Friday, January 21, 2011

Trust: What's Your Angle? Part One

Installment five of my series on One Word 2011: Trust. A little behind schedule but I'm okay with that considering the crazy week I've had.

I've been writing bits and pieces in this space for over 3 years now. When I started I didn't have a whole lot of practical direction, I just wanted to spread some good news about love. You can read the long version by clicking on Welcome to Love up above.

The short version is that I saw a lot of hate and judgment in the airwaves, even (most unacceptably) from the followers of Christ. I started to think about the winsome nature of God's grace and love and how those of us who take on the name of Christ also take on the responsibility to love as God loves. Colossians 1:13 describes this love in a beautiful way:
He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love.
This is our ministry: we are roadsigns, we are ushers, we are Wal~Mart greeters beckoning the lost, hurting, and needy into that place of love. The good news that the Kingdom of the Son of God is a much happier place than Wal~Mart.

What started out as something I just wanted to try out has grown into something more, a compulsion you could even say. I find that I absolutely love writing, and not just writing but writing to people. That may sound silly, isn't most writing intended to be read? Let me explain...

I love playing music, classically as well as worship, but honestly I'm okay just doing that alone in my bedroom for the rest of my life. I also like running but I'm okay running on a dirt road by myself not even keeping track of how far I'm going. Sometimes you write in a journal or notebook simply for the joy of writing, never caring if or never wanting someone to read it.

I'm not okay if someone doesn't read my writing.

I've struggled with that a bit, because it seems selfish and vain. But what I'm learning is that, while we are all called to the same thing, the love God and to love one another (Luke 10:27), we all do that in different ways.

I love God with my writing, I love others through my writing.

This does not mean that there is only one way each of us can show love, but God, creative guy that He is, designs us each to love him in a unique way. Beautiful as a duet of violins can be, it cannot compare to the richness of a string quartet which in turn cannot compete with the overwhelming sound of a full orchestra. We're all playing the same song, we're just playing a different part.

But there is a Part Two to this particular story: what happens when you don't have an audience for your music? What if you aren't part of the Philharmonic Orchestra or what if you're not published? What if only 3 people read your blog?

This is a legitimate concern because, no matter how well we express our love in our giftings, if no one receives that love, there is a problem. However we have to be careful that we don't equate three people or even one person with "no one". We we  to use God's standards to measure the effectiveness of our ministry, because it is, in fact, His ministry. If God wants to minister to one particular person and wants to do it through you, then that, my friend, is not our business. We do not have the authority to question His purposes.

We may plant, we may water, and we certainly had better make sure to do those things with excellence, but remember that God brings the increase (1 Cor 3:7).

This is an important lesson to me, because I sometimes feel like I am just throwing my heart out there like waves breaking upon a beach, and the beach is deserted. But the waves keep coming whether or not there is anyone there to enjoy them. When someone walks by and smiles, pulls out a camera to watch their child play in the surf, or runs down the beach with a board under their arm, they aren't thinking about the millions of waves that washed unseen upon the sand, they are simply enjoying them. But if the ocean suddenly grew tired of casting wave after wave upon an empty shore and gave up, then when someone did finally walk by they would be disappointed.

Likewise, if you decide to give up on loving because you cannot see the effect, then when someone does wander by, you truly will be pointless. Likewise, don't worry about the amount of love your throw out into the world that goes unnoticed or seems pointless, you can just consider it practice for when someone happens to walk by. Besides, even if you never get to see your audience, you know that there is One who always sees.

So be blessed, my seemingly insignificant friend. Significance is indeed in the Eye of the Beholder.

 Next Post: What's Your Angle? Part 2

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