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Welcome to Sacred Friends. It and its companion website used to be Eternal Community, but, quite honestly, I never liked the name and felt a touch out of step with the focus. It's no longer about trying to train and equip counselors and others in relational ministry. Now it's about living relationally. It’s about my heart's desire to see people love God and others more deeply and to be a part of their journey as I share a bit of my own.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Invited, Assigned, or Both?

I’ve continued to ponder Bill Hybels’ My Morning Prayer and I’ve been stuck on two phrases: “commit myself to the role you’ve invited me to play” and “commit all of myself to the role you have assigned me in the building of your church.” I don’t know if the difference was intentional or not. I rather assume it was; Bill Hybels is a smart and logical man. But, even if it wasn’t, God is still using it to make me think more deeply about my role in His Kingdom.

 It is undeniable that there are certain things about ourselves that we cannot change. The Lord knit each one of us together in our mother’s womb and with each one of us He used a pattern that is unique. No two are exactly alike, not even identical twins. They may look the same on the outside and may share many of the same characteristics and personality traits, but still, each is distinct. As a young child I knew twins that were impossible to tell apart by looking. Only their mother knew, not even their father could manage it. But it only took a minute with them to know which was which. One was outgoing, the other quiet. So, whether it’s our looks, our physical build…tall or short, muscular or wiry…our innate personality…gregarious or reserved, laid back or hyper…our IQ, or other characteristics, each of us came into the world with certain attributes that we can’t change.

We also can’t changed who are biological parents are, who raised us, where we were born and raised, the other members of our family, illness, death of loved ones, and things that have happened to us whether by natural disaster, accident, or poor choices on the part of others. None of us had a say in whether we were born into a wealthy family or a poor one, a kind one or an abusive one, a farm family or a city family. So much in our formative years has been beyond our control.

Once we’ve accepted Christ there’s a whole new set of parameters; a new heart, a new mind, a new identity, and one or more spiritual gifts. I think all of these non-changeable things are part of the role that we’ve been assigned in God’s Kingdom.

Then there’s the invitation. At any given moment in any given day, we are faced with the choice to build up or tear down. We can choose our own agenda or God’s. And what blessed relief when the two are the same! We can choose relationship or isolation, mercy or revenge, blessing or curse, life or death.

We get to choose what we will do with the unchangeable components of our lives. Will we enter into God’s plan with thanksgiving and praise or will we become bitter and selfish? Will we use our hurts to ease the pain of others or will we wallow in them? Will we generously share our abundance or hoard the blessings we’ve received? Will we choose money and possessions over people? Education over relationship? Comfort over calling?

He has assigned us and invited us. I don’t always get it right. I don’t want to be interrupted. I want quiet. I try to write or pray or read and someone crashes through my peace and quiet with the audacity of a question or a comment. My mother needs help opening a jar, my husband calls to ask if we have plans for the next night. Life enters my solitude, my agenda. I have a choice. Oh but that I would choose rightly more than I do or that when I do, it would not be such a struggle to battle my annoyance into submission. Father, I long to be the joyful, grateful woman You created me to be. I long to see others as you see them; Your precious children, not an interruption.

We have a choice, moment by moment. How will I choose when the next opportunity arises? How will you? What is your heart’s desire?

Psalm 139: For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

Joshua 24:15 …choose this day whom you will serve…
 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Faithful in the Little Things

Last week at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit Bill Hybels challenged us to sincerely pray the following prayer for thirty days.

My Morning Prayer

God, this is a new day. I freshly commit myself to the role you have invited me to play, as you are building your church in this world. I am awestruck again today that you include me in this grand life-giving, world-transforming endeavor. So today I joyfully offer you:

MY LOVE
MY HEART
MY TALENTS
MY ENERGY
MY CREATIVITY
MY FAITHFULNESS
MY RESOURCES
AND MY GRATITUDE

I commit all of myself to the role you have assigned me in the building of your church so that it may thrive in this world. And I will “bring it” today. I will bring my best. You deserve it. Your church deserves it. It is the Hope of the World. 

He asked us all to take out the cards we’d been given, stand, and say the prayer out loud in unison. I usually balk at these grand attempts to get everyone on board. I feel coerced and the rebellious side of me kicks in, refusing to be emotionally railroaded to jump on the proverbial spiritual bandwagon.

This time was different. The entire summit had been one cohesive event for me, confirming and convicting at the same time. I didn’t say the prayer out loud because I couldn’t. The words stuck, the tears came. I said them silently. In my heart. God knew.

The next morning I was excited to get downstairs, grab my card, and say my prayer. I even signed and dated it. I’ve said it all six mornings since the conference. Will I make the entire 30 days? I don’t know. But I do know, it has already had an impact. I pray through it, pondering each point, lingering over some more than others each day. I use it to remind me, to spur me on, to focus.

Two days ago my focus was on my gratitude. My husband had been rear-ended on 66. The truck has some damage and he was sore. Gratitude. I have my husband. He’s alive. Today my focus was on my resources, which, of course, I only have because He’s given them. It reminded me that we had promised to give a monthly donation to a missionary couple and I had been distracted with other things. I stopped before the end of the prayer and took care of the thing I said I would do several weeks ago.

The prayer has prompted me to consider my talents; again, something that I have only because He has given. It has brought Scripture to mind and the combination has spurred me on to write. Writing is in me. Whether or not it is any good by human standards is not for me to judge. It is a gift, given to me by my Father and it is His to use as He sees fit. I am finding freedom in this. It’s not about me writing the great American novel or being well known. It’s about using what He has given me in a way that is honoring and glorifying to Him. All the rest is up to Him.

I was reminded of the parable of the ten talents in Luke 19. The king gave 3 servants 10 minas, 5 minas, and 1 mina respectively, and charged them to put the money to work while he went away for a while. When he returned he found that two of the servants had doubled their money while one put his away for safe keeping. The king was pleased with the first two servants, but not the last. To the first one he said, “Well done, my good servant! Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.” How can I expect to do great things for God when I am not faithful with the little tasks that God gives me? How can I expect God to give me more opportunities to write when, out of fear of being rejected, I hide my gift away for safe keeping?

I am learning to let go of my agenda and look to the Lord moment by moment for His direction. It is a slow process; sometimes a painful one. Changing a dirty diaper, giving a friend a ride, taking the truck in for the estimate, praying for the man who hit Paul’s truck…they’re all valuable in God’s economy. It is quite likely that those are the some of the greatest things I will ever do no matter much the Lord may choose to use my passion for writing.

Will you join me in committing to sincerely praying this prayer for 30 days? And will you share with us the impact it has? There’s nothing magical about it. It’s simply a tool that the Lord is using to draw His children to Him. He wants to converse with us. Will You choose to sit in His lap for a while and let Him continue to transform you into the man or woman you were created to be?