The perfect job – it exists!

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Perfect job

I don’t know what you fantasize about, but sometimes I imagine the feeling of just having landed THE ultimate job.  In my daydream, I can FEEL the excitement, the open-ended sense of possibility, the overwhelming gratitude and joy of actually being able both to be challenged in a healthy way AND to get to do every day what makes me happiest.  (Speaking French is the number one component)  Included in my daydream is the notion of having been PICKED or selected with all sorts of concomitant and guaranteed learning opportunities and training that will enrich my life.  I’ll be among happy fellow enthusiasts and what we do will make a difference.

Maybe pipe dreams of the ideal job aren’t the ingredients that fuel your fantasy.  Maybe it’s that longing for the ultimate family or skill experience/achievement (winning an Olympic gold in your event) or a different pinnacle of your own choosing.  But for me, it’s always been a longing for THAT job.

And as I approach 60, I’m beginning to realize, not with too many regrets, that there are milestones and goals that I probably won’t realize while I’m alive in this body.

Far be THAT, however, to lead to depression.  For as a Christian, the Bible teaches that the BEST is yet to come!

In fact, if you think about it, since we are immortal and will be given new bodies at Jesus’ 2nd coming, bodies with more and better capacities, the idea of longing for the perfect job while here on earth is both short-sided and bound to disappoint.

But if we view our time on earth as training for the future, (the internship I wrote about earlier – Last week’s blog on a Theology of Work), then we can wait patiently, knowing that God doesn’t waste ANY of our experiences.

So in my imagining the work we will do in Heaven, I bet that:

  • It will be something we each feel perfectly suited for, given our ‘bents’ and our ‘experiences’ here on earth
  • It will be among happy colleagues who lovingly support and encourage one another
  • Our leader, Christ, will be the perfect ‘boss’
  • We will do work that is meaningful and satisfying.

So until then, I pray and trust God for patience and gratitude for both my future destination and the preparation He gives me each day in the meantime.

Colossians 3:23-24 “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”

PS:  I think the inheritance will be the invitation to come take an active productive role with the Triune God in the Kingdom!

Keep Calm - Job

Whose time is it?

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Rushing Clock

 

 

 

Tomorrow is Monday, the start of a new work/school week for young and old. The alarm will buzz, vibrate, rattle or serenade us into the awaiting day where the mantra is RUSH, RUSH, RUSH!  And for many, the Sunday dread of the pending week has already begun to dampen spirits.

Does it have to be this way?  What causes all advance weariness?

For me, the idea of hurling myself into the day with the goal of squeezing out more TIME than numerically possible has gotten old. I’ve been pondering my assumptions and questioning if they are even true.  For starters:

  • is it true that TIME is immutable, that is to say, ‘fixed and unchangeable’?  Do we really have only so many minutes and hours to do ALL that we want to/have to do?
  • is there something called MY TIME.  If this is so, where do we get this TIME? Does it come to us by virtue of being born?
  • is it up to us to decide what we have to do or want to do?
  • and just what exactly IS TIME after all?

Here are some liberating facts to guide and perhaps change our ideas and eventually our Modus Operandi:

God is the source of all that is.  He created TIME out of nothing. But of course He existed BEFORE He made the construct called TIME.  The fact that God formed TIME doesn’t minimize its usefulness for God or for His creation.  But if He created it, He can tweak it, change it, stretch it, and abolish it when His purposes for TIME have been completed.  How do I know this is so?  Consider some of these events:

  • When the disciples were rowing across the Sea of Galilee in a storm, Jesus came walking across the water toward them.  Here are a couple of lines in John’s gospel:  Chapter 6:20-21 But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.”  Then they were glad to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.
  • Then there is Joshua in the Old Testament. The successor to Moses, he prayed to God for His supernatural intervention, as recorded in Joshua 10:13  So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the nation avenged itself on its enemies, as it is written in the Book of Jashar. The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day.

If God has created everything/all things, then that ‘ALL’ includes both the material and the immaterial.  TIME certainly fits in the category of immaterial.  We can’t see it, but we measure it by material things that God has created, like the sun and the moon and Earth’s relative position to the stars.

I’m beginning to see my presumption and small-mindedness in believing that the God who creates TIME is constrained by how I, a creature, count TIME.

