Coming to Terms With Our Story
I began every morning of my June sabbatical with the same prayer ...
"Father I want to live deeply in contentment, joy, and confidence in my everyday life with God."
What made this sabbatical unique was that I wasn't beginning from a place of spiritual dryness or weariness. Nor was I discouraged or disheartened. I was peaceful with the present and hopeful about the future. The prayer was coming more from a place of desire than desperation.
Psalm 16 provided me rich language as the backdrop for my prayer:
Lord you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing. You guard all that is mine. The land you have given me is a pleasant land (vv.5-6)
I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for He is right beside me (v.8)
You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever (v.11)
(New Living Translation)
At some point in our spiritual journey, we must each come to terms with our story - with all its uniqueness, challenge, messiness, difficulty, disappointment, failure, opportunity, and glory. Maturity is the product of living more deeply in our story - not longing for one that is different or better.
Can we trust God's goodness in our story - affirm that the life he has given us is pleasant?
Can we trust God's presence with us - not be shaken by the difficulties we face in life?
Can we trust God's direction - live with peacefulness and joy?
'People' and 'place' have become more important words to me. God uses both to shape us in profound ways. Sometimes it is in ways that are welcomed and pleasant. At other times it is in ways that are unwelcome and unpleasant. But we all have memories - each with names and addresses - that tell our story of our everyday life with God.
One of the lasting gifts from my sabbatical is the awareness of how grateful I am for the people and place God has given me - how much I love the people of Grace Church and this place called Fayette County.
So my hope is to love my people and my place more deeply in this everyday life of mine.
Love in the prime not yet I understand. Scarce know the love that loveth as first hand; Help me my selfishness to scatter and scout; Blow on me till my love loves burningly; Then the great love will burn the mean self out, and I, in glorious simplicity, living by love, shall love unspeakably.
George MacDonald, Diary of an Old Soul, p.66
Contentment. Joy. Confidence.
Only God's presence enables me to love people and place like that.
Fighting for Your Heart,