Thursday, November 18, 2010

Drawing Water from a Dry Well

I've recently finished the book "Boundaries" by Cloud/Townsend. Its been on my "want-to"read list for a long time. I was quite familiar with the idea of 'boundaries' before reading the book, but I'm thankful that the book revealed some new areas I had not yet thought of.

I enjoyed the book very much. I will say that often their use of Scripture to support their points was faulty - they took Scripture out of context several times! But nevertheless - the book does contain wisdom and some truth for us to glean and wrestle with....particularly from Proverbs.

Below is a personal realization, inspired partly by the book , and partly by a personal coach/mentor of mine who has been trying to drill this into my head for years: :)

I will begin with an illustration: I'm a mezzo-soprano, meaning that my vocal range is high but richer in the middle and not so lovely in the highest spots. If I was singing for a director who gave me a solo that was written for a first soprano (those skilled in high areas), he would soon discover that I would sing it rather poorly. In the future, most likely that director would be careful to give me solos that would be better suited to my range so that I could perform at a higher level. However, if that director continued to give me solos that I was not suited for, and then was angry at me again and again for singing them poorly, the fault would lie with him and not with me. I am weak in that range, to be sure, but it is not the range that my vocal chords were designed for.

A similar illustration is the following: If I need to fill up my bucket of water and I have several wells to choose from, most likely I will go to the well that has the freshest and largest supply of water. However, if I choose to go to the empty well and try to fill up my bucket - and come up short - I am being foolish. If I continue to try and fill up my bucket from an empty well...well, that's just insanity. :) Getting angry at the empty well wastes a lot of time and emotional energy when I could simply draw from other sources.

There is a wideness and diversity in the Body of Christ. We all have different spiritual gifts, talents, resources, etc. To ask that Person A fill my need for ______ is fine...IF Person A is skilled in ____. But if Person A is not skilled - and I return again and again demanding him/her to fill that need, then the fault lies with me, and not with them. Instead I should be asking, 'who is designed to fill the need of _____?' and choose instead to go to that person.

I Corinthians gives us such a glorious picture of the Body of Christ - each part has its role. How foolish would we be to ask the arm to be an eye, or the ear to be a foot?? But that is just what we do with each other sometimes.

Think of someone who continually disappoints you and hurts you...have you been trying to draw water from a well that is dry? Remember the wideness of the Body of Christ and look for your needs to be met in a variety of sources and people. Choosing this view helps us to be free from anger and resentment...and turn instead to appreciation.

Ironically - demanding that someone meet a need that we have that they are not skilled to meet is only a recipe for making the relationship worse. It creates insecurity and a critical spirit. Instead, when we delight in the goodness of what gifts and help that person has to offer, we find a thankful spirit in our hearts that creates an environment for trust, encouragement, affirmation, and the valuing of one another.

Ultimately, our "WELL" is truly CHRIST Himself. He alone meets our deepest needs. But He often chooses to meet those needs through others in the Body of Christ. If you have a need that is unmet...ask God to direct you to the right person in the Body of Christ to help you to fill it.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Anxiety = Pride

This is a hard one to swallow sometimes, our anxiety is related to PRIDE...a belief that we can or should handle it all and handle it all well. I have noticed a recurring pattern of anxiety in my life that has varied in its intensity or presentation in different seasons of my life. This morning it came again. I started to write in my journal, asking God to specifically answer my request for help in this area of my life.

Then...I read this...

An Excerpt from the book, "Expectations & Burnout: Women Surviving the Great Commission" by Eenigenburg & Bliss.

A friend of the authors, Tina Henry, gives her tips for handling the overwhelming stress of her life:

(1) PRIORITIES- She says, "When I was younger, I always felt that if I just worked harder, faster, and smarter, I could do it ALL. I could take on any new commitment that came my way with God's strength. Now as I am older, and have even less energy than before, I realize that I can't do it all. God never intended for me to. I see now that I must be careful to do the most important things first, because I'll never get to all the good things there are to do. I must leave the undone things in God's hands, praying about those things, but realizing that I cannot do them all myself."

I have often subconsciously believed I could do all things well if I just worked "smarter or harder." I am learning to repent of this belief!

(2) PEOPLE - ask others for help! " is good to get others involved and to have them do some of the things I can't do." This humbles us - to ask for help is to reveal NEED.

(3)& (4) PATIENCE & PERSISTENCE. "Some things take a long time to accomplish like learning a language or developing meaningful relationships. We need to persevere, knowing that these things will not be accomplished in a day. It is good to break such long-range goals into pieces and pray through each one, looking to God to bless our efforts one step at a time."

Sometimes I am greatly passionate about my goals and forget that my own efforts cannot produce results unless God is in them. I need to wait on Him.

(5) MULTIPLICATION - We need to " God to multiply our small efforts, just as He multiplied the boy's small lunch to meet the needs of many thousands." "I pray that God will multiply my feeble efforts in each area of responsibility to meet the needs of others. I look to Him to see what He wants me to be involved in, and as I do all I can in each area, minimal though it might be, I can expect Him to multiply my efforts to the blessing of others. I would find life very overwhelming if I didn't know we serve a powerful and gracious God at work. This relieves a lot of pressure, for He can maximize our minimal efforts for His glory and the blessing of others."

She closes her suggestions by wrapping it ALL in PRAYER. It is through PRAYER that God directs us to know WHAT to take on, WHOM to serve and whom to ask for help, how to have PATIENCE and perseverence, and it is God alone who Multiplies our efforts.

I closed my devotional time this morning by listening to a song by CORRINNE MAY called "FIVE LOAVES & TWO FISHES" - I highly recommend you to download this. It captues the essence of these thoughts.

I can only give my "lunch" but He is the one Who Feeds Thousands. My pride relates to the fact that I think I can do it all...but I can't...humility is a beautiful freedom that surrenders its efforts to God, and then enjoys living in that simple trust.
Praise Him!