A Typical or Atypical Pastor's Wife-whichever one you come to believe

Welcome to the barnyard. Watch your step! The things written here are raw and unedited. Just my thoughts thrown on a page as they flow from my heart.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Finding A Balance in Faith

The bible clearly states that "a double minded man is unstable in all his ways." This, of course is in reference to faith. Without faith, we cannot please God nor can we receive anything from God.

But lately, I am wondering if there is a balance to find within faith. Now generally I have to ask myself, "is this a even a valid question or am I entering into some kind of sanctified psycho babble?" I worked in psychiatrics as a non Christian and since finding Christ have come to the conclusion that most of it is just that--babble!

I also see on Christian t.v. many examples of self proclaimed "preachers" who yell, stomp, spit and use all kinds of big words to come up with catchy phrases that stimulate the emotions, but in all reality make no sense at all and are anything but Biblical! The other day one of them had just finished using one and looked at the audience who was not reacting with the amount of exuberance that the preacher desired, so the preacher said, "you're not getting this", and I was quick to yell, "that's right, because what you just said makes no sense spiritually or grammatically!" Unfortunately, they couldn't hear me.

But as you might have noticed from the things my Pastor has been sharing on Sunday mornings, he is calling us to a time of reflection and I have been going through a bit of a revolution myself. As I read of those in foreign countries who have so much less than I have, I am looking at my life almost with disdain.

I have so much. How much is enough? How much is excess? I have two cars, I own a home, I have two bathrooms with indoor plumbing, running water (hot and cold), a machine that washes my dishes, my clothes, and even a special hose that washes my dog. I have three computers, 2 cars, 4 t.v.'s, 5 cameras, 17 pairs of shoes, boots, and bedroom slippers, I have a Sunday coat, an everyday coat, and a work coat, I have good jeans and work jeans, I have a Sunday bag, a backpack, a purse, and a fanny pack and I have enough money left over after paying for all these things to be able to go out for ice cream with friends without pre-planning for the expense. We have enough clothing that I can do laundry everyday and there are still clean ones in the drawers. I can go to church openly, I can share my faith with my customers without fear of losing my job--I may lose them as a customer, but I would rather cut their grass in heaven than down here anyway--, I can refuse things on the grounds of my faith.

I have never been beaten or threatened because of my Christianity. Even when funds are "tight", I don't worry that I won't have something to put on the table at dinner time. If I am sick, I don't have to worry about getting medical attention because I have insurance. I don't have to fear what would happen to me and my children if my husband died because we have life insurance. I have all these insurances PLUS the assurances of God's continued blessing and care of my life. I've got it good but so much of it is starting to look so frivolous. (Just this morning I thought about the millions who have no food as I gave my dog her vitamin. How many people could have a bowl of rice for the price of a bottle of vitamins?) I have to ask myself if my greatest blessing has not become my greatest curse.

For years, the Lord has been helping me simplify my life, and I thought that I was making good strides. But lately, as I think that with every beat of my heart one soul, just from Asia, drops into hell without ever having heard the gospel once, I have to wonder if my life could possibly be simplified even more so that someone could get to them before my next heartbeat. What can I give up so that others may hear?

As I ponder this, I then am faced with my own materialism, my enjoyment of the blessings and I wonder, why me? Why am I so blessed while others have nothing? What was HIS purpose in giving me the resources that I have? Am I like a spoiled child who receives so much without any thought of why my father chose to bless me? Have I allowed the blessing to cause me to forget the blesser? And the kicker, would I be willing to majorly downsize so that people I will never know or meet can have the opportunity to meet me in eternity? Do I love my Father enough to be totally taken up with the burden of His heart? His heart beats for souls. And if every heartbeat allows another soul to slip into hell, how His heart must hurt.

Although I have never traveled outside of the U.S. unless you count a trip to Niagara Falls on the Canadian side, the Lord has begun to widen my view of the world. My husband travels to Africa occasionally to teach Pastors there, many of whom spend their family's grocery money and walk 3 days to hear him speak. (How humbling. He often says that he feels that he should sit down and let them teach him.) Many of them reside with their families in a space no bigger than my son's bedroom. They have absolutely nothing, but yet they have everything. My husband speaks of their joy, their contentment in Christ, their thankfulness and I am convicted.

I think of the brethren in China, in India, in totally closed countries where sharing their faith can instantly be a death sentence. They live with nothing, materially speaking, yet their lives could not be more blessed.

So I'm asking, where is the balance? How much should I give up here so that others may hear? What can I give up here so that someone can go to the unreached? I live in a culture where excess is the norm, in fact, where it is held in high regard. It is a status symbol of success. I am having to face that my culture on earth has affected me more than I thought. Things that seem "normal" to me are only normal here in America. They are not normal on global terms. And I have to face that my "normal" may greatly differ from the "normal" of the Christian Kingdom worldwide, whose membership I claim. I'm looking to escape the "excesses" of American Christianity and culture to find the balance of a normal Christian life. I fear how far the scale may be tipped in the wrong direction.

And I have to ask, "is there a point where I can cross over into extremes so as to not be effective amongst my own people group?" I don't plan on being the next "cross walker"--a guy who walks around the country looking as wild as John the Baptist in the wilderness pulling a huge wooden cross on wheels--, but certainly there are some changes I could make that would bring me more in line with God's desired purpose for the resources He has entrusted me with.

So I'm asking God for HELP! I certainly don't want to get to heaven and find that I have wasted the Lord's resources. I want to have His drive, His zeal, His passion for the lost. I want to feel compelled in the work of the Kingdom of God. Oh, I can talk the talk and make it sound so good. If I tried real hard, I might even be able to squeeze out a sympathetic tear or two, but I have to ask myself, is my heart really in it or am I just playing a religious game to make myself feel justified? The fruit of a life is certainly evidence enough for evaluation of the location of a heart and I fear what my fruit is showing right now. I fear that I have been living life according to my definitions of what is "normal" without knowing what God's definition of "normal" is.

That said, I do know that some of my shortcomings have been due to lack of knowledge. We see suffering, fake and real, on t.v. everyday. Americans are the most "informed" people on the face of the earth, but we have not been informed by the right sources. Information obviously does not produce compassion and action or the world would be fixed by now. Instead of information, I need revelation-an opening up of my spiritual eyes to see as God sees.

I'm barring throwing the baby out with the bath water, but I am ready to throw it all up in the air, in faith, and trust God to sort it out for me. But at least I'm finally listening. I'm finally ready to be slain. I'm finally willing to be changed, inconvenienced, mortified, and by God's grace to be normal and balanced, according to His definition.

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