Friday, September 29, 2017

Water from Rocks

The Israelites were pretty great at complaining.  Well… me, too…

I am an excellent planner.  I am not so awesome when my plans fail, and I’m not just talking about the ‘big stuff.’  It can take me days to get over it if someone orders the ‘wrong’ ice cream on vacation (OK, I’m lying.  I can take years.  I am actually referencing a real thing that happened years ago…)

And yet, somehow, I find myself living this crazy, divergent, dichotomous life that I did not expect…

Some weeks back, I was described as ‘tenacious’ (I think endearingly so).  The words that followed were, “Nothing shakes her…”

Are you kidding me?  I must either be wearing an incredibly convincing mask, or I’m actually morphing into a person who can handle transition, change, and spontaneity at break neck speeds.  I hope it’s the latter, but I’m fairly certain the jury is still out.

My lists of tasks to accomplish on any given day have become somewhat humorous.  As an example, among my responsibilities yesterday were things like: buy every Halloween decoration ever created, interview a philosophy and religion department chair, finalize details for a class reunion, and make rocks out of baking soda.  Who has a list like that?  To be completely candid, the baking soda rocks were really getting to me.

I feel as if I should reiterate… over and over again, for the sake of redundancy… that I like my job, and I’m glad to be here.  Before I accepted this position, I made sure I could come to terms with the phrase, “Wherever you are, be all there” (-Jim Elliot).  It’s a good place, these are good people, and I am committed to serving them well for as long as I’m here.

I have, however, had to come up with creative ways in which to wholeheartedly embrace this time of my life, which is not quite what I expected it to be.  I had a couple of very convicting moments, yesterday.

First (and I would not recommend this to anyone who is even mildly struggling, because it’s so very raw), I decided it might be a fabulous idea to use St. John of the Cross’, Dark Night of the Soul, as devotional material.  Allow me to give you a few moments to laugh at me… 

Alright, that’s enough now…

But seriously, Chapter II.  Is my crappy attitude coming from pride?  Have I become one of ‘those people’ who resolves much and accomplishes little?  I don’t want to fall into that, “the more they do, the less they are satisfied” (pg. 8) category.  And I know that’s my M.O.  If I’m going to swing the pendulum (widely) to either side, it’s the ‘try to drown out everything even remotely difficult with busyness’ side.  And this is where the parallel with the Israelites comes in.  These people actually uttered words about how it would have been better to die in slavery than to be free in the desert!

Now, there’s a lot that can be said about how they should have just entered the Promised Land when directed to do so, in the first place.  I get that.  But it’s also rather remarkable that God was still willing to provide for them, even if it meant doing insanely miraculous and unexplainable things like sending bread and meat from heaven and making water spring from rocks. 

And here I sit, looking at my baking soda creations that will (hopefully) get this point across to Kindergartners and fifth graders and teenagers and me: Even when people mess up, God is faithful.

To be honest, the most life-giving conversation I had, yesterday, was when my podcast guest said something to the effect of, “I was doing children’s ministry while I earned my PhD.” 

Wait, really?  What a breath of fresh air!  As it turns out, it doesn’t hurt to have something to keep us grounded in real world, accessible theology.


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