Monday, February 20, 2012

How Is It With Your Soul?

Carolyn's most recent post is a great one. I love reading words that make me think.

She and I are obviously still mulling around thoughts from our last book club meeting; her's took her in the direction of parenting. Mine took me all over the place.

Clint and I spent some time together on Saturday evening driving from Hope to Vancouver and the topic of Art (and Calling) came up. (We sorta lumped the two together; as they both involve risk.) It's risky to be a brilliant artist because there are always elements to art that people/family/Christians don't understand. (Or would be offended by.) And Art (as well as some 'callings') just don't make sense to the practical, safe nature of parents who just want their kids to have 'normal' lives - lives that follow an acceptable pattern of getting a good job, marrying a nice partner and having 2 - 3 exceptional grandkids. Our kids are encouraged by age 15, when they're choosing high school courses, to have a plan for their lives all figured out.

Kids that are exceptional athletes are given a few extra years to 'see if they make it' before it is suggested that they get on with real life. Musically gifted kids might be given the same period of grace. (As would dancers?  Actors? Macramers? Photographers? But not writers. They can always write in their spare time.)

What about if your kid is especially good at playing video games? And he wants to drop out of school to go pro? Do you support that dream and tell him to go for it? Do you travel with him to competitions around the country and celebrate his wins? Or do you nip that dream in the bud and tell him to get back to studying for his math final? And then ground him from video games for a month, hoping to get that out of his system?

And does everyone have a calling? What if you don't know yours? What if you're 50 years old and you don't know what you were called to do with your life? Have you not been listening? Were you asking the wrong questions? Or, if you are a Christ-follower, are you living the life you were intended to live because every so often you prayed for God to direct your paths? Are you living the life you were wired to live? Are you where you are because that is exactly where God has put you?

What if you don't know what your child was called to be? How can you help them prepare for life when you have no idea what God has in store? What skills and education can you encourage them to acquire when there has been no indication where God will lead him/her? Or does every single parent on the planet know exactly what's best for their child? Does God always make it clear? Why would He not? Why would He make it a guessing game? Why is it so difficult from some of us to see what God wants us to "be"?

And is this a first world problem? Do 50 year old moms in Africa worry that they have missed God's calling? Do Dalit moms in India look at their sons and wonder what God has in store for them? Do they worry that they might has missed some clues? Do they wonder if they should have guided their boys to go into trades instead of academia?

Not coincidentally, while I've been mulling these thoughts over, this prayer came up on my rotation of reading through The Power of a Praying Parent:

Dear God,
I pray that You would pour out Your Spirit on the kids that I'm praying for this day and anoint them to be all that you've created them to be. May it be for these kids, according to Your Word, that they would never stray from what You have called them to be and do, and not try to be something they are not.

Deliver them from any evil plan of the Devil to rob them of life, to steal away their uniqueness and giftedness, to compromise the path You've called them to walk, or to destroy the person You created them to be. May they not be followers of anyone but You and may each of them be a leader of people into Your kingdom. Help them to grow into a complete understanding of their authority in Jesus, while retaining a submissive and humble spirit.

May the fruit of the Spirit, which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control grow in them daily. May they find their identity in You, view themselves as Your instruments, and know that they are complete in You. Give them a vision for their lives when setting goals for the future and a sense of purpose about what You've called them to do. Help them to see themselves as You do - from their futures and not their pasts. May they be convinced that Your thoughts toward them are of peace and not evil, to give them a future and a hope.

Teach them to look to you as their hope for the future. May they understand it is You "who saved us and called us with  a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His purpose and grace given to us in Christ Jesus before time began". May their commitment to being who You created them to be, enable them to grow daily in confidence and Holy Spirit boldness.



My favorite quote from Carolyn's post is this:
"Calls are essentially questions. They aren't questions you necessarily need to answer outright, they are questions to which you need to respond, expose yourself, and kneel before. You don't want an answer you can put in a box and set on a shelf. You want a question that will become a chariot to carry you across the breadth of your life". Gregg Levoy in Callings.

You want a question that will become a chariot to carry you across the breadth of your life...

So good.


Lastly, she mentions this:
Apparently one of the questions asked by early Wesleyan Christ-followers when they got together in small groups was "How is it with your soul?" How many of us even know what's going on in our souls, I wonder? And would we have the courage to even ask this (or want someone to ask us?)Hmm

How is it with your soul?

One summer, about ten years ago, I was at the beach at Cultus, near the dock, keeping an eye on my kids, when my neighbour, Mike, came out to sit and chat. I'd been on my own for a few years, and was in the midst of buying my first house. I had moved myself and my boys back in with my parents and was wondering how this whole story was going to play out in our lives.

After abit of small talk about summer, houses, and kids, he asked, "How are things, spiritually, for you? What is your relationship with God like these days?"

Seriously. He asked that.
I know, right.

What a personal question.
What a risky question.

What a good question.

We need to ask each other that question more often. And then listen for the answer. And be prepared to be invited into the messiness of each other's lives when our things are not well with our souls.


That is all.

No other thoughts tonight.


Three things I'm thankful for:
1. Thoughts.
2. Questions.
3. Friends.


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