Wednesday, February 11, 2009

On the subject of change and The Shack

I'll admit that I am not fond of change. It has taken me a year to warm up to the new database at work. I still lament some of my favorite features from the previous one. I had to move work spaces a couple of weeks ago and that has been difficult. It's not necessarily's just really different! Even with the idea of moving to a beautiful new home, aside from the packing and loading and unloading and unpacking......I hesitate. I wonder. I'm in no hurry to get out there. Strange, I know. At least I am aware of my aversion to change. Maybe this awareness is the beginning of acceptance. There will always be quote my husband's favorite band "changes aren't permanent, but change is." So, I'm stuck with it. But I'm learning to embrace the idea that being stuck with change is actually preferable to being just plain stuck.

I read The Shack a few weeks ago. (I should have been packing, right?) It only took me a couple of days to devour this great read. I am fascinated by the author William Young's characterization of the God-head. I loved the Holy Spirit most of all. Maybe because I spend the least amount of my God-thoughts on the Holy Spirit. I also loved the personification of Wisdom and the amazing conversation in chapter 11. Wisdom commends the main character Mack on his love for his children, their dialogue goes like this:

....But you, you do love your children well - very well."
"I learned much of that from Nan." ( Mack's wife)
"We know. But you did learn, didn't you?"
"I suppose I did."
"Among the mysteries of a broken humanity, that too is rather remarkable; to learn, to allow change."


Something about that last sentence has remained with me. That God's wisdom would celebrate our ability as humans to learn, to change. Let's face it. We are all broken to varying degrees. We often choose to stay in that place. Sometimes, when its all you know, that brokenness feels like a warm blanket. It is comfortable to be unchanged.

But change is part of growth.

My little one complains at night from time to time about growing pains in his legs. He usually asks for a Tums because he has never forgotten our pediatrician saying that these are a good source of calcium and that calcium helps...sometimes I think he just wants to eat one and nothing really hurts! :) But, change can hurt and is often uncomfortable - even when the change is good, and something as perfectly normal as growing a few inches.

This interaction in The Shack is helping me to shift how I feel about this whole idea of change. I know God loves me just the way I am. But how sweet to have God look over my life and say "Remarkable! look at my Lynnie, she's growing! She's allowing change. She is learning to love like I love! I am so very fond of that girl!"

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Identity - Classic Christianty

OK, so we are moving to a new house in a few weeks and I should probably be packing more boxes...but instead I've spent the past few hours chillaxing on the sofa with a good book. How completely indulgent! It IS a good book :) I confess, it has been a little hard to get into. I think that maybe I'm a bit of a book snob. There are no frills in this bold text, no italics, no font changes at all, no thoughts highlighted in a little box on the page. Nope. Just page after page of plain text. Kinda boring for a reader. Presentation matters, but content matters too and this one is big on content. (Oh dear, upon further inspection I have noticed a few indentations and occasional italics -just not quite enough for my taste...ha...I really had no idea I was such a book apologies!)

Anyway...I just finished the chapter called "Toward a Proper Self-Image". It was very interesting. The author, Bob George, suggests that we blame a lot of our human issues on "poor self-image" when perhaps what we are really looking at is a total preoccupation with self and a misplaced identity. Often we find our identity in relationships. I'm a mother, I'm an administrative assistant. What happens when relationships change? Whew! Sometimes our identity gets wrapped up in a label we've embraced. Hi, I'm Bobby, I'm ADD. I'm Sue, I'm an addict. Listen to this quote: "When someone accepts a label like one of these, it cements his identity in his own mind, as determined by his behavior. Therefore it is natural to assume that the behavior can never change." This week I was challenged to change. It was really hard. The kind of conversation that leaves you with a lump in your throat and puffy red eyes. I want to believe that I am capable of growth and change. It is way too easy to get stuck in a rut and just resign ourselves to the muck and mire. 2 Cor 5:17 is a familiar scripture "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone the new has come" The author points out that being made a new creation does not refer to our behaviour, it is a statement of identity. In Christ I am new creation. I am no longer identified by sin. Christ is my identity. I no longer walk in darkness...I am a child of the light! I am no longer ruled by fear, because His perfect love casts out fear. In Him I am completely loved and accepted whether I know it or not. So, what do I know about who I am? What do I say about who I am?

Try saying this.

I'm believing that if I can get this identity thing squared away in my heart and mind that my behavior will naturally fall into line with who I KNOW I am!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Woe To Me!

I Cor 9:16 "Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach.
Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!"
I ran across this verse and it really caught my attention like verses do at times. I probably say that at the beginning of each post don't I? Anyway....Paul was explaining to the Corinthians how, as an apostle, he had some rights to the support of those he ministered to. Food. Drink. You know. Yet while he was among them he never insisted on this. I guess he just kept making and selling his tents. Supporting his own missionary efforts with the work of his two hands. He boils it all down in this statement. Like it really doesn't matter who appreciates him or who funds his ministry he has to do it....he is compelled to do it...and woe to him if he doesn't. Who talks like that? Woe to me...what on earth does that mean? I looked it up...but you knew I would, didn't you? Woe: grievous distress, affliction, or trouble. That's intense. Grievous distress, affliction, trouble, grief, lamentation to me if I don't do this thing I'm compelled to do.
Of course, I found this verse in a old book called My Utmost for His Highest. It makes sense, doesn't it, that an author who would offer his utmost would share his insight on "Woe to me". No one gives their utmost anymore...maybe their "best" but believe me that can be such a cop-out. I tried my best...sure...but did I give my utmost? I wonder. I wonder too, is there anything compelling me? I don't always feel compelled. I do desire to be a light in the darkness, to offer the hope that I've found. To share the good news of my experience with Jesus. Yes, we can all do that! But I think maybe, there is another facet here...this was Paul's passion, his calling. (His personal calling just happened to be bringing the message of Jesus Christ to the Gentile world and aren't we all glad that he was so compelled!) Thankfully he had some practical skills that gave him the freedom to pursue his passion. I just can't help but wonder if there would be less people dis-stressed and troubled if they were in tune with the thing that stirred their heart. Please don't mis-read me...I'm not suggesting we strive to perform....and that maybe God will love us more if we do. No, not at all. I'm saying respond. Be compelled.....and then respond.
What makes me feel alive, what stirs up the passion in me. What brings me to action? What thing....if I couldn't do it....would make me say...Woe....stress....sadness....
I have to do that! And I will give my utmost!