March 31, 2012

Learning to Abide in His Presence

It is Saturday, and I am so happy to have a day off! I have worked two Saturday's over the past couple weeks, and while I did enjoy having Friday off (half day and then a whole day), I really do like having two days off in a row. I just need the down time, and spreading the day's off doesn't seem to give me enough time to recuperate and get refreshed before the work week begins again. I am enjoying this day, and I am feeling so very blessed.

God has been gracious to me once again, and has given me not only opportunity but recognition. I am living the dream, so they say, but instead of the "American Dream," I am living the God-breathed, God-filled daily dream of being in His Presence. There is no comparison, for while the AD is grounded in our culture, the GD is something completely different. Let me explain...

In our American Dream, at least, the dream I grew up with -- the goal was to be self-sufficient and to know that with hard work and perservance you could achieve anything you wanted. Typically, this would be owning a home, having access to a good job, and being able to live in the middle class. I grew up in the middle class. My parents have always owned their own home, and they still do (now both are nearing age 80). They are in the process of down-sizing, and will for the first time since they were married some 54 years ago, moved into a smaller "rented" single, duplex or patio home. They have for all intents and purposes been the "American Couple." Married from youth, raised four children, grandparented six, and are now enjoying the blessings of retirement as they near the latter stages of their lives.

In my case, my life didn't quite work out that way, but I am still a recipient of that "dream theory." There is still a part of me that longs for that middle class life. I have owned my own home, but due to the economy and housing market slump, lost it to foreclosure this year. I was married, now single, but I did parent one awesome child. I have access to good work, and I live in a lovely townhome that suits us for the interim. Life is good, and I am blessed.

However, with this aside, the truth be told -- I long for another kind of "dream." I long to be with my Lord, in His Presence, and doing His Work. I like working in this world, and I have enjoyed the process of living each day in communion with Him. It is just not enough, really not enough to deeply satisfy my soul, and provide me with the deep comfort I desire. The Lord knows this, and the Lord knows that a day is coming when I will be with Him forever, always in His Presence, and always abiding with Him. For now, though, I must remain and I wait.

Waiting, though, has been worth it. I am enjoying knowing Him in this life, and sharing in His work of ministry. I am happy to be a part of His plans, and to know that He has actual plans for my immediate life. I am in the process of realizing those plans, and of learning how to participate, to cooperate with Him, as He completes each task in His Name. This way, while I am with Him -- I receive no glory. The Lord is glorified, and the Lord receives all the praise. I am with Him, working with Him, yet He is receiving the praise and honor. It is how it should be, and I am happy to be a partner with Him in that experience.

What I have come to learn is that abiding with the Lord, and allowing Him to do His work on His timeline and according to His agenda brings great blessing. It is like the Parable of the Talents. We are to use the resources God has provided and use them well, making the most of them, and bringing a profit back to the Master when He returns. I have struggled with understanding what the Bible means by "work," and I have misinterpreted what it means when we read Jesus' statement on being a "good and faithful servant." I want to be that good and faithful servant, and I want to receive that blessing from Him. I just don't know how to do it sometimes. I know I am trying hard, but many days I feel like such a failure, like I am working so hard, and producing such little "profit."

I am learning now that much of my earthly work is toil -- hardship produced by Adam and Eve's sin, and the work is futile and without profit. But with the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the "work" we do, whether earthly or eternal is well-rewarded -- so long as we use the "talents" or resources God has entrusted to us to use. I now understand that I am blessed in this life and that the profit I make now will earn me far greater responsibilities in the next. My work now is preparatory for my greater work in Heaven. What that work will be is unknown, but I what is certain is that God has entrusted me with resources (giftings, abilities and physical resources) so that I can earn a profit (bring Him Glory and Honor) and potentially help to increase the size of the Kingdom.

It is hard to wrap your head around it, but Kingdom work is not always about saving souls. Kingdom work is not always about evangelism, though, that is a great component. There is much work to do -- building up the Kingdom through the enrichment and encouragement of the Body of Christ -- is a very good work. This is the work I have been called to do. My ministry is to edify--through the gifting of Grace by the power of the Holy Spirit--the Body. I am to be an encourager, a supporter, and at times, a challenger to help God's people grow in their relationship with Him. I am to use my giftings and abilities to motivate people to develop deeper and more stronger relationships with God, and with others. In this way, I am building up the Kingdom of God, though I am not increasing the size by adding more souls. I am caring for the souls that are already a part of the Kingdom. I am ministering to those who minister to the lost. This is my role, this is my purpose, and I am using the abilities and resources that God has provided to do this work.

I understand now that my earthly work may or may not align with my Kingdom work. I hope that there will be crossover at some point, but for now, I know that what I do today is having an impact on my future. I am about the Father's business, and I am working to earn Him a great profit.

Therefore, my timeline and agenda for doing that work is now aligned with His Timeline and Agenda. I have given up the need to control the timing of certain things, and I have let my agenda go. I am consumed with the tasks on His Agenda, and knowing that He will provide whatever resource is required to accomplish that task, I can go about my business and do the work now without much concern. This brings rest, a cessation of worry and doubt, and the freedom to be a good worker in the King's Business.

I have so wanted to let go, to let things be -- but that entire concept was a struggle. I am not sure when I got it, when it finally made sense, but I think it was this past week. I was deep in despair over my work (earthly work) situation. I was worried about losing my job, I was consumed with the fact that the work is boring and challenging to do (just to remain engaged mostly). I was tired of the constant drive to do the work a certain way, a way that just is so not "me" and is difficult for me to do. I was afraid of the condemnation that I wasn't doing a good job, and that I would have to endure more criticism about my performance.

Several co-workers rallied around me -- I didn't really say anything -- but I am guessing they could tell I was depressed. They encouraged me to just do the work as I have been doing it, and to stop worrying about what the "company" thinks. This was hard for me, for while I appreciated their advice, I so desparately need to be approved, to know I am being honest and faithful in my time and with my work. I wasn't getting that approval, it wasn't coming from management, and it seemed like I was just getting criticized all the time.

I cried out to the Lord, I asked for rescue, and the Lord stepped in and provided some respite. In the interim, He also gave me enough confidence to relax, and let things be. In doing so, I came to see the truth, and in this way, experienced the revelation that in God nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37).

In letting go, I figured out that this work is nothing to God. It is nothing for Him to prosper me, to bless me, and to provide for me. He can choose to do this where I am currently employed or He can choose to move me into another position. It is not something I have to do. In fact, I have been consistently told to "remain." The Lord has said that I am to "remain" and that is what I am doing. I thought at first this meant to remain at my job, which is partly true. I have learned since that it meant to remain where I was or where I am, which is in His Presence. I am remain fixed to the Lord, and I am to remain committed to His Plans for my life. I am to not worry about the details because the Lord has all of that under control. I am to focus on Him, on His Work, and on where He wants me to go. He will do the rest. He will take care of me. He will resolve all the issues.

As I consider this today, I am praising Him, and I am giving Him glory. I have learned such a valuable lesson, and I am now better able to understand what He is telling me to do.

My work is His work. There is no other work. I am to do what He asks of me, and He will provide for me. This is His promise to me. He is Faithful. He is telling me the truth. I know Him, and when I abide in Him, trusting in His Character, and in His Word, then truly nothing is impossible. I am blessed, and I am so well cared for now. The Lord is Lord of my life, and I am well-pleased.

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