Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sometimes We Just Have to Show Up

This week at work has been nuts and exhausting. It has also not helped that the Olympics are on and force me to stay up late to watch the intensity of obscure sports like skicross and women's bobsledding (both of which I would really like to try!). All that to say that tonight as I was driving home from work I was thinking of every reason why I shouldn't go help at Nitelife (our middle school youth group) tonight.

I said a short prayer of, "God, I don't have anything left, if I'm going to be at all useful tonight to this ministry, it's going to have to be through your stength and your stength alone." And with that, I drove over there, totally exhausted but willing to try.

And God provided. Upon arriving, I had immediate energy and God reminded me why I love middle schoolers.

He's done this before, but I need to be taught this lesson quite often. God sometimes just wants us to show up. He's ready to do the work through us, if we just ask and make ourselves available as willing hands and feet.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Why I love Jane Austen.

**Note: I almost didn't post this after I wrote it, but I'm being brave and truthful on a topic in which I think many can relate. Ok so here goes.**

This is a discourse I have repeated rather frequently, but tonight Steph and I drank tea and watched Sense and Sensibility, so I am again obliged to dote on Jane Austen. Look, it even effects my writing. What a very Jane-Austen-type first sentence.

And yes, I love the way her characters interact and the dialogue they use, but more than that, I love her view on love.

Too often I am frustrated with the way movies and books and tv shows view love. Love sparks into a burning flame and then is extinguished in rapid succession with few consequences. Too many movies attempt to illustrate love between characters by simply a romantic line, a passionate sex scene, and some sweet conversation they have lying next to each other with artfully placed bedsheets. But that's too easy. That's cheapening love into some sappy combination of emotional and physical lust. I describe it that way particularly because I think too many times women lust after emotional connection, no matter how temporary or contrived. But that is not love.

Love is complicated. It is selfless and committed. It seeks the good of another before the good of oneself. Often love is confusing, and frequently it can be crushing. The term "heartache" is very aptly named and doesn't just happen at the end of a relationship. When love cannot be bistowed on whom the heart is attached, whether because of distance or dischord, the heart aches. Just as love is not easily grown, heartache cannot easily be remedied. It is the opposite of the passionate fire and quickly extinguished lust. But the slow, steady attachment is the right kind of love.

Jane Austen's characters must see all sides of the complexity of love before they are able to find real love. Now, it is true that all of her characters always ultimately end in love, but isn't that what we all want in the end? In Sense and Sensibility there are a series of star-crossed lovers who keep their love for one another a secret from the world. It is the loyalty and longing between these separated lovers that is ultimately much more fulfilling than any spontaneous encounter and passionate sex scene.

It's like Jim & Pam in the Office. It's Jim's extended devotion to her even when she was not reciprocating affection that is so engaging and powerful.

Perhaps I am biased toward this kind of love. It is the kind of love I know best; the kind that knows the deep ache of separation and the elation of reunion. And though it seems difficult and complicated and confusing, I would never trade this love for the emotional and physical lust that is advertised in most modern stories.

I think if we spent more time learning to be like Elinor Dashwood and less time learning the lessons of the doctors of Grey's Anatomy, our views of relationships and marriages would be much more sound.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Exodus 6

This year, Greg and I have decided to read through the Bible. We've chosen a chronological reading plan which I really like because I'm interested to see how all of the books overlap and see how the events lead to one another. Right now, my knowledge of the Old Testament is many snapshots and stories, but I lack the big picture in many places.

Therefore, throughout the year I'll just be posting interesting things that I have been studying. First, did you know that the book of Job falls before the time of Abraham? We read the book of Job after chapter 11 of Genesis, then picked Genesis back up and finished it a few days ago. On to Exodus.

I love Moses because he is so amazingly human. We tend to think of him as this great prophet and leader, but he was hesitant and unbelieving and came up with every excuse he could think of to not follow through with what God had asked of him. Have I ever done that. Surely I have been in Moses shoes (though, perhaps with not such a great task ahead of me as he had).

But today I was actually most engaged not in what Moses did, but in the Israelites. The beginning of Chapter 6 is a profound promise that the Lord gives to Moses that reaffirms all of the truths that he told Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God promises deliverence and redemption. God finishes his speech to Moses by saying "I am the LORD" where the word LORD is YHWH in Hebrew. It means the existing one. The name was considered so holy that most Hebrews would never dare speak it. It is power and authority, and He is declaring his intentions and actions.

And the Israelites ignored Him.

vs.9 "Moses reported this to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and cruel bondage."

At this point the Israelites already knew that God has spoken to Moses, but their circumstances and struggles blinded them to the spectacular miracle that was about to take place around them and for them. How many times has God wanted to change my circumstances, deliver me, and bless me, when I was not open to accept his blessing? How many times have I gotten lost in my own earthly troubles and missed the Heavenly plan going on around me? For generations the Israelites had cried out to God for deliverance, but they were not ready for it when it came. Am I prepared for God to answer all the prayers I have asked of him? If tomorrow, God opened the floodgates of blessing onto my life, would I respond with joy and thanksgiving or continue to focus on other struggles in my life?