As I've been reading "A Long Obedience in the Same Direction" by Eugene Peterson, I've been struck by many of the images he uses to explain the Psalms of Ascent (Ps120-134). These are the Psalms the Israelites would sing on the road up to Jerusalem and the temple. As I have read and studied I found that these Psalms were paralleling my life's journey as we have experienced the trauma of my wife's health (return of cancer) and my loss in resigning from ministry.
Loss is difficult, whether the loss of dreams, health, jobs or someone you love. However, God's Presence is ever so near us, leading us and counseling us along the journey. In this journey of cancer and loss of job there is much uncertainty and waiting. I am a future thinker and so all of this waiting really tries my patience. I want purpose and I want it now. Or as my daughter's daycare teacher says about fits, "I want what I want and I want it now!" I want my wife to be healthy again. I want to have a vocation where I can serve God's purpose and provide for my family.
Yet God makes us wait. He slows us down. He even puts us on the shelf as he would a tool, where we wonder what use am I?
Eugene Peterson put it this way,
"We live in a pragmatic age and are reluctant to do anything if its practical usefulness cannot be demonstrated. It is inevitable that we ask regarding worship, is it worth it? Can you justify the time and energy and expense involved in gathering Christians together in worship? Well,
'look at the mower in the summer's day, with so much to cut down ere the sun sets. He pauses in his labour-is he a sluggard? He looks for his stone, and begins to draw it up and down his scythe, with rink-atink, rink-atink, rink-atink. Is that idle music- is he wasting precious moments? How much he might have mowed while he has been ringing out those notes on his scythe! But he is sharpening his tool, and he will do far more when once again he gives his strength to those long sweeps which lay the grass prostrate in rows before him."
Life's journey this last 6 months and even longer, have been about God retooling me. He's sharpening me, oiling me here, reshaping me there, turning on the flames to refine me and even taking out bad parts and putting in new good parts. My eyes see scripture in new ways as we have been facing the shadow of death. My ears hear scripture and praise in fresh ways that often cut to the heart and even sting as a salve meant to heal a wound. God's not finished with me or any of us yet. He's doing work in us and through us in our weakness, in our trials and even in our seemingly uselessness.
As I read this part about the lawn mower taking time to sharpen his blade. I looked to my shed and knew I needed to do the same thing to my lawn mower. But I dislike seemingly tedious tasks. Yet this story shed new light on my perspective. My lawn mower will work better if I sharpen the blade and change the oil. Just like I will serve the Lord better if I slow down and let Him work on me. He is sharpening His tool.
I sit and wait. I watch and listen. What will the Lord do next? I anticipate His action and His hand on my life.
I am finding joy in the tedious tasks and slowing down.
I am finding my delight in just being and in worshipping the Lord in each moment.
How is God working in your life? I'd love to hear your story.
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