Monday, February 05, 2007

Still Struggling

I see myself as a scolded child writing on the chalkboard over and over again:

It is not about me. It is not about me. It is not about me. It is not about me. It is not about me. It is not about me. It is not about me. It is not about me. It is not about me. It is not about me. It is not about me. It is not about me. It is not about me. It is not about me.

God's the Teacher. I'm the student. I haven't learned my lesson.

While I'm rolling out dough, icing donuts, mopping the floor, dealing with my co-worker who drives me crazy, some days I'm reduced to tears. I think to myself, "Oh how the mighty have fallen." And God's voice immediately breaks into my conscience, saying, "You were never mighty." And I repent and pray, "You're right Lord, I was never mighty, for only You are mighty." And I find a way to continue on, albeit with a heavy heart.

I am exhausted beyond belief. My body aches in ways it has never ached before. My life is completely upside-down. My house looks like a bomb went off. My kids are desperate for my attention. Bigger problems are emerging everywhere, and I have not the energy to face them head on. And then today, my beloved "Devotional Email" pops into my Inbox.

Philippians 2:17
Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy and rejoice with you all.

From "My Utmost for His Highest:"
"Are you willing to be offered for the work of the faithful - to pour out your life blood as a libation on the sacrifice of the faith of others? Or do you say - "I am not going to be offered up just yet, I do not want God to choose my work. I want to choose the scenery of my own sacrifice; I want to have the right kind of people watching and saying, 'Well done.'

It is one thing to go on the lonely way with dignified heroism, but quite another thing if the line mapped out for you by God means being a door-mat under other people's feet. Suppose God wants to teach you to say, "I know how to be abased" - are you ready to be offered up like that? Are you ready to be not so much as a drop in a bucket - to be so hopelessly insignificant that you are never thought of again in connection with the life you served? Are you willing to spend and be spent; not seeking to be ministered unto, but to minister? Some saints cannot do menial work and remain saints because it is beneath their dignity."

Can you say: "Wow?"

In context, Phillippians 2:17 is found at the end of verses 14-16, which are equally eye-opening:
14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing; 15 so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain. 17 But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all.

Ouch. I have been grumbling to God. I have been disputing with God. I have certainly been forgetting the fact that I am a "light in the world." Well, it's not that I've forgotten. It's just hard to "be a light" at 3 am. Oops, there I go complaining again.

In my mind's eye, I have always been the one who is able to be humble, but also the one who is "a star." I can sit in my pew and act like I don't want anyone's eyes on me, but I stand outside of myself during worship, wondering who's watching me. I want to be on the Praise Team. I want to sing a solo in the choir. I want to preach. When I go to see a play, I envision myself in that role, of course doing a better job. When I watch "American Idol," I always dream of auditioning myself, and of course I make it. I feel I was born an entertainer - someone who is always on the stage, at the front of the crowd - all eyes on me. God is reckoning with this piece of my "self." If I cannot be last, I will never be first.

Everything we do, I said EVERYTHING WE DO, must be done to bring HIM glory. There is no piece of us that gets the credit. Sure, it feels good to be patted on the back. Sure, it makes us all warm and fuzzy to get recognition. It is what drives our human sides and those who do not know Christ to keep moving on. But for us, it must be more that drives us ever forward.

Yesterday's "Devotional Email" sums it up.

1 Corinthians 4:9-13
We are made as the filth of the world.

"My Utmost for His Highest" states:
"These words are not an exaggeration. The reason they are not true of us who call ourselves ministers of the gospel is not that Paul forgot the exact truth in using them, but that we have too many discreet affinities to allow ourselves to be made refuse. "Filling up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ" is not an evidence of sanctification, but of being "separated unto the gospel."

"Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you," says Peter. If we do think it strange concerning the things we meet with, it is because we are craven-hearted. We have discreet affinities that keep us out of the mire - I won't stoop, I won't bend. You do not need to, you can be saved by the skin of your teeth if you like; you can refuse to let God count you as one separated unto the gospel. Or you may say - "I do not care if I am treated as the offscouring of the earth as long as the Gospel is proclaimed." A servant of Jesus Christ is one who is willing to go to martyrdom for the reality of the gospel of God. When a merely moral man or woman comes in contact with baseness and immorality and treachery, the recoil is so desperately offensive to human goodness that the heart shuts up in despair. The marvel of the Redemptive Reality of God is that the worst and the vilest can never get to the bottom of His love. Paul did not say that God separated him to show what a wonderful man He could make of him, but "to reveal His Son in me."

I have often said when times of trouble surrounded me that "To be forged into a man or woman of God, you have to be in the fire." I also love the email that circulates about the Silver Smith who, when asked, "How do you know when the silver is finished being fired," the Silver Smith replies, "When I can see my reflection." It is revealed the Silver Smith is God, and we are the silver being refined. He is firing us until we, indeed, reveal His reflection in us.

I know no other way to end today's blog than to ask for your prayers during this time. I know that God is my Strength. I need to rest in my weakness and let Him knock my "old self" out with one powerful punch. I need to rejoice in the fact that I have a job. I need to be reminded to let my light shine at that job, because there are certainly some coworkers of mine who need Jesus.

I covet your prayers at this time for my life. May God lay waste to these human desires. May only His Son be revealed in me.

Philippians 1:3,