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"The good he ought to do"

Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins.

—James 4:13-17


Becoming increasingly convinced that many (if not most) of us drape reality in delusions and illusions, things that allow us to remain safe and self-absorbed. We analyze and systematize, scrambling to gather or manufacture enough understanding to tame the wildness of the world. The alternative is to trust Him, abandoning meticulous plans and personal ambitions, walking on the water as He calls.

Christopher e-mailed to tell me he's moved out of his house, though he still hopes to pursue counseling to repair his marriage to Sara. Nate struggles to find his footing with Heather (not the one from our Community Group), loving her even while she is in a relationship with another man, questioning if they can have any friendship at all. Jeremy and Jenae's engagement is broken over infidelity, as are their hearts. Tom dreams of a Gandalf-like return to the pulpit, painting over his disgrace in broad strokes of denial and irresponsibility. An unexpected rift has grown between Brian and Markus, and Brian and almost everyone. Dave bears the weight of a chaotic, hurting church on weary shoulders. And there are so many more.

Where am I, with these people, in these lives? Where have I been? Wrapped in myself, wrestling with my own battles, hopelessly sidetracked. At lunch with Nate yesterday, I began to see (or see afresh) the patterns, the misdirection, the confusion, the division. It's as if we're each being struck in our most unknown weak spots. There are cracks in our foundations, ones we never saw before. The attacks are unexpected and overwhelming.

Perhaps this is the time of chaos, of fire, or a harbinger of it. In any case, what the enemy may intend for evil, God intends for good. And He calls me to be present, though I feel empty and drained. Present with Him first, in His presence. Then present with others, speaking truth, fighting evil, healing wounds, shedding tears, finding laughter.

He can make me who He created me to be, regardless of how I feel. I'm shamed by my absence, but that's the past. I know the good I ought to do, regardless of what tomorrow may be. I hope I can settle in to do it.

Comments

The alternative is to trust Him, abandoning meticulous plans and personal ambitions, walking on the water as He calls...

Does this mean God's will and not our own?
Also, does it mean leaving things in God's hands?
For me, it means accepting and being open to both of those. There's tension in that, because we're called to plan and to act, and even to exercise judgment and will– but in a larger, God-ruled context. Even Jesus faced this, and showed us how we ought to.

The big question for me is how tightly I hold onto my own preferences, principles, and even personality over what God may be working in my life. Seeking understanding and wisdom from Him is a different thing from leaning on my own understanding in an effort to run my own life.

And my suspicion is that His way is wilder by far...
Good thoughts Lee.
Now I'm all curious if I'm on your list in your recent entry, and if so, which one I am. Because it's all about me, you know...

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Ha ha ha. . . wouldn't you like to know. . . bwahhhhhh, I love secrets!

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You're so bad. I would never hide secrets in my journal...

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oh, right. gotcha. tell all. that's your advice huh?

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Of course. Full disclosure (and a fair bit of plausible deniability thrown in for good measure).

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I think I have it on record that that hasn't always been your sermon. . .

life these days, before you know it everything's changed. . .
You probably help people without even realising it, you know. :)
I hope so; that would be both a grace and a blessing. I'd like to be more deliberate in my relationships, to live on purpose rather than just by default. Thankfully, God is good in any case, and the work in me is His.

And thank you.