Christian Living, Ministry

Searching for One’s Self

We are winding up our second year of our current home group program at church. I’m finishing up my third run of a course based on the study by Rick Rusaw and Eric Swanson entitled, “Living A Life On Loan.” I picked out this DVD study to help emphasize the character quality of fruitfulness. Though it doesn’t line up with my original thoughts on the matter, the study does encourage Christians to use their gifts and abilities in order to dispense grace and good works through their lives.

Discussion in our group will often return to a thought that each person is trying to figure out who they are. Men and women in their thirties and forties are realizing that they’ve go so long living life, either for the Lord or themselves, and now they’re starting to figure out that they have something to do, some gift to bring to the world.

I’d written a couple of posts in recent months on spiritual gifts. I find myself bringing up those thoughts in our discussions, so you might find them interesting (read Spiritual Gifts 1 | read Spiritual Gifts 2). It seems, though, that for all of the tests, for all of the books and programs that are available to help us discover our personal gifts, it is still extremely difficult for people to determine what they are and live their lives doing them.

In this DVD study, we’re learning about doing good works. The basis is found in Ephesians 2:10: “For we are [God’s] workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (NKJV). It is comforting to know that God looks down and sets things in motion for us to take part in. He has already moved the paths to intersect; it is our job to notice and take advantage of those intersections. But why do we find it so difficult to step into that? Why are we afraid to be like Peter, who stepped out of a boat to walk with Jesus on the water, and just do what needs to be done?

Part of the problem is that we over-spiritualize spiritual living. (That conjures up a few topics to post on.) Let’s look at an example from our discussion. One of our group members, we’ll call her Susan, has felt to go to woman’s home and pray with her. The woman’s husband is in his fifties and he is dying. Susan feels the tug at her heart to go and minister to this woman, but doesn’t know how to go about it.

Another woman in the group, we’ll call her Lizzy, loves God and is growing in Him. But when the pastor asks her to pray for something, she clams up, her mind goes blank, her pulse races, and doesn’t know what to do next. She believes that God wants to use her in praying for people, but in those situations, she feels she is failing God and her pastor, and doesn’t know how to fix it.

Are these women really failing God? Are they insecure, refusing to trust in the power of Christ to lead them to do what He has called them to? I don’t think so. I think that they’ve fallen into the trap of over-spiritualizing spiritual things.

We talked about Susan’s situation, and finally I told her that praying with the woman would be the smallest part of her visit to the home. Most of that visit would be consumed with small talk, sharing a coffee and maybe a slice of pie. Visitation is more about visiting than it is about being spiritual. A time of prayer would only be a short minute or two, closing out their time together. Another group member added that the woman wasn’t going to critique the prayer after Susan left. She would just be glad that Susan cared enough to visit with her.

A suggestion we gave to Lizzy was to write out a few prayers for those situations when the pastor usually asks her to pray. Take the time to craft a couple of heartfelt words that she felt would be meaningful in those times. Would she look silly? Not at all. How long have prayer books been used in churches? Hundreds of years? And who cares, anyway. If the Holy Spirit can lead a pastor to put words together for a sermon days before it used, why can’t he move upon Lizzy to prepare words that will have an impact when their time is ripe?

As often happens to me, I’ve got a few more thoughts that I’d like to share, but don’t want to take up too much time. It’s important to figure out who God wants you to be, who you were meant to be. But it isn’t always easy.

How are you working it out?