Thursday, January 28, 2010

Characteristically Uncharacteristic

Not long ago I was asked a question to which I gave an unacceptable answer.... at least in terms of the acceptance by the person asking the question. It was a simple enough question, I would think, for the person who had either “an answer” or more importantly “the answer.” But I am finding the complexity of life to be a little too much for me sometimes of late, so I am more likely to say; “I don’t know!” I used to be filled with answers. I was the “Answer King”. I had an opinion on everything. Give me a subject and I was off to the debate. I was young! What I didn’t know could be placed in a few small volumes, the rest I was sure I knew... or at least thought I did anyway!

What changed suddenly? Was it the constant challenges in the workplace from my peers, the growing knowledge that there are those out there who might know more answers than I did, or the view of technology and information changing at a pace far greater than my absorption rate these days? The answer for some may be a challenge, but not for me. I became tired of always trying to keep up. So, I stepped back, began to look at my life and evaluate the process of staying abreast of all there is and my relationship to it. After all, I had chased life for 50 years and the learning curve has taken its toll. My bones they grow weary and the elasticity of youth has begun to stiffen and become brittle. Get this... I look at the sunrise more than I used to and I see the handiwork of God etched in the vistas along the highway. I see things that I can not change and I imagine the finger of God reshaping all this into the beauty of His Glory in a new Heaven and New earth.

There are going to be those who will read “this” blog and equate that the ol’ fella is losing it... He is looking at retirement and reflection has made way for anxiety and depression about growing old. Well, I have news for all you who are about to drop to your knees, run for your prayer closets or lift me to the Lord, as you hesitate in your reading... God is not finished with this old cat just yet.... that is not what this is about. I am seeing new things every day and well being characteristically uncharacteristic is the way I usually go about things of late.

Most people who think they know me, have had trouble figuring me out through the years. It may come from the background of my youth. It may come from the diversity of my experience, which as a great blessing has led me down many exciting and uplifting paths and across many physical and geographic boundaries. You see what one person experiences in life may be vastly different from another. We too often limit our definitions of what is going on because we have seen life differently and this can bring limitations to those definitions, which can bring the context and relevance of some choices or decisions under scrutiny or suspicion by some. I am, as I grow older, not as worried about the suspicions of others, though I would rather be accepted by everyone immediately for sure... Hey, I am human. I kind lady said to me not long ago about meeting me and how the first inclination she and her husband had, was to just accept me as another nice man who preaches, but have since had opportunity to really get to know me. One could assume that depth of human connectivity and interest might make the difference, but not always. There are limitations drawn in our life definitions as well, and they may take more than passing acquaintance to bridge and build into something meaningful and important.

So how do you feel today? Where are you efforts heading? Has life borne the image that you once dreamed possible in your childhood, youth, young adulthood toward maturity? I suspect that many or most of us have, in our maturation, grown beyond our youthful expectations and felt the influences upon our lives both positive and negative. What those influences have been and how we have dealt, and continue to deal with them, will have directed our definitions, emotions and thus our interests and focus in life. As we deal in the stresses of keeping up, meeting the expectations of others and then finding our way each day, there are those characteristics which God forms and shapes which will I pray, make us more like Him.

I want to fade each day, that Christ might shine brighter through my life. But this complication arises from that exercise. The human heart looks to the image of the earthly to understand the heavenly. I find myself under more scrutiny, a heavier load of expectation with physical responsible for more lives, emotions and wounds... just because I am open to His will, under His grace and am trying to be His voice, hands and feet in today’s world. So, the cycle of seed, water and fruit co-exist in my life. I plant seeds, I water and I bear the Fruit of the Spirit in hopes that something I say or do may draw someone to Christ or cause them to look deeper at their faith and long for a closer walk with Him. That often causes people therefore to put more focus on me before they begin to focus on God in Christ Jesus. So my life has become a constant round of characteristically uncharacteristic events that seem so unlike who and what I used to be as I search for a better me under the will and direction of His Holy Spirit. How and how well I preform under daily stress depends fully on my relationship with God each day.

Are you struggling to find your way today? Well, welcome to life near the edge. You see, we are all struggling at one level or another. If you are struggling at many levels on many sides, then it is time to become characteristically uncharacteristic and make some changes in your life. Ask the Lord for direction, strength and courage to make changes whether drastic or subtle, that will reshape and remould you into His child, for His Kingdom’s glory. It may take time and courage... but the exercise alone is uplifting and healing... that constant reading of His Word and continual chats with Him who created and now sustains, can be so peaceful when taken in its stride. It will make all the difference in the world in your focus. But I warn you, when Jesus said, “If you want to follow me, it means taking up your cross daily”, and your heart seems to fail at the prospect of feeling worse, Jesus also said, “... my yoke is easy and my burden is light”. Getting through life will have its complications, its disappointments and it scary moments, but God is there with us. I take solace in that and find courage for every step I take, once I take my eyes off the road and put them back on Him. Like I always say, “Living near the edge is not bad, it has moments of testing, moments of required courage and moments of extreme joy... It's all in how we define the view from there.”