I enjoy watching movies – some over and over. The best writers, directors, and actors have gifts for
weaving a story that you want to enter as if you’re living it with them. Often when I read Bible stories I envision them in my head as if I’m directing for the big screen and imagine I’m living it with them.
While many of the real events in the Bible are very dramatic and beyond what even special effects
could help us imagine, I wonder if our fascination with the drama of story and movies sets us up for
disappointment in our everyday lives. Much of the daily life and walk of Christians in my narrow time and place is a bit more mundane and ordinary.
There are certainly places in the world today where “ordinary” may not be the Christian experience, but life in today’s America can seem pretty uneventful. Christianity has been hard-won over the centuries by so many church fathers and mothers who have gone before, but has come to me in a form easily taken for granted.
I have always been a God-seeker, even from childhood, and became a Christian in my teens; but at the age of 30 when I was expecting my second child, I made a decision to be a disciplined disciple. I began my systematic search for God through Bible study and prayer, perhaps in an attempt to find greater, more dramatic meaning in life, and definitely to know a God who I believed was writing a never-ending story in an eternity I had only sampled. What followed was not an adventure story of dramatic events. It was a long, slow, often ordinary maturing. Though I have had profound experiences of amazement, joy, and worship, and situations when I realized God had always been very near and personal even when I couldn’t see, more often I have known the deepening awareness of being a small supporting player in God’s movement through a panoramic story. While that makes me realize just how small and short my life is, it also gives me a sense of being part of something very grand and dramatic indeed.
The results have been a growing confidence and security in the goodness and sufficiency of God,
steadying patience, and humble recognition of my humanity as part of a world that was intended for
so much more. It has changed me. I’m a different person than I would have been on my own – better,
which may be what I was seeking from the start. One of the truths I’ve discovered along the way is that when I think I’m waiting on God, I eventually realize He’s been waiting on me.
I mentioned the start of my disciplined spiritual life because I believe it sets the stage for all that came later. I wasn’t especially inspired to begin that journey, especially at a progressively demanding time in life of raising small children. It was more a decision to just do it, upon the advice of a woman at a retreat who encouraged us to “fill your bucket during times of peace, so you have something to draw from in times of trouble.” So, I found a friend to meet with once a week to keep me accountable, and began each day by getting out of bed before anyone else in the house – hard to do, but I pressed on, offering God the first moments of my day as a tithe of my time: the first, in order to bless the rest.
I was encouraged from Malachi 3:8-12, and from the story of Elijah and the widow of Zarephath in 1 Kings 17:7-16. Because of the drought and famine, the widow had only enough flour and oil to make a last meal for herself and her son, but Elijah showed up and told her to make bread for him first (God had told him the widow would feed him), and then she and her son could eat. Against real evidence that there wouldn’t be enough left for her, she trusted God, and the flour and oil lasted to feed the three of them throughout the rest of the famine; the first given, so the remainder was blessed and enough. I have found it always to be true. I fear a worse famine is coming and is already upon us, “not a famine of bread nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.” (Amos 8:11)
Somewhere along the way I found what has become my life verse: “Morning by morning, O Lord, you hear my voice. Morning by morning, I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.” (Psalm 5:3) The advice I followed 30 years ago was characteristic of much of my journey – take this one step I know is right, and the rest will follow, step by step. Sometimes the steps were hard to find, and some of the steps I knew were right weren’t pleasant. I haven’t always followed perfectly or without grumbling (just ask my family), but I trusted the Light that was showing me the way and that there was a story unfolding. I believe it will be true to the final, closing credits.