Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Calendar by Grace

You get them too.  They come in August--- that flurry of emails as the fall gets started and every sacrificial volunteer is looking for more sacrificial volunteers.  I read them.  Waves of guilt.  Pounds of pressure.  Visions of me, harried and spinning, then the tragic spiraling.  Down.  I scroll by them in my inbox for days.  Commitments once a week.  Once a month.  Once during the entire year. Surely I could pull off the latter.  With a friend?  Surely.  Then I take time to marvel at the sender’s capacity.  I marvel a bit too long, marvel turning into comparison-- I take my “way of escape” and think about what’s for dinner.

Then the emails are, like, 3 weeks old and I’ve really drug this out.  For three weeks, they’ve been floating around in my mind along with the regulars -- but having nowhere to land.  Opportunities to serve~ all just keeps swirling in the cosmos.  And driving me NUTS.  I have to state the obvious here-- it’s ALL great stuff.  I mean, saying yes to any of these emails would mean investment in kingdom work.  What’s my struggle?  Why can’t I click on “reply”?  Why can’t I type out a chipper, “Why, sure! I’d love to help!”

And not feel suffocated by it?

Too many days later, the kids’ bedtime brings coffee time with Jeff, where perspective seems to come in large doses.  Decisions and responses all WAY overdue.  I scroll ~again~ and read them all to him.  If computer font could fade, these are faint gray.  He sips hot coffee and looks at me, “So?”  I look back, “Well??”  He rattles off a typical week/month of mine.  {I didn’t know he knew it that well.}  We talk about the big things that happen during my week, then my month and I confess I am not doing just super on those.  I am aware.

A few questions we talked through and I thought through:  Am I rested enough by morning in order to spend time in the Word?  Is my schedule arranged in such a way that I can say “yes” to whenever Jeff needs/wants my help?  Do my children feel “full” ~ are their needs met in a way that communicates, “I enjoy you”?  Am I serving effectively in my church {whatever “church" may look like in the season}?  Am I involved in fruitful kingdom work?  Do I feel strongly led of the Lord to participate in another facet of ministry?  Something I wake up thinking about?

That list may not set well with everyone and you may not like the semi-systematic approach, but there is nothing systematic about following through with the “yes’s” on that list.   It’s also nothing short of supernatural.  And that is precisely why I fail often.  Only by His Spirit can I value saving my best energy for my family and for the ministry we have together.  My flesh values a whole different set of “yes’s”.  Only with the mind of Christ can I wholeheartedly carry out acts and speak words most everyone will never know about.  My flesh values recognition and praise.  Only works empowered and led by His Spirit bring effectiveness and fruitfulness.  And I may never see any of the fruit on this side.  Only His perspective can bring contentment in that.  God has specific good works for only me, only for my family.  {Ephesians 2:10}  We miss the point if we miss our works, “which He prepared in advance for us to do."

If I am able to say “yes” to any of the questions on that list, it’s because of His power in my weakness, and His grace that is always sufficient.

When the cups were empty and the conversation had landed, I was able to return emails, look at my calendar, and feel really free.


Alyssa said...

I LOVE the list of questions and how intentional you are with your calendar. You've got me thinking, yet again. :)

Ali said...

I struggle with the same thing and delay answering too. There are so many GOOD ministries I would love to serve with. I want to be able to do more ministry wise but, knowing there would be no room to do my first priority / ministry (my family) that God has given me. Great post!

~ Ali

TJ Wilson said...

oh. my. goodness.
think i'm gonna print this out.
right there with you, sister, but not free yet.
maybe after i read this again.
"We miss the point if we miss our works, “which He prepared in advance for us to do."
Great, great, great.

nikki said...