Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Forecasts, Predictions, and Prophecy #2

I love to garden. I look forward to certain seasons of the year because I can predict, or anticipate when certain plants will bloom. I can predict change and movement. Not so much with people. Not so much with the character of God. Ministry is hard to predict. It's hard to anticipate results because we are working with humans, and how they choose to acknowledge God in their lives. There is also the character of God. Not a formula, but a personality. A personality that we can learn about through scripture, the person of Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, but also beyond predictability. I can not predict, but I can trust.

We love predictability. We worship it. ( This is sounding like a similar post to mine . . . ) We want to know how things are going to turn out. The followers of Jesus wanted to know how this was all going to end, and when Jesus would tell them they would just get angry or not understand.

This past summer has been void of predictability. Each day I have begun with a sense of " I have no idea what today holds for me, other than I know I am loved by God, family, and friends." That seems to be a lot closer to the Biblical perspective (Matt. 6:25-34).

Now, I know I will "probably" have lunch outside, go home a little early, help clean the house, enjoy dinner with my family, and enjoy the evening with a guest from out of town. Those things are fairly certain. But, then again, things may change, and I need to be prepared for accepting that change. Jesus tells us " Don't be anxious for your life . . .can you add a day to it? . . why be anxious for tomorrow? Today has its own troubles."

I have read and listened to so many sermons on anxiety from people who have no clue about it. They want to give a formula for how to overcome anxiety. They don't want me to be anxious because I may be proof their formula may be wrong. They're formula is well intentioned, but I don't need a formula. I need healing. I need freedom. I need Jesus.

The closest message I have found to comfort my anxiety is from John Piper. This message has been a real blessing to me, Battling the Unbelief of Anxiety. Why? Because he acknowledges that fear and anxiety is part of the Christian life. If it weren't, why would it be addressed so often in the Scriptures. Whether it be David, Jesus, or Paul, all address it continuously. Piper suggests that because of the battle we have entered into by choosing Christ, we will be attacked. We will stagger in battle. Anxiety, acute or not, will exist in the life of Christian.

Piper acknowledges the reality that there are those of us who would love for the anxiety to go away, but it lingers,and so we have to do daily battle with it. That battle involves the truth of God's word, and the power of the Holy Spirit. It takes both working in tandem to bring us the peace God intends for us to have.

I would push Piper to include the community of saints. We overlook the power of community. The modern evangelical world has pushed the mantra of a "personal faith" in Jesus to the point that we have lost, in many arenas, the role of communal faith. Was this the intended purpose by the authors? No. I believe the idea of communal faith was implied because they understood that the primary strategy of Satan is isolation.

As an INTJ, I enjoy being able to sit and think about things, but I have also found that in the isolation of my own thoughts I become anxious. Therefore, against my personal inclinations, I have been focusing on building intentional relationships and working on staying in better communication with friends and family. These relationships, unlike a formula, are not predictable. . .in the best sense. I have been surprised and blessed by them in moments of need (shout out to Martha).

God has brought new people into my life that I know several years ago I would not have been ready to receive. He has also brought things into my life that several years ago I would not have been ready to handle. Given those two truths, the new people and the anxiety have come together in an amazing way that I could have never predicted. The anxiety, while I still pray for healing, has forced me to rely on relationships (with God and people) in ways that were foreign to me before, but are now indispensable. Sins that I would run to for the sake of saftey and distraction have disipated, being replaced with prayer, meditation, and relationship. I hang on God's word. I pray continously. I interceed for others. If that is what anxiety has produced in me let it have its perfect(intended) result.