Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Ramblings On Rather Unexpected Instruments

A few weeks ago, my pastor gave a brief word of encouragement to one of my fellow praise team members. We were gathered behind the stage as usual to pray together before the service started, and the bass player said something (I don't even remember what now) about his desk job. Pastor Ryan looked at him and very simply said, "Just think, though, of how instrumental a desk job can be for your sanctification." Those words stuck with me, and in recent days they have been resonating with me all the more. I can attest that having a desk job, particularly one that doesn't involve extensive communication with others, can become mundane and restless. There is an exhaustion from it that is difficult to pinpoint unless you have experienced it for yourself. Such exhaustion is not comparable to working in a stockroom somewhere, working the third shift at UPS, but rather a more subtle form of fatigue. One finds it easy to sink into the routine, mindless work that comes with staring at a computer screen forty hours a week.

How, then, has my job been so instrumental?

I must first provide clarification in saying that such a setting has the opportunity to be such a tool. In fact, the average "Office Space" caricature may not see such opportunity at his or her place of employment. They either settle for the mundane 8-5 or are burning the candle at both ends to receive a promotion. Settle for monotony or compete for worldy success--the standard expectations in a thriving work environment. But how often do you hear of individuals eagerly discussing with one another how the Lord has used their status as a setting for personal growth and sanctification? Here is only a brief sampling of how this desk job, this computer I have become so acquainted with, has been a significant instrument for refinement and encouragement. I arrived at work yesterday morning, both thankful for the position I have to look forward to each day, and also eagerly remembering that I have only until next week before school commences. I also approached my desk remembering that I had a few pieces of paperwork left to finalize for updating my insurance information. Such updates required that I sit down and rework my monthly budget. I looked at the expenses scribbled down on my blue notepad. It wasn't but mere minutes later that I set down my coffee cup and stared at the numbers before me wondering how in the world I was even going afford basic groceries in the months ahead. Thus began a rather familiar snowball effect... As is standard, I descended into this depressing mode of doubt and anxiety. The pattern seems to repeat itself at common times of the year, particularly when a new school semester is approaching. All things considered, I was due for a day of sobbing and doubting where I am at in life with my 25th birthday just around the corner. After a seemingly endless rest of the afternoon, I got in my car and started crying. The overwhelming anxiety had bubbled over and I just could not contain my emotions any longer. As I was pulling into a gas station (and fretting over this expense I can barely afford), a recent blog entry from an old friend came to mind. The glory is given to the Lord alone for bringing it to my attention at such a time.
This friend, fellow Texan, and former East Asia team member, recently wrote his thoughts on the Christian's struggle with finances. I read it last week, thankful for such a good reminder, especially from one meager student to the other, of placing our trust solely in Him for providing every step of the way:

No job, no bank account, no riches are ever secure . . ., but the God who loves me infinitely owns "the cattle of a thousand hills." I'm not sure what the current price is for cattle, but that's pretty good money! This is no theological revelation, persay, but a very necessary process of God exposing my motives, unconcious desires, etc. I think it is so hard to trust because I haven't truly admitted that it isn't my job to provide. So I struggle with pressure to finish my degree quickly, instead of living where God has me at the moment. I struggle with the guilt of not being the
breadwinner, when neither Kristin nor I really are. And probably over all of this is that secret pride that just won't admit that I can't provide. . . He is worthy of trust, and to refuse to trust Him is one of the greatest insults we can offer Him.

As soon as this reflection came to mind, a beloved song began on the CD player in my car. "The Church" is my favorite song, and recorded by one of my favorite singer/songwriters, Derek Webb. The music and truth of the first verse filled my car,

I have come with one purpose - to capture for Myself a bride - by My life she is lovely - by My death she’s justified
I have always been her husband - though many lovers she has known - so with water I will wash her -
and by My Word alone...

and I was moved to tears. The tears came not out of worry and self-pity, but rather from remorse over my own sin. There is a reason why this "snowball" is such a seasonal, patterned occurrence. My besetting sin is unbelief, while the Groom has called me by name and given me the title of Bride. My sin is worry and angst, while He continually provides and has given me the very breath that flows from this mortal body. I doubt the provision given by the One who promises that He will keep and sustain. The reality of such sin, and of my total inability to redeem or provide for myself, is all the more ugly when held up to the Truth of, "By My life she is lovely, by My death she's justified."

Reader, I hope this has given you even a brief glimpse of how beneficial such instruments can be. I am thankful for this job the Lord has given to provide for and sustain me while completing my seminary education. One only needs to see the links on my blog to observe the constant encouragement I receive on a daily basis, and such that I may not receive otherwise were the setting to change. Only the Lord could ordain events and circumstances in such a way that blogs, websites, emails, and Windows Media Player serve as instruments in refinement (necessarily brutal at times) and daily growth.

1 comment:

Josh said...

Unbelief is a besetting sin for me too, especially when an outcome is uncertain. I find that I distrust the Lord with the things that really matter to me - loved ones, my own well-being, etc. When life gets hard, it's easy for me to dishonor God in my heart by feeling exposed and unprotected, like I'm working without a net, like He's not really there. Of course He responds, "I know the plans I have for you..." I am so glad that faith is a gift. "Help my unbelief."

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas I was languishing in unbelief, when the Lord brought Isaiah 26:3 to my mind in the middle of a sleepless night. "You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is fixed on you" was all I could remember as I lay there. I had confessed before I went to bed that I distrusted him with certain things. It wasn't until morning, when I looked up the verse, that I saw the rest of it: "...BECAUSE HE TRUSTS IN YOU." That one verse was spiritual food for me for weeks. Apparently, something about meditating on the character and ways of God inspires trust, which in turn produces inner peace.

Thanks for the good word, Grace.