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Perspective

Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.  Psalm 90:14, ESV

The whole chapter of Psalm 90 compares God’s power and endurance to the frailty and mortality of man.  As I reflect on these truths, in the context of the “American Dream,” I am struck by the stark contrast of the two perspectives.  Instead of the age old mantra, ‘You can be anything you want to be, if you work hard enough and dream big,’ I am reminded that I have been called to a much higher purpose.

There is absolutely nothing I can accomplish on this earth that will matter for eternity except for ONE THING:

That I pursue God and serve Him first in every facet of my life.

There is nothing here to satisfy me, only cheap imitations.  Nothing to bring me joy.  All is empty and meaningless that comes from this fallen world.  Only the essence of God the Creator can satiate the craving in my soul – only His love, His joy, His peace, the markings of His Spirit, given only by His Hand.  To pursue His Kingdom first is the only path to true happiness.

I am beginning to learn, to understand, how foreign that concept is.  How do I pursue His Kingdom first, above my own pleasure, my own ambition, my own success?  What actions and steps are required of me?

Perhaps, instead of “doing,” I need to stop.  To sit quietly and listen.  To experience communion with my Father, and somehow, learn to carry His presence with me as I face the craziness and chaos of this world.

Scripture guarantees me, repeatedly, that by replacing my striving for success in this world with a pursuit of God and God alone, I too will find the satisfaction and joy that Moses speaks of in his Psalm.  To me, that sounds much better than the empty promise of the American Dream.

Relax!

It seems when life gets a bit challenging, when I am struggling with a situation that I just can’t solve, my time with God is the first victim.  As I fight the constant battles in my mind, I have less and less time to sit still before God and listen to His guidance, and before I know it I’m running on fumes.  When I get to this point, where I feel so un-inspired that I don’t even know how God could possibly speak to me amidst my chaos, I find it comforting to look back through my old journal entries.  I can remember previous struggles, challenges, end-of-the-world type crises that I have somehow survived, and I can remember how God whispered to me in those times, to reassure me, to direct me and guide me, to remind me that I am still His cherished child.

This is one of those mornings.  My pen has been quiet for some time, and I’m not even sure where to begin.  As I began to flip through the pages of my journal, this entry caught my eye:

February 5, 2011

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.   Ephesians 3:20-21

Notes:

v20 – Our Amazing God is capable of doing ANYTHING He wants.  He is not bound by our human limitations.  We cannot begin to predict His actions, and we ask such limited questions when we dictate to Him how to solve our problems!

v21 – He will receive glory through the lives of His faithful, regardless of societal culture and popular opinion.  Throughout ALL generations!

Thoughts:

Am I limiting God to human solutions?  Do I truly believe that He can accomplish His Will?  What crazy things do I trust Him to do today?  Am I trying to defend God, to protect Him from the damage of society?  He is way more than that.  He doesn’t need my protection – He wants my worship.  There is no need to despair – God is in control and He will be glorified!

It’s as if I can hear the gentle whisper of my Creator, reminding me yet again, “Relax, my over-anxious child.  I’ve got this covered.  We’ve been over this before …  I’ve got this!“  Knowing that God is in control, that He loves me so much to reach into my mental war zone and give me a gentle “snap out of it already” nudge,  and realizing that this current dilemma is still well inside the realm of “things God can handle” …   I can’t think  of a better way to start my day!

Remember

Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, who led you through the great and terrifying wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water, who brought you water out of the flinty rock, who fed you in the wilderness with manna that your fathers did not know, that he might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end. Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’  You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day. – Deuteronomy 8:11-18 (English Standard Version)

This Christmas season has been a time for me to reflect on just how incredibly blessed I am.  God has been so good to me – and I’m not referring to just material blessings, but also to the inner peace He gives me as I look upon a world full of uncertainty and chaos.  God has not once left my side, even as I have allowed myself to become busy, distracted, even curious about what might be waiting for me outside God’s provision.

Looking back on this past year, there have been many moments I have questioned God’s plan for my future, specifically as it relates to my career as a software developer.  As I see others promoted into positions I feel should be mine, as I receive lesser raises and bonuses than I feel I deserve, as structural reorganization removes the possibility of future progression and the fruits of my labor are deemed irrelevant, I find myself posing questions to God like, “Are you sure this is part of your plan?”, and even worse, “Why would you do such a thing to me?”

I find myself scanning the employment ads, hoping to find that one position that will ensure a bright future with great monetary reward.  I schedule job interviews and speak with recruiters who assure me that my talents and abilities are underutilized and unappreciated.  They promise that a new position will result in the respect and compensation I deserve.  I find myself considering the possibilities of a new title, a bigger paycheck, a new group of co-workers to admire my brilliance.  And I think of the impact to my current employer, when I drop the news that I am leaving.  The shock on their faces, the panic as they realize that I am one of very few who know the inner workings of the system and scramble to cover the gaping holes in their process charts as I remove myself from their diagrams.

Isn’t this the American Dream?  Aren’t we encouraged to better ourselves and our positions at every opportunity?  We’ve only got a limited time to maximize our talent and potential, and we’ve got to make the most of it before it’s too late.  Don’t worry about the people in charge; after all, we’re just numbers to them, and they will drop us the second that action becomes profitable.   Shouldn’t I be looking out for number one?  If I don’t, no one else will … right?

But … Someone has been looking out for me.  For almost 40 years, Someone has been by my side, guiding my path, nudging me towards the future He has planned for me.  I’ve taken some pretty big detours along the way.  I’ve fought against His direction, I’ve pursued my own paths, I’ve run headlong into exactly the things He doesn’t want for me, but still He is there, patiently waiting for me to stop my nonsense and turn back to His guidance.  Without Him by my side, I would have none of the things I have today.  Not even my job.

When I remember how God has provided for me every step of the way, I feel silly worrying about how I might provide for myself tomorrow.  When I consider the positions I have held in my past, and the incongruous leap from waitress to software developer, I feel a bit silly questioning God’s ability to define the next step.  When I reflect on who God is, and what God desires for each one of us, I remember that my career is of secondary importance to God’s love for those around me.

And I remember the warnings of Deuteronomy 8.  I have become accustomed to my paycheck, my position, and my lifestyle; at times, I have entertained the delusion that I earned all this on my own, and might even deserve more.  And I am reminded that God alone gives power and wealth – for the purpose of advancing His plan.

I see the people I work with, who are experiencing the same dilemmas as I.  And I find, that if I focus less on my own career crisis, I can focus more on encouraging them.  I can show them love, and bring joy and laughter into the office, and remain calm as we attend surprise meetings with new announcements of the next reorganization.  I know that God loves each and every one of them, and that His greatest desire for all of us is that we would know His presence, above everything else.

As we enter this New Year, I will sleep soundly at night, because I know God has blessed me with His presence, and I know he will continue to grant me peace in the face of uncertainty.  It is my prayer for myself and for every one of us, that as we experience the blessings God pours out on us, we will not forget the Source, and that we will draw from those blessings to bless those around us, in accordance with His plan.