Friday, September 18, 2015

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.

I will offer You a freewill sacrifice and praise Your Name, O LORD, for it is good. Psalm 54:6

And I applied my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is but a striving after wind. Because in much wisdom there is much grief, and increasing knowledge results in increasing pain. Ecclesiastes 1:17-18

Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.  But many who are first will be last, and the last first. Mark 10: 29-31

And old Ann Voskamp has a good word today, about sacrifice and praise and good.

And the only way to ever leave beauty marks on the world is with bits of yourself – and this will hurt. Things of realest beauty don’t bring us glory — but Him glory.

And things don’t always work out like one sort of expects and dreams and imagines. 
Remember when you were 16 with that ridiculous hair?
And how you’d thought that by the time you got to here, to now, it was going to be good? That by now everything would be all good.
But I can declare what I have seen under the sun. I am hitting that stage in life that I preface the bulk of my observations with “I am old and I have seen…” And my students think that means that I am an ancient thirty-years-old, but it doesn’t. And I am hoping that being old is pretty much the same this as wisdom and experience and not so much about dark spots on my hands and a lot of grey mixed in with that blonde.  And what I have seen is that truly releasing these glossy magazine photo ops of the way houses and brothers and sisters and children and lands ought to be as a freewill offering for His sake does indeed bring a hundredfold blessing. And persecution. And much grief and increasing pain. A hundredfold.

And one longs for that persecution to be noble and remarkable and maybe even toss in a peace prize or two, or at the very least a Ben’s Bell, but nope.

I think bunches of that promised persecution stuff is from Me, Myself and I as I quibble and fuss and murmur about all of this releasing and leaving. And there isn’t a bit of nobility about it at all, but just a great sucking out of joy.

And one of my teacher friends at school sort of lost it this week and let loose at the kids late in the afternoon when we were all tired and crabby and stretched thin. And yesterday he said, “I am choosing joy no matter what,” and I said, “Me too.”

And yesterday was full of bouncing-on-my-toes joy. Squishing sideways hugs and lots of good eye contact and a few light bulb moments. And wry smiles peeking out from pasted-on sneers.

Because the thing really is: Do we ever really know which mark we make — that will matter the most? The extraordinary things happen nowhere else but in the everyday and today can always be the beginning:

Where you are, with that one child, that one street, that one call, it is a noble, Christ-called thing. It only takes one person to change the world — and one individual, one soul, can be all your world.

A freewill offering and praise His name because He is good sort of joy.

Free.

Free indeed.