Monday, August 20

Safe Ground...A Place to Stand

Parker Palmer had a PhD from a top US university.  He was on the fast track to become a university president and an expert in education.  In the middle of all his "success" he went through a long period of profound depression.  At one point a friend said to him, "You seem to look upon you depression as the hand of an enemy trying to crush you...Do you think you could see it instead as the hand of a friend, pressing you down to ground on which it is safe to stand?"

Palmer describes how many of his choices were driven by ego and a sense of what he or those around him thought he should do. writes: For a long time the "oughts" had been the driving force in my life - and when I failed to live up to those oughts, I saw myself as a weak and faithless person.  I never stopped to ask, "How does such-and-such fit my God-given nature?" or "Is such-and-such truly my gift and call?" As a result, important parts of the life I was living were not mine to live and thus were doomed to fail."

Read: John 17:1-5
1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, "Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

Have you ever felt you were living a set of "oughts" instead of your calling?  
Have you ever taken time to examine the "oughts" in your life?  Where are they coming from?  How valid are they?   Have you ever asked God how something fits your God-given nature or if something you're doing is truly your gift and call?

During Jesus' life, many thought he "ought" to live a certain way.  He got pressure from His friends, His followers, His fanbase and even His family!  But he new that He could only do what his Father gave him to do.  He should only live according to the Father's "oughts".

And because Jesus let God set his agenda - not the "oughts" of his world from those around him - at the end of his life, just hours before he would be led away and crucified, he could say that he had glorified God by accomplishing the work God had given him to do.  We might wonder, "How is that possible? The Jews were rejecting him! Many people did not believe; others had not been healed!" But Jesus' work was done; he accomplished the work the Father gave him to do.

Jesus' deep sense of calling was forged through extended times with the Father.  He did not enter ministry until he spent forty days and nights fasting in the wilderness.  He regularly took time to pull away and spend time with God.

Set aside at least fifteen minutes and find a quiet place, free of distractions.  Take several deep breaths.  As you breathe in, invite God to fill you with his Holy Spirit.  As you breathe out, hand over every care, burden or distraction you're carrying.  

When you sense his peace and presence, ask your heavenly Father, "What is it you've given me to do?  Where am I missing that call?  Where am I getting it right?"  

Notice places in your life where you feel unsettled or tired - often this is a signal that you may be living out of your calling.  Notice places where you feel great joy and life - this often points us toward our calling.  

Invite God to speak and take time to listen.  It may take time.  You may want to share what you sense with a trusted friend to get feedback.  You should definitely measure what you are hearing against Scripture.  Then, you'll be standing on solid ground...ground from which it's safe to do all the Father has given you to do!  

1 comment:

  1. also safeground on which to "kneel"!
    (time article...thanks!)