Perspectives on the New Year, Part 1: “Here is my heart, Lord … “

This was written on 12.31.13 after walking through a local “county park” where there are trails throughout the woods.  In order to get to this park, I have to walk through a neighborhood near our apartment, where there is a “secret” entrance to the trails for those who live in the neighborhood. It had just snowed, and because the park grooms its hiking trails for cross-country skiers, I had to walk purposefully along side of the trails, to avoid stomping into their path and messing up their skiing, making the hike more strenuous than usual.

Today I went on a hike, looking for inspiration, looking for my elusive spirituality.  Why is my life so compartmentalized? Why do I think that I can enjoy relaxing, reading, writing, creating only when everything at home is completed (cleaning, budget, meal prep, etc.)? when my life is “okay” (and it never is)? Why does it seem that I prefer to hide away from others and focus on my thoughts, my dreams, my aspirations? Why aren’t the perishing souls of others on my radar like they should be? Why am I not out there giving Bible studies, bringing souls to Christ? Worse yet, why do I not seem to have the desire to do so?

I crunched through fresh powdery snow, feeling resigned to the unavoidable reality.  “This is my heart, Jesus,” I told Him in my thoughts. “I am being honest here. Why don’t I have more of a burden for others, for poor people, my family, my friends?” I am too caught up in what needs to be done to keep life going, and it is tiresome, even draining at times. I often face the haunting revelation that I am not a real Christian; if I was a real Christian, wouldn’t my husband and I have homeless people over for lunch? Wouldn’t we volunteer in a soup kitchen? Wouldn’t we have a shared mission? So why don’t we? Doesn’t that mean we’re missing something?

Actually, it seems to me that we have a shared interest, but I’m not always sure that it’s a “mission”.  It’s music.  We do music together from time to time.  We do special music at church.  We lead song service.  Recently, it was the choir; Tim directed, I sang in the Alto (and sometimes the Soprano) section, and I helped get the apartment ready to have the other singers over for rehearsals.  We give music to others, and it is a joy.  Isn’t that a ministry?  That’s not the only thing we do, of course, but I don’t think it’s good to focus only on what we “do” for the church or for others, because that takes the focus off of Jesus and what He does for us, and instead shifts our attention to what we can “do” to be considered “good” because of the items we can check off of our pathetic little checklists.  We want to exult ourselves by showing the world all the things we’ve accomplished, thinking this will somehow elevate our position in front of God and/or others. It doesn’t work that way. As humans, there is something about us that wants to feel important, to feel special, to gain recognition, to believe (or make others believe) that we are good. Unique. Smart. Better than you. Whether you consider yourself a Christian or not, this is human nature, and it’s pathetic.

But something in me still feels that we should be doing more, mostly because our service to others should result from an outpouring of gratitude to Jesus for what He has done for me, for us.  Therefore, the issue becomes one of questioning whether I truly recognize what Jesus has done for me.  If I had that recognition, it would manifest itself in acts of service to others.  And I do not see this in my life, at least the way I would like.  This is something with which I have always wrestled.  How to strike that balance of faith and works without being legalistic, or the other extreme, feeling guilt?  Sometimes I think that my husband and I are better suited for nurturing people rather than just bringing them into the fold.  Isn’t there room for people like us?  Isn’t one part of the soul-winning equation keeping people in the church by nurturing them, not just bringing them in?

I asked these questions to God rhetorically as I lugged my way through the snow of the neighborhood, finding the little “secret” entrance trail sign leading into Love Creek.  I heard no answers to my questions.  I felt no peace. But it’s good to wrestle with the Lord on this issue, because it is all too simple to think we are okay where we are. And I’m definitely not okay.

(c) 2014
(c) 2014

To be continued …