life, My Faith

All consuming

There’s been a lot of reflection lately. This week I’ve had time to do just that. I had drive time on Tuesday and while the weather wasn’t conducive to too much mind wandering, the road itself lends me to my thoughts.

Probably two things make me reflect on my life this week. The first is the fact that I have to tell some part of my story on Sunday. I like to tell stories but trying to figure out what part of my story I’m supposed to tell has been hard. Figuring out how to be okay with laying my cards on the table and showing what hand I’m playing with is hard as well. To eliminate the pretenses and the facade I prefer to safely hide behind will be necessary to telling that story. That, my friends, is scary. But if you can’t take it down for your people, then who can you take it down for? Besides they’ve broken down my wall, and even though I try to duck tape it back up regularly, they just bust through again.

The other reason for reflection is the reason I was on the road, a family funeral. Funerals always lend to some kind of reflection and introspection I think. As you’re reflecting on someone else’s life, you can’t help but wonder what kind of things you will leave behind and if you matter.

I thought it was interesting that this man who did so much for God throughout his life asked his wife if she thought he made a difference. This man pastored many churches, was commissioned by the home mission board and was a crucial part of establishing the Oklahoma Baptist disaster relief program that is heralded worldwide for its effectiveness. He touched the lives of so many. Yet, he still wondered if he did enough, if he made a difference. It would seem obvious to bystanders that he did, but he still wondered because his focus was on serving his God.

As I look back on my life I realize there are parts of the story I don’t love. There are parts of the story I’d like to rewrite (or even do over). There are parts where I fall, parts where I fail. But yet it all works together to be a part of the bigger story, the story that He’s still writing. The story I’m still living.

Some day I hope that the story as a whole will be one I do love. I hope that some day my family will look at my life and be proud to know me. As I sat there Tuesday, I thought, man, I want to live a life that lives up to my calling the way he did and a life that he would have been proud of. I want people to know God more by knowing me.

I know I’m not there yet. The trials and the hardships of my life tend to consume me too much. There have been so many times where I want to stop fighting, to just give up and be done. There are so many times where I crave silence because the world is too loud.

This week I got to enjoy one of those times though. Thursday, I elicited the help of my people to hold me accountable and at 12:55 I turned off my phone. Actually I put it on airplane mode because I knew one ding and I’d be done. I silenced my Apple Watch so it wouldn’t relay any messages and I prepared to have a Selah time, a pause of reflection. I was tired, I was stressed, and I needed a break. I wanted to go outside but it was cold so instead I went to my couch.

I can honestly say for the first little bit I wondered if my people actually checked on me to see if I turned off my phone. (It’s funny that we doubt those things that give us no reason to doubt. I think it might have been simply Satan trying to shift my focus.). I almost gave in to turning back on my phone to check but I had put it in the other room. I had committed to spending 3-4 hours in reflection, with God and with myself. And I tried to be committed.

I read a bit, I wrote a bit and I figured out for sure what my story was going to be for Sunday. I worked through that story so I could tell it. I spent time thinking, reflecting and praying. It was good. I took a break from worrying about all the other things and I just spent time with God. I need to do that again this coming week because I’m still not where I want to be. My soul is still tired.

When 4:45 rolled around I went and got my phone. As I took it out of airplane mode it dinged once. It was my mother. I was sad for a minute because I thought, my people forgot me. The thought had no sooner escaped my mind when my phone dinged about 10 times in rapid succession.

  • “Testing testing. Don’t respond.”
  • “If you’re reading this turn off your phone.”

    “Way to be off the grid (for this afternoon only).”

    Those are my people. The other dings were them carrying on in their conversations. This is the precious group message that randomly happens throughout the day and I have grown to love so much. Generally I hate group messages, but this one is like taking these people with me throughout the day so that whenever I need them or they need us, we are there. How and why do I ever doubt your love for me?

    As I continue to work toward having God consume me more than the trials that currently threaten to, Satan continues to put his two cents in as well. He makes me doubt my people. He wants me to give up. And I almost do sometimes. But God fights for me. My people fight for me as well. I hope one day my life will be worthy of all of that, a great legacy to leave behind. But until then, we continue marching forward. Pursuing God while He pursues me. Failing, yes. But clinging to the knowledge that “The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still.” (Exodus 14:14)

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