Saturday, May 31, 2014

Gratitude and Humility

Faith, hope, love.

I enjoy seeing people filled with new hope, and it's a wonderful thing to see in others, but sometimes an all too uncommon experience, as I work at the Salvation Army homeless shelter.  Working at this level, with these wonderful people; it's truly what it's all about.  

I probably, more so than most have been guilty of undervaluing the wonderful gift this is.  I toil in my own sadness.  I get frustrated and feel lonely.  And sometimes that is required, to await the Lord patiently in sadness.  But sometimes it's time to be grateful.  Maybe always, yeah, always is the time to be grateful.

I've been given freely what so many will never have.  9 out of 10 drug addicts will die of their addiction.  5% of true alcoholics will recover for a year, out of that 5% another one out of one hundred will recover for life.  And those are generous numbers to give the scene.  How blessed am I to have just one more day taking in breath?  But much more so, how blessed am I to be a child of God?  

Many will never have that.  They will never receive it, or want it.  And when they die, God will say,"I offered you all those times, and you chose to resist, and say no and walk your own way."  And then they'll be cast off, eternally disconnected from God.  Because they didn't realize or take care to note and respond to the fact that in God they have their being, in him they move and breath and have their life all together.  

Acts 17:28 NIV For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.'

The breadth and weight of it is incalculable.  I was taken from the bottom, scraped off the floor, and resurrected to new life in the body.  Rescue, election, regeneration, and ministry.  Just to name a few. 

Some friends at a support group recently were talking about the incredible value of humility.  It allows for growth, and the lack of it entirely stifles growth.  It's just that simple.  Another friend of mine says "expectations are pre-meditated resentments."  Isn't that the truth?

So I need to relax, and stop taking myself so seriously sometimes.  Indeed the spiritual war is real, but I can't keep up the good fight if I'm drained and weary from work with no play.  God blesses the relaxing times of laughter just as much as he blesses the moments of strife in ministry.  If I condemn myself for relaxing, I'm not living as a Christian should.

Recently, more and more so, I find myself constantly in conflict with those around me, and with myself and with my own broken conception of God.  But in him I move.  He provides for me.  He gives the blessed ministry to the lost, of whom I once was, here at the Salvation Army.  He responds to my prayers for residents, he joins in the conversation at the groups I facilitate, and his Spirit is at work within my friends here who are such lost sheep.  Lost like I was lost, and lost like I sometimes am still lost.

The journey is a gift.  The ministry is a gift.  And even more so, the conflicts, depression, sadness, anger, and failures are all gifts from God.  He uses these things to shape and mold me into a holy disciple.  I know for certain that the struggles I go through now are nothing compared to the glory that will be revealed.  

Romans 8:18 NIV I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

Sometimes, a lot of the time since I'm a perfectionist, I have to allow myself the freedom to make mistakes.  Humans make a lot of mistakes.  Sometimes after I realized I've sinned I wonder, has God finally had enough?  And he's going to cast me out of his family?  That's rubbish.  It's total rubbish.  My biological father was quite abusive to me, and sometimes that abusive personality is resurrected and placed onto my conception of God the Father of the Bible.  And so I try to watch for that and separate the truth from the lies.  

Repentance is a journey, and no one ever completes it and no one ever does it perfectly.  The same must be true for knowing God.

There are a lot of questions that run through my mind day by day.  There are a lot of giant issues in the world that I try to wrestle with.  But I'm just one person.  And it's not about me.  Or even the problems, or their solutions.  It's about God and glorifying him.  It's about others learning of God's graceful kindness through the transformation at work in Christians like me.  There are always more questions...  But I know one thing that is true: I have been saved by Jesus Christ, and I'm eternally grateful for that.

1 Timothy 1:15 (NIV) Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst.