Developed by Circumstance

It's nice to look back on my thoughts and see the places God is taking me. In my last post, I mentioned a strange sense of confidence God was giving me; a sense that if I was faithful to Him, I would be ok. Well, soon after, I was offered a job at the Accident Fund Insurance Company of America (www.accidentfund.com). It was neat, because for so long I had been interviewing for jobs that pay pretty low amounts, and kept getting rejected. This job, though, pays much better.

Of course, I can't say I WANT to be working… I've never been a big fan of trying to make money all the time. However, that's what God wants me to do for now, and I couldn't be doing it at a better place. The people at work are really nice, and the work they have me doing is quite interesting.

More interesting than that, though, my class has started. It's been overwhelming at times, because I have so much less time than I used to for study and contemplation. Even so, I'm excited by the people who have been coming, and by the chance to work through the meaning of the gospel message. One neat experience I had this week was a good conversation with one of the students about how important it is to teach the gospel repeatedly in church, because Christians need to be reminded of their foundation and non-Christians need to hear the good news. When I got home, I started reading a book called "The Deliberate Church." This book was co-written by my Washington DC pastor, Mark Dever, and a good friend of mine, Paul Alexander. The book talks about how important it is to –you guessed it- teach the gospel repeatedly in your church, to reinforce its foundations and to spread the good news.

So overall, I'm doing well. I will confess to being often confused, though. I’m beginning to learn why people tend to mellow out as they get older… there are just so many emotions involved in the things you do, and it's hard to respond by doing anything other than just taking it.

For instance, in a normal day, I might have a great day at work, get in an argument with my wife, spend some thoughtful time preparing for my class, and forget to do my devotions. How do you categorize a day like that? I feel happy, mad, contemplative, and guilty all in the space of a few hours. Another day, I might be bored at work, have a wonderful evening and prayer time with my wife, remember my devotions, be frustrated with people who are acting immaturely, and be disappointed by things that happen in the news. How is that day better or worse than the one before?

Sometimes, I just despair of knowing how to share myself with people. For instance, though I was glad to have a job, I was embarrassed by how big a deal people made of it. In fact, Pastor Chris generously asked me to share my story in front of the congregation, and I turned him down (by the way, I can't IMAGINE what a weird experience it is to be on a leadership team with me… never a dull moment, I suppose).

So far, though, I'm thankful to say that it hasn't affected my passion for the church. I really believe that God is starting to do some wonderful things in UBC, and I'm hopeful that I'll be able to be a part of them.

Ok, so you knew you wouldn't get away without hearing my latest theological/philosophical/life musings. I've been struck lately by the importance of experience as an agent of growth. In a million different little ways this past month or so, I've seen that God in His sovereignty brings an amazing array of experiences into our paths. Whether it's dealing with the impatient waitress, or struggling through an important but boring book, or knowing how to treat a friend to show them love, God is continually molding us through everyday things.

Think back on your day today. Can you think of ANYTHING that caused impatience or anger, hurt or frustration? Can you remember any instance that forced you to think in a new way or learn a new skill? Did you face any tough choices today? Did you have any opportunities to put someone else's interest ahead of your own?

In his power, God placed those things in your life. He placed them there so that you would continually be growing in strength and faith and knowledge. How did you respond?

The more I force myself to look for these things in my life, the more impressed I am with my own weakness. Today, for instance, my wife was trying to show me love, and I responded with frustration and sarcasm. God gave me a chance to see that the most important person in the world to me thinks about me all the time, and I screwed it up. Not impressive.

The exercise is good for me, though, because each day it's helping me become more and more aware of how God is leading me and changing me and causing me to grow. It also helps me respond better when I can see what he's trying to build.

Look for God's invisible guiding hand in your life. See what he's building, and be amazed and impressed by the love he shows in continually caring for you. Whether you're being forced to deal with too many friends or not enough, business or loneliness, the struggles of hardship or the laziness of ease, the annoying friend or the cruel enemy… God is in these things. His love becomes apparent the more we can look down the road and see what he is trying to create in us.

The week is beginning once again. Let's face it knowing that God IS going to give us hard circumstances, but that those are things we can learn from and be developed by.