Saturday, August 24, 2013

Patience

Patience is probably one of my least favorite fruits of the Spirit. They are as follows in Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV) "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." I would be lying if I said any one of these were easy for me, but I guess that's why they are of the Spirit and not of me. God by his Spirit must do these things in me. 

Yet, it is the fourth fruit that I struggle most with today. Patience. It sounds so nice and serene but really it's a short way of saying, "I do not have as much control as I want; therefore I must trust God and wait for Him to do what is best for my good and His glory." And this is offensive to my pride which I have written about before (and likely will again).

Please, take a moment also to notice that pride isn't among the fruits; basically making everything on the list above offensive to my pride. Ultimately, I know this to be a good thing but at my base level without Christ, this would be a hopeless picture for multiple reasons. Check out all of Galatians 5 for a glimpse at the bigger picture:
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Galations%205&version=ESV

Now, returning to primarily to patience. I remember early in my college career asking for other to pray that I would be more patient. What was I thinking? I wouldn't consider myself to be impatient but I guess somewhere in the working of the Spirit, I knew it would be needed someday.

I can't say, definitively, but I think that day or days have arrived. Sure, I have lived through them before and I would be naive to think I won't live through them again. But patience is hardest to exercise when you don't know how long the waiting will last. It's much easier to wait for a few extra minutes when you know in a hour it will all be over. But that isn't probably true patience. It's easy to say, "God I will trust you for these ten minutes because I see you working but once you are done, I will take over again."

Yet, God isn't done. He continues to work even when I cannot see what He is doing. And true patience looks much more like trusting Him and waiting for Him to fulfill His promises than giving me what I want. Which again becomes offensive because I want what I want and preferably now. However, that is not how this works.

Thanks be to God of withholding from me the things that I want so that He may give me the things that I need. Those things aren't money, fame, a different job, my own house or marriage.

It's Him.

What I need is to grow up in Christ which includes growing up in the Fruits of the Spirit. Hence why He gives us his Spirit when we are in Christ. To do what we can't do on our own, the very things He calls us to.

And this will be a life long process. But what about the things that I want. Perhaps God will give me some of them along and maybe some He will withhold. Either will be for His glory and my good. I must wait, be patient, and trust that He knows what He is doing. No matter how long it takes.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Crushes

For most of my life I would describe my interactions with those of the opposite sex as awkward. In recently years, I have improved by leaps and bounds but when I was a kid things were...not great.
My first crush wasn't the boy who sat next to me in first grade but rather Sully from the TV show Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. When you're seven I am not sure what more you need in a man beyond great hair and the ability to ride a horse. Sully had both and I liked him based solely on those characteristics.

When I was about ten, I started to recognize that personality was also important in who I turned my attention to. So I promptly developed a crush on Joe from the PBS show Wishbone. Joe was a nice guy. He played basketball and loved his dog. What could be better? He also had the best bowl cut I had ever seen. Sigh. I must have had a thing about hair back in those days.

By high school, I was focused more on guys that were actually people instead of TV characters. It wasn't the easiest transition. I tended to be most awkward with the guys closest to my age and who I was most attracted to. I think I little of that still lingers these days but I no longer follow men in the hallways to give them little hand written notes with jokes on them. I would have been such a catch if I wasn't the only one laughing.

Oh well.

Now that I am older, I look back on those days with fond memories. It doesn't surprise me that when you are the girl version of Urkle, dating doesn't come easy. However, on the other side of a getting my heart broken, in addition to a few less than stellar dates, I wonder if I am not regressing a bit.

But thankfully, I have my priorities in the correct order. Character is more important in a man than his hair. (But not my much :) Which reminds me, where is Uncle Jesse these days? :)

Friday, August 9, 2013

Offensive

This past week I learned about a friend who has been in a terrible accident. Her prognosis looks hopeful and she will have a long recovery. However, the new of this struck me deeply.  She is a cyclist and I am a cyclist. I have ridden enough miles to know that at any time I could have incurred the injuries she has. As I have thought more about this, I have found something in it rather offensive to my pride.

I don't have as much control as I would like.

If we are honest, at any moment, our plans, preparations and perceived course could change. While we take for granted that it won't, sometimes it does, in an instant. Over the last few years, I have watched as my life has slowly changed from what I thought it would be to what it is; but that isn't the same thing.

When things happen over time it still allows me to feel as though I have control. That I know what's best and that I can make it happen. However, when life changes drastically in mere seconds, I can't help but be shocked by it. That is normal. Yet, it leaves me wondering how much of the control I thought I had was real and how much was an illusion.

