Thursday, June 27, 2013

An Examined Life

Proverbs 14:8&15 both lay out the importance of the process of giving thought to our life being part of wisdom. These verses speak to me of slowing down, taking pause and doing some self-examination. It is so easy to hurtle through life at great speed and it follows, then, that we can miss important truths the faster we are going.

In this technological, smart phone, #hashtag age, we don’t slow down. We don’t listen or take stock of where we have come from or where we are going. Yet, Proverbs is compelling us to do just that – to pay attention and open our ears; to listen out for wisdom. Proverbs personifies wisdom and gives it a voice. It extols wisdom’s virtues and links it directly to the fear of the Lord. In fact, that is where wisdom originates (Proverbs 1:7).

A pastor at my church recently preached form Proverbs 2 and stated that we should be listening to the voice of the Lord as if our life depended on it. That is urgency! That is a rallying call to give thought to our ways. What is important? Where are we headed? How are we spending our time? Are we fearing the Lord, or are we fearing others, or fearful of what we do not know? How are we relating to Jesus, the ultimate personification of wisdom?

Socrates is attributed to have said that “the unexamined life is not worth living”. Let’s slow down and listen intently for the voice of the Lord. Otherwise, other voices clamor for our attention and we miss what is most important – a lively love for God and an active love for others (Luke 10:27 / Deuteronomy 6:5).

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Personal weakness and the strength of Another

It has been a looong time since I mused on here but my brain and heart have not been quiet. My counseling internship at CCEF recently came to an end, and I am now transitioning to the role of a Contract Counselor. Transition times are great times for reflection and self-examination. They are periods for taking stock and re-evaluating where we have come from and where we are headed. So I will take this opportunity to reflect…

What have I learnt most from the last 9 months? How have I changed? Where do I still find myself stuck? Do I look more like Christ than I did before this experience? Throughout most of my internship, I have been acutely aware of my own weakness. I am not up to the task of speaking wise words into someone’s life. I struggle to be myself, or to engage actively, when surrounded by a lot of people. Sometimes I think I have a mild (more serious than that?) form of Social Phobia. I am much more comfortable with 1 or 2 people than with large groups. When many stressors come at me simultaneously, I feel the weight and start to freak out. There is more but you can ask me personally about more of my own weaknesses and sins and where God’s grace fits in.

The internship was a wake-up call for me. Not that becoming a “professional” means that walking alongside someone else in their weakness, sufferings, struggles and sins makes me an expert or allows me to speak important truths to others. I am humbled, realizing that God is equipping me, and transforming me, so that I can be an instrument used by Him to help people rethink their life and struggles. It has been such a joy and a privilege to learn from my fellow interns, to be shaped by my supervisor and to have numerous staff speak into our lives and calling. I am so thankful for the patience and love of my wife as she watches me in the crucible.

What are some of the main things I have learned during this time?
  • Learning to listen more than I speak. 
  •  Grasping how important the person’s situation is and how is shapes them.
  • Taking important truths about God and about people and owning them personally.
  • Putting things in a concise and compelling form that is recognizable and personal to the individual. 
  •  Being honest enough to ask for help and laugh at my own mistakes. 
  •  To love faithfully and sometimes speak hard things.    
This is a fluid list. I am a work-in-progress. We are on a journey and have not arrived. I want to grow in humility and prayer. I am not up to these things and often feel the disconnect between my own weak heart, God’s rich grace and who I am in Christ.

Pray for me. I love this work!! My heart is awake and alive as I listen to others pour out their hearts and I look for the activity of the Spirit. Pray that I would offer active ears, and an alertness to what is really going on. What is this person saying right now? What are they not saying that they need to think about? How can I help them join the dots or start again? How can I truly be changed as I offer hope and life to others?

God, help me!