Friday, April 17, 2015

You Are Here

I was reading an article this week in Faith Today magazine -
Building a better Lego car it was called.
Naturally, it had to do with Lego, so I was enticed into reading it further.

It talked about watching children build Lego cars at Boston's Legoland Discovery Center.
Their creativity was endless;
they built, and raced, and then remodeled to improve their designs.
The author writes, "Neither success nor failure seemed to bring unhappiness in these young engineers as they joyfully continued to engage in the building process."

They were in it - 100% -
and continued to be in it no matter how the races went,
no matter if their cars fell apart,
with eyes eager to look for improvements and other options.

I also read an article on calling this week - this one in Relevant Magazine -
the author talked about calling not necessarily being your job,
but rather who you are.
It can be expressed in your work,
but that doesn't necessarily mean your job is your calling.

And putting these two together got me to thinking.
I always felt called to be a teacher -
aside from short blips on my high-school radar where someone told me I was too smart to work with 7 year olds all my life (unpacking that statement is a whole other blog post...),
where I wanted to have a black Jeep and so thought being a pharmacist might be all right and would give me the cash for said vehicle,
and that killer whale phase.
Anyone else want to train and swim with orcas until thinking it through and realizing there would be a lot of science courses involved in that (in pharmacy, too), and for someone who didn't love the sciences, it might not be the right career path?
I digress.
I always felt called to be a teacher -
from playing school with the neighbourhood kids,
to my early babysitting days,
it seemed like a natural fit.
And for the 11+ years I taught,
most of the time, I can say that it was.

Fast forward a little -
marry a pastor,
resign from teaching position,
move to a new community,
have a child,
and somewhere along the way that call to be a teacher got put to the side.
And let's be honest for a minute -
I miss it.
A lot.
Well, most of it.
I don't miss marking long writing assignments and projects,
or the crunch of report card time,
or late nights of preparing that often left little time for other things,
or the confrontations and conflicts that come with any job that involves working with people -
but even with all of that,
I miss it.
In many ways,
it defined me.
And I think I miss that, too.

But the reality is that the place I am right now,
is the place God has asked me to be.
And it's not all bad.
I'm pretty fond of the pastor I married,
and am getting to know people and making friends in my new community.
I still have connections with good friends who aren't so close by,
opportunities to do some small bits of education work,
and a pretty cute little girl who is cheerful most of the time.

In this place, where I am now,
I have the same responsibility to develop the gifts God has given me;
the same need to find ways to be creative and to look for improvements and other options in regards to what my gifts are or how to use them;
I can still be a teacher -
of how to walk and learn and obey (perhaps even without the marking?);
I can be the "me" God has designed and called me to be -
without the definitions of me that I identified with before.

As the author of the second article put it:
"This isn't to say that it will be easy.
On the contrary, good work is hard work."

But good work is what we are called to -
no matter where we are on the map when we see that "You are here" pointer -
and if we seek to fulfill that calling,
we will be blessed,
and likely even find joy in the process.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Thomas the Twin Revisited

Been reading through some old blog posts - which has gotten me thinking about maybe blogging again. We'll see. In the mean time, we had a sermon about Thomas on Sunday and it got me looking back to this entry from 2007. Thought I'd share...

Thomas the Twin

Have you ever thought that we're pretty hard on Thomas?
He has gone down in history as the doubter.
That's how he is remembered.
No one speaks about him as the guy who wanted to be sure of the truth.
Nobody tells stories about how he was speared to death in the interest of spreading the Gospel.

Think about it a minute.
One of his best friends had gone from being welcomed into Jerusalem with Hosannas
to being arrested and crucified
in a matter of a week.
You want to talk about an emotional roller coaster?
Up, down -
confusion, sadness, helplessness, guilt for leaving Him with the guards -
He knew how Jesus had died.
I'm not sure if he watched the crucifixion or not,
but it doesn't really matter.
It was the talk of the town, I'm sure.

Either way, if I put myself into his sandals for just a short moment
and imagine where I would have been at
I can't come up with much more than
"emotional wreck".

I'm a skeptic with simple things
like if Grenadine syrup is really made from pomegranates.
And that won't really affect my life.
It won't change my emotions
or put into question what I have devoted my life to for the last 3 years.
I didn't leave my job
to walk the country side
learning the truth
and then sharing the Good News of what I had learned.

But Thomas had been in the inner circle.
Not only did Jesus know him,
but he knew Jesus.
He loved Jesus.
And, just like you or I would have,
he doubted the reality that Jesus could really be alive.
In fact, if anything,
I think we should commend him for his honesty.
He said what I'm sure some of the other disciples were thinking.

And that gets me to "Thomas the Twin".
I learned today that the name Thomas means twin.
And I think there is some incredible irony there.
Perhaps it is God quietly putting His sense of humour
into what He knows is generations of people who just don't get it.

We single Thomas out as someone different.
He is remembered all on his own
as the guy who didn't believe.

In truth, he is probably the disciple that many of us are like.
Our "twin", if you will.
If I am honest with myself,
there are a lot of things I doubt.
I know that God can heal cancer.
I know that God can bring reprieve to those who suffer from depression.
I know that God loves me even though I mess up over and over and over.
I know that life is better when God is control instead of me.
I know that God holds each one of us in His hands
even if it seems that He lets us go from time to time.
I know a lot of things.
But do I really live in a way that demonstrates that I believe them?
Or maybe the better question is,
"Do I really believe them?"
Because if I do,
there are parts of my life that should be different;
Parts of my life that should demonstrate this faith just on their own.
I shouldn't have to remind myself what I believe
if I really believe it.

Sometimes we say that we are the biggest critics of the characteristics of others that we hate in ourselves.
Thomas, I would like to say,
is my equal.
Instead of singling him out,
perhaps I should join him
and acknowledge my lack of faith.
He brings out that part of me that doubts;
the part of me that knows the answer
but doesn't act on it
because feeling it in my heart
and allowing it to transform me
takes more than just knowing.

It takes believing.
And it means surrendering myself to the Spirit of God.
I'm not really good at surrender.

Perhaps a good place to start
is with Thomas' words of greeting for Jesus
"My Lord and my God"...
humble me, that I may truly believe
and so live the joy of the resurrection.