Guilt, Need and Call

Note from Joan:  I will be “off the grid” for a short time while Jerry and I take a much needed trip to soak up some sun.  In my absence I’ll be reposting some of my favorite posts from the past.  Look for a return of new material in mid February and with it an exciting announcement about what God has led us to in this next phase of our journey!  Bon Voyage!

Recently I’ve been struggling with guilt.  Not over something I have done, but more about what I have not.  It comes from posts on social media, stories on the news, headlines in the paper and songs that say, “if not you, then who?”  I am admonished by these reports to pray more, step up and act, sign a petition or tell others and together we can combat sex trafficking, ISIS, bring imprisoned and persecuted Christians home, feed those who are starving, and provide a fair wage and working conditions for the many women and children forced in slave labor, among other horrendous needs both in this country and around the world.

There is no doubt that we live in a fallen world that seems to fall more every day.  There is also no doubt that God wants His people to “act justly, love mercy and to walk humbly with our God.”  (Micah 6:8)  I care about the people caught in these issues and want to see justice prevail in each of these situations.  But sometimes I feel guilty that I am not doing enough.

Then I think about my work and life; maybe not daily but at least several times each week I hear stories of someone’s accident or illness that left them or a loved one disabled, the challenges of living with disability in a world that doesn’t always get it, or even worse the hurt and pain that comes from someone in the local church responding to someone with a disability in a way that doesn’t represent God’s heart, or the trauma in a family when  disability takes time way from others.  I could go on and on with examples.  Sometimes these stories come from our neighborhood, sometimes from our region, and even from around the world (yes, the photo here came to our attention at the office this week when someone sent it asking us to pray and help as able).

But I, and those I have the privilege of working with, don’t just listen to those stories.  We pray with the person, share a word of hope that is found in Jesus.  We strategize and work toward moving people affected by disability from the margins of our society to the mainstream of Church and community life.

Then I come home and read the headlines and stories referenced earlier and feel overwhelmed.  “Lord, what I read/see is horrendous; how it must grieve Your heart.”   I wonder how I can do anything more and God gently reminds me that a need is not a call.  There are many needs that exist out there (even some in the world of disability) that I am not called to meet or respond to.  I need to be open and listen to God’s direction for me, but when He doesn’t call me to meet a need I can continue to pray for those He does.

As I release my false guilt, I’ll lift you up in prayer for the needs God calls you to meet; will you do the same for me?

And the Seasons, They go Round and Round . . . (thanks Joni Mitchell)

This new season in our lives came round when life in the super fast lane suddenly and unexpectedly experienced the brakes being applied (don’t fear, we are safe I am speaking metaphorically).  As one might imagine this sudden interuption of momentum resulted inspeedometer  a great deal of change.  It has been interesting at twenty plus years of marriage to see the different ways Jerry and I respond to this experience.

Almost immediately I welcomed this “sabbatical” (of sorts) to slow down, allow my brain, body and soul to rest and replenish.  Jerry on the other hand found the slow pace unsettling and dove into tackling the enormous amount of paperwork that comes with a vocational change.  I can’t emphasize enough how grateful I am for his leadership in this area.  My eyes glaze over with this kind of stuff, and he just plows through it.

Then a funny thing happened.  After about a week to ten days, we switched roles without realizing.  Jerry began to see the value of some down time, and I became busy with meetings, helping a friend post surgery, spending time with some of those I love, and volunteering at one of my favorite ministries.  All of a sudden I felt like I was nearly at full speed again, and wondered how I ever managed to work full time and have a life.

Now that we are two and a half weeks into our journey of transition what am I learning?

  1. Busyness is insidious.  It really has little to do with job status or hours and all to do with making right decisions.  That is knowing what to say yes to and standing firm on the things we say no to.  It doesn’t take long after stepping out of the rush to see the value of slowing down; but it also doesn’t take much to speed back up with barely a thought.  I must guard my time.
  2. We each have to process transition in our own way with our Lord. But as a married couple we also have to make time to talk, pray, worship, laugh and play together and let grace rule when one’s needs seems to be out of sync with the other’s.
  3. Proverbs is right!  There is safety in wise counsel.  “Refuse good advice and watch your plans fail; take good counsel and watch them succeed.”  Proverbs 15:22 The Message.  In just these first few weeks we have sought counsel from our pastors, business associates, close friends who know us well, friends who have traveled a similar path and a financial planner.  We need the objectivity of others and their wisdom when our “normal” becomes abnormal.
  4. I have time.  I don’t have to know today (or even this year – good thing since we are already half way through December – ha!) what my next steps are.  I need to be obedient to the call and leading of our Lord, use this time to dream, pursue interests and explore the range of opportunities.
  5. God is the supplier of my every moment and my every need.  In just a very short amount of time needs we didn’t even know we had have been provided. Here is one example.  Friday a friend and I volunteered to wrap gifts at an urban toy store.  Afterwards we planned to stop for lunch.  As our shift was ending one of the urban church partners said he wanted to bless us all (7 volunteers) with lunch.  A short time later he returned with boxes of pizza and some drinks.  Not only was it incredibly kind of him, but it spoke volumes to me on two levels.  First, here was a man who we thought we were serving by helping him and his parishioners to have Christmas gifts.  He turned the blessing around and served us.  It is very humbling to be on the receiving end.  The second blessing came to me in realizing that here, once again, God was supplying my need.  Yes, I had budgeted for the cost of going out to lunch with my friend, but God provided for us to have lunch at no cost to us but still enjoy the fellowship together.

So how do I sum up these first few weeks of transition?  Honestly, with the words shared at the last staff Leadership Conference we attended.  We were encouraged to live “Adventurously Expectant.”  That is a call I want to live.

 

 

Suddenly!

I was in a prayer group today in which we reflected on John 20:19-23.  I smiled as I read,

That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind closed doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders.  Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them!  ‘Peace be with you,’ he said.

It was the word “Suddenly” that got to me.  Oh how I can relate to the disciples.  Fretting, worrying, making plans, apparently without remembering that Jesus , son of God said He would never leave them or forsake them (or me or you for that matter!)   Stained Glass

How often am I prone to say, “Wow, that was a God thing!” or “God sure showed up there!”?  As if He isn’t doing “His thing” (being Creator and Sustainer of the Universe and everything and everyone in it) every moment of every day!  I, like the disciples, give the impression that “Suddenly” God paid attention and got involved.

How very silly at best and how very theologically wrong at worst!

So grateful for God’s patience with me, His forgiveness and the gentle reminders He gives me.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.   Ephesians 3:20 NLT