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Posts Tagged ‘change’

I remember reading the Anne of Green Gables series, how well it taught the lesson.  Anne turned down a silly farmer who asked her to marry him via his sister.  She said no to Gilbert who’d been her rival all through school.  She was disappointed when her best friend agreed to marry the ordinary local, Fred.  But maybe her friend Diana was onto something.  Maybe Anne’s tall, dark, handsome, charming ideal wasn’t what Anne really needed.  As fiction conveniently wends its way, Anne met with such a man at college.  They courted for months.  And in the final breathless moment when he asked her to be his wife, she realized that she’d been wrong.  Her girlhood husband list had been dreamy and foolish.  There was nothing so wrong with this man.  But her heart wasn’t in it.  The truth was, she had been meant for Gil all along, only her stubborn fantasies had kept her from accepting it.

Having a list seemed to help me when I was in high school.  It reminded me that love and marriage were about choice, not just feelings.  I still like my lists, even if only for self-knowledge.  In my case I was over 20 years old when I realized that a man doesn’t have to have a career plan for the rest of his life to make a good husband.  Many of the men I have ever respected (including my own dad) have been hard workers, caring for others, but trying different things, or whatever work they could find.  In a changing world, myself even desiring a bit of adventure, how could I demand stability? So my list has been modified.  As I’ve gained humility about my own certainty of how the world should be, I’ve grown a bit more relaxed about some of the things.

Never mind the unforeseen and unknown; what selfish attitude is it that tells me that I can decide what I want and demand that I get that or else?  How was that affecting my relationships with men?  Is that what marriage is about?  Is that what life is about?

I know lots of examples of people digressing from their lists as they matured:

A friend said she’d never marry someone in the military.  Then she met her husband on a military base in Japan, and she changed her mind.

Another friend said her husband would have to own a top hat.  Would she really turn down an otherwise perfect match because he didn’t own the ideal accessory?  (The answer was “no”, she wouldn’t turn him down!)

Some friends wrestled with more serious questions.  Could they marry someone who was not a virgin?  What if his views on finances (debt, saving, spending) was different from hers?  If God was calling her to ministry, could she marry someone who didn’t have that same calling?

I suppose it goes both ways.  No doubt men have their own hang-ups.  One man I know struggled because his family owned many animals and the woman he was interested in had severe allergies.  I’ve heard that many men planning to be missionaries look only for women who are pursuing the same goal.

Some of these things are generally good wisdom.  A pastor I know counsels people to marry only if they’re physically attracted to one another (successful legacy of arranged marriages notwithstanding).  I know couples who were not attracted at first, but as they proceeded with their relationships, gained such feelings.  I myself would rather not marry someone in the military because of the demands on time and loyalty.  It’s a good idea to be unified about things like money and children and ministry.  But they’re not essential.  And sometimes, especially when we’re young, we don’t know what we need.  One artist friend knew God would provide her with an artist-husband, whose soul could understand hers.  Another artist friend has been married for decades to a man who’s good with numbers instead.

Still other friends now happily married look back and think their “lists” or ideas were lacking some significant points, like respect for parents.

In our society we barely know what marriage is really about, let alone what makes for a good one.  Sometimes parents and mentors advise us.  Sometimes they’re just taking a guess and pioneering new territory they never ventured on in their own relationships. Some of it is good advice, general wisdom.  A lot of it is promoting self-interest.  Some of it is universally-useful advice about trusting God and loving others.

Are there legitimate deal-breakers?  Is it wrong to have a list of things we’re looking for?  What guiding principles are there for deciding to get married?  What is marriage?  What contributes to a good marriage?  If you choose rashly at first, is there hope for a good marriage in the end?

But the fuss we make about who to choose…

~ Miss Austen Regrets

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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I’ve been thinking a lot about simplicity coupled with radical faith.  Priests sometimes take a vow of poverty, renouncing worldly goods as Jesus suggested to the rich young man, “Sell all your goods and give the money to the poor.”  Since the last day of camp I’ve been thinking of the usual pattern of getting back into the routine of life, or adjusting to the real world.  I think that God doesn’t want me to get back into my life.  He wants my life to adjust to me and the changes He’s made.  This week at church was Vacation Bible School, and before each night our pastor gave a devotional to the volunteers.  The one I managed to make was about being doers of the word, not hearers only.  So Jesus says not to worry about what we will eat or wear, to take up our cross and follow Him.  He says blessed are those who suffer for His sake.  What if I was an actual doer of those words?  How seriously do I take the words, “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friend”? 

 

So God has called me, at last, to change.  My life has been essentially the same for six years.  Now I’m going to do something different – a lot of things different.  I’m a different person; I even eat spaghetti and drink tea.  But I don’t know exactly what He wants me to do yet.  I’m looking, trying to accept that faith is a moment by moment dependence on Him, not a leap into a well-understood long term plan.  What I do know is that I need to spend diligent time seeking Him about it: praying and reading the Bible and asking friends to counsel and pray for me. 

 

I think a lot about Abraham.  He’s the man who packed up and left Ur, where he’d lived about seventy years with all his family.  He left everything and didn’t even know where he was going, except that God would show him the place.  Well, he brought his flocks and herds, his wife and slaves, and even his extended family. 

