on seasons and surfing

Having just finished reading My Seventh Monsoon, by Naomi Reed, I’ve been thinking lately about the seasons of life. The seasons changed quickly for me recently. As I left International Teams, one season ended, and then another began when I started at CMS a couple of days later.

One of the main conclusions Naomi draws in the book (yeah I know it’s weird for this Naomi to write about another Naomi’s book, but bear with me!) is that God provides for our needs differently, but always for His purposes in the different seasons of life. This rings true and is deeply comforting as I am in the beginnings of a new season.

At four weeks in to the new job at CMS, I think I’m just starting to get used to it. There was a moment in my third week there, when I found myself staring at the two blank computer screens, interview notes and emails all in front of me. All I needed to do was write the article. If only it was that simple. Don’t get me wrong, I feel hugely privileged to be in a role where I am getting paid to write about things of eternal value. Then and perhaps most days in this season I’m going to be up against the age-old enemy of writing and all creative pursuits: resistance.

But enough about work, this week we’ve been away with friends staying in a lovely house in Green Point, NSW with an amazing view of Wallis Lake. After the big, quick change, this week has offered much-needed soul refreshment. Up until this week, amidst the busyness of Christmas and learning all the new people and operations in the new role, I was functioning in survival mode. Now after waking up to the sounds of birds tweeting and insects screeching, and watching the sunset over the lake in the evening, I think my head and heart may have almost caught up to my body.

Reading My Seventh Monsoon has also challenged me anew about focusing on being not doing. I find this hard, because I really like to achieve. Hence feeling rather frustrated with the writer’s bloc and wondering what exactly I had produced that day!

This in-built desire to achieve is something I have struggled with in learning to surf. Surfing is hard and achieving is close to impossible. Today, out of the many waves I bumbled onto, full of hope, there were many rides which could be considered failures, and maybe only one or two where I felt like I was really riding the wave in any sense of the word.

Given that I emerged from the surf today with a twisted ankle and some cuts on my toe and the usual knee grazes…was the half second ride worthwhile? I have to say, it’s a resounding yes. The beauty of surfing is in the journey of just being there in the waves, under the bright blue sky, with the sunny glare reflecting hard into my eyes and the headlands rising up on either side of the coast.

in it for the fun!

Learning to surf has taught me a few lessons over the years…

  1. Enjoy the journey. Along the lines of the being not doing.
  2. Control is illusive. When you are surfing, you have almost none. Certainly no control over the waves, the currents, the clouds, the wind.
  3. Some risks are worth taking. I decided to start surfing because I was over sitting on the sand watching Adam and others have fun. Even if I never quite have the courage to venture “out the back” to where Adam rides, I still feel like taking the risk of trying to surf is worthwhile, compared to not trying at all – because of the sheer fun – and nothing to do with whether I’m actually any good at it.

I look forward to the surfing and the lessons learned from it in years to come. But for now, one closing excerpt from My Seventh Monsoon that resonated with me, Naomi and her husband Darren were discussing whether to go back to Nepal with their three kids…

N: “…what would it say to our kids if they knew we had taken a deliberate risk, and died?”
D: “It would say to my kids that more than anything else, I’m on this earth to follow Jesus. If following Jesus means taking the hard calls, then that’s what I want to do. I want my kids to know I took risks.”

Advertisements

joy+trials+perseverance=faith.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

Within the space of just over 24 hours this week, we found out that my mum was sick and on an antibiotic drip at home, that my husband’s Nan had liver cancer and then that my father in law had a suspected stroke and was in emergency at the hospital.

We heard good news earlier tonight that his Dad is home. My mum is on the mend but slowly. His Nan, well that’s going to be a longer process. We visited her yesterday –  she has not just liver cancer, but also issues with her thyroid, so she is still in shock but thankful for her family rallying around her at this time.

We love our families and try to make them a priority, and especially at times like these we of course want to be supportive and loving as much as possible.

