Monday, September 14, 2009

So Civilized

So there I was sitting in church Sunday morning, drinking my coffee, waving at my friend Holly in the row in front of me, about to listen to another message deftly woven by Pastor Will.

I felt so normal, so civilized.

In terms of being accurate, insightful, and challenging, Pastor Will seems to have a pretty high average of hitting the ball out of the park. This week's topic was no exception; it covered loss (dreams, relationships, chapters) in our lives, and Jesus' resurrection power, the power to redeem every situation.

Recently, we have begun to exercise a little redemption power in our yard. For a year we have lived with a blank square, full of nothing but grass and a trampoline. But the landscape is literally starting to change. I started three tomato plants and a jalapeno pepper two weeks ago. I also bought a hook to hang my hummingbird feeder, since I have no trees from which to hang one.

Last week I purchased some Esperanza bushes (bright yellow trumpet shaped flowers to attract butterflies, hum-birds and buzzy bees all summer long). I then spent several hours beginning to dig out a flower bed, but that is just going to be a horrible, wretched job. I now have a row of plants lined up along the fence, just waiting for a home. The race is on to get them planted before they go dormant for the winter.

Saturday brought the dawn of a new era, as I brought four 12' crepe myrtles home to my yard to live. The hum-birds appeared giddy with glee. They zoomed in and out, perching, flitting, testing each tree in turn. What a laugh.

And this business of working on our landscaping felt so normal, so civilized.

For the first time, we are entering the second year in a new house with no big change plans looming on the horizon. This yard work is for ourselves, not for resale. This must be what normal people do on the weekend (when they are not taking their kids to football games or cheer practice).

Oh, but Sunday morning brought with it some significant aches and groaning. To get ourselves up and running, we kicked off the morning with some hot coffee and a painkiller. Mellow city.

And then on the way to church, the little alarm in the back of my head started dinging. What if, in the moments I reach for something anything to ease the moment, what if in those moments I made more of a habit of reaching for God? Of inviting him to join me in those moments, to show me his power?

Oh, I do not like that thought. I reach for comfort quite often, in the form of coffee, chocolate, an apple martini, a Tylenol PM, or occasionally even a leftover pain pill from my last baby experience. To be honest, I think God even made us that way on purpose. He gave us the sense that we need to reach for something outside ourselves, to help us right the imbalance in our soul.

But in his inexplicable wisdom, he left the choice of what to reach for, up to us. So that when we do reach for him, we do so out of our own desire, not out of compulsion.

I tell you what, though, it kills me that I don't reach for him more often! I'll be honest, the comfort foods and sleep aids are really useful and, well, comforting. But I often get mired in my me-centric ways, and neglect my Maker.

And recently, I've begun to wonder if I'm getting close to my lifetime limit on fresh starts from Jesus. Can he possibly redeem my tendency to get caught up in myself, and get me to a place where he can use me to reach other people? After years of starting over, I'm starting to feel a little lost. Like, where should I be, what should I be doing to make use of the mix of skills and experience he has given me? I don't know the answers with as much clarity as I seemed to have at the age of 25.

So that's what I was thinking about on Sunday morning, when Pastor Will opened his message with the declaration that it was about loss, and Jesus' resurrection power to reclaim every situation. Bam, he hit me right between the eyes.

So how exactly can I tap into this resurrection power to reclaim my own situation? To reclaim my sense of purpose?

The first thing is to acknowledge that Jesus is the one with the power to fix. Seriously, how arrogant am I when I think my little problems are too complicated for the Maker of the Universe to fix? C'mon, I think it's time to let go of that.

The second way to claim Jesus' resurrection power is to recognize that he is God. When I believe in Jesus and his message, I move from spectator status to being a participant in God's divine plan. I am asking God for help, knowing that in his answer he is also moving me forward in his cosmic drama, putting my chess piece into play, to so speak.

I also have to believe that Jesus not only can, but will set me back on the course he has for my life. He might even use other people to encourage me along the way.

The final point I heard, the one that challenged me the most, is that to experience Jesus' power in my life fully, I have to be willing to shed the old habits and addictions, maybe I might call them my comfort moments, that help me self-adjust my situations. Maybe... those are the times I need to seek Jesus, and ask him in those moments for a little resurrection power.

It all sounds a little dangerous, scary, and not really so civilized. Perhaps the landscape of my yard is not the only one about to go through a little change.

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