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Saturday, October 1, 2011

Fall Beginnings

Romans 12:1-2 (The Message and NLT)

So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life - your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life - and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Then you will know what God wants you to do [and that] God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

It has been so long since I’ve blogged, and even longer since I’ve really blogged; you know, from deep in my gut. It’s been that I’ve been exhausted and it’s been that I’ve been busy with all the fun things of summer. But really it’s been that I’ve been dry. My passions waned, my dreams lulled into the void of unconsciousness or sub-consciousness, or a place at least where I didn’t access them nor assess them nor live them. And so as the summer has wrapped up and a new season has rolled out, I’ve decided that it’s time for me too, to roll out with a new game plan in hand. Being fall it is fitting to look afresh at the past, the present, and the future. Fitting, for the simple reason, that I love fall and that this particular fall brings with it 2 big events: my 30th birthday and a growing tummy to accommodate the growing baby within me!

To me there is no more refreshing season than Fall and as long as I have recollection I have loved the onset of Autumn. There is something revitalizing about the change in the air when it takes on crispness and a new sense of freshness. In Saskatoon, this change coincides with the riverside Meewasin trail (my favorite place to run in Saskatoon) turning glorious with the vibrant shades of changing leaves. In Chilliwack I enjoy the dampness that begins to return to the air bringing with it the most wonderful smell of nature that I love to inhale deeply.

Another reason I have long loved September is the start of a new school year. Though I am no longer a student, I thoroughly enjoyed and am thoroughly grateful for all my years of education and I found the first day of school exhilarating. I clearly remember my first day of University walking at 8AM across “the bowl” at the University of Saskatchewan for my first class. I was so nervous I would get lost or be late sometime through out the day; but, I was thrilled to be surrounded by all these building of learning on such a beautiful campus and I had a thrill of equal magnitude my “last first day of school” nine years later when I entered my final year of pharmacy school.

Now as an adult who has (finally—wink, wink) “outgrown” school, my love for fall extends beyond the physical change of the season. It is a time to anticipate the year ahead and strive for personal growth. It is with this mindset that I organized a “retreat” with some close girlfriends a week ago. We spent time alone reflecting, giving space for God to speak and space to think about life. It was a jumping point for passions to begin to infiltrate our minds and hearts and souls and for dreams to come alive with vision. And we wrapped up the “retreat” with an invaluable time of prayer for one another.

From this retreat, the words of Romans 12 came alive and I feel so grateful to have the direction of scripture in navigating this race course of life. These verses explain that if you live with full acknowledgement and deep graciousness for what God has done for you, you will think differently, live differently, and act differently and this way of living will enable you to know what God wants from you. I have asked repeatedly since January, “God what do you want from me?” This scripture answers my long sought question.

You see, at youth we were talking with the students about how we are asked to “collide” our worlds, to let God and what He’s taught us flow over into all realms of our life. And I see this irony because in science and general life, it seems like Murphy’s law takes place and collisions occur naturally. However, when applied to spiritual life, causing collisions of my internal faith with that around me, well, it has to be orchestrated and it requires an input of energy. And so, I have not been so good at creating these collisions nor even knowing how to create these collisions and so I’ve been asking God “What do you want from me?” But, in Romans 12 God voice reveals the answer to the question: I want you to live in deep gratitude of what I have done for you and allow that to transform you and then through that daily transformation you will understand and see what I want from you. That’s how God gives sight and insight.

I think of Eve as she eats the forbidden fruit. She was promised by the Deceiver that the fruit would open her eyes. Just like Eve, I want my eyes opened too, that I can know how to get more out of this life. But the answer is not what our deceitful world teaches. I will not get more out of life when I have more money, more comfort, more prestige. I will get more out of life when I fully accept and live the acceptance that Jesus has given and claim his promise that he will give “more and better life than [I could] ever dream of.” (John 10:10, The message).

Romans 12 further asks me to fix my attention on God. And I found that the answer to how I fix my attention on God is quite simple: Read scripture (I’ve been doing quite well at this since January when I implemented my journey through the bible with a reading plan, if you exclude July and August), create space for God to speak (I naturally love reflection), and pray (here’s the kicker- I’m not so ‘good’ at praying). Clearly, to fix my eyes on Jesus takes a specific discipline that I must be willing to implement, however that looks in my life.

And this all links back to what Ann Voskamp has been saying in her book, 1000 gifts: live a life looking for God’s blessings in the hum-drum of daily life and it will transform you. And why can Ann write a whole book about this subject, when it is summed up in 2 verses in Romans 12? The answer is simply because it’s a struggle and a well-worth while one.