Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Trying To Listen

This post might be a bit on the heavy side, so if you're skimming for an easy, breezy update, you might want to skip this one!

Over the past several months, and specifically maybe the past 3, God is teaching me (us) some things. I've been tossing them around in my head and talking about them with a few friends, and I thought it would be a good idea to share them here in the remote possibility my personal lessons are relevant to someone else out there! Or maybe they are just especially for me. In any event...I will title these little nuggets and present them to you:)

"He's Not Like That"

It's about to get real up in here, because this one is rather gut-spilling. In January, I was presented an opportunity to travel to Cambodia with a very small group of wonderful people. Some way, somehow, God concocted a trip with people I really liked, going somewhere I really wanted to go, working toward a cause I really cared about, by doing a project that was right up my alley (writing and food). I had some reservations about the cost and about being that far away from my family, but ultimately, it was another reason that I said no. I said no because I wanted to get pregnant. With some things happening next year, Ted and I decided we'd either try for baby 3 right away, or else we'd need to put it off for 8 or so months in order to have a baby at an "ideal" time (feel free to smirk at the obvious control illusion here). Knowing that God had created this opportunity for me to serve Him and a small part of his family and even having clearly heard from Him while praying that I should go, I chose to stay home and pounce on the small "make a baby NOW" window. I felt a little sick to my stomach at my clear disobedience, but pressed on with my own plans. You know the rest of the story. I got pregnant. When I saw those two pink lines in the upstairs bathroom that February morning, I had to have a little cry. Not over the excitement of a pregnancy, but at the twisted notion of God I'd carried in my head in the weeks prior. In the back of my mind, I thought He would "punish" me for my disobedience and selfishness, by not giving me what I was chasing. That I wouldn't get pregnant because I didn't deserve it. And I had to have a couple of tears over it, because the intensely liberating, humbling truth sank in that He's not like that. He's not like me, holding wrongs over other people's heads, paying them back for offenses. His love "keeps no record of wrongs." 1 Cor. 13:5. Praise God, He's not like me. How could we worship anyone that was? Long story short--and don't get me wrong--I'm overjoyed about expecting another baby! But the point is, He lets us choose. My choice may have gotten me what I wanted in this moment, but it came at the cost of missing out on something He had for me at the time He picked, that could have resulted in huge blessings to me, to Him and to other people, and maybe even changed a bit of my story in later chapters. I'll never know. But I do know He loves me, whatever decisions I make. He doesn't punish with fury; he teaches with love. And He doesn't think I'm a hopeless waste of time. And He showed me a bit more of His character. "His mercies are new every morning." Lam. 3:22. Even mornings you don't deserve them.

"Better than a Porche"

I said a prayer a few weeks ago, and almost as an afterthought, I tacked on something kind of weird. I asked for something really, kind of obnoxiously specific. I asked for Him to put me in a situation, and then assured him I would hold up my end of the bargain if I ever found myself in said situation (ever pulled those classic "If you...then I'll" type prayers??) My end of the bargain included discussing my faith with someone. I had already deemed this encounter unlikely by the time I finished the prayer. How's that for faith? So I went about life, and events transpired, and one night I found myself involved in the exact circumstance I had asked for that was super unlikely. Now, I've looked back over life and seen God answer my prayers over long periods of time, or recognized answers much later. BUt this the first time I've just been hammered with the answer unfolding in real time, and I was a little caught off guard! I mustered my courage and held up my end. Nothing magnificent happened fireworks or flashes of lightning, but something magnificent happened in me. I felt seen and I felt heard by the God of the universe. There's really nothing better than that, at least that I can think of. It gave me confidence to start asking for more, with a more believing heart. I didn't ask for a Porche, I asked for an opportunity to talk about Him with a friend. He's teaching me that if we ask for something that honors Him, he will likely honor our requests.

"Cash Money"

So Ted and I have been dealing with some financial stuff lately (how's that for honesty?) I won't pretend we're millionaires, because we're not. I also won't pretend we're eating Ramen noodles every night. We are certainly better off than most of the world, and its been a struggle to find balance and steward our resources the way Jesus said to. I used to think that money was a private matter, even private from God. It's not, though. It's so not. The way we spend our money speaks directly of our hearts, and that applies across the board, across the world. God gives us resources with the expectation that it will flow through us to others in need. I have read lots of books this year that have made me so uncomfortable I didn't want to finish them (Radical by David Platt, anyone??) because they dared to question my iPhone-wielding, Target-wandering, latte-sipping lifestyle that I defend as modest to myself all the time. Actually, I could leave a much larger margin for helping others than I do, but I pretend I simply "can't" because my culture lies to me about what's normal and reasonable to have. But God doesn't lie to me. He tells me truth, and my heart half-sinks, half-soars because I know its the truth but Satan colors my world in a jealous, green tint called Comparison. And Comparison looks like a cover girl, but she's really an ugly b**** that feeds us all a steady diet of misery. "Comparison is the thief of joy." So what God is trying to teach me (us)--some days successfully and some days hopelessly--is to fix our eyes on Him. To trust Him with our money. To take Him literally when he says its not an option but a requirement to take care of other people, a requirement that it should be our joy to do! CS Lewis says in Screwtape Letters that prosperity knits a man to the world. That's not what I want to be knit to, to the things in the world. I want to be knit to the God who made the things in the world. So God is teaching us to talk to Him about our money and what's wise to do with it. Which feels intrusive, but why? If Jude wanted to talk to me about how to spend the allowance I gave him, of course I would! I would have given him that allowance in an effort to form him into a mature person, so I have to conclude God gave us resources and wants to be intimately involved in their whereabouts because he's using them to form us into mature people who look "not only to our own interests, but also to the interests of others." Its never about my money. Its always about my heart. There's a lot more to say, but its late. Thanks for listening:)


Anonymous said...

I can't help but wonder if it's not so much the case that you were "supposed" to go to Cambodia by God's design and that you chose to defy Him. I wonder if the Cambodia opportunity - SUCH an amazing opportunity! - was put before you as way to highlight to you how very important your own micro-family is to you at this phase in your life. Perhaps having the Cambodia trip as the backdrop of the decision to become pregnant was God's way of reminding you that your ministry to your children is where you need to focus right now.

Caroline Mosey said...

So true! There are so many ways of looking at it. In this case, I don't believe there was a right or wrong choice, but I do believe there are choices that can strengthen our relationships with God...I just know that He gave me a clear opportunity and I chose not to take it, and wanted to convey that he affords us our choices and teaches us through them, you know?
Who am I chatting with, BTW? :)