boon-dog-gle: (noun) work of little or no value done merely to keep or look busy.
free: (adjective) provided without, or not subject to, a charge or payment.

7/15/06

provision...

There were good vibes, thankful hearts, and lots of smiles in our house this week. On Tuesday Suzanne had a second interview for a job she was hoping to get. On Wednesday, they called her with a formal offer for the position. So, beginning August 1, she will become a technical services librarian at Lindenwood University. Basically, her duties will be a mix of cataloging and acquisitions. This is a behind-the-scenes, sitting-back-in-your-office-by-yourself kind of job, which is exactly what she was hoping for. For the past three years, Suzanne has been the circulation coordinator at Covenant Seminary's library. It was a fantastic entry into the library field for her, and she loved her coworkers and (most of) the students there. But it was a public services position, so it was very draining for her to deal with people all day long. If you're familiar with the Myers-Briggs personality profile, she falls off the end of the scale on the introvert side. So, this new position will be a good fit.

There have been a number of difficult months as Suzanne has pursued a new job. There have been setbacks, frustrations, disappointments, and confusions. There is a sense of loss that accompanies every rejection letter. But as Christians, we believe that this job is provision from God, not just a lucky break. Sure, people made the decisions to make this happen. The library director and university provost and president all had to agree to hire Suzanne (it's technically a faculty position, which is kind of cool). But God normally uses means to accomplish His purposes. He used the womb of a faithful woman to bring His Son into the world. And he used the cowardice of a corrupt governor to sacrifice His Son to save the world. There is no conflict between ordinary human activity and supernatural provision--they are always concurrent with one another.

Sometimes Christians try to pinpoint the series of moments that God has used to bring some sort of good thing into their lives. I get uncomfortable with that. It seems a bit hubristic. For instance, I could say that if I had decided to go to the small college in Minnesota on a cross-country and track scholarship, then I wouldn't have been at the University of Nebraska, where I wouldn't have met some friends who were in the Navigators, and I wouldn't have developed a committed Christian faith, which wouldn't have allowed me to marry Suzanne. But observing those four things that led me to marry Suzanne ignores thousands of other decisions and non-decisions and occurrences and non-occurrences that God used to bring Suzanne and me together. But more importantly, that kind of thinking glosses over the reality of what life was like in the meantime. I had long periods of lonliness and frustration in college. I had nights of deep sadness when I was turned down for a date or when I knew that a girl I liked was out with somebody else. Don't those times and events have to be accounted to God's provision, as much as the good stuff?

I think that as Christians, unless we are going to be ripe for the accusation that we only use God as an emotional crutch, we have to be ready to acknowledge that He is involved in our lives just as much during the bad times as during the good. In order to offer the world a message of hope that really accounts for life in a fallen world, we have to be able to tell people that we know God is still with us when life sucks, because much of life in a fallen world sucks. If we only acknowledge God's involvement in our lives regarding the good things, then I think it will sound to many people like we are just whistling in the graveyard (isn't that a saying?). But how do we do that?

I can think of a few ways that would help me have a more biblical view of God's involvement and provision in my life. First, I need to quit looking to God as simply a blessings bank and I need to see Him as a Lord I am in relationship with. In other words, the value of knowing God is not in getting stuff from Him, it is simply in the dynamic lifelong/eternal relationship that I get to have with Him. Second, I need to develop a heart of thankfulness for all the small mundane blessings that He provides, and not just the obvious things. A proper understanding of a life of dependence upon God means that everything from finding a good wife, to getting a job, to having just enough milk left to pour over the last bit of Lucky Charms are all His gifts of grace to me. Third, I need to develop the mindset that because God is for me, even the tough times He brings into my life are His way to do me good. This one takes a bit more work. I have to actually look for the ways that disappointments are serving to santify me, the ways they can be used to develop my love for and my faith in Christ. The model for this is the crucifixion, which was the most unjust, cruelest, and most evil event in history, and yet which accomplished the most good that can be imagined. As a disciple of Christ, the Scripture assures me again and again that I should expect my life to mirror His--a student is not greater than his Teacher. Finally, I must know that none of those first three "steps" are within my power. As in all of life and faith, I must be dependent upon God for the ability, or even inclination, to do right. Having a proper perspective of God's provision isn't going to make me more likable in His sight and therefore prompt Him to provide better things more consistently. The only way I can approach Him is with my need and with faith that Christ's perfection counts as my own and covers my lack. That serves me, and all His people, in good times and bad.

No comments:

G.K. Chesterton...

"The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people."