I agonized over the title of this post for quite some time. Titles cast the theme, and set a tone for the article… I chose to be very abbreviated with my title so that the body of the article could expound on the thoughts.
I wonder –
I wonder how each of us see one another.
I wonder if those differences are points of prayer, rather than points of contention and judgement
I wonder if as we gather to worship if we choose to lift each other up, or snap to conclusions on appearance, actions, thoughts
I wonder if we are willing to look at each other’s journey to heaven and accept that God calls each of us to travel different terraine with his distinct purposes in our lives.
I wonder if we stumble over the path each of us have been called to.
My pondering came as a result of some time spent in prayer, and reading through the bible. Its at the end of John 21 Peter has just been restored to fellowship with Jesus, and almost immediately he begins to inquire about John.
Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”)
When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”
Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” -Gospel of John 21: 20-22
Peter had just learned that as he became old he would be led about, a prisoner, against his will. And as he looks out at others, like John, he did not hear that prediction of John. We are all creatures that want a quiet life, with little stress… but this might not be the plan God has for us. Its human nature to wonder about others, or to compare their life to mine. But if we are truthful in viewing this passage we will glean a treasured nugget. Each of us are given a specific plan, and while we are on this earth we are here at the purpose and leading of our great God.
In my quiet time, as i read this passage for the 8 millionth time the words spoke to me in a fresh way. “Barb – the plan for your life is one of times of great challenge, of testing and of stretching. ” No i did not hear voices, but it was as if God himself whispered into my soul. “Let go of the idea that we are identical… and focus on what God wants of you. Your heart, your surrender, your focus. Love the lord your God and lay down the preconceived notions of what your life should be.”
I have to be honest and disclose to you that I have spent a long time holding on to and idealizing the life I once had, which is gone. Yes, it was nice to have a predictable life, predictable career, evenings free, and weekends were not much more than laundry, grocery shopping and worship. Loved those evening enjoying the summer nights on the porch sipping iced tea, and looking through a magazine, or catching up a chapter or two of a book. Loved those fall evenings of painting, or big home improvement projects…. which we no longer can afford. And i loved knowing there was a big bank account and credit cards, and no want of anything. But God knew my soul needed something that was not found in bank accounts and free time. It was his very real leadership and presence.
So i have layed down that part of my life, and look to this time as a new chapter. God has called me to trust him, to wait on his provision, to trust his hand as good, and to meet my needs. It is a much deeper immersion into living by faith. And there are times when, like Peter, i begin to look at others in the body and become focused on their life… their needs not only met, but a life much more comfortable, and at ease. And it is at that point i hear the words of God – “Why are you concerned with them?” It is as if Jesus is saying to me also “Do you trust me? Do you? Do you really trust me for the monthly income to meet your needs? Do you believe I am intimately involved in your life, and care deeply for your needs? Then trust me.”
I know that we are called to a different place. For some reason the Lord has shut every door of employment for Steve, and as each rejection of a job lead comes it seems that a new door opens for our business. Not once, not twice, but countless times over the past few years the Lord has reinforced our direction. As we respond and follow His leading we have seen this little vision of a business into something viable, and profitable. He has showed us that as we trust him for the next step that He will open those doors. And the doors open.
Our life is not a traditional 9-5. Our life requires a significantly larger involvement of our time, energy, creativity, and networking. And our life leaves much less time for just sitting on the porch sipping iced tea. But this is the life we are now called to. Our life is a calling to a people group that needs hope. The art world
I still wonder how you view us though. Do you accept that our life is so very non-conventional? Do you pray that God will continue to lead us, use us, and provide our needs? Or do you find it hard to accept that some of us are called to a different place? If you must know, we can see it in your eyes, and we can hear it in your comments. We see those eyes that look at us like we are a bit on the crazy side… or you say things that are polite but have a belittling tone. You don’t understand the work God is doing in our lives, or you have no realization of the way that our society has changed in a very short amount of time and has closed off the opportunities you always knew.
For the church to be a healthy place we must take heed to the passage about John and Peter, acknowledging we don’t know what God has in store for each other. But we know God, and we know his plan is good. As we get our eyes off of each other and on to the place they belong we will become a much healthier, less judgmental body.
We don;t expect the misunderstood comments to go away, but we only hope that grace and God’s love will replace human wisdom for willingness to watch and pray.
Because God is good. and his plan for each of our lives is as varied as his creation. Its our job to trust and obey, and lay down the wondering. Yes, that goes for me too.