value is very low....I am not leading by title...which is a massive shift since this move. We as a culture, view being a leader as the best thing ever. Really,  I'm more at the bottom of the that a problem?  Yes, if you think that leading at the top of the heap is the end all and be all...which consciously I would have an all out fight with anyone who said that...but subconsciously...I think I must have believed it considering my mental state the last half of the week. It felt like a stronghold. Something that God needed to deal with in me...pride perhaps? The conscious side of me strongly believes that my life is in God's hands, my worth can only be found in Him, and wherever he puts me I will serve cheerfully, happily, and with all I've got. I prayed and fervently said, "wherever!" and meant it with all of me...but words are cheap...reality is much more expensive.  
By Friday afternoon I had landed back at "wherever" and meaning it, not flippantly but truly.  My will had put back in it's proper place but I must tell you that this time it was more of a wrestle and struggle than I have ever before experienced.  Why? I have many answers to that...but one of them is I think I'm still struggling through this move.  As I come across situations, each one seems to be a struggle.  And honestly, I am kind of tired of it.  This whole struggle it was like one side of me was on the outside of me going "Really?  Who cares! Get over it. This doesn't matter! Just serve and be content. STOP". The other side of me was "#$&%...NO! This is not good enough!  $%#^%&$@! WWWHHHYYY?"  
Not exactly the pretty side of me. I prayed. I wrestled.  I stressed. And you want to know the funny thing? It was all mental. There were some legit things to work through...but not requiring that much stress. I was literally stressing myself out. Talk about stupid. And to add on to this, I know that I cannot stress myself out from hard experience. My physical body takes the pounding for this mental stress. I make myself extremely ill when I do the doctor has warned me "no stress" ill.   I should have learned my lesson on this by now. So today I am home...pretty ill. Think I've learned my lesson yet?
In the midst of my struggling God graciously brought amazingly sweet moments into my week.  He has given me friendships in this short time here that are treasures.  He has allowed me to keep friendships, despite the distance, that spur me on and bring me great joy. He, as usual with me, used music to speak into the deepest parts of my soul (Right now the songs that are rocking my soul are Spirit of the Living God and Lamb of God , both by Vertical Church).  He has given me family who choose to celebrate me and love on me even when I'm not really worth celebrating...good thing we don't get what we deserve. 

As I was sitting in church, listening to Pastor Wade preach, God gently and and powerfully spoke to me.  Wade was wrapping up our series After Darkness, Light on the book of Job. Suffering. (if you want to hear the sermon it should be up by Tuesday) He was sort of going through God's response to Job in Job 38-42. He pointed out that in some ways God is talking through his creation. God begins by saying, 

Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you  understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it?
On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstonewhile the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?" (Job 38:4-7)
He then came to this:
By the you know what Job's final response was to all his suffering and God's response to Him?  
He made a creation that shouted for joy. He enjoys His creation.  
The wings of the ostrich flap joyfully...when she spreads her feathers to run, she laughs at horse and rider. (Job 39:13,18)
Do you see any usefulness in an ostrich? God made her to enjoy her.  Seriously? 
Blew my mind. In all my struggling and fighting it was over not being useful..not being enough. There is a franticness in that. And He just calmed me with His voice, and said "But I made you to be you. Not to be "useful". I just enjoy you. Can you just let me enjoy you? Can that be enough?" Ummmmmmm. Hmmmmm. 
Now I'm not saying that being useful is bad.  I'm not saying don't give all you've got. I'm not saying don't work hard. I'm saying that when you are striving and struggling and frantic, like I have been this week, then perhaps it's not quite the right thing. It's more about the motive behind your action than the action itself. A posture. It goes back to that verse that I haven't quite wrapped my brain around... 
Be still and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10)
Do you know what Job's final response was in all of this?
My ears had heard of You but now my eyes have seen You (Job 42:5)
That's quite a response.  He started doing things differently from then on...Wade pointed out what is said about his daughters...I love what he pointed out.  

The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. And he also had seven sons and three daughters. The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah and the third Keren-Happuch. Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job’s daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers.(Job 42:12-15) 
Only his daughters are not done culturally in that day.  He gave them an not done culturally in that day.  Now listen to what his daughters' names mean...Jemimah (dove) Keziah (cinnamon) Keren-Happuch (make-up). In the Jewish culture (which Job was not Jewish, he was from the east of Israel...Iran?) names always have meaning...more serious meanings...character traits and the like.   These names are simply enjoyable. Job took great joy in his daughters. He was no longer taking cultural cues he was walking with God and becoming more like Him.  

I have written before about God's Extravagance.  He is an extravagant God.  He loves extravagantly. He creates extravagantly. He enjoys His extravagance and loves it when we do too.  

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