Friday, October 9, 2015

Mercy Hunting: Looking for Good Works

Hello Friday!  It's a new day and God's mercies are new along with it - I have pictures to prove it.  Last week I was thinking deep thoughts on a roller coaster.  This week I'm thinking deep thoughts about good works.

One mercy and blessing that I'm thankful for and not just in the morning is our new porch furniture - I'm completely and totally in love with it!  It came from Nebraska Furniture Company (click }here{ to read about that birthday shopping adventure) and it's so lovely and meets my 'comfortable enough for a nap' requirement.  It also matches the leftover barn paint I used to paint the armoire and back door ... didn't plan that but I love it.  The pelican was also a birthday gift, he flew in all the way from Key West and makes me smile every time I see him.

I've always been a weekly grocery shopper - it's how my Mom did it, too.  Living 30 minutes from a grocery store provides a weekly opportunity to spend some private time with each of my kids on a regular basis.  If you haven't read my post about Mom & Me nights, click }here{ - I think it's one of the best things I've instituted as a mom.  This is my sweet girl last week at our favorite restaurant.

She isn't texting friends and obsessed with social media, she's showing me all the funny things on the internet so we can laugh together.  We talk non-stop all evening on random topics of no consequence and weighty topics that take some thought.  I look forward to Mom & Me nights every week and they are way up at the top of my list when it comes to God's Mercies and how they show up daily.  I had no idea what I was starting more than ten years ago with Mom & Me, and I'm so grateful for it.

This week I listened to }this{ episode of the Portfolio Life Podcast, Jeff Goin's interview with Seth Godin, wherein they discuss Godin's book What to Do When It's Your Turn (and it's always your turn).  The entire interview is packed with excellent insight, but the one thing that I keep pondering is Godin's comment that he writes what he needs to read.  As someone who processes things through writing, this makes great sense, and resonated deeply with what I've been thinking about lately.

Today, this is me, writing what I myself need to read.

Years ago, LtDan and I went through a two day course called Walk Through the Old Testament in which we memorized the Old Testament.  Not word for word, but we learned a blurb for every significant event that occurs from Genesis to Malachi, complete with hand motions.  It was amazing to get the big picture and see how it all fits together.  Our friend, Richard, described it best when he said, "I felt like all those events were rolling around in my head like loose marbles, and this program is the string that collects them all together."

That's a little bit how I feel about the life lessons I'm trying to learn right now.  They are a bunch of loose marbles rolling around in my head - nuggets of truth and wisdom that are high value on their own, but if I could only string them together on the same strand, they would be massively powerful.

Lately, I'm realizing that not only do I need to absorb wisdom for myself, I need to be able to share it in conversation, too.  In all honestly, I would rather recommend a podcast or book and leave it at that.  That way I'm not so much in the position of telling people what they should do, and I avoid the necessity of putting the energy into making a compelling case and inviting conversation about it.  But my young people are probably not going to go listen the the podcasts I talk about or read the books I recommend, and they aren't so inclined to patiently sit through my long-winded presentations anymore.  They're stretching into their own lives, and my best opportunities these days are elevator speeches, more often than not.

I'm rereading When the Game is Over It All Goes Back in the Box, by John Ortberg.  It has so many great points about focusing our lives on what is lasting.  Chapter 11, "Fill Each Square With What Matters Most" opens with a quote from Lewis Smedes:
I bought a brand-new date book yesterday, the kind I use every year.... Every square has a number to tell me which day of the month I'm in at the moment.  Every square is a frame for one episode of my life.... Whatever I do, it has to fit inside one of those squares on my date book.  I live one square at a time.  The four lines that make up the box are the walls of time that organize my life.  Each box has an invisible door that leads to the next square.  As if by a silent stroke, the door opens and I am pulled through, as if by a magnet, sucked into the next square in line.  There I will again fill the time frame that seals me - fill it with my busy-ness just as I did the square before.  As I get older, the squares seem to get smaller.  One day I will walk into a square that has no door.  There will be no mysterious opening and no walking into an adjoining square.  One of those squares will be terminal.  I do not know which square it will be.
Ortberg goes on to discuss the idea that our lives are like a glass jar with finite capacity, and how critical it is to make sure that we put in the most important things first.  When I think of what I should be doing - impacting the lives around me with love - I feel a mental door slamming on trying to be the kind of Mom I'm not, and the perfectionist in me gives up before she even begins.  I'm not the smoochy, huggy, selfless Mom always ready to have a long heart-to-heart that I picture when I think of being ultra-loving.  But what if I pried that slammed door open a little bit, what if I tried those impossible things, chief among which is to change and be a better version of myself?  What if I tried to do better, tried to rack up some good works for the Kingdom?   Normally, I'm leaning hard on God's grace and mercy, and doing my tried and true version of "good," but not really thinking about my call to actually do good works.

That's the downside of grace, if there could possibly be one: that I rely too heavily upon it.  I'm tolerably "good" but I am not great, and certainly don't live my life as though my salvation depends on it.  I am saved purely by God's grace ... but what about the works that are supposed to be evidence of my faith?  What if I lived this day like I needed to earn my way into God's grace ... would I behave differently?

Yes.  I would behave frantically.  I would be frantic, not knowing what to do.  Leave now for the mission field, right now?  Give all my possessions away to the poor?  But there's a mission field right here in my living room - these lives, these hearts, these growing souls.  How am I impacting the Kingdom in these lives, in my ever so, ever so daily life?

My MotherMantra is "if you're going to live here, you have to do chores.  You have to contribute to the family."  Maybe God is tapping His foot toward me, and saying "Absolutely, you are my child, and if you're going to be part of this Kingdom, you have to contribute!"

My heart rejoices in God's constant, perpetual, all sufficient saving grace.  I'm so grateful for that, every single day.  His love is steadfast, and His mercies are new every morning.  But God has blessed me with much - blessings upon blessings as far as my heart's eye can see - to me, much has been given.  Maybe it's time to push out of my spiritual adolescence and challenge myself to seek, find and do good works.  Maybe it's time to do more chores for the Kingdom.

Shared joy is doubled joy ... let's double the joy for both of us - what are you most grateful for today? Click below to leave your comment. I'll go first :