Friday, February 4, 2011

Carpe Diem, Opus Dei

As I take the time to remember the beautifully invasive story of God and His redemption of 'Jacob,' I find myself in the middle of the spring semester with the snowy, frigid mornings of February already knocking at my door. The two week intensive classes are finished, at least the portion that involves my nightly trek to sit in a room with 20 other students for a nearly 5 hour block. Papers still loom along with preparations for the upcoming trip along the Mediterranean. Lent beckons, my favorite time of the year.

I experience mixed emotions as I look forward.

In the last year I have chosen to balance my entire life on the precarious point where faith, identity, and responsibility meet. I have sought God and His vision not just for a season or a year, not just for a career, a to-do list, or a set of goals, but for my life's work. I have chosen to hold back, to live in the tension, rather than to gallop full-throttle into the practical arena where I have lived to perform, to jump through whatever hoops I find there simply because I'm good at running and I love to jump.

If you've ever seen a nervous horse you might understand how difficult it is for a runner NOT to run or a jumper NOT to jump. In the mildest expressions of tension, the animal will sidle and paw and swing its stately head this way and that, maneuvering its equine nose so that its wide-set eyes can more easily examine whatever might warrant a sudden change of position or a good reason to GO. It might even throw its weight around by leaning or nosing or with a sidestep that simply pushes you away. Or it might take advantage of a good opportunity to nip. Should it stand still, for whatever reason, you might catch its muscles twitching, its tail flicking, or its eyes perhaps growing wide and white.

I have chosen to stand still, however twitchy that might make me. Moreover, I have also chosen to submit myself to the halter and reigns of classes, the disciplines of which are aimed to help me seek and to answer this question of my heart, the question of God's leading, the question of ministry. For just a semester I have given God my head to see what He might do with it.

Literally, figuratively, and metaphorically!

Similarly, I have chosen to travel the Mediterranean, as I traveled Africa once, in search of the movement of God's Spirit. Just as God turned my heart to home and to my people then, I hope that He will turn my heart to His vision now. In fact, now that I think about it, every two years we venture out together: It was to KC in 2005, to Africa in 2007, and to Israel in 2009. Every two years we have gone and He has used the opportunity to turn my heart toward what He will.

What a lovely and unexpected tradition!

And in the midst of these larger-than-life things, I have also chosen my responsibilities in the mundane, in the pressing, in the everyday existence and the demands of the practical where I can be tempted to lose the magic of my soul. I choose to steward my time, my home, my job, my finances, my relationships, and to face the decisions that must be made about each.

And so I have chosen to seek God.
I have chosen to rearrange my life for Him.
I have chosen school.
I have chosen this trip to the Mediterranean.
I have chosen responsibility and the decisions that I must face.

But as I write I suddenly wonder...
Have I chosen God's ministry?

The question strikes me with no small amount of terror, like the realization that God's conception in Mary is no less than what He asks from us all.

It is clear that God has chosen me.
It is clear that I have been in the process of choosing Him back.
But is it possible that all of these years of graduate study angst and wrestling with my identity in Christ has been about another opportunity to choose, and my not choosing?

The truth is, I hate choosing. I suck at it really. It's why I like sudoku puzzles and programming spreadsheets. They're not about choosing anything but about plugging in a pre-existing logic to get a particular and pre-determined result, usually defined by someone else and borrowed by me.

Do I choose God's ministry?

Of course, my first inclination, besides panic, is, "How could I not?" Haven't I been choosing Him this whole time?

But I know that it is not as easy as all that. I must make an intentional act of the will.

Do I choose God's ministry?

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