This weekend I had to finish (or start) a ten-page paper for my art history class. Okay, so, for some that’s not a big deal, for others it’s a huge deal, but the point is that I just didn’t see how it could be possible that I would complete ten pages about one painting. That’s it, that was the prompt. Seriously? I was not looking forward to it. I kept bringing it up ad nauseum to my friends because I just didn’t think it would be possible. I like art but this class is just a general education requirement and I was not head over heels about writing about paint and style and all that jazz. So in my fear I had been in the library all week studying the particular subject, taking notes, jotting quotes down, trying to be as prepared as possible since in the past I have procrastinated right up until the day it needed to be finished.
Come friday after work I jumped on the computer to really start the paper, because all I had before that moment was about a page of random thoughts and disorganized sentences. Incredibly, it wasn’t too bad – I worked for over six hours that night and it was pretty pleasant and interesting. Not to mention, no substantial writer’s block! The next morning I finished it, and was able to submit it that day.
So, I know this is a weird story for this blog but I really had a moment this weekend. After my first night of writing, seeing that it had actually come really easily, I was just so relieved and grateful to God that it wasn’t anything that I thought it would be. And like I said, finishing a ten-page paper is not some incredible accomplishment but in that moment it was huge for me. I had a Hallelujah chorus in my mind, Praise God! You are so good to me! It was really like witnessing a little miracle.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights…”
I was thinking about something else this weekend. In the past I have been mistaken about what I truly can “do” for God. The past two years of my life have been a complete rededication to Him, and I continue to learn and grow so much as the days pass. But I have had this constant tug-of-war in my mind about what I am “doing” for God, if I am pleasing Him, if I am focused on the right things. I still struggle with just accepting and being covered in His grace and really knowing, believing, trusting, and delighting in the fact that I can do NOTHING to be “good” and “better,” that He has done everything once and for all. For me it hasn’t been that simple. I know this and I love this, and I have moments of complete and simple awareness that this is the case and in those moments everything is perfectly clear. But often I worry about if I am in the center of God’s perfect will, if my attentions are being taken away from Him. This is why, I always think, it is a daily walk.
It’s the classic case of being on the mountaintop and in the valley. We all would love to remain on the mountaintop, but the truth is, most of life is in the valley. Writing school papers and going to a normal job and sitting in traffic just doesn’t seem like adequate worship for a God like ours. But I have been working on transforming my thinking into something that I can change; my attitude and perspective. That everything I do whether it is doing laundry, taking notes in class, doing a project at work, or spending time with my family, is for Him. These things don’t need to be compartmentalized in my life, and my worship to Him extends well beyond Sundays at church and when I am alone with Him. It is all one offering to Him, not separate but constant praise.
This weekend I watched this really interesting PBS documentary called The Amish: The American Experience. It’s so good and I really recommend it. In a lot of ways I really love how they think and how they live. The simple life, living off the land, keeping communities and families close, doing everything for God, not putting stock in this temporal world. One of the Amish women said this and this just perfectly sums up this concept:
“I might be working, I might be washing dishes, but my soul is kneeling before God and saying ‘Thy will be done.”’
I just know that everything I do is for Him, through Him, by Him, because of Him. That’s all that matters.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.
We are in this world, but we are not of this world. All day long as we live on this Earth and deal with the things we all must deal with in this life, how beautiful is it that we can still say, “my soul is kneeling before God.”
Let my lifesong sing to you.
I want to sign Your name at the end of this day
Knowing that my heart was true.