Monday, December 22, 2008

The Short and Long of It

I have a friend who is going through a crisis right now with her baby. My heart breaks for her as she asks for prayer and shares her family's struggle in keeping strong. She has great faith and has been an admirable testimony through it all, and I know that all the prayers people are offering for her, and especially her own cries to the Lord, are offering a deep source of strength for her that she can't fully realize at this time.

It got me thinking about our response to crisis times, and the long term effects of such times. I've had two events in the last 5 years that have been major upheavals in my life. Four years ago my mother succumbed to COPD (basically emphysema). Then two years ago I was laid off from a job when my contract wasn't renewed, under some interesting circumstances (you can read all about it on this blog even...whee).

I know I relied heavily on the Lord for strength during those times. In one sense my mom's death was easier, because she had taught us that death was a natural part of life and she didn't fear it. We knew she didn't want to suffer anymore, and in that way it was a blessing. Still, my father died when I was 5, so she was essentially both parents to me through my life, and it was still hard. God brought a lot of peace into the situation.

When I lost my job, that was a little incredible because there wasn't a really good reason for it. There were lots of circumstances in the background that made it a difficult road, and I didn't get a job right away. It took four months to start my current job from when I finished at the old clinic, and I spent three months at the job I was losing the way my contract was written (90 days notice). It was a real battle to go to work each day to a place I knew didn't want me, but again, God moved in my life during that time, and He proved Himself extremely faithful.

So where is this babbling going?

In the short term, I really turned to Jesus and received strength, grace, whatever you want to call it. I spent time with Him, and I felt like the tree in Psalm 1, with roots planted by streams of water. Especially in the job situation, where I had reason to be very bitter and angry, I can say I had a supernatural enabling to walk in pretty good attitudes (hey - I wasn't perfect).

Today as I was thinking about my friend's trial, I thought about the long-term position I was in regarding my big crises. I was dealing with anger at my mom that she missed out on our new little girl, because she chose to smoke. I still deal with anger and bitterness over my former employers. A couple of people were gossiping about one of the doctors, and part of me didn't want to hear at all, but part of me delighted in hearing about his problems since I left.

What happened to the good responses?

I can testify that it wasn't God's fault how my spirit, my response has darkened. It was fully my lack of endurance in seeking His will in all of these areas. As time passed and the busyness of life took over, I no longer spent time with Jesus regarding these events and attitudes. I focused on what was immediately in front of me, without fully submitting all of my life-past, present, and future-to Him.

I think my point in all this is that the Christian walk is a long-term marathon. I thought that the problems were over just because things had moved on. I stopped actively asking for His Word and light to help in those areas. Therefore a root of bitterness, starting small, was able to take hold. These events are affecting me years down the road. Now, the death of a parent is supposed to do that. The loss of a job is also one of the major life stressors someone can endure. Yet, with the grace that was given me during those times, it seems out of line that I reacted this way.

I don't want to take God's grace for granted anymore. I don't want to let things from my past rule my present. I feel like I enjoyed His grace for a season and left it behind when things turned and started going "my way" again. How terrible to disregard such a gift.

Ugh. I didn't mean to get so maudlin. But it is an important point I want to make: we keep going to the well of the Lord, whether good times or bad. We don't stop when times get good. We turn to Him in the short term and when things go well, we leave Him in the long term.

Thankfully these are heart attitudes that aren't huge. I haven't lost my faith or anything near it. But He deserves better from me, and I'm not happy with where my heart is in these areas.

Here's to the short and the long of it.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous2:20 PM

    Wow, Jason, thanks for your honest, heart-felt post. You are so right about our typical response to success. How many of the Jewish kings ran into trouble once trouble was "over" and they no longer turned to God for His guidance?

    Honestly, I'm such a wimp, I pray purposefully that God will press me close to His side and won't need to pull me back through adversity because I run off on my own. Yeah, adversity still comes, but every time I see God holding my hand through it.

    My theory is, He delights in us running to Him of our own free will, and like any parent, is loathe to discipline and reprove—but He will when He needs to. So running to Him needs to be my habit of life, and then ... maybe then, I'll continue to run to Him in those success times.