Saturday, April 23, 2011

Endings and New Beginnings

For this I was born, and for this I came into the world; that I should give testimony to the truth.   -- John 18:36

Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same intention... so as to live for the rest of your earthly life no longer by human desires but by the will of God.  ...therefore be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers.  Above all maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins.  ...serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.   -- from 1 Peter 4:1 - 11

Yesterday, none of the lectionary readings jumped out at me.  Instead, I journaled about work/vocation, about my concerns with trying to fulfill God's will for me.   Writing is my way of connecting most deeply and sincerely with God.  It is prayer for me.  I knew at the end of last year that I had to find some way of sharing this connection with others.  In March, I started this blog because I was convinced I needed to do something immediately, not wait to write out my journals into a book.

Over the last six weeks, this sense of purpose that God has given me has only gotten stronger.   Any interest I had in my University job, and future prospects to teach mathematics again, has decreased as this sense of purpose has increased.  This change of attitude has made it much easier for me to leave my current work, and to set aside more time for writing.  But it is a little disconcerting to think about changing directions so completely at this point in my life.  I don't think I'm having a mid-life crisis, but I could be wrong.

A week ago, I started to see a connection between what I am going through and the death and resurrection of Jesus.  I wrote in my first blog that the beginning of Lent was a perfect time to start following God's particular purpose for one's life.  Well, the end of Lent is turning out to be for me a time of dying to my old life.  It is finished.  I know this. 

I also know that I will face challenges, or temptations, in this new life.  One is maintaining a balance between writing and family.  I got lost in writing and studying scripture before; I don't want that to happen again -- my family is too important.  The second challenge is, ironically, the opposite of the first:  not devoting enough time to writing.  I have a habit of jumping in to help wherever I can help, and then going crazy because I am too busy!  A third challenge has come up recently with this blog. 

I wanted as many people to read this blog as possible.  So I started posting new titles on Twitter, and Facebook.  But then I started caring too much about the results.  I found myself thinking about my writing with the eyes of other people, continually editing the words, and monitoring the stats that tell me how many people have looked at it in a given day.  I was looking at the blog, at myself, as if I were a spectator.  I could feel myself becoming anxious about the blog, and I knew that all this fussing was taking away from the purity of my connection to God.  So, I made myself stop looking at the stats.  And I will stop trying to perfect the words. I will trust that God's message will shine even through my imperfect words.

I read a lot yesterday.  Nothing jumped out at me in the lectionary readings, but I found Rob Bell's "Velvet Elvis" surprising helpful.  Near the middle of this book, he writes about experiencing some of the pitfalls in trying to fulfill God's purpose for him, pitfalls that I was beginning to experience.  And Thomas Merton's book, "No Man is an Island" again met me where I was with heaps of insight into fulfilling God's purpose for one's life.  Merton wrote about the passage in John above.  I find it amazing that I read that passage in Merton yesterday, that passage which speaks clearly to Jesus' vocation, to God's purpose for him, that passage which I completely missed when I read it in the lectionary.  It's as if God knew I had missed it, and wanted me to see it again.

Dear and Glorious Lord, you amaze me with your care of me.  Where would I be without you?  May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart always be pleasing in your sight.  Love always, Pam

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