Monday, December 12, 2011

Journeying to a disciplined life . . .

Following service yesterday a church member said, "When God gets you to where God is taking you, you're going to be something else! Her comment alluded to the fact that on I'm my way somewhere. . . and God doing something with me . . . molding me, perhaps . . . whipping me into shape. . . Hmmm. Somehow in the wee hours of this morning, I didn't think of myself as going somewhere, but saw myself as stalled . . . blind even. I even started praying aloud, "God where am I going?" having forgotten about the earlier comment shared with me. These are probably normal thoughts as it is coming to the close of another year and reflections on the life ahead and behind often dominate my thoughts. What will next year this time look like? Where will I be? Who will I be? Who will I be with on the journey, if anyone? Where will the journey take me? All the normal questions that I have asked year after year, realizing that every year before has left its own indelible mark behind, and still many questions unanswered.

But I recognize for the past three years, it was slightly different. I was in seminary and I knew for the most part what was coming next . . . another semester. There was solace in the certainty of it all, despite the challenges that I knew each semester would bring. Despite the fact that each semester I found myself crying and praying that I would make it through and gather the strength to write one more 20-plus page paper. There was still some solace there. The end goal was always in sight . . . graduation. Even though I wasn't sure I would make it, I could see an image of the finish line. I hoped. Now that I'm seven months beyond the finish line, the image of what lies ahead is not so clear anymore. The walks seem a bit longer and the road more windier. Some things are clear. Many are not. I'm in a new city . . . a strange place . . . in a new job . . . doing something I've never done before . . . wondering "Where is God taking me?" Only this time, I must think about more than just myself. I pray and ask these questions for more than just one now. I have people to look after . . . souls to care for and tend to . . . a responsibility to pay more attention to what God is saying and doing. I can't just wander off and explore on my own anytime I please . . . others can be hurt.

I recognize what worked well for me before, isn't necessarily working in the same way it has for me in the past. I'm being required to do more . . . step up my game so-to-speak. I don't hear God in the ways I used to here God before. Some things are not unfolding so easily as they have in the past. I'm having to dig deeper, stretch my eyes a little wider and lean in to hear more clearly.
This month started our church-wide fast and on the first day I clearly heard God say I needed to be more disciplined. I knew exactly to what God was speaking. I haven't been the most disciplined in creating intentional space to pray and meditate. . . .nor prepare adequately for my sermons. I have not made much room to really hear the voice of God. It has not always been easy as I often feel I am being pulled in so many directions. This fast has probably been the most disciplined that I have been . . . and I have another 19 more days to go. They say it takes 21 days to create a habit, so maybe this is the start I needed to have clearer vision. Maybe this the answer to my prayer . . . the key that unlocks the doors to God giving me a peek into what's ahead.
So, yes my member is right. God is taking me somewhere . . . on a journey to become greater than my present self. And it's starting with an admonition to Be Disciplined. The hope is then I will be able to hear and gain clearer vision to see.

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