Monday, March 24, 2008

For What Am I Made?

"Dr." Johnston, a friend of mine, has been making my head hurt lately with his posts. He keeps posting about an ongoing conversation I'm having in my head about knowing who/what God created you to be and then being/doing it. (how kind of him to link to me in those posts. I'm sure my readership has doubled. Hello all 4 of you!)

Knowing what you were made to do. Sounds simple right?

I'm finding it not so much. Clearly there are areas that I am called to serve in in this phase of my life. I have a husband. Therefore I obviously am called to be a wife. I have 7 children. Therefore I am obviously called to be a mother. I live in a home. Therefore I am obviously called to keep it. But then what? Is that all?

The running joke is that I'm good at two things: having babies and singing. Does that mean then that I ought to keep having babies since the conception, carrying, labouring, delivering and nursing typically goes extremely simply for me? Just because it is "easy" and I do it well, am I to take that as an indicator that I ought to keep on having children? But lots of people can easily have children. Some have many. Some have few. Many do it really well. Others not so much. Is that a "gifting" from the Lord, or just a natural thing, just a blessing that he puts on a family that I get to enjoy? Is it a "talent" to manage or a talent to use?

And then singing. I love to do it. People say I do it well. My pastor told me 8 years ago after our church led the service at "Church in the Park" where I helped lead worship "Well, Barbara. It looks as though we've found your niche." But as a stay at home mom, do I persue that? Do I initiate something or wait to be called up? How do I fit the training and practice time necessary to further this 'gift', if that's what it is, when I'm up to my neck in laundry and diapers? And there are many ladies in our church who can sing and lead. How am I to know if I am actually made for this, or if it is just a nice thing I can do to contribute?

Which leads me to what I am struggling with most lately. My husband has already given me his answer, which was reassuring, but didn't take the question away; Could it be possible, that, as a wife and mother, my only real calling is to ensure that my husband has the opportunity and time and support to persue and further HIS calling? Maybe my calling is only to be "the best supporting actress"? Maybe all I ought to be doing is taking such good and thorough care of him and the home and the children that he is in a place where he is set up to shine in the roles that God has called him to do. That doesn't seem far fetched to me. Maybe the other things I do well at outside of the domestic duties are just a result of common grace. Maybe the singing is not a gift or a calling, but rather just a pleasant side effect of how the Lord designed the human body and the vocal chords. (I'm assuming you can guess my husband's take on this. He is not seeing my only calling as being his flag waver and biggest fan. He believes the Lord has other arenas for me to serve Him outside of the home as well. I would love to agree with him wholeheartedly, but I just wonder....)

I am not done here. I have more questions and more issues to discuss. There are things I've been reading lately that I will bring up in Part Two. But for now, I do hope that some of you wiser folks, and some of you mechanics, might have an insight or two.
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• Monday, March 24, 2008 - Untitled Comment
Posted by "Dr" J (halfpint's hubby) (… Firstly, by adding more of my thoughts to this discussion, I am in no way claiming to be “wise,” and secondly, I am not a doctor… I recently preached to a wonderful congregation in Kingston; the experience was incredibly refreshing. I had taken a year long hiatus from preaching and the Lord opened this door to preach again. When I got back, I was ecstatic. I said to a friend of mine, “What am I doing teaching high school English? I ought to be preaching.” He replied, “How can you expect God to place you in pastoral ministry if you are not exercising your gifts in your own local church.” True enough. My own congregation is in need of pulpit supply, and I wasn’t “stepping up.” The reason for the hiatus was that I was tired of itinerant preaching. God opened the door, however, and I am slated to preach a “series” of sermons in April and May at my church. The question I pose, then, is this: “What gifts CAN you use right now but are NOT using?” Considering where you are now, at home, with seven beautiful children, what are you able to do? If you are able to do something, but are not doing it, then you need to start. Going on a singing tour might not be an option right now, unless you decide to take the kids (for example, the von Trapps… by the way, the real Maria went on to have three more children of her own with the Captain…). We need to be faithful with the supposed “little” things God gives us to do. Not that you are doing “little” things anyway, right now. Raising children is this day and age is a colossal challenge and an incredible responsibility. As parents, we are investing in the lives of the next generation of Christians. However, this ministry is also inglorious, commonplace and mundane. Humdrum. I suppose I could say we need to be faithful with the supposedly “ordinary” things God gives us to do. Remember Susanna Wesley, mother of Charles and John Wesley (and 17 other children)? She would sit down in her kitchen and pull her apron up over her head top spend time in prayer. She is quoted to have prayed, “Help me, Lord, to remember that religion is not to be confined to the church... nor exercised only in prayer and meditation, but that every where I am in Thy Presence.” As a praying and faithful mother, what an incredible ministry she was to the church of Jesus Christ. You and I need to fight the urge of our generational “zeitgeist”, the urge to be self-absorbed. We cannot say things like, “When can I start living my own life?” This is the battle cry of the 30-something generation. Christians of this generation might say, “When can I start using MY gifts…” or “When can I do something meaningful with MY life.” This seems all well and good, but I think we echo our “individualistic” generation too much when we think this way. The Christian way is sacrifice.

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