Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Using Algebra?!

I had a terrible day yesterday.  Horrible.  It was simply horrible.  And, oddly, I felt great.

If I was to rank my days according to productiveness (which I don't as it would be very depressing), on a scale of 1 to 10, yesterday I would have needed to use some rudimentary algebra to rank a negative 3.  Yeah it was that bad.

I began my day in the office, arranging my desk and looking forward to reading my Bible, writing to students, and studying.  Ah, it was going to be a good day.  One that at the end of the day, I would slip my thumbs under my overall straps (new dress code at the office), kick back in my lazy-boy and think "Well done, Philip, well done.  You're a good boy."

But first, I had a tiny itch I wanted to scratch.  The itch is this: I'm trying to gear up for our trip out to Vancouver and get some bike parts out there so I won't have to pack so much.  Pretty innocent itch right?


The itch became a scratch and spread into a full body rash by the end of the day!  I was pretty much a big red festering welt by the end.

I didn't do one ounce of actual work at the office.  OK, so I did an ounce, I emailed someone.  Literally, I did one work-related email.  The rest of the day I spent wistfully gazing at little shiny bike parts.

Now, there are a lot of contingencies - I don't currently have a boss, I've been really tired and need to rest, no one was in the office, I'm not exactly sure what I should be doing and blah, blah BLAH!  In other words I really didn't have any excuses.  And here's my biggest contingency/excuse: I'm a pretty guilt-laden individual, so my alarms go off when I waste time, but they didn't go off this time.  Not a peep.  I felt great the whole time!   

Here I am, a missionary for crying out loud, with the job of reaching out to young people with the gospel, and I choose to look at bicycle parts?  Will someone please fire me now!

I know some days are less productive than others, but yesterday was a milestone marker for me (actually now that I think about it, not really.  But I don't want to be too vulnerable).  I literally didn't take my eyes of shiny things for like 8 hours.

Ok, so what's my point?  Is it that I'm surprised that I can be terribly selfish?  No.  And do I think I should be fired for turning a day into a total wash.  No.

No my point is this:  When God chooses to use you, he knows that rock bottom you are absolutely, resolutely bent on self, and it is his job (as you ask for his mercy) to help you take your eyes off yourself.  This is really comforting.  Not in the, "Well I guess I'll go back to looking at bike parts until he does something" kind of comfort.  But in the real, REAL, knowledge that comforts my selfish soul, that God will not be stopped by me in my life.

And as my day yesterday began innocently enough, "Oh I'll just look at bike parts for a few minutes/hours/the whole day"; today, even though I began with the same pattern, I'm currently doing what I'm supposed to be doing: writing, reading scripture and enjoying the good works in front of me.

My larger point is that there is no way I could do this without God's grace.  The grace to start over.  The grace to get up, dust myself off, and say oops.

I don't think God expects an ounce of perfection from me, so he's a God not of second chances but one of a billion-trillion-gazillion chances.  And obviously, this doesn't mean he doesn't discipline, but he does so to do his work, his work of turning our eyes to him, our only hope.

So if you ever feel unproductive, sinful and selfish to the core, relax because that's the norm!  What's unusual is what I'm doing right now, reflecting my Lord by glorifying him.  That's good stuff.  And I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it will continue...  I bet it will...  With any luck...

Now what was I supposed to be doing next?