But finding all this out when we did – just at the start of the long weekend – I felt a deep frustration. Resistance was rearing its ugly head again. We had sought to keep the weekend unusually clear to allow AJ to do lots of work on his EP songs (check the pre-releases out here). Why were these things happening? And why now?  He has been compromised for time on his music for most of the last month, and this was meant to be his time! I had to put this aside and trust that God had bigger plans than ours, as we set off for the hospital and visits to Adam’s Nan and my Mum yesterday. It was such a good thing to visit them.

Thankfully, because his Dad was doing so well, Adam was able to spend today on his songs and make some good progress and we’ll head out to see everyone again tomorrow. Praise God!

What a challenge the verse I shared at the start presents. I fully agree that perseverance leads to greater faith. I have witnessed this in other’s lives and believe it to be true in my own life too. But to consider trials a joy is a tough exhortation to live out in practice. Joy was not really how I was considering things yesterday. I felt troubled. We are trying to focus on the positive things which could result from all of this, and, quite remarkably I think, even as we processed the shock of it all, both the sick and the well could smile together yesterday. With Adam’s Nan, we pondered how experiences like this can force us to re-evaluate our priorities. Good things are possible, we believe. But joy now? Really?

I think I will keep wrestling with what James says in this passage. I am encouraged by the promise in verse 4 of maturity in faith and of not lacking anything. Perseverance through trials seems to be par for the course in this life.  This time is a trial in only small ways for me, but my prayers are for the sick and those closer to them – that is where the bigger trials are at and where much perseverance will be called for.

In all of this, I am once again reminded also how thankful I am that I know God because of what Jesus did at Easter so many years ago, that He is in control, He will never leave us and He will one day return. Amen!

resisting resistance

Disclaimer: I wrote this almost a week ago but hadn’t come back to post it. Let’s just say that the ante has been upped since I wrote this. Stay tuned.

Sore throat. Late night. Plans change. Late night. No exercise. No space. Late night. Can’t think. What to wear? Can’t write.

resistance.

I’ve posted about resistance before. This week and to some degree the last few weeks, we have felt increasing resistance to doing the particular things we feel called to. I guess this should not be a surprise – Jesus said somewhere ‘in this life you will have trouble.’ Resistance is always going to come – weekly, if not daily if not hourly.

Resistance really got to me on my Monday off work last week. I had set aside some time to reflect on my heart for missions in our church and to seek God’s wisdom and guidance – I was hoping for half a day. As I sat in the car for the second time, trying without any luck to reach Adam to sort out car logistics, I lost it. I felt so angry, sad and guilty too that for various reasons I was only going to get an hour.

On Saturday, as he prepared for our friend’s live recording, I think I was a channel of resistance to my husband. I was deceived into thinking that what I wore mattered more than anything, expressed in tears and obsessive worrying. Adam was amazingly patient but firm with me. And this helped me crawl out of the sorry pit I had fallen into

Resistance can take many forms, and it probably differs person to person, but in my life it’s generally either some form of spiritual attack or area of sin BUT it can also come in the form of very good and worthy things too. In the latter case, I feel that trying to make priorities and establish some boundaries on our time is part of the key. Discerning where to draw the line can be really hard.  When it comes to the former type of resistance, on the upside…

  1. If it is attack, then it is my hope that I/we must be doing something right to be worthy of attack; and
  2. Whether it is sin or spiritual attack or a bit of a combination, then it is an opportunity to repent, grow in faith and trust in God.

The real test is – how do I deal with it when (not if) it comes? Often I don’t realise that I’m succumbing to the temptations that resistance brings with it – especially the negative personal attacks. I think I see it more clearly than I used to – but there is still endless potential for growth – towards not giving in at all. Perhaps the best battle plan is constantly praying against attack and asking God to help me see it for what it is when it comes, and then resisting it with words of truth – like “God loves me. Nothing can change that.” or “Greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world.” Even declaring them out loud if I can. For I must remember that God is victorious over all my resistance.

How do you deal with resistance?