upper room daily devotions

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Confession - Ability, Humility, and Giftedness

I am heading home after a difficult day at work. Nothing bad happened. I actually accomplished a lot. The snow didn't drive me homewards. I wrote a letter of recommendation, talked to someone about a wedding, prepared for and led a church meeting, worked on a jurisdictional event, prayed, and did general office work. Yet, sometimes I wonder what gifts God has given me, and I am never sure if I use them to the best of my ability. I've been struggling with living a much deeper spiritual life - trying to stick to fixed hour prayer, praying an hour a day for my church, and being more intentional about my body and health. For all of that, and it has been fantastic, I still struggle with things. Are they idols I won't let relinquish? Or, is it humility that I want only the best for the people I serve and to whom I attempt to minister?

As I look back on this note, I notice the word "struggle" is overused, but it is the correct word in every place. What is this struggle about? And, how can I stay in it to the end where I, hopefully, will find a new strength and trust in what I can do, find strength in what I actually do, and trust how God uses me in the world?

I sometimes wonder if I'm the only one I know who lives with internal struggles. Don't get me wrong: I'm strong-headed, pretty sure of my intellect, and I have firm beliefs about certain things. I'm not a pushover. But, in those deep places of the soul, there remains an uncertainty about a lot of things in which I believe I should be more grounded. On good days, this manifests as awe. I ask, "How is it that I serve a beautiful congregation that deeply loves God and yearns to serve the world?" I marvel that I've been entrusted with people's stories, their joys, their pain, and their hopes. On other days I doubt.

In a struggle for faithfulness, I hope that I am not doubting God. Yet, in a way, I know that must be what is happening. In doubting my giftedness, am I not also doubting God's ability to use this cracked vessel of a life that is mine? I suppose that this is a confession: "Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief." Perhaps someday, maybe even tomorrow (?), I will face the world in awe instead of fear.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

God and Dog - Wendy Francisco

Living a life of simplicity isn't as easy as it sounds. Being open to the world, to love, to life, and to all of God's abundance is a challenge for most of us. I've read a lot of books, many of which have been helpful and many of which sit on my bookshelves filled with profound thoughts long forgotten. Every now and again, I run across something that is just true -

Dr. Seuss had a lot of wisdom in his writings.
When my cat sits in my lap and purrs - now that's pretty wonderful, too.
When a baby breaks into a smile
or when I can smell Fall creeping in from summer -
these remind me of life's simple graces.

Wendy Francisco has a new book based on her video and song "God and Dog." Some people may find reasons to fault this simple song/book, but I loved it. It made me smile. And, I think the world is short on smiles these days. Thank you, Wendy.

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