Seeing God in Every Good Thing

Sigh

There are days that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am Called to this work of chaplaincy. You’d think it would be the days where I get positive feedback and lots of “atta girls.” Well, yes, of course. But it’s the upside down, days-in-pieces moments too.

When I was first discerning whether or not to go to seminary, I sat and talked with a trusted pastor and mentor, Bill. I was hesitant. How could I know for sure? His advice was priceless:  “Deb, if you can do go anything else, then do it. If you try, and nothing else makes your heart sing, even on the good days, then go serve God with everything you’ve got. You’re doing what God has Called you to do.”

We went on to talk about how vocational Callings are there for everyone. For some of us it’s education. For others it’s medicine or entrepreneurship or technology. But for pastors and preachers and chaplains… it is less often a “GO YE THEREFORE” moment, and more like a quiet, insistent tug. I’m reminded of what Frederick Buechner said: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” 

We had that conversation over 10 years ago. It still rings true. It’s the days where I drag myself home, overextended, frustrated with traffic and yet still sure down to my toes that God does some amazing things… and I get to participate. I may be broken, hurt and frustrated, yet I know that I that I know I’m doing what God has tasked me to do.

That, my friends, is a Calling.

Early this morning as I tried to stay awake in between phone calls, I was reading in Ecclesiastes 3. The first part of that chapter is probably more familiar to most of us… “To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven…”  (I’ll wait while you hum through the next verses!)

Reading further in the chapter though, are some verses that give perspective when things are less than peachy. At least, they do for me.

What do we gain by all of our hard work? 10 I have seen what difficult things God demands of us. 11 God makes everything happen at the right time. Yet none of us can ever fully understand all he has done, and he puts questions in our minds about the past and the future. 12 I know the best thing we can do is to always enjoy life, 13 because God’s gift to us is the happiness we get from our food and drink and from the work we do. 14 Everything God has done will last forever; nothing he does can ever be changed. God has done all this, so that we will worship him.

15 Everything that happens  has happened before, and all that will be has already been—God does everything over and over again.  (Ecclesiastes 3, CEV)

I heard a new song (new to me) that reminded me in the good AND bad, God is there and makes everything beautiful in its own time. God makes everything happen at the RIGHT time. Even in brokenness, I can say “thank you” and have a little scrap of faith left to do this job again tomorrow.

Wherever you are today, I hope these words give you encouragement to go and do the next thing God asks of you.

There will be days
That give me more than I can take
But I know you always make
Beauty from my heartache.

You’re the reason for Every Good Thing…

Every Good Thing by The Afters

Christmas 1, Year C (continued) Ecclesiastes 3

The Spirit's Wind - blowing in ways I do not see... yet I know God is at work.
The Spirit’s Wind – blowing in ways I do not see… yet I know God is at work.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-13 [CEB]
There’s a season for everything
and a time for every matter under the heavens:
A time for giving birth and a time for dying,
a time for planting and a time for uprooting what was planted,
A time for killing and a time for healing,
a time for tearing down and a time for building up,
A time for crying and a time for laughing,
a time for mourning and a time for dancing,
A time for throwing stones and a time for gathering stones,
a time for embracing and a time for avoiding embraces,
A time for searching and a time for losing,
a time for keeping and a time for throwing away,
A time for tearing and a time for repairing,
a time for keeping silent and a time for speaking,
A time for loving and a time for hating,
a time for war and a time for peace.
What do workers gain from all their hard work? I have observed the task that God has given human beings. God has made everything fitting in its time, but has also placed eternity in their hearts, without enabling them to discover what God has done from beginning to end.

I know that there’s nothing better for them but to enjoy themselves and do what’s good while they live. Moreover, this is the gift of God: that all people should eat, drink, and enjoy the results of their hard work.

What better verses can there be for New Year’s Day? We turned to a whole new calendar this morning. We have a rough idea of the holidays, the school year, the day of graduation (or as it is for our household, TWO graduation days, as both The Johnnie and Reedy Girl will be graduating in the spring!) There is a sense of purpose and motion in these verses. It’s easy to get caught up in them.

There are many things on my “wish list” that may or may not happen in the year ahead. Learning to rest, trust and believe that God is in charge is a huge challenge for me. Frequently I doubt not only God’s direction, but my ability to understand and follow it.

When I took the photo above, I was marveling at the ways that the jetstream, unseen by my eyes on the ground, was busy, moving the jets’ comtrails, blending them with the clouds, and showing the power of nature. What I could not see was still real. The forces at work were not discernible, yet the evidence was clear that they were there.

There is a sense of the ordering of the seasons. The days we have ahead may be roughly planned, but we still walk by faith with a lot of the details as yet unknown. It’s scary. It’s exciting. It’s a faith walk filled with hope, curiosity and, yes, fears. But as surely as God has placed “eternity” in our hearts, so there is also joy. There may also be challenges, successes, achievements, failures and frustrations, yet God is equal to those moments as well.

I look ahead with anticipation, wanting to know and see those places of enjoyment ahead. Here’s to a year of many “times” — all of them in God’s hands.