Friday, June 3, 2011

Enlighten the Eyes of the Heart

I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe....  -- Eph. 1:17-19

These words of Paul's to his church in Ephesus speak to me today.  I feel as if Paul is saying this prayer for me.  The words are just what I need to hear.  They provide a wonderful conclusion for the latest workings of God in my life.

Recently, I have been puzzling out how to balance family time and the time I want to spend reading and writing.  My University job is finished and the kids are out of school for the summer.   I now have as much time as I want to focus on my faith and my family. 

A family vacation to Minnesota, planned to be filled with activities for the kids' entertainment, got me thinking about how much time, if any, I could expect to set aside for quiet contemplation, reading, and writing.   I feel called to spend time each day in this way.  But, and this is a big "but," I do not want to neglect my family, or miss spending valuable time with them.  I do not want to look back on my life and regret that I was not present for my children.  I worry about this because, for a short time a few years ago, I did neglect my family in my pursuit of God.

Well, I figured it out, and the vacation was a lot of fun for all of us.  The time I set aside for myself was minimal.  The night before we returned home, I thought, "Perhaps, this is what I need to do from now on.  Focus much more on my family.  Let my devotions take a back-burner."

The next morning, we had a couple hours to wait at our gate at the airport.  I thought about getting a cup of tea, and I remembered walking passed a Starbucks.  As I headed in that direction, I thought, "If only there was a bookstore in this part of the terminal.  What could be better than a cup of tea and a new book to read?"  Next to the Starbucks, I saw a nice little bookstore.  My lucky day!

Nothing appealed to me, until I saw "The Alchemist," by Paulo Coelho.  I had recently read "Have a Little Faith," by Mitch Albom, and on the cover of this book was the praise:  " a non-fiction version of 'The Alchemist.'"  Intrigued, I bought this book, along with my cup of tea.  It turned out to be the story of a young man following his calling, his dream, his "Personal Legend."

I see many similarities between the main character and myself.  Paulo Coelho has clearly spent a great deal of time analyzing what it means to follow one's personal calling, which he describes as "God's blessing, it is the path that God chose for you here on Earth.  Whenever we do something that fills us with enthusiasm, we are following our legend."  He has learned that there are many common obstacles along the way.

One obstacle that he describes struck a chord with me:  love.  "We know what we want to do, but are afraid of hurting those around us by abandoning everything in order to pursue our dream."  The main character in the story, a shepherd, struggles past many obstacles, some of which I can relate to in my journey, but then is nearly stopped by love.  Fortunately, he learns that love wants what is best for the loved one.  Love expands when we are true to ourselves. 

The shepherd is advised that many people give up their dreams just when they are within sight of them, whether because of fear of failure, or because of thankfulness for what has been given so far, or for fear of what comes after success.  The shepherd boy learns to listen to his heart, to read the signs around him, and trust that God will continue to be with him, wherever he goes.

Perhaps, I was meant to read this book.  I took away from this story that maintaining a balance in my life means not only not losing those I love, but it also means not losing myself. 

Thank you, dear God, for encouraging me with exactly the right and perfect words today.  Please give me, as you will, a spirit of wisdom and revelation.  Enlighten the eyes of my heart so that I may know your will for me.  Love always, Pam

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