Longing for significance

I long to be the center of attention, the one in whom all things hold together.
But that longing is doomed to fail, the world is far bigger than I.
It is God at the center, who hold all things together.

I am at the center of his gaze, his attention is on me, more focused than I can imagine. His attention is also on everyone else, and I cannot fathom how he can focus on so many at once. But he does. And his focus, although divided, is still greater on me even than the attention I pay to myself. He has counted the hairs on my head.

Yesterday I thought of the two bricklayers, when asked what they are doing.
“Laying bricks,” one says, “I have five hours left on this shift.”
“Building a cathedral,” the other one says. “Won't it be beautiful!”

Maybe there's more to the story. The first bricklayer won't last long, the work is too hard and the coworkers too annoying. The second one keeps going, he has a vision for his job. But then comes the day when they will plaster and paint the walls. "What? Why?" the bricklayer cries out. “You're hiding my bricks! How can I show my children and grandchildren what I built here?”

“Don't fret,” the architect says. “The crowds may not notice your bricks underneath the plaster and paint, but I will. You did well -- you laid a good wall.”

God grant us the grace to trust that his attention, his commendation of our work is enough. We all long for notoriety and attention from others, but let us commit those desires to God.

I believe and I don't believe

I was startled this morning reading a familiar passage, Mark 9:14-29. Jesus, Peter, James and John have just come down from the mountain after the Transfiguration, to find an argument and a confused crowd. A man with a demon-possessed son says he brought the boy but the disciples were not able to drive out the spirit. Jesus asks to see the boy, and the spirit threw the boy into a convulsion.

“How long has he been like this?”
“Since childhood,” the father answers. “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
“‘If you can’?” said Jesus, “Everything is possible for one who believes.”
Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
The father's words are impressive for their honesty. “I do believe, but I also don't. Please help.” I wonder how often are we that honest in our prayers?

Empowerment, a holy buzzword

I enjoy satirizing corporate buzzwords. My favorite punchline for "Why did the chicken cross the road?" The business consultant: "We developed with our client a comprehensive plan to leverage her core competencies and better position herself for success in today's changing marketplace environment."

But "empowerment" is one corporate buzzword that represents something holy, something God has been doing for a long time. God does empower his people. In fact, without God's empowerment, there is not much to say for us. God enjoys taking ordinary, insignificant people and making something great of them. 

But alas, we all too often find this too hard to believe. At first we struggle to believe God could do something with us. Then we shift to struggling to believe God can do something with that other person. Or we cling to the role God has given us, forgetting that it is his gift, and that he likely delights in giving the same kind of gift to others. If we feel driven to control everything around us, because no one can get the details right as well as we can, have we not lost sight that our position and competencies are gifts from God?

I think God calls us to be stewards of the authority or positions he gives us. He gives them to us for a time, not to be kept permanently for ourselves, but to be used for his kingdom. The time will come when we won't have that role any more, we are to hand it back to God, or see God hand it to someone else.

The gift of being a beloved child in his kingdom, that is eternal. That we can cling to and call our own. The gifts of being someone notable in this world can only be temporary. We are only temporary in this world.

Greeting to the Trinity

O loving heavenly Father, who runs to meet us and welcome us home;
O elder brother, who is not ashamed to call us brothers and sisters;
O Spirit, who makes us the place chosen for the dwelling of his Name.

Luke 15:20
Hebrews 2:11
2 Corinthians 6:16, Deut 12:11