After all, is it too hard for God to manipulate TIME so that it is sufficient for me to accomplish HIS agenda for me this day?  Come on!  We’re talking about the God:

  • Who keeps the Hebrews’ sandals from wearing out during their 40-year journey to Canaan
  • Who multiplies rolls and dried fish to feed a mighty crowd of hungry folks
  • Who springs Peter from jail on one occasion and Paul and Silas on another (employing two different means)
  • Who brings dead people back to life
  • Who provides a coin in the mouth of a fish for the disciples to pay their taxes

If all this is so, maybe you and I can STOP rushing around.  Maybe slowing down to smell the flowers and marvel at God’s creation can become our norm.  Just maybe welcoming ‘interruptions’ as opportunities to demonstrate our trust in God’s sovereign control over TIME can become our new MODUS OPERANDI for 2015.

May God’s truth, as David penned it in Psalm 31: 14-15, have the last word:

But I trust in you, O Lord;
    I say, “You are my God.”
 My times are in your hand;
    rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!

God holding clock

 

 

 

PS:  Who might be our actual ‘enemies and persecutors’?

Who’s in charge?

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If I were in charge, I wouldn’t have done it THAT way!

 Have you ever muttered that?  Consider these scenarios

 ·       You’ve been praying for an adult child to come to Christ.  Here he is, approaching 50 and just beginning to show signs of a softened heart.  But you think, “Lord, his life would have been so much better had You done this 20 years ago!”

·         Or it could be your aging mom – defiant until almost to the end.  Suddenly a hearing loss or lessened mobility has gotten her attention and she is asking about God.

·         Or, it’s your husband who has plugged away at his career with such a great attitude, yet no recognition.  “Father,” you plead, “can’t You allow him SOME measure of success!?”

·         You’ve heard of Joni Eareckson Tada – paraplegia PLUS breast cancer?  Not what she would have chosen..yet she claims she wouldn’t change a thing!

·         And finally a Scottish woman whose 2 children died in infancy, her ‘good for nothing’, titled husband was worse than terrible so that all in all she led a bleak life….yet…at age 35 he succumbed to a terminal illness that softened his heart. He actually repented and turned to Christ – literal death-bed conversion whose veracity was attested to by Scottish Presbyterian Pastor Samuel Rutherford.  She later wrote that it was totally worth it, to know that he would share eternal life with her.

 

For sure, not what these fellow believers would have chosen had their plans been sovereign.

 We should also take heart, for it’s not just recent believers who share our puzzled expectations, but Bible heroes as well. Many men and women in the Old and New Testaments echoed equally poignant laments.  The prophets did not understand God’s use of evil nations against God’s chosen people.  You can hear both Habakkuk’s incredulity and horror in 2:13 when he questions the Almighty’s strategy of bringing the hated Chaldeans AGAINST Judah:

You who are of purer eyes than to see evil
                 and cannot look at wrong,
why do you idly look at traitors
                 and remain silent when the wicked swallows up
                 the man more righteous than he?

 And what about the Hebrews en route to the Promised Land?  I bet they would have been quick to give you their 2 shekels’ worth about the frustrations inherent in a 40-year detour.

 

So….? How do these anecdotes help you & me?  When life doesn’t go according to our plan, we have to remember that Jesus is the happy controller (1 Tim 6:15) not us.  Therefore, His route and plan WILL be best.

With this fact about God in mind, I want to encourage all my dear friends (AND ME!!), those

 ·        who have miscarried too many babies

·         who are raising children with less than perfect brain chemistry or physical attributes

·         who are waiting for the right Christian man to join them in marriage

·         who are working diligently to build a business, yet have yet to see growth

·         who are praying that their children’s marriages will heal

·         who struggle with finances

·         who cry out to God to grow their church

·         whose bodies are breaking down and wearing out

·         who want nothing else than children and spouses to come to Christ or to grow in Christ

 God DOES know what He is doing and you are neither forgotten nor unloved.  Cling to Him, wait in faith and pray on:

 With Habakkuk, cry out:

Though the fig tree does not bud
            and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will be joyful in God my Savior.  (3:17-18)    

Holy Work-outs in God’s Gym

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Yesterday I found out that I get to practice patience for 2 more weeks.

