Friday, July 4, 2008

Living Life on Purpose

Well, we find ourselves inexplicably and unbelievably back at the NC shore for a short, two-day reprise. It turns out that there were a couple of unrented days at my parents' beach house, the last for this summer, so here we are again. Who could pass up the chance to grill Independence Day burgers in paradise?!

I've been contemplating Independence Day today. As a homeschooling family, we should be doing some sort of creative and memorable history lesson, I know, and, once again, we are simply celebrating like most everyone else does... grilling out, playing in the sun, hoping to catch some fireworks. And I've decided that's okay. It's hard to picture Ben Franklin or Thomas Jefferson catching some rays when there was so much world-changing to do, but we're blessedly and unexpectedly here, and it fits, and if my kids don't learn American history well enough on the other 364 days of the year, a quick-peek reiteration on July 4 isn't going to make much difference.

And so, really, what I've been contemplating while I've been here is the idea of resolve. Deliberateness. Living life with purpose. On purpose.

I've deliberately determined that, this year, there is no history lesson surrounding Independence Day. I'm okay with that. But I'm okay with it because I've decided it. I've thought it through and given it the attention such a decision deserves (at least to over-thinking homeschoolers who must turn every life experience into an opportunity for learning). It didn't just "happen that way," with me rolling along as life moves on without my thoughtful attention to decision-making.

I've been pondering - and observing from a distance - the person I've slowly become over the past decade or so of teaching that has taught me not to strive. Not to resolve. Not to "try harder," because that's not the way of the gospel. Hogwash. I'm not buying it.

The Year of Jubilee was God's idea. A fresh start. Things made right that had gotten out of whack. He came up with the Sabbath, for crying out loud. A weekly chance to cease from the relentless tyranny of the urgent and to rest. To reflect. To prayerfully ponder and purpose and contemplate. To pursue the Lord and His thoughts and His plans and His heart, and then to set forth on a fresh course for a fresh week with a fresh vision. "Be still and know that I am God," (Psalm 46:10).

And so, ironically, it is in the quiet of rest... in the deliberate pursuit of the Lord beyond the moment-by-moment "Yeah, yeah, I know He's with me always" and into the "Here I am to meet with You, Lord, and seek Your face" that He meets us with the still small voice of guidance, and asks of us the grit to get up and follow. "Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, 'This is the way; walk in it'," (Isaiah 30:21).

This I have lost. Daily, weekly, monthly, seasonally, yearly. I used to set goals at each of these built-in calendar-points. They are gifts from the Lord for such a purpose. He knows we need them, and so He gave them to us. A sunrise in the quiet morning hush. A mandated day of rest and worship and ceasing of tasks. The cool breeze and dead leaves of autumn. The stillness and cold of bare trees in winter. The spring-time bursting forth of fresh green and flowers and fragrance. The bountiful harvest and hot of summer.

I believe He expects us to use them. To walk with Him closely enough to consult Him and ask Him and listen and hear Him as He leads us on our way, through each day and week and month and season.

I used to deliberately meet with the Lord at these times, and set goals in line with what I felt Him telling me... weighty, lofty things I set down on paper and strove to achieve. I was "continuing to work out my salvation with fear and trembling," (Philippians 2:12). There was an appropriate amount of action and purpose to it.

I am finally beginning to wake up from the more recent hazy fog of purposelessness. From the lie that pursuing Him, in all His glory and omni-presence, is somehow mutually-exclusive from goal-setting... from striving... from resolve.

And so, I am considering the concept of resolutions... of "setting stakes," which I wrote about a few days ago. The Lord is faithfully shaking me from the stupor of lethargy and inaction that I have fallen into for who-knows-how-long. I am learning to love and embrace, rather than shun and scorn, the concept of resolve. Of grit. Of determination.

I'll let you know what I come up with - what He shows me in these glorious times together - but for now I've set two stakes in the ground... I'm shooting for six days a week with the "S's of exercise" (sixty, sixteen, or sex) and I'm no longer talking on a cell phone while driving.

Not much, really, but it takes time to get a herd of elephants off your back.

Check out some other thoughts about this same issue from a woman I don't know, but wish I did. Here is her blog post from six months ago. (Don't be fooled by the title). The Beehive: My Resolutions for 1997

"For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose," (Philippians 2:13).

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