Wednesday, August 06, 2008

One Small Step . . .

I've never had small feet and one of the many blessings of my children have given me are even bigger feet. But I am making a smaller footprint on the earth these days. We do recycle, not really because we're green, but because it's free. We get our milk from a farm in reusable containers. Mike takes his bike to work. So I was feeling pretty proud of myself yesterday while I was buying a few of the reusable shopping bags at the store. That is until we got out to the parking lot and as we were climbing into our full-size gas guzzling Ford van, I noticed one of my daughters had a styrofoam packing block. She was breaking it into tiny little pieces and throwing them over the side of the cart. The wind was blowing them all over the place by the time I saw what was happening.

Isn't that just the way it goes? You feel like you are making progress and you turn around to find it hemoraging out a different way! Just when I finish the laundry, the piles are being strewn about by a 1 year old or someone desperate for something to wear. When I finally get to mopping the floor every six months or so, someone is already spilling milk on it. Progress seems like it is finally being made with a behavior issue only to have something worse come up. There are days when joy exudes and there are days that are just drudgery.

So goes the ebb and flow of life. How do we find the energy to keep going? I know I need breaks and times of rest but for the most part I'm in it up to my eyeballs for the next 17 years at least. I know God called us to perseverance and I guess that's because He knew we would need it. I know I have to keep on going and working because this is the most important job God's called me to do. And if I falter or give up who's going to take over? So I have to keep at it every day, every minute and look to God to give me the strength.

It's for His glory that we faithfully serve. I was just reading a little article that John McArthur wrote about success in ministry. And if anyone could claim success, he'd be near the top of the list. He wrote that it is not success in the world's view that is important. It's not money or buildings or books, but it's faithfulness: continually submitting to and doing the work that God has called us to do. Sometimes I get the feeling from people that they feel a little bad for us serving a small church, like maybe we're wasting our time. Or it's too bad such a nice couple like us can't find a better (read bigger) place to serve. Some of our friends in Village Missions serve the most difficult, remote fields we have in the U.S. They will never make a lot or have huge attendance in their church, but they serve faithfully. The people in rural churches need a pastor just as much as a suburban mega church. I think there is something very exciting about doing something for the Lord that no one else wants to do or even cares about. Is there a better way for these talented young couples to use their gifts? And I know it's a struggle to persevere in those situations too.

I get the same attitude from a lot of people about being a mom. They look at me like, couldn't you do better? Don't you want to make something of yourself? They are usually surprised to find out I have a college degree. It's hard to make people understand that I choose this and I can't think of a better way to use the gifts that God has given me than pouring them into my kids. So, I'll try to take McArthur's words and apply them to parenting. It's not success as the world sees it, it's not having all the right stuff, or a brilliant career- it's faithfulness: continually doing what God has called us to do, even when its hard.

Philippians 3:12-14
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. Brother, 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.

Galatians 6:9-10
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Different Strokes for Different Folks

We went to an outdoor Folk Festival to hear a band we like. And they were great! But I realized while we were sitting there that I do not really fit in with this crowd. There were all sorts of people wearing their tye died outfits, women with no undergarments, dancing around. (For the record, there were a lot of regular people there too) It all seems kind of staged to me. They drive home and stop off at Target just like the rest of us. It's not really a place I feel super comfortable being. I realized that I probably have very different views than almost everyone there. So what on earth were we doing there?

It seems obvious we have to be willing to go to places that are out of our comfort zone in order to reach out to people. Post-modern people don't seem to just pop in to church or even feel the need to go. How comfortable would any of them feel in my church world? They probably feel that my "religion" is a put-on or show too. The problem is we don't go. We are more comfortable staying in our circles of church, family , Bible studies. And we wonder why our outreaches don't work. Why wouldn't one of the tye-die, no bra women want to come to our church's ladies tea? That seems like a no brainer!

Mike goes to the bar in our town. He doesn't drink, but he's right - that's where the people are that need to hear about Jesus. And really, isn't that what Jesus did? He went out to the places no good religious person would go and sought out people that needed Him.

So, I guess I should go to more music festivals and other things that are out of the norm for me. I'm not sure, but I might even get some tye died clothes.