My favorite book right now is the one I am currently reading ~ Secure in the Everlasting Arms by Elisabeth Elliot. It is a compilation of the articles she published in her regular newsletter, which is no longer being distributed. She speaks to me in a language I understand and says many things a lot of folks are not saying. Here is a quote from what I read today:
“Jesus asks us to take up the cross – to take it up daily. What does this mean? Surely it is the quiet acceptance of disappointments, the willing performance of some hard task we’d prefer to avoid or some small duty which is distasteful to us. It is forgiveness to that one who has deeply wronged us and has not apologized (the Lord tells us to forgive those who trespass, not only those who apologize!). The cross is offered to us every day in some form, at times comparatively trivial, at other times real suffering, but it is always something which slashes straight across our human nature, for the cross was an instrument of torture.”
Yes and amen. So often my cross is not some terribly difficult burden, some weighty decision or severe sacrifice. Mostly, it is in choosing to have a proper attitude when I feel like being sassy or sarcastic; it is asking to see people, situations, conflicts from God’s perspective with God’s goal of sanctification in mind, not just survival; it is taking an interest in the lives of those around me when I’d rather ignore them all and go about my terribly important business; it is finding my security and confidence in the truth that my Daddy is the King rather than in my own ideas of self-worth or importance. My crosses are in the everyday, the mundane, the choices of daily discipline unto righteousness that are bit by bit transforming me to be more like Christ.
My motivation in this blog is to document those places in my life where I participate whole-heartedly in the journey, not just strive for the destination. To that end, I have a story to share:
At work, I’ve been facing a difficult situation with a team I’ve had to remove. It has not been easy because I care very much for these people and hurt over their hurt. I sat on an email to them all week last week – the words I wanted to say just weren’t coming and everything I typed sounded calloused and harsh. So, everyday I’d think to myself, “Why can’t this just hurry up and be over with?” I was missing the journey – that sweetness I could experience while suffering the pain of being in the fire because I know one day the heat will pass and the burn will be cooled with the lapping waves of serenity. So, I thanked God for the hard place. I thanked Him for what he was doing in me and growing in me that could never be established without this circumstance. I don’t know if I’ve ever done that before. I actually stepped back and from a distance saw a bigger piece of the puzzle. What God is doing in me through this is far more important than me being a little uncomfortable or unhappy for a little while. See, I can find all manner of quirks and personality flaws I’d like for God to work out of me. But I’d like Him to work them out of me painlessly. Just poof! They’re gone! But that’s not how it works…at least not for me. For me, if I want to learn patience, God will make me wait an undisclosed amount of time for something I greatly desire. If I want to learn how to biblically handle conflict, He’ll put me in conflict with friends, family, co-workers, everyone. So whatever it is He is working into me through this, this is really the only way it can be done. He knows me so intimately that He knows what it takes to get through to me. He knows how I’ll learn my lesson and how many times it has to be repeated before I get it. He knows poof! won’t work on me this time. So I’m sitting here today, still squirming a little, but confident that God is doing His thing and making me more like Jesus – and He is the only one who knows what exactly needs to be done to me in order to mold me into that Shape.
I read the beginnings of my book yesterday. I can’t decide how I feel about it. Some of it surprised me, pleasantly. Some of it did not hold my interest. Some of it needs more meat on its bones. Mostly, it drew out of me the very feelings and emotions I wanted it to. I’m just not certain it would do the same for another person who might happen to read it. I think I’ll let Cosmo read it and tell me his thoughts. I’m usually very private about what I write and a little shy to share it before I feel it is “perfect.” But here I am, spilling my guts on the world wide web, so what’re 20-something pages of a novel shared with the love of my life…? Overall, I’d say it gave me some inspiration to work on it some more. I had a friend suggest recently that I spend 30 minutes per week working on it. That’s a pretty bite-sized goal that I plan to meet this week…This is a terribly busy week, so that is a do-able goal given the circumstances. Then next week, I’ll shoot for 10 minutes a day. At that rate, I’ll be done in 50 or so years.