Huh. We'll see how that works out for us.
So, today, I bring you some reflections on Chapters 6-9. Fair warning, it's somewhat long.
In Chapter 6, Clarkson calls us to wonder at our transcendent, preeminent God. To look and see that we cannot see all, that he is so much bigger and beyond our understanding.
Yesterday, I posted about wonder and thought some about the connections between wonder and work and wisdom and worship. I see that paradigm in this chapter. She points us to awe and wonder at God and his being so totally above and separate from us. She calls us to work in the paradigm of wonder in knowledge that God is so-far-beyond-us-in-every-way, that He will bring about greater than we can do ourselves. The fear - wonder, awe - of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Wisdom leads us to worship rightly, to bring glory to the one who inspires wonder, work, and grants wisdom.
I really liked the quote above because I think so often we think we can define what and who God is. Yet, He is preeminent over all creation: he caused all things to be, and as Job, we cannot understand his vastness. He is transcendant, beyond, out of phase with us, yet reachable. My husband, Jason, is reading a book about the men who defined the meter. He told me they were trying to measure the earth and had mostly been cartographers previously. They used the stars as an outside reference point to do their calculations; they needed something separate from, outside, the earth to calculate the size of the earth. We need something separate from, outside our lives to live holy lives. If we can define God and put Him into a box, then he isn't very God-like. If he is bigger and outside of us, if we cannot sound his fathoms, He is worthy of dependence and worship.
While he is beyond us and our understanding, his Spirit comes to us, lives within us, propels us, strengthens us, encourages us, transforms us. In Chapter 7, Clarkson is clear that
we ... acquire spiritual maturity and strength by walking with the Spirit over many years ... yielding our thoughts, attitudes, desires, prayers, and goals to theSpirit as we go about our days. (pg 89)Or we should. Do we trust the Spirit as we ought? Do we really believe he lives within us to guide and strengthen, to help us? I know I tend to rely on my intuition (as INFJs are wont to do) ... how do we determine when it is our intuition or the nudge of the Spirit?
I don't know.
I suspect it is some of both. Chapter 8 encourages us to cultivate practices that deepen our faith. Clarkson gives strong argument for what she calls the Spiritual Disciplines, but I would call the Means of Grace.
God has given us His Word: read it.
Jesus grants us access to boldly come before the throne in prayer: pray.
The apostles call us to not forsake rest in the gathering of believers: worship corporately.
If you have time for television but not for personal time with the Father, then you don't understand the value of your relationship with Him. If you spend hours on the Internet each week but rarely open your Bible, you are not committed to the honor of knowing and listening to Him. (pg 101)Ouch.
Habits, rhythms of the day. I hate habits. [sigh]
Then, for me the hardest chapter, taking risks. Chapter 9.
If we believe that God is transcendant and preeminent, if we believe that He sends His Spirit to help us, if we believe that we can know Him through the means of grace, we can take risks, trusting in Him, to do work for Him.
I just think working for Him can come in big or small packages. Some are called to big, noticable things like the Clarksons, yet if all of us ran a publishing company and ministry to moms, we would all be competing with one another. Some of us are called to middling things, like committee leadership within the church or a local charity. Some of us are called to roll up our sleeves and serve - without fanfare -, wherever, whenever, however.
As I said before, I believe owning our life includes understanding the nature of the person God has created us to be and serving him within those capacities. We are to enjoy God - that relationship with Him; and we are - I don't think Clarkson clarifies this well - to glorify God. In worship, in the task(s) at hand, in all things we are to glorify God. If that is organizing and being certain that there is someone coordinating meals when a baby is born in a family; or the actual call for and coordination of meals; or the provision of meals ... we glorify God if that is the work we're called to. If we are Daniel in the lion's den, or the martyrs in the Coliseum, we are to glorify God.
I do like her faith stealers (pg 117-118) in this chapter:
- Fear paralyzes us from moving forward.
- Formula: We feel more secure when we have rules to follow than when we have to live in the mystery of trusting God by faith
- Flesh is the attempt to live the Christian life by works and by manipulating circumstances on our own power ... it attempts todo only what is logical (fear) or acceptable (formula)
The prescription against these maladies is faith: seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness. Glorify God in the circumstances and see how he is strengthening you, re-creating you (New Creation!), and forcing you to trust him.
My father-in-law is reading Francine Rivers' Mark of the Lion series. I read it many, many years ago, but I still remember when Hadassah is facing the lions in the Coliseum. God freed her from her fears in that place of terror by allowing her to sing hymns to glorify Him despite circumstances. What circumstances are you facing? Can you trust Him? Do you know him - in his transcendance - well through utilizing the means of grace? Do you rely on the Spirit he has sent to help you or your own intuition?
Owning your life means giving it up to God for His own glory. It is only through losing our life that we can save it. (Matt 10:39)