Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Accomplishment and Reflection

It has been SO long since I have been able to blog. I have almost forgotten that I know how to blog. And looking at some of the dust that has accumulated on my bible is a little disappointing. These past couple of months have been crazy busy. You think, oh life surely will not be as busy in the summer! WRONG! It’s more busy.  I’m realizing there will never be a season in life that is “not busy.”

This semester has been so great though. I had not sat down, until today, to really reflect on all of the wonderful things that have happened.  For those that know me, know I am a goal-oriented person. In December/January I started to formulate some of my goals. The first goal was to run a half marathon. Again, for those that know me, know that I am not very athletic and had never run more than 2 miles before I started training for the Bearathon. By the grace of God, I survived without crawling to the finish line (even despite strong urges). 

My second goal, was to pass and complete the 4 sections of the Certified Public Accountant exam. I started the process of studying in January. I had no idea how hard it would be. It zapped my mental strength every day I studied. Thankfully, yesterday I found out I passed all 4 exams. Praise the Lord! As close friends and family would tell you, there was not a single test I felt like I passed walking out of the exam. By the grace of God, I am done with my tests!

My third goal, was to move and get settled in Houston and find a church home. I became an official member of First Baptist Houston last weekend. By the grace of God, I found an awesome place to live close to downtown, a great roommate, I start work at Deloitte next week and have a new church to call home.

It feels great to accomplish things. As I talked about in past blogs, I LOVE checking things off the list. So this week, is the first week without a single thing to check off my list (besides the monotonous chores of cleaning and laundry – that can wait right?)I have one week of freedom until I start work and I don’t even know what to do with myself.  Should I pick up my study materials again and study for fun? What about running again?  Should I look for a new place to live? You see the past couple of months I have become so distracted with life that I have slowly forgotten who inspired my goals, hopes, and desires. So now, in the quietness of life with no exotic trips, people to see, things to study for, I sit here feeling a little empty. I had filled up my schedule with goals and achieving that the goals themselves became a distraction. It’s really hard to admit that, because all of me wants to say what I did the past couple of months has been SO great and I have a lot to be proud of. God softly tells me that this is not true. 

This morning I opened up my quiet time, the first time, in a month and God spoke to me like only He does through Philippians 2. 

Paul tells the people:

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
To me, this hit home today.  If I have any encouragement in being united with Christ (which I do the day I became a Christian) then Paul is saying be moved by something greater than myself. This passage tells me to have the same love as Christ, devoting my mind and spirit to this goal.  On top of it, he tells me to do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. This is where I am personally convicted, because looking back at the list of the goals and accomplishments I am called to separate myself from them in order to not have vain conceit or selfish ambitions. This is really hard, because the physical Lindsay did all of these things. I ran every 13.1 miles of the way. Believe me, I took every 3-4 hour torturous test. I moved a lot of boxes into my house and I interviewed for my job. And God tells me to separate myself from my accomplishments in order to do nothing out of selfish ambition? At first I am instantly deflated.  But I am called to be moved by something greater than myself. I am called to give up my accomplishments to Him in order to have humility. I am called to value others above me. You see, God knows me and my heart and my sinful nature so well that he knows if I were to start hanging my hat on my list of my accomplishments I would most definitely let it get in the way of reaching others. It would most definitely get in the way of living a higher purpose in life, where I am called to be His hands and feet and to love others. Because the only reason I was ever able to accomplish anything is through the strength of Christ Jesus in me (Philippians 4:13)
12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
The middle of the passage is great, I recommend that you read it but I am going to point out verses 12 and 13.  It’s like Paul speaks exactly to me. He said, friends- continue obeying. I do feel like I have obeyed God’s call in my life. I don’t feel like I have strayed from God’s will, I just feel like I have let it overcome me. So I should continue to work out my salvation with fear and trembling. You see, God planted my will and desires in my heart. He did it to fulfill His good purpose- not mine. Which is why I should separate myself from accomplishments and who I am. I can stand here today knowing that I would accomplish nothing on my own. Because of this, to God be the glory. 
So dear Lord, thank you for this day. In this day spiritually I have achieved more than I have in the past 2 months of “achieving.” By the grace of God, I had a morning of quiet sitting in my PJs and not really even getting out of bed. I did nothing compared to all that I have done. But I learned a big lesson. That if I let any of the superficial accomplishments get to my head, then slowly I will become focused on the things I can do. I become focused on my own strength, my own plans, my own life. Slowly I become overcome with achieving, busyness, and my self-seeking goals become empty. The busyness distracts me from the maker of my will and desires, the one who planted my goals and desire so that I could serve HIS purpose not my own.

I leave you with a dream I had recently. A dream that was so vivid and clear that I know it could only be from God.  I dreamed that I was inspired by a friend’s blog. And all I really remember from this dream-blog was 2 pictures. One of Lindsay’s plan and one of God’s plan.

The first image of our human plan/Lindsay’s plan was a path shaped like a tree. You know, starting off on the trunk of God’s plan – the straight path. Like being motivated by God, being inspired by God, like in the story of my goals. I believe God planted desires in my heart to serve his purpose. Then as time passes, many paths slowly veering off the trunk, like the branches of the tree. You know there are so many paths that you could follow as the tree grows, winding and curving. Life gets a little confusing. And our plans get a little twisted and grow in all sorts of directions. Suddenly we start growing away from God- growing away from the trunk. Our best efforts and plans are always a little disorganized- like we can see one branch growing one way and the other growing the other way and suddenly we get kind of confused and overwhelmed by the different directions life seems to be headed. It’s like we get focused on the things we can do, and become overcome that slowly we grow away from God.

The second image was a picture of God’s plan- a very simple image. The image had one main path (similar to the trunk of the tree) but 2 paths branching from it. One path veered towards the left and the other to the right.

As I couldn’t get the thought of this dream out of my head, I went ahead and drew a little picture of how I saw the dream. The first image was a tree, and the second was something spectacular. The second image I saw in the dream was a cross. It was 1 path, 2 paths veering out of it- one towards the left and right. I was instantly moved. 

I was moved because in my sleep, God told me that getting consumed with my ideas, ambitions and goals would always be confusing because each branch veers AWAY from the trunk. However, God’s plan leads to the cross. God provides just enough clarity so that we can see the cross. That’s all we need to see. We don’t need to see all the ways our lives will curve and grow (like a tree’s branches) because growing with God is growing to be humbled at the foot of the cross. To be overwhelmed by the things HE has done- not the things I could ever do. Growing with God means to take on the cloak of humility so that I alone can be NOTHING of worth without HIS presence in me. So that everything I ever achieve points to HIM, not me. You see, I am an imperfect and sinful human. I will ALWAYS have fault. But if God uses my achievement for HIS good and his will, his power in me will make me something. And at then end of the day I can hang my hat on heavenly accomplishments, and not earthly ones.  As an old hymn states, To God be the Glory, great things HE HAS DONE!