The other day someone in my church office said I was a very organized person, and I didn't take the time to tell her: sister, I am not all that good at maintaining things.
Instead, I am telling the whole world through my blog. Go figure.
I have google calendar, and I have a paper planner, and I have file folders, yes. But I also have way too many pictures and file folders on my macbook. And some stacks of books on my office floor. I have a business to-do list on my home office wall that is taking too long to get to. I bought an ebook on Evernote (the program that saves your articles & notes & stuff) and have been planning to read it for 4-5 months.
In January, I made my list of intentions for the year:
Practice rhythms of rest.
As far as maintaining those goes, it's funny:
Jesus keeps me broken enough that I'm always listening for his voice of love. As a pastor, anytime I preach or teach or serve Communion to someone at the hospital, I am always pointing back to our Belovedness. I simply cannot live without this realignment, thank God.
Rhythm? Rest? For a month or more, I was working 6-7 days a week, without a real Sabbath Day. I knew this had to end, that I had to grab a few hours when I could to connect with God, and so this crazy season is now ending and opening up into the next one. I am longing for my rhythms; I am leaning into what my new spiritual director calls "noticing God with you" as you do all of the things that make up your days: loving, teaching, preaching, exercising, serving communion four times during Holy Week (!), writing, cooking, cleaning, calling your mother, biking with your husband and your French-teenager, texting a friend when you really, really want to call but have no margin at all. Yet. Oh, how gracious Abba-God is to bring us a bit of rest even when life feels like too much.
Create. The word stares back at me from the list on the wall and I sigh, and I wonder why I was given this word this year in this season. Create now? Father, you have directed me to this word, but I do not think it means what I think it means. In all seriousness, I have come close to crossing out the word multiple times, telling myself it would be easier to replace it with "Delight." Delight I could handle. And yet. Out of the rubble of so many dashed dreams, new words and ideas are springing forth. Some come out in sermons and Bible studies; some are shared on a podcast; others rise up over the dinner table with my husband and the 16-year-old exchange student; and then there were the three book ideas that I wrote down within the space of a week—right in the middle of working 6-7 days a week.
I tell myself that I can only create when I can get away to a secluded place. That I can only make something good when I have hours to allow God to speak to my mind and heart, to make sense of all that is happening. I have used the excuse that I don't have enough time to read, so how could i write intelligently? I am waiting for just the right clarity to dawn.
Except that I am not waiting anymore at all. The other night I was wrapping up our church's Reclaiming Eve Bible study—the one where 30 women showed up, desperate to commune with each other and to grow in their walk with Christ.
A week ago, I looked out over their faces. I listened to their testimonies of going from "I am not worthwhile" to "I am gaining so much strength by realizing how much God values his daughters" and "I now see Eve and women in a different light," several of us ended up in tears, and I read Ephesians 2 out of The Message Bible over them.
I am part of creating a home in which God himself can dwell. I was reminded of this as I read Paul's words in paraphrase, those beautiful words that reminded the church in Ephesus that BOTH Jews and Gentiles were in on the action, that the dividing wall of hostility between all of us was torn down in Jesus, that something beautiful is being built through us:
"That’s plain enough, isn’t it? You’re no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He’s using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home."
Brick by brick, stone by stone. You and I, the Jesus-followers, are watching it take shape each day. We are part of this creating. And so, somehow, out of the overflow of the abundance of the Kingdom, I create.
I may not create all that I want to or others think I should. I may choose to create things of Kingdom-value which seem insignificant in the eyes of others. My productivity is not measured by the number of words typed, the number of articles or books written, or even the number of people I can love and disciple through our little church.
I am creating because God is building us into something bigger, the bigger story of the reconciliation of all things.
I am creating because I long for others to know the goodness and the abundance of the Kingdom of Jesus.
I am creating because I cannot be silent; I cannot leave the agency God gave me as his imagebearer unused and untested; I don't want to flicker out of this life without marking it with the goodness and glory of God.
This is my Easter Monday maintenance. To recognize that all of the moments I offer to God are redeemed somehow. To circle back to those moments of rest. To count all of the moments as part of the process of creating; to rest in knowing for sure that I have been given all of the energy to do all that God has called me to do on this one day.
I may not be all that good at maintaining things. But the Risen Christ is with me; he goes before me and behind me. In him, all things hold together. Even my list of intentions. In this knowing, I can rest.
On #ReclaimingEve: “I recommend this resource for every daughter of Eve!”
— Nancy Beach, leadership coach, speaker; author, Gifted to Lead: The Art of Leading as a Woman in the Church