"If the God you believe in as an idea doesn’t start showing up in what happens to you in your own life, you have as much cause for concern as if the God you don’t believe in as an idea does start showing up. It is absolutely crucial, therefore, to keep in constant touch with what is going on in your own life’s story and to pay close attention to what is going on in the stories of others’ lives. If God is present anywhere, it is in those stories that God is present. If God is not present in those stories, then they are scarcely worth telling." ~ Frederick Buechner

13 July 2011

COD Reflections: Part 1

A group of friends, Nich, and I are reading through Dietrich Bonhoeffer's The Cost of Discipleship together with the intent of posting once a week on our reading. I like this sort of communal reading, and although we all live in different places, most of those participating used to be in a Bible study together, so we have a sense of intimacy there already. This is reminiscent of literature circles, and in a way, I like that we are posting our thoughts instead of gathering to talk. I'm hoping that the posts will be more intentional and reflective than mere speaking would be.

I've been reflecting on lukewarm faith and living passionately for God. Part of this stemmed from Pastor Steve's sermon this past week, but also from an Elderedge quote someone posted yesterday about really hungering and thirsting after God. It reminded me of the lyrics to Chris Tomlin's song: "Give me one pure and holy passion. Give me one magnificent obsession. Give me one glorious ambition for my life, to know and to follow hard after You."

In a way, I feel like I am more able to be passionate for God now as a mom. Motherhood has given me a singular focus that I have never had before in my life. It's not challenging to my spirit the way an external job could be (i.e. subbing), but somehow, it is easier to remember that this, this raising up of a child of God, brings glory to my Abba.

As I read through "Memoir" (side note: found the title to be bothersome, as it's more of a biography), I underlined this: "... it was not enough to follow Christ by preaching, teaching, and writing. No, he was in deadly earnest when he called for Christian action and self-sacrifice" (23). I relate to this on a relatively (compared to what Bonhoeffer was encouraging) microscopic level. This new season of my life, as a mom to a little one, calls me to self-sacrifice in a way I've never experienced before. It's hard to give up/take a backseat on leadership roles (community groups, 20Somethings), to cease "teaching" (through subbing, Bible studies), and especially to give up precious writing time for me. Each morning, as I plan out the day, I have ensure that Brennan gets fed enough, plays enough, rests enough, and stays clean enough in the midst of the rest of daily life. Sometimes (and for this extrovert, this is most difficult when friends make plans for evening/night time events), I have to say no to things I really want to do, because it would be better for Brennan. At the end of the day, though, when I'm cuddling with my baby, I know it's all worth it.

I think that's how we're supposed to feel about God, too. That even when we're giving things up for Him, even when it's inconvenient, even when it's downright HARD, we know that it's worth it.

In "Memoir," Bonhoeffer is quoted as saying, from prison a few months before his death, "It all depends on whether or not the fragment of our life reveals the plan and material of the whole. There are fragments which are only good to be thrown away, and others which are important for centuries to come because their fulfillment can only be divine work. They are fragments of necessity. If our life, however remotely, reflects such a fragment ... we shall not have to bewail our fragmentary life, but, on the contrary, rejoice in it" (33). Pastor Steve reminded us on Sunday that we are not promised even one more day on this earth. I want each day that I am given to count for eternity, and for me right now, that's investing in my baby throughout the day. I just finished reading Genesis again, and the effect of one man's faithfulness (Abraham) on the generations after him was impressed upon me. I want to have that kind of joyful faith, that kind of trusting hope in God, so that my children can't help but love Jesus.

This is hardest when others "get in the way." :~) On Sunday, Nich and I were faced with a circumstance where our "Papa and Mama Bear" instincts kicked into high gear. Thankfully, over the years, I have slowly been learning to keep my mouth shut when I'm that angry, but as Nich and I talked and prayed through the situation that night as we went to bed, I found that my heart really didn't WANT to forgive the offending party. We asked for forgiving hearts. Bonhoeffer summed it up pretty well at the end of the "Introduction": "May God grant us JOY as we strive earnestly to follow the way of discipleship. May we be enabled to say 'No' to sin and 'Yes' to the sinner. May we withstand our foes, and yet hold out to them the Word of the gospel which woos and wins the souls of men" (emphasis mine).

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