 

If I literally followed Abraham’s example, though, America is not very receptive.  Abraham could travel through the land, pitch his tents where no one else’s were, feed his sheep on the grass there, and probably do a bit of hunting for his household as well.  In America there are things like licenses, fences, and laws.  I don’t have to worry too much about being attacked by a band of thieves or a local city-state’s hyper-vigilant army, but then I must submit to laws. 

 

We actually have some very strange laws.  If you are too poor to own or even rent a house, there is no public land on which you are really allowed to camp, not public land on which you can trap or hunt your dinner.  In fact if you are too poor to have a house, you can be arrested.  GK Chesterton says in his commentary on Matthew 8:20, “For our law has in it a turn of humour or touch of fancy which Nero and Herod never happened to think of, that of actually punishing homeless people for not sleeping at home.” 

 

But Psalm 84:5 says, “Blessed is the man… whose heart is set on pilgrimage.” What does that look like in my life?  How can I obey that today? 

 

At least I can shun things that are part of my normal life but not “of faith.”  I can pursue the things God describes: righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.  Jars of Clay’s Oh My God describes one side of this calling, the side that sorrows for the world and sees all the need and brokenness.  In their account of how the song came to be, Jars of Clay says, “It takes a long time to kill 5,000 people in a church. Think about being in there with your family as these murders get closer and closer, and to hear the screams.  I’m sure those people weren’t praying, “God, please help me have a better car, or please increase my land.” It was, “God, please stop the hand of our aggressor,” and it didn’t happen. That prayer wasn’t answered for anybody in that church. And this wasn’t the military doing this violence; it was their neighbors.”   

One of the verses everyone memorized at camp was Romans 8:38-39 (and we talked about verse 35 as well).  There are 17 things listed in those verses that cannot separate us from the love of God, things like famine and plague and persecution, death, demons, etc.  And it hit me that I was doubting God’s love not for any of those massive earth-shattering things like 5,000 people murdered in a church in Rwanda.  My doubt of God’s love for me was when He didn’t give me what I wanted.  When my focus is on God’s amazing love, love that even death and things to come cannot quench, the way I pray and the way I live is different. 

My brother went to Mexico this month.  He was gone for two weeks.  In Mexico people live simply.  Where he went kids raise themselves, and there is trouble and need – so I’m not saying it’s ideal.  But when there is so much need in the world, physical or spiritual, how can we come home and play video games or go shopping at the mall?  Another friend spent over a month this summer volunteering at an orphanage in Haiti.  Her love for God grew so much there as she was stripped of distractions and dependent on Him for the strength to love and serve others.  Her kids needed what even she could not give them. 

Some fellow counselors from camp talked about getting back into the real world by buying a new Guitar Hero game.  How can we leave camp so unaffected?  Do we really have to move to Haiti to live sold out to God? 

We’re willing to work.  At camp, in Mexico and Haiti, we didn’t just sit around and think spiritual thoughts.  And we don’t want to be cloistered away from all non-Christians; that isn’t the point, either.  Just we don’t want our ministry to be a section of our lives.  We want to sell everything else and make sure that our whole lives are about glorifying God.  I don’t just want to have my ministries, of VBS or Awana or Sunday school or youth group.  I believe God wants me to invest my life in a lot of people, and not necessarily be a one-note person (at least not at the moment), but there shouldn’t be ministry intermissions.  Everything I do should be about my relationship with God, whether it is taking time (as we did at camp) to refresh and refocus our spirits by prayer and Bible reading, or worship, or intentional fellowship for edification. 

I guess I’m saying that having a job isn’t wrong.  My job isn’t even bad.  In the job I have I could do the things I said, and continue a ministry focus without interruption.  Those of us in the world with normal jobs can be what another friend calls laborers, people who don’t see ministry as a vocation, but as an approach to life as they go, building the kingdom whether they’re paid or not.  But for me God is calling me to a different sort of job right now.  I’m looking for one.  Requirements are that it be something in which I can move, not just sit at a desk, one where I’m working in community with others, preferably Christians, and where our business or ministry is reaching out to the needs of the world.  Any suggestions? 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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Change

One of my friends said that at camp she learned “change isn’t bad.” 

I’m a completely different person since camp. 

I had friends praying that I would be more outgoing and enthusiastic at camp.  God answered abundantly, and I could only sit back and marvel. 

But the change is going to be permanent.  I’m not saying I’ll be good at volleyball, or that I’ll cut my hair.  But my toenails are red.  On a serious note I’m looking at changing all the major points of my life, so be warned.  I’m talking to God a lot about it, and mostly my prayers sound like “I don’t know.”  God knows, and He’ll clue me in on time. 

Sunday I played soccer with friends from church.  Tuesday I got up and ran.  Confession: I predicted I would make it about two minutes.  That was literal, but apparently my brother didn’t expect me to really only make it two minutes.  So I’m going to get into shape.  And I ate a granola bar for the first time ever.  I also decided I like spaghetti. 

One other thing different is that I’m on camp schedule, which besides including eating breakfast and lots of prayer and Bible reading, also means bed time is at 10:30, which is almost now.  Good night.

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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