Sunday, September 25, 2011

sacrificing isaac

I'm fascinated by the story of Abraham and Isaac. Abraham waited for years and years and years before God filled the promise that Abraham was most enthusiastic about getting. It was a righteous desire, and finally getting it taught him about patience, and miracles, and the value of an eternal family.

And yet, even after all that time, and all those rich lessons, God wasn't done with him yet. The one blessing in life that Abraham most cherished...a righteous desire...a gift that God had already given him, perhaps even a gift that Abraham had already earned. And God wanted him to give it back.

I've pondered the questions that Abraham might have asked at the time. Can't You take something else, Lord? Didn't You love me enough to give me Isaac to begin with? Didn't You want me to have posterity? What more can I possibly learn? What more could I possibly have to prove to You? How could this possibly be the best thing for us?

I prayerfully discovered what my "Isaac" is a few years ago. It's the person I'd become: independent, accomplished, tough. I turned to the Lord and told Him: if this is what You want, I will put myself on the altar. I will give away my strength, my competence, my autonomy. If it is Your will, I will let You take them away.

But Lord, can't You take something else? Didn't You love me enough to give me these survival skills to begin with? Didn't You want me to be courageous? What more can I possibly learn? What more could I possibly have to prove to You? How could this possibly be the best thing?

It has been the best thing, but oh, it's been a long road. I fell in unrequited love with someone who valued softness, gentleness, and vulnerability. I lost my positions of prestige, and lost the honors and financial stability that comes with them. I moved away from all the people I'd come to think of as my family, off in that little college town.

Yet, I never had to give up me. Who I am is defined by my clearest moments -- not my easiest or hardest ones. It's the moments that I best know God that I best know who I am. I am His.

I still don't find it easy to ask for help. I still wish I had a job that used my talents and compensated me accordingly. I still fight to maintain control.

But God is teaching me to be better, and is preparing me for the great work He has in store for me. He's been guiding me all along -- first to be tough, now to be tender. And like Abraham, I can have all the birthright blessings, as joint-heir with Christ.

And it's going to be wonderful.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

allowing others to serve

I am soaking in the goodness of this moment.

I am physically and mentally worn out, but my heart is at peace with the world.

I sit on my unmade bed, surrounded by a life slowly draining into cardboard boxes, and somehow, I know this is right. I know that God is present in my life.

About 2 months ago, the stake Relief Society presidency asked me to head the service project for Women's Day. Since then, we've been collecting children's and young adult books with the goal of sorting, stickering, and shuttling them to Book Harvest, which is a local organization that gives books to kids who wouldn't have access to them otherwise.

The task was so daunting...something I never in a million years could do by myself. But, as I'm realizing more and more lately, the Lord needs me to ask for help. Not just His help, but the help of others.

And this time, though it was a struggle, I did. And we collected 1573 books. And it was inspiring watching the sisters take the initiative and fill needs. I can provide those opportunities for people.

How amazing.

Monday, September 5, 2011

laying the foundation of a great work

I'm facing a big life change shortly. It's not that I'm making a decision, but rather that I've made a decision already, and the time to act on that decision is getting really close.
And I don't know how all this is going to turn out. Worst case scenario is that I will be completely broke, unemployed, and 2000 miles away from home.

I am so scared.
I just keep reminding myself that if that's how it turned out, I would still have my God. He won't tell me to do something and then walk away and make me clean up the mess. He doesn't work like that.

Knowing that, I would still feel like I had done the right thing and still know that eventually, everything will turn out fine. It would try me in ways I can't fathom, and require some serious character building, but then again...isn't that just life?
I will have everything I require, and it will arrive at the Lord's hands. It might not happen quickly, but it will happen exactly on time. Until then, it is my business, my privilege, to do small things that will lay the foundation of a great work. If I am both willing and obedient, I will "eat the good of the land of Zion." 
So here's me, loosening the petrified grip I have on my heart, bending my mind into willingness, and trusting (hoping!) that no, the Lord's ways are not my ways...
But His ways are certainly better.