Monthly Archives: January 2012

Paralyzed in Perfectionism

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Sometimes my homework involves a “short answer” (which really is never short; it’s just not long enough to be considered an essay), often based on a specific passage of Scripture. And God used the short answer I just wrote to confirm within me the conviction He’s been growing over the past few days. So without further a due…

Question:  How do you struggle with apathy or lack of motivation in your relationship with God? What are the things that are the biggest distractions in your walk with God? Read the book of Haggai and see if you can see some traps that we need to look out for. Also are there any solutions to dealing with these problems?

Within the past few weeks, my biggest area of apathy in my relationship with God has been purposefully setting aside time to read His Word and pray. And it’s kind of funny how it’s manifested itself. As the first semester progressed, the concept of having a “holy relationship” with God (meaning one that is unique from any other relationship in my life) began to really resonate within me. This was something I wanted, something I could work towards. So I decided that I would set aside a specific time for prayer each day , to pray through whatever happened that day, as well as the specific things God have given me to pray over daily.  As an added bonus, what better time to read my Bible, since I’m already “in the mode”? After looking over my schedule, I saw that 9 pm each night was consistently open, and my “call to prayer” became a nightly alarm on my phone.  And I was faithful to it, for about 2 ½ weeks.  And then the semester started to end, and everything got especially busy.

Now, fast forward to this semester.   It’s come to the point where I’m hesitant to even get started with this whole prayer-time thing; I have so much to say, so much on my mind, so much to process. Really, when it comes down to it, I’m just plain not willing to put the time necessary into fully devoting myself to this. I would much rather do my own thing. And I’m such a go hard or go home person that I’ve decided that it’s better not to try at all then to simply go “half way”. Great reasoning.

So now I’m at the point where I definitely know what I should do, but I’m not doing it. And now we come to Haggai. In the first chapter, God is calling Israel into account because, like me, they simply aren’t making Him the priority in their lives. “This people says, “The time has not come, even the time for the house of the LORD to be rebuilt”. Then the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, saying, “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses while this house lies desolate?” Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts, “Consider you ways!” Haggai 1:2-5. It’s as if God is saying, “So… how’s this working for you, Israel?” And let me tell you, walking in guilt, fully knowing why = not so hot.

But go down a few verses, and “the people, obeyed the voice of the LORD their God… and the people showed reverence for the LORD.” They realized something big. First, that their priorities were majorly out of whack. And second, that action was required. The temple was super-shabby, and the people in charge of tending to it were so frustrated at its state that they had paralyzed themselves. “There’s no way to do this right, I’m just so busy. I’ve got so much on my plate, I just can’t do this right now. Surely, this just isn’t the right timing.” God had to wake them up, make them realize that they may not do it perfectly, but it’s time they actually do something. They may have to start with simple wood from the mountains (Haggai 1:8), but if they actually make God the priority and obey Him, He will partner with them and be glorified through their actions. So here I stand. Will I stay paralyzed, or will I swallow my perfectionism and do what I can?

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Flowers are Humbling

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I had a wonderful time back in Alaska. After 6 months away, seeing my friends and family was that much sweeter, especially since I only had 3 weeks home before another 6 months at school. As you can imagine, my last weekend home was crazy-hectic, running errands, gathering my stuff together, trying to see everyone one last time, etc…

But in the midst of the hustle-bustle, God impressed upon me a simple idea: flowers. One of my dear friends has just relapsed into cancer after years of dormancy. I wanted to see her again before I left, and I thought some flowers would brighten up the gloominess of Alaskan winters. So I picked up a simply, bright arrangement to surprise her at work, but as soon as I stepped into her office, I was the one who was surprised.

Within minutes of my arrival, I realized that God had wanted me there for so much more than to give lilies and daisies. He wanted to give me a vision. As I talked with this wonderful woman of God, the work of the Holy Spirit simply flowed from her and she brought to mind a passage I had read the previous morning:

“I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge, even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you… who will also confirm you to the end.” 1 Corinthians 1:4-6, 8 (emphasis mine.)

When I read this, I couldn’t help but ask what is this “testimony of Christ”? I prayed about it and a thought came to me: transformation. The testimony of Christ, the powerful evidence of His work in our lives, is the transformation, inside and out, that He works in us.

I have been told by many that I tend to have a positive, cheerful disposition that’s relatively unshakeable, but I got nothing on the friend I visited on Thursday. Here she was, sitting at work, helping the senior citizens of Kenai, tired and sick, but pouring encouragement into me. By the “testimony of Christ [that is being] confirmed in [her]”, she was able to use all the struggles God has put in her life (divorce, cancer, dormancy, relapse and more) to show His work in her life. And the knowledge that the same Christ who has worked so in her life can and is working in mine…. Wow.

As I left her office, I had tears in my eyes, praying “God, I want to be a woman like this. One who is so in love with You that flows naturally from me. Someone who can see Your work in her life, and, by telling her story, glorify God and pull people closer to Him.”

I was extremely humbled, and speechlessly grateful. I came to give a gift, to brighten a day, but she gave me so much more. This lovely woman was a living reminder of God’s faithfulness to His promises to His children.

These are my favorite verses, not because I display them. I’m no where near there yet. Nevertheless, people like Paul and my friend who show me the “testimony of Christ”, remind me that our God can do anything, and by His continual work in me, I might be able to echo what Paul says here.

“Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10