Thursday, August 21, 2008

Occupation: A Way of Spending Time

"Let your light so shine before men,
that they may see your good works
and glorify your Father in heaven."
Matthew 5:16 NKJV
As someone who chose to "stay" at home these past 20 some years, I have often struggled with how to describe my occupation. Whenever I have had to fill out a medical form, and they have asked me to list my employment, I would write "homemaker". One time a clerk even chided me that I was still just a homemaker. I wish I had offered a clever comeback, but instead I just went back to the waiting room a bit miffed.
Now that I have returned to school, I can claim the status of student. So I occupy my time with going to campus, studying and passing my classes. Yet this description is not broad enough to label my "occupation".
I was pleasantly suprised that the definition of work in the Greek gives a broader picture regarding this controversial topic:

1. business, employment, that with which anyone is occupied
2. any product whatever, anything accomplished by hand, art, industry, mind
3. an act, deed, thing done
(from Thayer's Greek Lexicon, Electronic Database. Copyright © 2000, 2003 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)
I was relieved that anything I am occupied with is work. Even resting can be work. So whether you work both at home and outside the home, as most women do regardless of the title with which they choose to identify themselves, we can be confident that our work matters; its purpose is to honor and uphold the reputation of our Creator.
Another thing I like about the definition for work is that it includes anything we produce with our hands, including art. Art is a very broad topic and that helps me to enjoy the pursuits of writing, crafting, and creating time and space for my family and God. I leave you with the author of Ecclesiastes commentary on work:
"Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him-for this is his lot. Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work-this is a gift of God. He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart."
Ecclesiastes 5:18-6:1 NIV

Monday, August 11, 2008

Faith: Trust or Reliance

"Have faith in God," Jesus answered." Mark 11:22 NIV

“Faith is embracing uncertainty. We’ll never have all the answers. And some people never come to terms with this truth. They feel like something is wrong with them because they can’t wrap their minds around God. But maybe faith has less to do with gaining knowledge and more to do with causing wonder. Maybe a relationship with God doesn’t simplify our lives. Maybe it complicates our lives in ways that they should be complicated.”

Mark Batterson, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day

When circumstances don't seem to change or get any better, I wonder if my faith is faltering. If I just had more faith, I chide myself, then life would improve. But as I think about it I don't think my faith is diminishing, so much as it is displaced. I am placing my trust in other people to meet my expectations or I am waiting for time to go by so the pain lessens. But in reality I need to rely more on God, and trust Him in the midst of life.

The success of my life has little to do with everything going well. Because that is just unrealistic. Jesus' simple encouragement to have faith in God brings life back into perspective. God is the one I can depend on. He is always there. He can handle the uncertainty. The quote above reminded me that I don't have to figure out my life. I just need to take the next step of faith, knowing God determines the outcomes.

So here's to complications. Faith truly can cause wonder and awe. May we be more aware of God working out our lives for our best, and for His glory!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Cuckoo: A Bird who Lays its Egg in Another Bird's Nest

The LORD will fulfill [his purpose] for me;
your love, O LORD, endures forever —
do not abandon the works of your hands.
Psalm 138:8 NIV
One day I was looking up a word in my dictionary. My eye fell upon the word "cuckoo". I read the entry and giggled to myself. I happened to be sitting near some other friends and told them the meaning of the word. We were all tickled for some reason. Maybe because we sometimes associate the word, cuckoo, with crazy people.
As I thought about a bird who would lay their eggs in another bird's nest, I was convicted about my tendency to compare my accomplishments to others. Mainly others who I believe are more accomplished than me. The Spirit revealed to me how foolish it is to even try to "lay my eggs in someone else's nest."
God has a purpose for me that is unique to his plans for my life. I do not have to be someone else or attempt an other's goals or talents. It is cuckoo to try to fulfill some scheme that wasn't designed for me, nor I for it. How freeing to realize my nest is just right for me, and my "eggs" belong there.
An idea was hatching, a plot developing for my life even before I was born. It was inspired by our Creator God. And he has a plot, plan and nest for each one of us whether we are cuckoo or not.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Ethereal: Of or Relating to Regions Beyond the Earth

"Let heaven fill your thoughts. Do not think only about things down here on earth." Colossians 3:2 NLT

"The heavens declare the glory of God..." Psalm 19:1a

It is so easy to become consumed with life on earth. To think of heaven and regions beyond sometimes seems frivolous or at least impractical. Yet it is the sunshine and the starry night sky that inspires. They are forever telling us there is Something or Someone beyond us. I have been home bound this week, mostly by choice and the heat of summer. So I have had time to read and reflect more on heavenly thoughts.

God is so creative and uses words and images to draw us to himself. He even uses headaches. I have been fighting one all week. And today I was really lamenting my demise, when the thought popped into my mind: "If I didn't have this headache, I probably would be out and about instead of reading and praying." Even though it was hard to concentrate, I still was drawn to different books sitting around the house. I would read a bit, sometimes pray for people the readings brought to mind. I still wish the headache would go away, but I also know that God heard my prayers today.

One book I was drawn back to was "The Divine Hours". It has a format of prayers and readings from the Bible that repeat during different hours during the day. It was comforting to read through those and allow the familiar phrases flow through my mind and to penetrate my heart.

I leave you with a portion of "The Prayer Appointed for the Day":

"O Lord, You have taught us that without love whatever we do is worth nothing: Send your Holy Spirit and pour into my heart your greatest gift which is love..."