But there is another problem I have, one that You and I know, some others do too. It's related to the "busyness" that is really "laziness at the center." And it's about a lack of faithfulness and diligence and discipline in my life. There is work You give me to do, that is related to my gifting, is almost all pleasure, and generally easy to jump to--maybe positive and immediate feedback also helps. But there is also the work that is necessary, hard, requires simple diligence and faithfulness. Too often I leave that work, delay it. I stick with what I feel like doing, not what I should do. That last minute rush I've lived all my life--papers and exams ready at the last minute, preparation at the last minute. When the imminent deadline is upon me I suddenly feel like doing it, and then pour myself into the task.
You want me to learn diligence and faithfulness. Gently you guide, prod, remind.
This week's daily opening invocation (in "the blue book"*) is:
Almighty God, who came to us long ago in the birth of Jesus Christ, be born in us anew today by the power of your Holy Spirit. We offer our lives as home to you and ask for grace and strength to live as your faithful, joyful children always. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.And the closing benediction each day is:
You have been reminded that Jesus Christ is your Lord and that you are God's servant. You are loved; you are forgiven; you are empowered; and now you are sent to live as God's faithful one. AmenEach day I have prayed that I would live faithfully. Each day I have entered the day reminded of what I have been given and having received the charge to "live as God's faithful one."
Today's reading from Zephaniah 3:14-20 didn't "say" anything to me this morning, until I first noticed something previously underlined on the next page--Hag. 2:4-5 (NLT, emphasis mine):
But now the LORD says: 'Be strong, Zerubbabel. Be strong, Jeshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people still left in the land. And now get to work, for I am with you, says the LORD of Heaven's Armies. My Spirit remains among you, just as I promised when you came out of Egypt. So do not be afraid.'Oh this passage has so much of the same things You have been saying to me in other places--"be strong," "don't be afraid," because "I am with you"--but then also adds the "get to work." After reading this, I read the Zephaniah passage again, ah, there in v. 16 is a "Fear not" (again), followed shortly with a "let not your hands grow weak" (keep working, be faithful, GET TO WORK), and before and after that verse God says, in effect, I am with you. "The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst" (v. 15), and "The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save" (v. 17).
So...I turn to my work today, late, not as faithful as I could be, but this week, I have learned some, done better sometimes. Today there is some tedious work--editing Christmas messages to students, revising the agenda for our big evaluation meetings next week (I'll try not to struggle or complain about the '2-language-brain' issues I seem to have.) and then doing some of my own evaluation thinking work.
May this start to work its way into my life...
Thank You. You are faithful. You will keep working on me!
*"the blue book" is my guide for the next year at least, starting Advent (December 1) 2013--its real name is A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Other Servants." It came highly recommended, and I'm expecting good things!