A month has crept by since I interviewed for a French-teaching job in Asheville.  As the first candidate, I was prepared to wait a few weeks.  But after 30 days, and with the blessing of my husband, I emailed the head of the middle school. Result? She has one more teacher to evaluate and then will make her decision.

Imposed waiting has given me time and motivation to study the biblical context of God’s commands to endure, trust, wait, hope, pray, and expect as well as to inspect the quality of my attitude that surrounds these actions.  Am I obeying God in a peaceful manner or anxiously, with quiet confidence or desperate frenzy?

What I have realized is that this waiting period is God’s gift to me.  It’s a personal, tailor-made course in how to take the long view of God at work. God is actually offering me the opportunity to try Him, to take Him at His word and see if I come up short.  And God is SO confident of His own character, that He is risking nothing.  It’s as though He boasts, “Go ahead, try me, see for yourself if I am sufficient for you this day and each successive day when you DON’T see any way forward, when you DON’T see any results, when there ARE NO OFFERS on your house and NO JOB OFFERS yet or Mike’s FIRST CLIENT has yet to show himself.  And I think He actually trusts ME to accept the challenge to lean on Him and prove to myself and to my watching friends that He is reliable.  As G.K. Chesterton quipped:

      “The problem with Christianity is not that it has been tried & found wanting……… but that it has not been tried!”

When the early church was facing her own trials, James encouraged those young believers to trust his older half-brother Jesus and what He had promised, waiting patiently while relying on God’s characteristics: (James 5: 7-11)

Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. 10 As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.

As Mike and I round the corner of our last 6 weeks in Virginia, my take-away TODAY from this experiment with God’s faithfulness is this:

HYPOMONE – the Greek word (Strongs # 5281) for endurance. HYPO means under and MONE means stay.

I am to STAY UNDER God’s provision this day.  He gives both MANNA for the day and MERCIES for the day.  Both fall under His day-tight, measured-out provisions of grace, long ago stockpiled for each of my days.

If I run ahead of Him in my mind to the ‘what-if’ tomorrows, I run out from under and away from His provision.

Isaiah knew whereof he spoke when he counseled in 26:3,

“God will keep you in perfect peace, if you keep your mind fixed on HIM.”(my paraphrase)

It’s a choice – fix my thoughts and mental energy on my worries/circumstances?  Or fix my thoughts & mental energy on God’s character, God’s promises, and God’s past dealings with and provisions to both those in the Bible and me.

So thank you, Father, for this good gift of a trial. You’re training me to be a stronger & more effective spiritual athlete.  I’m a runner in Your race, chasing hard after the prize.  Jesus, my champion and coach, dances enthusiastically at my side, all along encouraging me.  This is the hilly part and I’m running hard.  If I take my eyes off of You, I’ll look at that incline and grow tired.  So help me!  Remind me to thank You for how You’ve already provided.  Remind me to take comfort in Your guarantee that Mark records in 11:24 –

            Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you are receiving it, and it will be yours.

So THANK YOU for:

·         My future job

·         The right buyer for our house

·         Those clients for Mike’s business

·         The provision of our future house

·         Our new church family

A door is opening

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Thank you for your prayers!

A door is opening.  I have been blessed with an upcoming interview for a French-teaching job in a middle school in Asheville.  Mike and I will drive down on Tuesday, 19 March and I will spend the next day, the 20th, visiting, interviewing and teaching a French lesson.

How am I keeping my stomach from the nervous butterflies?  By focusing my mind on God’s promise in Psalm 84: 11

The Lord is a sun and a shield; He gives grace & glory.  No good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is upright.

  • Sun –He gives me light, energy, direction, growth
  • Shield – Jesus, the anointed one is my shield.  Without His covering, my sin would not let me be in God’s holy presence
  • Grace – I get God’s undeserved favor in unlimited ways
  • Glory – as a new creation ever since I ‘died’ in Feb 1987, was rescued by Jesus and transferred into the Kingdom of Light, I possess an inheritance and am looking forward to reveling in God’s glory as one of Jesus’ sisters.
  • (Skip over ‘good things’ for a moment)
  • Upright – because my trust is in Jesus’ wedding garment, I am free to stand up straight and look into God’s face. Each time I look down at myself or at my circumstances, I lose life-energy-joy. ‘Keeping the faith’ each day is a moment-by-moment re-orientation to what is true and right thinking.  I am only upright (blameless as another translation puts it) since I am unified with Christ.

