Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Lent Meets Perspective

One of the many beautiful things about God's grace is that it often leads us to unexpected places in unexpected ways and at unexpected times.

Though we are in the season of Lent and perhaps that should be my main focus, I am returning once again to my New Year's Resolution, which I titled Perspective: New Year, New Mindset. Actually, I am connecting the two. Remember, all of my thoughts have multiple sources, along with multiple idiocies. I am wondering tonight if the need to overproduce and please everyone (what I am giving up for Lent) is somehow complexly yet amazingly simply intertwined with my tendency to never be satisfied with where I am in life or what I have and to always desire something else. I am realizing how often I become so convinced that I want something (I'm talking big girl stuff here, like jobs and graduate degrees, not a chocolate cupcake at the mall..that is a given!), then once I have it, there is something else that I want equally as much. And maybe it really isn't all that different from that childlike longing for a chocolate cupcake.

"Not all that glitters is gold," my college President told me once, as I sat in his office crying about a recent breakup. Not all that glitters is gold. That should be posted somewhere on a statue or something.

The beautiful creature has a disgustingly speckled underbelly. There will always be something that leaves room for desire in even the greatest gift from our Father (save Jesus). And perhaps that is because Jesus is the only perfect gift, the gift that is whole and complete, not lacking anything; the gift that keeps on giving and giving and giving; the gift that we may not desire yet will meet our greatest need and fill our deepest longings.

I am a big dreamer. I like to reimagine the world my way, which of course you know is God's way. I love to dream big. I think that is ok; indeed, without big dreams the world will never change. But sometimes when I start worrying about what steps to take to achieve my dreams, I get scared and the world starts crumbling in because it seems impossible. Thus I become depressed and eat rediculous amounts of chocolate to console myself.

The unquenchable, unwavering desire, the dream. The need to overproduce and to please everyone. The need to overproduce is itself a dirty dream, one that keeps biting back. The need to be or at least to appear perfect is itself an unattainable wish; no matter how long the facade lasts, it will eventually fall.

Luke 10:38-42 contains the classic parable of Mary and Martha. You know the story...Martha is busy being a Susy Homemaker and gets mad at her sister, Mary, who is chillin in the living room at Jesus' feet. When Martha tells Jesus to repremand Mary for not helping, Jesus gives Martha one of the most piercing sentences I find in the Bible: "Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing" (v. 41b-42a, NRSV). 

The parable is sandwiched between the parable of the Good Samaritan and the Lord's Prayer. Two vital passages of Scripture provide the bookends for this passage. These three parts of the sandwich each reveal very important Christian disciplines: helping those who are hurt (doing), resting at the Lord's feet (listening), and praying rightly (prayer). In the midst of doing justice, loving mercy, and praying rightly, Jesus beckons Martha to walk humbly with her God.

We are all busy, whether we be moms running to and fro, between Cheetos flying and tea spilling in our cars. Whether we be dads picking up kids from school and struggling to know how to nurse sick children back to health. In our busyness, we are fabulous. We care deeply for one another and for the things of God. We deeply want others to know and do the things of God. And as we all are running around making sure things are running as they should, whether in the church or in the home, the Lord beckons us to His side. The Psalmist said it this way, "Be still, and know that I am God." Be still, precious child, be still.

I struggle with sitting still. Just when I am doing well, the song playing on the iPod needs changing because it is just not right, or I have to tell Pandora that I like that song, then I need to check my Twitter, then I need to check if so-and-so responded to my text....and the moment is gone.

After church this past Wednesday night, I realized I needed to put something in my car. As I was finishing up, I turned and looked behind me to see a beautiful full moon resting between trees and homes in the neighborhood. I then looked above me to see a partly cloudy sky through barren trees with a few stars sparkling through breaks in the clouds. I started thinking about where I wanted my life to be, somewhere different than the beautiful place where I am now. Then I stopped myself and prayed, "Lord, help me to be where I am now and to love it."

The moments are fleeting; take them while they are here. Be still, my child; be still. Rest your head on the shoulders of the One who loves you, the One who has come to visit with you and give you His precious attention. Breathe Him in, and know that you are never alone. You are so so so loved, child of God, so so so loved. Rest in that today. Just be still.

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