Archive for the ‘MY STRUGGLES’ Category

FINDING MY PLACE AND FEELING FRUITFUL

January 1, 2010

I often struggle with whether I’m really being fruitful and finding my place as God intends. This morning, in my quiet time, He spoke to me in this way:

He told me that I am a seed-planter (linking of teacher [my redemptive gift] w/ day 3 of creation and seeds, plants & trees, and the land, per Arthur Burk’s teachings on individuals’ redemptive gifts), and that my results are not often visible and therefore I don’t need to expect them to be. I had been impressed earlier with the fact that Haggai’s entire mission in life, as far as we are given to know, was to utter 3-4 prophecies over a 4-month period! And we often see this with people, that the entire impact we’re given to see is compressed in a small window, maybe even after they die—such as the 2 instances Chuck Colson gives in Loving God of the monk whose death helped stop gladiator fights and Boris Cornfeld, the “completed Jew” doctor in the Russian gulag who, by witnessing to a fevered man during the night before BC was bludgeoned to death for his testimony, led that man, Solzinetzsin (sp?), to the Lord! And such instances of sacrificial impact in one moment of time are probably as abundant as the flowers and seeds of plants that no one ever enjoys except God and the angels!

We ought not to measure ourselves in this life, but that seems to be one of the most difficult lessons to learn. Our competitive society amplifies our own self-perceptions of inadequacy and failure, and we typically come down hard on ourselves in comparison with other people. We hear so many negative voices that, though not our own and not those of a Prodigal (original meaning “extravagant”)  Father who desires to have back home with Himself, drag us down, and we listen to them and buy into their negativity and believe them—to put a twist on the famous statement by the cartoon Pogo, “We have met the enemy and it is us!” But it is SO NOT US! We are created in God’s likeness, intended for eternal greatness, blessed beyond measure—and so unaware of it! Our unbelieving hearts betray us, and we “feel” we have to see it before we will believe it, not knowing that we entomb ourselves in a belief system that would not let us believe, even if we saw! We are like the brothers of rich man who awoke in hell and, realizing that he could not escape, begged for someone to be sent back to his brothers so they would believe: “No,” he was told. “They have Moses and the Prophets. If they won’t believe them, how would they ever believe, even if someone was sent back from the dead?” And Jesus was sent back from the dead, but how often do we really believe that resurrection life applies to us in this life??

I was struck by a comment in a testimony by Jennifer Miller Toledo that we in the Western world cannot preach an unadulterated gospel. We have a gospel we think is the “real” gospel, but is so powerless and inept as to drive more away than it attracts. The real gospel does drive away, but only those to whom it is the stench of death, those destined for death—possibly by their own clear choices before entering time. (Someone else has wisely said, “God doesn’t send anyone to hell, but if they insist, He will allow them their free will to choose.”)

In the final analysis, our fruitfulness in this life is not for us to measure, and the more we try, the more we partake of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Notice, it is not just the knowledge of evil—we honestly believe as we partake that we can take the good and leave the evil, but that is an impossibility. The more we judge and evaluate our results, the less effective we probably are. “The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment.” (1 Cor.2:15) Including, I think we fail to realize, his own. Paul speaks in other places of not even judging his own effectiveness, but leaving that for the Lord to judge, and of continuing to run the race in such a way as to not be disqualified.

Bottom line? I don’t know. Am I trying to persuade myself? Maybe. This is definitely a truth I need to learn in such a way that it is totally embedded in me. There is a story that goes something like this:

A Chinese man buys a horse. “Good!” say his friends.

But he responds, “Who knows whether it is good or bad?’

The horse gets lost. “Bad!” say his friends.

But he responds, “Who knows whether it is good or bad?’

The horse is found. “Good!” say his friends.

But he responds, “Who knows whether it is good or bad?’

His son rides, falls, breaks his leg. “Bad!” say his friends.

But he responds, “Who knows whether it is good or bad?’

A war breaks out and the son cannot go because of his broken leg…

See the logic? We never fully know in this life whether a particular thing is “good” or “bad.” Hezekiah thought it good that he was given 15 years more to live, but that 15 years produced Manassah, who was unarguably the most evil king ever, and who led the nation into destruction. If Hezekiah had been willing to go ahead and die at his appointed time, who knows whether the nation might have been spared for centuries? Good? Bad? Only God knows.

So how do I apply that, Lord? You keep telling me not to worry, not to measure my effectiveness, not to get discouraged at where I am. And I try, I honestly do. Is there some way you can teach me to measure myself by nothing except my closeness to you? I smile at that thought, because then how would I even experience the dark night of the soul? Then again, Hosea took Gomer—and you take us—into the wilderness to woo us. I don’t know. I am only me. I can only put one step in front of the other. Just teach me, Lord, to know, even if only faintly, that each next step is the one you want me to take. (8:39 am, 17May2008)