Learning the unforced rhythms of grace

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Following. Listening. Watching.

Photo credit: Nathan Hayashi

Photo credit: Nathan Hayashi

This is my self-proclaimed year (and naturally-occurring-season) of change as our home here experiences some shifts. Our youngest has moved away for school, our oldest is busy here with University and we're starting our 4th year of Randy's full-time artist career from home. Life has some room, some time, less pressures and more space to consider new possibilities. I'll be graduating from my master's degree this spring which will open up some new opportunities that were unaccessible before. 

In my twenties, my default was to run ahead and commit to things with an urgency to just feel better, make the decision. . . and then have to back out again after a few months of realizing I took on more than I should have. In my thirties, I learned about discerning the difference between my desires to build my own ego and God's desires to glorify Himself and accomplish His purposes in and through my life. I began to recognize that place of tension and instead of rushing into something, I learned to wait, pray, seek counsel, and hear from God before making a decision. (I didn't always do it that way . . . but I grew in my awareness of it.)

Now, in my mid-forties, I'm experiencing a new take on discernment (at least from my own limited understanding it seems that way.) I sense a desire to follow God, in full obedience, but I also sense a freedom to explore some of the initiative and energy of my earlier years. Instead of moving into more caution and timidity, I sense an invitation from the Lord to boldly enter conversation with Him about the possibilities. Perhaps instead of swinging from one extreme to another, I am on middle ground this time. I desire to do God's will for my life and I also feel full of ideas and creativity and I'm not sure if they are my ideas or God's. So instead of dismissing the ideas as me just trying to run ahead of God . . . I'm going to enter into an exploration with God as I wait for His leading.

I'm going to use a plain old notebook like this . . . so I'm not tempted to make it into a 'keepsake' or something 'beautiful'. I want it to be a cumulative, useful, functional collection of clues that isn't edited or afraid of being messy!

I'm going to use a plain old notebook like this . . . so I'm not tempted to make it into a 'keepsake' or something 'beautiful'. I want it to be a cumulative, useful, functional collection of clues that isn't edited or afraid of being messy!

Here's how I'm going to do it (unless the Lord is very clear that He has something else in mind!)  I've set up some parameters because I am aware of my tendency to get to a decision quickly. 

  1. I won't make a 'career' decision until I've completed school and graduated in May 2016.
  2. I will keep a notebook that collects clues, insights from others, Scripture that I'm meditating on, ideas, and some of the processes of this year. . . I'll call it my listening notebook (or something like that).
  3. I will be open to a long, disciplined process of listening without jumping at any one idea. All ideas get recorded in the book but must wait until May. Any ideas/brainstorming are welcome. 
  4. I'll pay attention to editing that the Lord wants to do. I'll scratch things out and add others and I'll watch for ideas that seem like God is giving them. I'll listen and watch for how God may infuse His creativity into my thoughts. 
  5. I'll submit the notebook to my mentors and friends along the way for their input and discernment.

And then . . . I'll see what happens!

I quite like this idea because as I know that as I finish off these last few courses, I sense the urgency (as most grads do) to have a 'plan' for next year. I know that  I'm tempted to justify my reasons for being in school. I've already had an elderly woman warn me, "the test of education is if you can do something with it!" (sigh) and so I feel the not-so-subtle temptation to prove that I do have a plan, you know, justify myself. But these past seven years of taking one course at at time, have been so enjoyable and what I feel was a real gift from God. I've learned and experienced so much and I'm not sure it can be measured in the way that the skeptical lady wants it to.

"Yuki" Photo credit: Nathan Hayashi

"Yuki" Photo credit: Nathan Hayashi

So, as I wait, I must trust that God already has a plan and it is more purposeful and creative and in perfect timing that the best of my note-taking or exploration will ever reveal. 

And . . . I'm also aware that God's agenda for me, that I can't see yet, is that He wants to reveal deeper things about who He is, who I am, my fears, my welcomed-adopted place in the family of God, His love for me and His desire to make me more like Christ. It may have nothing to do with 'career' choice, and everything to do with something else! So, we'll see. :)