Friday, November 2, 2007

Hope that sees is not hope...

"Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?"-Romans 8:24. It seems like God is really speaking this directly to me at this point. Verse 24 implies that hope has as one of its central characteristics an unseen nature--meaning as soon as something is seen/known, one cannot truly hope in it. To maintain and strengthen hope, God has subjected creation and the entire world system to futility. It's built in that we will never be satisfied with life. My fallen response is to run from this brokenness and attempt to manipulate and respond to the world as though it is not broken and fallen. I scheme and plan to gain things that I think will demonstrate that the world isn't as bad as it seems to be, and get upset/discouraged when things do not go as I want them to.

The particular danger for me as a full-time ministry worker is to get overwhelmed and despair of life and ministry when things do not go as planned, even when the things I strive for are lined up with God's heart. That last part can be particularly maddening, since it seems like God 'should' and 'would' want to move in certain ways. Especially when the world and the alternatives seem so crappy. I'm in a season of that right now--it seems that I and our staff team are aligned with God's heart and are stewarding the ministry very well, given everything. However, things are not going as well as I think they should be--more students aren't getting it as fast as I would hope, some of the very things that I thought would never be true of my ministry are true. Again, my fallen nature and personality want to assume full responsibility for those things. Sadly, I have been assuming more responsibility for things that don't belong to me my whole life. I know that Christ longs to set me free from those burdens, and cultivate an attitude of healthy concern but joy in the things I do. With all these things, God also seems to be telling me to rest in the reality that I'm a sower, not the one who makes things grow. How different could ministry be if I rested in that reality, and did not get caught up in trying to 'make' people grow.

Also in life, I desire to embrace brokenness more and see it as the norm. Even yesterday on my bike ride, I was thinking how many times I have had an 'ideal' ride--no wind, perfect temperature, great distance, no fatigue, nothing to get back to, etc. I could think of 1 or 2 rides in the last year. Yet I would say that 99% of the time I love my bike rides. There's usually some wind, or I'm not as fast as I wish, or something else, but overall every ride is a great ride. I wish I could say the same thing for ministry--it's so easy to get entangled in the wrong things with people, or worry so much about things that don't end up happening or end up working out better than I planned. I don't want my life and particularly my ministry to be characterized by fear, worry, and doubt. I want to continue to move forward and into life and ministry with freedom, giving the Spirit as much reign and freedom as possible to work in and through my life.

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