I'm glad I made it to church today. I woke up with a stomach ache and missed the originally planned 9:30am service, but was able to catch a ride with Malia and Peter to the 11:15. I have just been in a dark place these last few days...ever since Wednesday. It's funny, because I felt fine on Monday at Bible Study with my roommates, but in the course of two days became completely overwhelmed and frustrated with life (see my post from Wednesday and you'll understand). I am frustrated because I think of all that I am "doing" trying to impact my students, friends and family for good, yet I am utterly and completely exhausted feeling as though I am missing the point of life...even though I am praying for the power of the Holy Spirit, for wisdom and direction. I want to give up and move to the Bahamas...however I know that will not accomplish anything in the long run.
Today in church, the pastor spoke of the same feelings...feelings of inadequacy, that I continually want to be more than I am, yet I feel I fall short consistently of who I think I should be. FAIL. One of my most frequently experienced emotions....that and JOY, which doesn't make sense to me at all. (kind of bipolar, I know). As he was talking about the Pentecost, he spoke of the receiving of a new gift, negating the old law, the Holy Spirit, and how it is the Spirit that enables you to be what you cannot be without Christ. But I realize that, I realize I can't be the person I want to be, that I expect myself to be on my own...that I need help. I get the broken part. I am continually broken and in despair. I think my fault right now is that I am unable to see past myself and what I cannot do or fail to do.
I am missing the big picture, because I am so consumed and busy with the details of my own life and my inability to do it all well. I am running around in circles because I am living my life to please others...planning stimulating lessons for my students, encouraging my friends, leading a mission trip to the DR, so that our students can experience God in a new culture, helping with a mentorship program so that Freshman students can be loved and accepted, trying to disciple young girls in a Bible study so they know who they are in Christ and will be able to take on the world once they leave High School, coaching basketball because I love the sport and the way it builds teamwork and work ethic...but can you see how easy it is to become wrapped up in all of this? Because none of these things are bad, they are so so good, meant to help others by giving of myself and my gifts and talents.
I desire nothing more than to be a light...a "sign" as our pastor put it in a world where God's reign has begun. "A new reign, God's reign" has begun on earth, starting with the anointing of the Holy Spirit. A new reality, a new king, a new order, which we have been called to participate in be a sign of...so that we can bring hope to those who have not yet entered this new Kingdom. As he was speaking all of this I couldn't help but think of Narnia and the signs of the return of Aslan and the his new reign...the snow was melting, the foliage was growing, the witches hold on the land was fading and people began to hope, to believe that there was more to believe in and trust in. I love the imagery. It is the same idea with God's Kingdom here on earth...his regin has begun...but is the beginning...it hasn't come to fullnes. And his people are the ones he is using to bring about his kingdom. We are light, signs, bringing hope and peace, love and joy to a broken world.
But life in the Spirit is unpredictable...like the wind blowing. We don't have control over God's plans and purposes or how we fit in to those plans. So what can we focus on? what can we cling to? It's amazingly simple, yet easy to miss...too easy to not live out. We are filled with the Spirit so that we may please God...it's all for God, it is primarily for God...yet even though we live for God alone, men see the reign of a new kingdom in our living for God. We are filled with His Spirit, we are directing it toward God, but as a result of that inward transformation...living our lives for an audience of one...we become people of hope, that bring reconciliation, peace, joy and God's love to the world as a result. When I focus on that simple purpose of living my life to please God instead of intentionally living to help others...I forget about my inadequacies and failures and instead focus on God's strength, provision, and peace. It's like I'm running a race, running toward the breaking dawn, the King of this new reign on earth, I'm going deeper in until his reign explodes over this entire land and all of the people will see and know that he is God.
"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do:Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
All of us who are mature shoud take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained.
Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body."
I can't say it any better than Paul. He got the point...God made it clear to him...I pray he will do the same for me the entire length of the race, however long it may be. Just showing up...asking the tough questions, asking for answers...God will speak and the His Word will speak directly to you through his Spirit.