Back to ‘good things’:   If this teaching job turns out to be a ‘good thing’ for me, according to God, then I will get the job.  He alone knows and sees all events.  If I don’t get this job, then I can know for certain, it was not a ‘good thing’.

What I’m going to say next might surprise you.  I first read Psalm 84:11 in the autobiography of George Müller.  This 19th century English pastor and hero of faith prayed this verse as his first wife lay dying.  And she died.  He took comfort in God’s promise that NO GOOD THING does He withhold from His people.

And George Müller was able to carry on with his children, his ministry and life.  He eventually married a second godly woman and was able to look back and see God’s hand, providentially guiding all circumstances.

Please continue to pray that I may represent myself and my abilities accurately, so that Carolina Day School can make the right decision for them.  I trust ‘my blessed Controller’ to continue His process of guiding me in this adventure.

By the way – We still need a buyer for our house!  But God has that under His happy control, too!    

Stages – or confessions of a ‘has been’

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The spotlight has moved on. Mike & I and our two boys used to be at the center of everyone’s attention……especially at Church

We were part of that vital segment of society called young family; we were important.  Only thing is, we didn’t realize it at the time.

I wasn’t aware how much a sense of identity and belonging I enjoyed & derived from that role.

To be honest, do we ever TAKE time to process and evaluate when we’re in the midst of dancing from one school/sport/music/XYZ activity to another?   On the surface, as one mom to another, we might have shared common complaints, but it was from a place of feeling VITAL and NEEDED.

For the most part, Mike and I have adapted well to the “Empty Nest”.  We work our jobs and we look forward to nesting in the evenings, sharing dinner and conversation.  We rejoice when we talk to and visit with our kids and grandkids.  But they live plane-rides away. We find ourselves now at the margins of their lives, when before we shared center-stage with them.  Apparently that is normal, but it does take some mental & emotional adjustment. And a going back to God’s Word to gain our new bearings.

Mike read the other day that parents always love their kids more than their kids love them.   Ouch! Guess I didn’t think how my parents felt when Mike and I struck off on our own.  How did THEY feel when ‘Act II’ opened for them?

I must have missed the Entre’Act – that segué when the stage-hands physically create a new scene.  So last weekend was revelatory to me.  Loud and clear, came the news that cameras were rolling for this next Act in my life.

I participated in the PCC Women’s retreat 9-10 February.  (PCC is the church which houses my school – I’ve enjoyed taking part in about 4 of their retreats in past years.  I know some of the gals and they are a friendly group, willing to take in a non-member).  What struck me this year was how, at age 55 with adult children no longer living in the area and grandkids that we see only occasionally, my roles have changed.

I am now one of those OTHER women!  You know that group; the older gals who are supposed to guide and instruct the younger women?  My job description got updated and I didn’t see it coming!  My gifting, bequeathed to me upon my arrival at the shores of menopause,  is to be interested in/ help out/ listen well to the ‘younger moms’ who are right in the thick of life with little kids and husbands, etc.

I guess I felt envious. (Forgive me, Father!) And I wasn’t anticipating this insight.

The couple of days that followed the retreat were difficult. Tears & emotions that burbled out all over my surprised husband came from not having accurately articulated to myself some newly discovered truths.  (Preach the Gospel to yourself daily!)

But thanks be to God, Gospel truth for this new job description has begun to sink in and guide me as I study how to “Abide in Christ”.  Too slowly obviously, ( but forward, nonetheless!) I am making baby steps and learning the lines for my new role.

Picture a triangle with “Abiding in Christ” safely in the middle.  Security-Identity- Belonging are the 3 corners.  If you are a new creation because you have been divinely and spiritually seeded by the 3rd member of the God-head, then you are safe in the Triune Refuge.  The key is to do life from THAT position..and not to wander outside looking to create one’s OWN identity and purpose.

I’m going to have to get used to my new role. Meanwhile, in the midst of dabbling in self-pity this week, I was reminded of a profound truth, one that CS Lewis has articulated –

“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”

I take that to mean that if we have a longing that leaves us with an empty ache, then surely satisfaction is coming.  Knowing that, I can wait for that sure, yet future, GLORIOUS fulfillment by God in heaven.  One day, I WILL rest secure at the center of love and belonging-ness with family, but in a way that is tailor-made for me.

