Friday, May 25, 2012

Reminders in the Waves

I stood on the jetty last night and watched as the ocean waves came crashing against the rocks in front of me and to the sides of me. I pointed my toes out to sea and pretended like I was on a boat where adventures were a daily commodity and I let the wind slap my clothes against my body. It seemed to me that every rock around me was being drenched by the dark waves except my rock, my safe haven. And as I was breathing in the salty air and listening to the tune of the waves I reflected on a full year since I had stood in that position last. The last time I stood on those rocks I barely knew what an adventure encompassed in all of its entirety. The last time I stood on those rocks I barely knew what it meant to firmly believe in truth and not just know it. The last time I stood on those rocks I was one year younger, and as a good friend of mine always puts it, "I wasn't older then, but I'm older now." I have learned so much in one year and yet as I stood on those rocks I had to remind myself that it was all real.

It's crazy that when you come back to the same place you grew up, things seemed to have stood still. My good 'ole buddy Ben Howard sings, "Seems everything around here stays like stone." We find ourselves tempted by the same demons, we find all of our old insecurities and fears kick in, and we feel governed by what we used to be. I think that's part of the reason why I associate God with certain places. I think that since most of my growth happened in Indiana that is where my strong relationship with God is waiting. And I come home for the summer to my California God, the one that isn't quite as strong or filling. Or for some people they found God in college and go home and it feels like He's no longer around. That tells me now that I was looking to be filled in the events and the people around me instead of by a God in relationship. I stood, watching as the dark waves turned white with froth when they smashed into the rocks. I gazed at the city lights making their own horizon, and had to remind myself of the truth as I felt the old feelings of discontentment, restlessness, and self-righteousness come creeping back.

My God is always with me, in relationship, not in event, not in places, not in circumstance. He is not a God waiting to be seen in adventures, in friendships, in church, in the corn fields of Indiana or the oceans of California. He is a God that experiences all of those things with us, pretty much the best traveling buddy we could ever want. And He reminds us of our growth, He was there when we were challenged by close friends who aren't around anymore, He was there when we experienced great triumphs, great heartaches, and great life moments. He is the Truth that we carry with us at all times and even though things feel stagnant in one place and not another, God is the one who allows life to move, all we need is to look to Him. He speaks the language of love and truth in a broken home flowing with hurtful language. He allows hearts to smile with contentment in old places where anxieties and worries are kings and queens. He gives purpose and hope in the dark tunnels and the ever enduring struggles of past reminders. He breathes life into lungs in the land where exhaustion runs rampant. In places where we have been searching, He is found. That is the reality of our God, and that is the reality of our relationship with Him.

i stood on the rocks not as the same old Amber who has gone to college and is now home, but as the Daughter of God who has experienced lasting change rooted in the Spirit and rooted in Truth. And now the reminding part of the walk begins.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

A Shift Button Story

I started a big kid job this week, a real 8 to 5 Monday through Friday job WITH the mindset of having to pay bills and rent. For everyone who knows me, I'm sure they are reading this with their jaws dropped. I'm writing this with my jaw dropped! I work as an aid in the financial department of a sheet metal company, pretty much the most random job that I could find. My job consists of filing papers right, checking that the papers are filed right, and occasionally entering data into the system. It felt like a lot of what I was doing was pointless and meaningless and I really had a hard time imagining myself working in this place for three months. I was getting restless and it was only day three, but I had a lot of time to think. And as I was rifling through hundreds of papers mindlessly checking for purchase order numbers and invoices I began to think about the way everything worked in that office. You see, I put together the packets that the next woman looks through to check for right pricing so that she can then put into the computer and make a check for the company. I file the invoices so that when that check is made, we can pull out the right ones staple it together real quick and send them off to get signed so that everyone gets their money and the company keeps going. All of a sudden my work and the quality of it became so much more important and my sense of purpose became a whole heck of a lot stronger in my job.

Well, so often we get stuck in the details of what our hands are directly involved in, in only what we can see. It translates into everything, including and especially our relationship with God and the identity we derive from that. We get stuck in the small story and life becomes mundane, stressful, annoying, purposeless, and draining. We worry if we are making an impact, we get bored, and we feel like something is missing. You see, we actually play a role in something SO much bigger then us and we fight for a cause that is way outside of just what we do in our lives. Stepping back and asking "what am I doing this for?", shifts the focus from living life right and trying to be happy (essentially just getting by emotionally) to building a relationship with our God and loving others like He does. It no longer is just about following rules or about punching our hours in the time clock when we wake up and punching them out when we go to sleep; it becomes about seeking Truth and falling in love with a Creator who knows the full complex Story that we play a part in. And our lives become full of purpose, full of importance, full of identity, full of foundation and strength in something that is not just us. The details, they trap us into looking at ourselves and only our story, but the big Story gives us the eyes to see others in the way God does and to see the calling that we get to respond to. The story we pursue changes in the push of the shift button to Story and that changes everything.

It's not just about filing paperwork, getting paid, living right, becoming happy, but about a Story that started in the beginning of time and tells us that we have a Truth so powerful we can hang all of our hope, purpose, and identity on. So, I'm going to wake up tomorrow at 6am to get to work, and I'm going to file papers, punch in numbers, and laugh with my coworkers knowing that I am playing a role in helping that company run however small it may be. And I'm going to wake up tomorrow knowing that I am not just another girl in this world going through another day fighting for happiness, but that I am Daughter of God's fighting for a Truth that does not depend on me to be true. And I get to play a role in furthering the Kingdom of God. And so do you.