This is where I come face to face with God's sovereignty. He is doing things I don't understand and at times that can be painful and confusing. He is also in control of this world and not me. And that is offensive to my pride. And if you are honest, it might be offensive to yours too.

I alluded to this in one of my last posts, that I would rather do my own thing but that is not who I am called to be in Christ. The same is true here. I want things to go how I want and that doesn't always happen. Because God is in control and I am not.

And because I am in Christ, I have great hope that this means I can rest on God's workings and not my own. It also means that when life changes instantly, it may be difficult but it is not outside of God's sovereign control. So while my pride may be offended. Once I am humbled it is a great reminder of how gracious and faithful God really is in his sovereignty over this world.

*I am not suggesting that God caused my friend's accident. But I am suggesting that God is in control over it and we can have hope that He will be at work in her recovery. And that is was not a meaningless event.

**I recognize that some of my posts may be unclear as they are written both in content and theology. But this is the whole purpose of this blog, for me to work though what I am learning and creating so that I may develop in character. please bare with me.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Steve Urkel

If Steve Urkel would have had a white twin sister it would have been me. I'm only half joking about that.

When I was a kid Family Matters was a popular show. For me there was something so lovable about Steve. He was annoying, awkward and generally a bit of a pain. But he was also sweet and thoughtful. The scraps he got himself into helped me to keep in perspective that maybe there were worst things in life than being an awkward pre-teen.

I also appreciated Urkel, then and now, because he wasn't afraid to be himself. He didn't fit in and was "aged" beyond his years by his clothes, among other things. And he had such a dorky sense of humor that would cause almost everyone to roll their eyes.

But not me.

I love him, in a sisterly way. He and I are not that different. Goofy, funny (but maybe only to ourselves), and occasionally awkward. I wish I could say that there was a television/movie character I related to more then Steve, say a Disney princess or someone really elegant, but in many respects there isn't.

Steve and I could be two peas in a pod. And if you know me you know how true this really is. I have been known to say, "Did I do that?" and snort while laughing. As well as, what made me truly thing of my brother from another mother today, when I hiked my running shorts up as high as I could. Not because I have to but because it just makes sense.

Now if I could only find my suspenders... Love you Bro! :)

Saturday, August 3, 2013

By Faith, not Sight.

It's one thing to look back and see how things went. But it's another to look forward and not really know where things are going. Yet, as Christians, this is exactly what we are called to do. "For we live by faith, not by sight." 2 Corinthians 5:7 It's context discusses the very thing I am learning these days.  We live in a world where things are not as they should be but God is at work and by His Spirit through the work of Christ, we can rest in knowing that one day we will be with Him.

But where does that leave us today? I don't know how my life will turn out. I've already written about now hard it is to live in the ambiguity but maybe that's exactly what we are called to do. To live by faith. To live, as though its all going to change one day, even if that isn't today. 

I think I am trying to sort out two different thoughts here. One is that we may not know where things are going temporally but eternally we do. Thus my decisions can be informed by what's to come. However, that doesn't guarantee that I will get what I want in the mean time. I can be sure that God is at work but it would be much easier to live by my sight rather than His. 

In trying to make sense of what I am supposed to be doing with my life, I have noticed that I focus more on my circumstances than needed. I am waiting for them to change. Maybe a new job or living arrangement or relationship would translate into the "answer" I have been waiting for. 

But that isn't true. The "answer" is here all along. I am called to live by faith, not by sight. And that means I must trust in the work of God, not my own. This is offensive to my pride and somewhat culturally outlandish. And this is my second thought with which I wrestle. 

How do I live each day knowing things are eternal sure but temporally unsettled? I think it's a question Christians have been asking for years. What if I never get what I want? or My circumstances never change? Does that take away from what's to come? Does that change who God says He is, what He has done or how I am called to live?

No, but I might not fit in as well as I would like. And maybe that's a bigger part of the issue. Living by faith is not glamorous. It's not easy and because things move at God's speed not mine, there can be more waiting than I would ever want. 

But isn't that what living by faith is all about. Trusting the God knows what's best and is doing that, whether I "like" it or not. Thus simplifying this all down to I would rather get what I want than live by faith.

Oh...now this is getting more honest that I would like.

Praise God that this isn't the end of the story. I know how this is going to end though I don't know how we are going to get there. And now I have a better understanding of what the real problem is...