So even though, in THIS life under the Sun, Mike and I are on the tailing end, the best, the INFINITE best is yet to come.

As Robert Browning penned in Rabbi Ben Ezra:

 

Grow old along with me!

The best is yet to be,

The last of life, for which the first was made:

Our times are in His hand

Who saith “A whole I planned,

Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!”

 

Security Triangle

Reflections on waiting

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This waiting thing – we’re in the thick of it!

  • Waiting for the house to sell
  • Waiting to get a teaching job in NC
  • Waiting for Mike’s first paying client
  • Waiting for Wes to return from Afghanistan

Not that waiting isn’t part of others’ lives, too:

  • Our brother and sister-in-law are waiting for her immigration paperwork to come through.
  • Friends are waiting for babies – to be born and to be adopted
  • Many sisters & brothers in Christ are waiting for loved ones to be brought into God’s forever family
  • Other friends are waiting for healing and pain to subside
  • A friend is waiting for her husband finally to receive the career recognition he deserves and longs for
  • Another friend is waiting for debt to be paid off so she can marry

I realized something last night that shifted my view of how God is working.  I’m a lot more relaxed this time around selling a house.  The first time was when we were 27 years old.  Mike had moved out to Monterey, Graham was a baby and we were desperate to sell a house in Arizona.  DES-PER-ATE.  I bugged the real estate agent every day.  God was gracious and brought a buyer in 3 months, despite my total lack of faith.

The last time we sold a house, I had started growing spiritually through the means of Bible Study Fellowship, but was living functionally still as an atheist.  I was 42 this time around.  As I fretted internally, worrying about 30 times a day, “What if…..!!!!”  (at least I didn’t phone our realtor every day!), God brought welcome relief in the form of a verse.  We had studied Genesis the previous year in BSF and all of a sudden I recalled the promise God made to Abraham when the old man, like me, was fearful, tired & discouraged.

Gen 15:1 Fear not Abram, I am your shield and your very great reward!

All of a sudden, my behavior switched.  I consciously chose to sub in that very promise from God each and every time I caught myself falling into worry and fear.  I would literally shake my head and actually stand up to that worry/fear thought:

NO!  then I would say to the Lord…

God, YOU are my shield and my very great reward, therefore, I will not fear.

Instead of playing the worry movie 20 – 30 times in a day, I affirmed God’s Word over and over again.  A month later, God brought the buyer.

Now I’m 55 and we’re selling our 3rd house.  My goal is to offer my waiting to God as worship.  I want to PLEASE my Father by demonstrating that I trust him.  As Graham reminded me yesterday in a phone call, ‘We have a rich and powerful Father, so we can relax’.

The realization that struck me last night came in reflecting about how we came to find the house that we are going to purchase in North Carolina, God-willing.  From Thanksgiving through mid January, we had been ‘studying’ available houses, making a list of features, comparing them in Excel (a side benefit that comes from being married to an analytical husband!) all in preparation for a house-visiting trip last month.  Our goal was to make an offer on a house over that January weekend since Waynesville is 8 hours away by car from Newport News.

We arrived on Saturday at the real estate agent’s office and in addition to the list of houses we had planned to visit; she added one that had ‘just popped up’,  being listed 2 days earlier on the Thursday.  It wasn’t part of our ‘careful study’.

And as you might guess, that is the house we have chosen.

Do you see what I realized last night?  At just the RIGHT time, God brought ‘our house’ to us, not dependent on our analysis and searching.

If I extrapolate, at just the RIGHT time, God will bring:

The buyer for our current house…….The job offer for me……etc

Yes, our efforts are important – But God doesn’t want frenzied, desperate efforts.  Reasonable next steps/actions that come from a deep, relaxed and confident dependence on God are the kind that honor our Father.

Lord, thank you for Christ:  my Anchor, my Blissful Rock, my Big Brother, my Champion and Author and Finisher of the faith implanted in me.  Give me the humility to keep casting these cares back on You, because I KNOW You love us and have our best interests at heart.

God meets our needs very creatively!

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