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neurological dryer lint

dirty deeds... and the dunderchief

 

riding the gravy train

i've been enjoying hbo's new drama in treatment, where gabriel byrne is a therapist and every weeknight they show him meeting with a different patient. i've only caught bits and pieces of a few of the nights, except for wednesdays, where he is psychologically evaluating a high-school gymnast. it's written very well and byrne is somber and soothing, seriously one of his best roles ever. it does a great job highlighting the skill with words, empathy and listening ability it takes to succeed in that line of work; the stories told by the patients are top-notch, too, gritty and real and yet familiar.

one of the other reasons (besides the great acting and writing) i dig it is because i am fascinated by the work; the idea that two people, sitting together talking, can radically change the mindset, behavior, lifestyle of someone looking to change. l have always wondered if the practice could help me... i also considered it as a career option at one point. ultimately i like to make conversations about myself too often, though, and i have feared my self-centeredness would really overtake any capacity i had to help anyone.

i think the process of finding the right thing(s) to do with my life has always been like this. i watch a show about a therapist having powerful conversations and i start to think "what if i did that instead"... thinking about something like that obviously isn't harmful, or any sort of decision or commitment to anything... but with the path i do intend to chart my life along, i certainly am influenced in the same way.

i am around younglife people and i want to start volunteering again - and i talk about it a lot. i listen to missionaries give speeches and they make me start to mentally rearrange things so that someday i could sell my possessions and drag my family to the remotest corner of the world. i sit down and talk with chris (the lifespring westside minister) and eat some cheese coneys and all of a sudden i am totally sold on the effectiveness of the church.

perhaps this is driven by a still-hungry need in my heart to get the people i like to like me back; but my own meditation on this has really revealed that it's because i feel like i have no idea what i am supposed to be doing to positively impact this world for Christ, and because i'm not sure if i'm doing it now, i want to rearrange, shuffle, make changes, join new groups, commit to new things.

the strongest callings in my life, the very certain voice that said "go to UC", "be a younglife leader", "marry that girl", i long for those and they seem silent now, even when i actually bother to listen for a bit. even now, i have a decision to make about another way to spend my time, another potential personal ministry; and here i am already involved in four of them. you might think i am incapable of saying no; i can fortunately say that i've exercised that particular muscle, very recently. it's the perceived silence i have felt for a few years that has kept me juggling all this activity.

i want to know what God wants me to do. and what would make the most sense is what chris described while we were talking about this - doing one thing with passion, not four things halfheartedly. i know what that one thing is and it makes total sense to simply pursue it; but it doesn't look enough like the organized ministry i am used to for my brain to feel comfortable dropping everything else and simply focus my time there.

i will switch off the mental spigot; i know there are some wise folks out there, and i wonder how others have dealt with the same thing.

 

for this post

 
Blogger Simon Says:

Good stuff J-dub. I think that's something that is affecting a good amount of young Christians today. They long to get involved in a ministry, but they find that they are giving themselves in too many, and not focusing on ONE. That is something I have come to realize recently (hence the move to Ross). I think our (Christians) biggest problem is that we sit around too much and ask "God, what do you want me to do?" and then we just expect Him to answer. Open your eyes, where do you see God trying to work, or where is He already at work? Go there! One thing I've learned recently is that it's not always where we expect it to be. But God is always at work around you. Maybe He is calling you to a certain 'ministry' as you said in closing, but it seems like you've got to shuffle things around too much or change your view of what 'ministry' is. I think that's what God wants from us. He needs us to give up our comfort so that we're fully relying on Him.

 
 
Blogger Bragg Says:

"...and i wonder how other have dealt with the same thing."

Painful. It feels like abandonment. It feels like you can cry, beg, plead, pray, fast, and nothing happens.

It feels like you can go hedonistic and put everything in place yourself and think, "gee, if god isn't going to do it or show up, then I guess it will have to be done by me; and maybe he shows up somewhere in there."

It feels like a daily struggle to find Faith.

How do I deal with it? Sometimes I do the right thing. Usually, however, the "right thing" is driven by an internal moral compass that makes me question what the consequences are to the decision I'm facing. Sometimes it's based on experience. And, often, I make mistakes.

To be honest, and frank, I am tired of hearing the simple answer. I don't doubt that others hear God "call" or "lead" them somewhere. It just never happens to me. Does that mean I don't have enough faith? Do I not pray enough? Give enough? Sacrifice enough? Probably.

But thankfully I have the grace of Jesus and the symbol of the cross to remind me that I don't need to do those things. I don't need to push myself further for God's glory. I don't need to do anything for God because my toll has been paid.

Since that is easier said than done (an easy answer maybe?), I deal with not knowing what I am really supposed to do with my life inside a lot of internal conflict. Lot's of stress. Lot's of pain. Lot's of fighting the emptiness and desperation with the mere hope that I might feel at peace with what I have done and am doing with my life.

It isn't easy...

 
 
Blogger Darren Says:

J,

I'm with you on this one. I think there is a fine line between forcing God's will and allowing God to tell you what his will is and finding a spot in that. I have tried to force and I have tried to wait, both can be frustrating when God doesn't just say "Hey I could use your hand in teaching at Life Spring!" or even "I need someone to cook for my people here!" Life would be much easier if Jesus just made things clear. For a man that taught us communication is important He doesn't communicate in a clear and concise way all the time.

 
 
Blogger Justin Hall Says:

simon, you said one thing that i want to touch on - "I think our (Christians) biggest problem is that we sit around too much and ask "God, what do you want me to do?" and then we just expect Him to answer. Open your eyes, where do you see God trying to work, or where is He already at work? Go there!"

not that i think the answer is too simplistic; actually i think this is part of the problem, because i see God at work in several places; i can't "go there" because if i went everywhere i saw God working, i would be signed up with twenty different ministries. it's kind of what got me into this mess :)

i think i am really starting to lock into where i need to be, though. it's tough trying to distinguish between gut instinct, a desire to ease my busyness, and a leading from God's Spirit; but i am going to do the best i can.

 
 
Blogger Artie Says:

I don't know if this is true, but I've heard that the translation of Jesus saying "Go and make disciples..." should be "As you are going, make disciples...". Kinda' takes the pressure off for me to think that I'm supposed to be right where I am, but doing the "make disciples" thing right here, not being distracted by a million other things.

 
 
Blogger Simon Says:

Artster,
I would tend to disagree with you. Even if the translation was "as you go, make disciples" He is still calling us to do so. Also, why would this be the last thing He told them before He left for good? I think it's probably pretty important. One thing I've kinda come to realize more and more lately is that we're selfish. We sometimes think that we're saved for our own good, and forget that it's to bring glory to God. God would love it even more if He had more people worshiping Him. So that's where our making disciples comes in. I think 1st we're to worship God, and 2nd we're to share Him with others. And not just be content with the good stuff God has for us. So now that I'm assured of salvation, my goal is to share the love of Christ with others, and that's pretty much my only reason for being on this Earth. Why else would God be keeping me around? I can give Him my glory in heaven, He doesn't need me on Earth to receive my worship.
Just my thoughts, I could be wrong...

 
 
Blogger Artie Says:

Simon, not sure where you think we're disagreeing. I think you're right on. I was just saying that he's not asking us to leave our social networks behind and "go" do the ministry thing. I think he's saying that most of us should stay in our social network and be the yeast right there. So, as we go, do the ministry thing. Am I making any sense?

 
 
Blogger Simon Says:

Sorry for the confusion A-train. That does clear it up a bit. I just must have misread your comments.

 
 
Blogger Artie Says:

Cool.

 

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