Tuesday, September 22, 2009

... slapped upside the head by God

so i've been on a fast for the past couple of weeks - a free-to-air-television fast. i don't have cable tv, so i'm not fasting from that much choice, and i'm not including videos or dvds either, so it would be easy to look at the whole thing and say, "well, where's the sacrifice then?" i know that if left to myself i'll happily stare at the tv for three or four hours straight of an evening with nary a blink, especially if i can channel-surf. not difficult most nights. thing is, though, if i choose to watch a dvd or video (yes, i still watch programmes on videotape!) i have to make a conscious decision about what i watch. if i channel-surf on the tv, the only conscious decision made is to turn it on - the channel-surfing happens on automatic pilot until the time/guilt factor kicks in and i decide to go to bed.

so i've been watching less tv, overall, and i've been reading and praying and listening to the radio all a lot more. my kitchen is tidier. i'm cooking more. (i know anything is more than practically nothing but hey...) it was while i was listening to light fm's rebroadcast of focus on the family that i was slapped upside the head tonight.

i can't even say that i've been feeling particularly sorry for myself lately in the usual "i hate being single" kind of way that i can be prone to falling into. it's long been a matter for prayer that God would give me contentment with the single status i currently enjoy (no pun intended) and i believe i can say that that contentment is gradually settling into my spirit. the loneliness that i've felt in the past doesn't have quite the bite that it used to and i firmly believe that it's God enabling me to trust his hand on my life that is the reason for this; i'm no less single than i was a year ago, or five years ago, or twenty years ago - it simply doesn't loom so largely in my field of vision. i pray earnestly that this perspective might continue, and improve.

tonight's focus on the family episode was part two of a discussion between dr james dobson and elisabeth elliot. as soon as i heard that elisabeth elliot was on air, my ears pricked up because i know the popularity and impact her book, passion and purity, had when i was younger. i'm encouraged to hear that that popularity and impact continues to endure. they talked about a bunch of stuff and the thing that jumped out at me - slapped me upside the head, so to speak - was her recollection of jim elliot's letters to her and his reference to amy carmichael's poetry. she mentioned a fragment from carmichael, who wrote:
if thy dear home be fuller, Lord, because a little emptier my house on earth, what rich reward!
i've said that as time has gone by i feel that in my experiences in youth ministry i feel that i have many more children than i could have been a blood brother or father to and that considering those times in that light lets me see the truth that "no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life." [luke 18:29-30, niv] (i know that the corollary passage in mark mentions persecutions as well but in the depths of i-hate-being-alone depression that usually feels like being persecuted by God anyway...)

what made this a bit of a slap upside the head was elliot's follow-up argument - that we are not our own, that we were bought at a price! the sacrifice that Jesus talks about in luke, above, isn't about trading one-for-many, it's about sacrifice for the kingdom of God. the service that we render to God in heaven begins here on earth and how insidious and easy it is to forgetting/ignoring that fact! satan's lies don't stop at doing everything he can to stop us looking at Scripture but continue to strangle and contort our perception of the truth even as it stands before us! i am certain that i could stand at the foot of the cross and satan would be doing everything to make me see Jesus' self-sacrifice and weakness in that action as human frailty and futility, rather than divine humility and grace.

so i'm praying hard now; not that God would make me content with my life where i find myself but rather that he would make me passionate for the kingdom of God, whatever that might mean. (argh!!!) it's probably one of the scariest things i've ever prayed but at this moment it is the only thing that feels right to ask. i don't want to be a jonah. i want to be a son.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good post Dr Vale.
I too share your great longing for growth in godly contentment 1 Tim 6:6 style. for whatever the blessing, still the discontentedness creeps in. But oh, what a Saviour, and oh, what a Father. May he pour our mercy on others more than me, and enable me to praise Him for it!
Mr Kadooh