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This summer has yielded a lot of time spent wondering where God wants to use me in the future. The reality that I’m not off to grad school or entering full-time ministry has long since sunk in and while I want and look forward to the opportunity to be at home with Appleseed (and however many more kids God chooses to give us), I can’t help but wonder if I’m “assuming” too little. I am bent toward laziness and one way I have learned to combat that is to expect to be busy. [[Now before I offend anyone, I am aware that being a mother will keep me plenty busy! But God has given me passions for other things (that I am willing to sacrifice) and don’t want to assume that He is telling me “No, never” rather than the possibility of “No, later” or “Yes, now.” It’s a mindset of trusting that God knows my actual limits rather than believing I know (and need to protect) my limits. I want the former.]]  Last year I experienced the most growth and joy in my life to date and I believe that a big part of that was I was busy. Yes, there was some redemption of that busy-ness that needed (and continues to need) to happen but I could see God working most clearly when I was letting him dictate the size of my plate and what was on it rather than throwing in the towel.

A verse that jumps into my mind whenever I think about my laziness is 1 Corinthians 9:26-27 (NIV, 1984)

26 Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27 No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

 

It’s easy to feel like a hypocrite. I know how deeply I struggle with being diligent and obedient in my work. But that doesn’t change the call. Mark Driscoll just blogged about what the Bible says about work. And it resounded deeply since Eric and I have had so many conversations over the past few months (and really the past year or two). Work is not a part of the curse. And so if work was established before the curse, how should we look at it? Hard work is a way of life. Some of us are bent toward work-aholism and some are bent toward laziness (me!).

This brings me to a really great book I’ve been reading and wholeheartedly recommend: Rescuing Ambition by Dave Harvey. This book has been fantastic if only for the amount of raw Gospel that is in each chapter. I borrowed it from a friend off of a recommendation from my sister. My thought was really that Eric should read it because he had been analyzing his ambitions lately but I started reading it first. I didn’t really think it was going to be as relevant to me but was curious all the same. God blew up that assumption for sure! Not only has each chapter spoken to a deep sin issue I know I possess, but it has brought that sin into the context of the Gospel and helped me look at it with a new, hope-filled lens. Like my leaning regarding work, I also tend toward the side of the spectrum that lacks ambition. I don’t understand my giftings/it seems every time I have some dream it gets killed or replaced/I feel foggy as to what I even want. I’ve seen this as a good thing at times because I learn to expect that my plans will fall apart – which doesn’t prevent me from getting resentful but instead leads me to feel justified (red-alert!) in my lack of faith.

So while reading this book God has brought some dreams to the surface. Dreams that terrify me because of how much work they will require…and how likely it is that failure and rejection will happen on the way to their fruition. I lack trust that God has made me good enough/smart enough/capable enough to accomplish big things. But in an effort to redefine ambition, Dave Harvey points out that it is not what we do, it’s who we are. Am I ambitious for the glory of God? Am I ambitious for Christ-like character? Am I ambitious for leading a life that points to the Gospel? I’m learning to ask these questions as I ponder my motivations behind wanting to be a good wife and mom and wanting to be a part of women’s ministry and (dare I say it?) wanting to start a business.

What are godly motivations? How can I know if I have them? How does my deep, deep fear of failure and rejection play into the ambitions I have and the “call” I feel? Fear of failure and resentment over failure says something about whose glory I am seeking. I loved what Dave Harvey shared in this regard quoting Os Guinness:

“If we define all that we are before our great Caller and live our lives before one audience–the Audience of One–then we cannot define or decide our own achievements and our own success. It is not for us to say what we have accomplished. It is not for us to pronounce ourselves successful. It is not for us to spell out what our legacy has been. Indeed, it is not even for us to know. Only the Caller can say. Only the Last Day will tell. Only the final “Well Done” will show what we have really done.” (p 152-153)

 

A friend who gave me much needed bluntness reminded me that it is not up to me to define what failure is. God is glorified even through our perceived failure because not only does it remind us that we are not God but when good comes from what looks like failure/suffering/disaster/rejection we can honor God by recognizing and rejoicing in the truth that God really does use our life circumstances for our good and our tiny viewpoint cannot fathom his plan.

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