A Journey of Faith

Sunday, January 27, 2013

It's Just Too Hard...Or Is It?

I have a confession to make. I was given an assignment that I have not completed. Not for my schooling (I got all that done and turned in...early even!), or from Pastor (I am working on my next sermon, not exactly an 'assignment' from her, but something I need to do in a certain amount of time.). Nope, this is an assignment from my music teacher. I have been practicing so much (1 1/2 to 2 hours a day, off and on throughout the day) that I am progressing fairly well. So she wants me to learn to play 'Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring (see an example on youtube... this woman plays beautifully!!   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lwINOcFwTjc )

I would love to play that way. It would be amazing to play that well. And I know that if I work hard and practice it a LOT... I will at least get close.

But it is still a scary thing...

I have taken out the music a few times. I can play a measure or two... not well, but well enough that my ears don't hurt and I am not overwhelmed by the desire to throw my violin across the room (NEVER would do that!!!! We broke a string one day...easy enough to fix but it made me want to cry!) But when I try to play more than just a few measures, well, I quickly get overwhelmed with the difficulty of it. I want to play it, and play it well.... NOW. I don't want to have to (this is a yucky word... sorry for having to use it...) wait. I'm not good at delayed gratification... which means that GOD gives me many many opportunities to practice it. I have to convince myself that anything that is worth doing will probably take time, and just because I don't succeed quickly and all at once, it doesn't mean I never will.

It reminds me of my journey, this journey that GOD has sent me on. I started my first class this week and a few times I have caught myself slipping into the 'what if I fail at this? what if it is too hard? what if I am wasting my... and everyone else's time? what if I am no good at it??' mindset. So far I have been able to avoid falling for the enemies lies that I am going to fail at it. When I first decided to obey GOD and go into ministry I had a meeting with our District Superintendent (a very wise man) and he told me something that has really stuck with me, and that I am really trying to remember when I start to doubt myself. He told me (and I am paraphrasing here!) that no one expects me to be a good pastor right now... that that is what the journey, or process, is about. The process to become a pastor (not even counting the schooling part... there is a whole process within the church in addition to getting a degree) is meant to prepare one to serve. It is such a comfort to know that where I am now is not where I will be when I complete this journey. Which is a very very good thing... I don't see in myself what it would take to be an effective pastor. But GOD must... or HE wouldn't have asked me to be one! And just like that piece of music, obeying Him... and being a blessing to His children, will take a bit of practice, a lot of persistence, and a whole lot of patience.

I think I need to get out my violin...

Heavenly Father, thank You again for the gift of music, what a blessing not only to hear it, but to be able to make it! Thank you for my music teacher,and her patient instruction, encouragement and optimism! Thank you for the wise words spoken by my DS, and the way they have helped me have the determination to persevere. Please help me to continue to see the goal... serving you, and to not listen to the enemy when he tries to convince me that it's just too hard. In JESUS' name, Amen.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Love Covers it All

I've been thinking a lot about love lately. In a Christian sense, not a romantic sense. See, I have a facebook account, and I am 'facebook friends' with many people, who have a very very wide range of beliefs. From the far right to the far left and everything in between. From the pro-life, Bible believing, conservatives to the pro-choice, every kind of faith goes, liberals. (And might I mention that I love them all... just so that is said!).

One thing that has gotten my attention lately is the polar differences in the posts I have been seeing. And to add to it, the bumper stickers I have been noticing lately too. It occurred to me that they all have one thing in common... no matter what the content... and that is love. Whether they are talking about the need to love people who are gay, or the need to care for those who can't care for themselves, or the need to care for the environment. The main theme is love. Now, I don't agree with all the posts that I see. There are some that I disagree with quite strongly, but the love part... I can only say a whole hearted 'Amen' to that. After all, isn't that why JESUS came? Isn't that what HE preached in His short but powerful ministry? Didn't He time and time again look past all the 'details' of who His children were... be they tax collectors or prostitutes, adulterers or lepers, and see to the heart of the one He loved? Didn't He allow Himself to be humiliated and tortured, nailed to a tree all in the name of love? He didn't come and make the ultimate sacrifice so that we could turn to our neighbor and see only their sins, or their weaknesses, or even simply the ways they are different from us. He made that sacrifice so that we would know what unconditional, limitless love looks like... and DO something with that knowledge.

Now before I get any grumpy comments...I don't mean that we shouldn't live the way GOD tells us to. He gives us some pretty clear instructions about how to live. But that doesn't mean that we are to be judge and jury over others. JESUS tells us to be salt and light. He tells us to live in a way that others will see Him in us. He never says that we get to get angry at someone because they don't do the same. And He certainly doesn't want us to treat others in a way that pushes them away from HIM.

Matthew 22:35-41

New King James Version (NKJV)
35 Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”
37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”