Thursday, January 29, 2009

What Spills Out

When I was home for Christmas I went to my youth pastor's church. He gave an object lesson along with his message: when you have a cup filled to the brim, the slightest movement or bump in any direction causes what is in the cup to spill out. The same is true of our lives, whatever we are full of spills out when we are bumped. 
I thought of this lesson because on the trolley tonight (yesterday) there was a girl who I would say was full of anger; she was beraiding someone on the phone for the smallest thing. The anger in her voice over the fact that the other person was not there to pick her up reflected something darker inside. This made me think of the sermon and how true it is. Then I wonder: what I am full of and what is spilling out of me?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Second Greatest Commandment

Love. That's what God's lesson is for me. 

Recently - within the past couple months - I have been looking back at my life and seeing the things God has been doing. So Saturday I was thinking, if asked the question: what has God been doing in your life?, I could go back to just this last week. It would take some time to share the large amount I have seen in the last six months. 

Then Sunday at church our Pastor was talking about at an old church he was at where they did Testimony Sunday every now and then. He said it seemed like it was always the same people going up and talking about what happened fifeteen years ago in their lives. He wondered, well what is God doing now? This is part of the journey I have been over the last year: seeing God's hand in my life from years ago to seeing his hand in my life now. It is quite exciting. 

So I want to share what it is God is teaching me now. I was living for a month or so, not knowing what was going to happen in the next chapter of my life and having the possibilities change from week to week. While I was secure and at peace knowing that whatever God has in mind is best, it did get tough having that large uncertainty for so long. So when I learned that I was not going to be leading a small group, I was okay with it, but disappointed. I really wanted to have a group, but I knew God had a reason as to why not. So this last week I learned that reason. I had been wondering why (concerned) I wasn't able to put into words why I wanted to lead; I am glad I was never asked to. I had this idea of what a good small group would look like, but when I really thought about it this last week, me leading was not necessarily part of that equation. 

Glorifying God and pointing people towards him was and is something that I see as important. But God drew my attention this week to a piece of that puzzle I was missing. Part of glorifying Him is loving others. I have been aware that loving people is not a burden I have felt before, but now it is. If I am to be a good leader, I really need to care about the people in my group, and it is likely I won't know (all) these people - and caring about people I don't know is often hard for me. The words to an old Ginny Owens song hit me and brought this lesson clearly into focus: "I could show up every Sunday, lead the choir and Bible study; and they all might come to know me as a leader and a friend... but if I do not love, I am nothing." 

I have used excuses before as to why it is more difficult for me, but God is telling me those exuses are not acceptable. So my prayer is that God will change my heart and show me where he wants me to actively show love towards others and give me the courage to follow through. I already see him starting to change my heart. It's funny; I feel like this lesson has a deadline - ten weeks then the small groups start the next season in April. So I know I will still have plenty to learn, but the deadline (I wish I had a better term) makes me feel more proactive about it. I would not have asked God what I can do to learn a lesson otherwise. 

Friday, January 9, 2009

Facing Uncertainty; Part 2

(back-dated post)
After I took my final, I knew it was over. There is no way, I said, that I can pass. I did not ace the final as I needed to. God only knows what the future holds, but I can trust him. I was glad to sing Song of Hope at church; that was where I was. 

God had brought to mind over the fall the idea of leading a small group. I knew that time was not right then, but I felt that it was soon. So when I began to ask what is next if it isn't school, this came back to mind. I thought with all the time on my hands from not being in school I will have time to really prepare and do a good job. So I mentioned it. There was interest shown, and I was glad to think it might be a possibility and that God could use me. I had noticed a lot of growth in myself over the semester, and was excited about the idea of serving. 

So I found out Christmas Eve that I was given the grade I needed for my course. (merry christmas!) I was in shock; it was literally grace that got me by and I was not expecting it. I had become at peace with not being in school, and now had to get excited about school all over again. I decided that I would only take one course and I could still lead a small group. I had lost the urgency I previously felt over finishing in a certain time period.

I re-mentioned my interest and learned that there was a small group leaders meeting the next day. What great timing - I guess I should have learned from the past that just because I make a deadline does not mean God is going to give me that. I wasn't able to find a co-leader and am not leading a group this season. When I left the meeting I did not know this. I went from, what I am going to do in the spring: go to school? I will to have wait and find out. Am I going to lead a small group in the spring? I will have to wait and find out. 
God's will; that continues to be my prayer as I remind myself it is what is best.