Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Of Priorities & Purpose

Life can sometimes be confusing, complicated, and not at all what we feel it should be. Actually, this is how life is most of the time. But within that confusion and complication, there is purpose and direction.

I'm a firm believer in the truth that God teaches us lessons through our seasons in life. Therefore, I've gotten used to looking for opportunities to learn and grow, even in the most "unlikely" seasons. And this current season is one of those times.

Honestly, it's difficult to not struggle with feelings of inadequacy right now. Each time someone asks me if I've found a job yet, I feel a twinge of failure when I have to say no. I'm working at finding a job, but so far God hasn't opened that door.

Then, while working on my Bible lesson for the Ladies' Bible Study (during which time, I usually learn A LOT), God showed me I'm coming at life, and work, from entirely the wrong angle. And in the process, he shut up my pride factor which was calling me a failure for being jobless.

This week's lesson was on 1 Corinthians 12:12-31, which talks about the parts of the body and how each has its own God-appointed function. Of course I got a lot out of the material in the book, but the biggest concept I came away with was that of priorities.

Yes, this season in life I'm learning a HUGE lesson in priorities. And where to begin?

I think the biggest realization hit when I was thinking about my place in the body of Christ. Each of us as believers have a unique role, or gift, that God has specifically given to us. This is our contribution to the body, and without it, the body would not function as it should. Every part is not merely important, but is needed.

For the past two years almost, I hadn't been contributing to the body. My life revolved primarily around work--my job was quite time consuming and emotionally draining--and pleasure--finding "exciting" things to fill my time with, like hiking and going out with friends. I went to church on Sundays, but that was just about the extent of it.

Then, as most of you know, life was rapidly turned on its head as I lost friends and my job to circumstances beyond my circle of influence. Suddenly, I was looking at a world that was not seemingly defined by my successes, but by my failures. And since then, I have inadvertently been viewing it this way.

Each time I think about my life, I feel like I should have a job right now, this minute. I also feel that not having a job means I don't really have a life, or at least don't deserve to have one. That somehow, I am less important, less meaningful because I don't have a job.

Then, God hit me with this question. Is having a job the absolute most important thing in my life? And will it always be the biggest priority, the most important thing?

In a society so focused on success, careers, and climbing the corporate ladder, the answer is clearly yes. But as a Christ follower, my answer is no. At least, not that kind of job. Not the job that is all about me, all about money, all about my personal success.

As a Christ follower, a member of the body, the most important thing in my life will always be my job in that role. That job looks like, loving God supremely, loving others unconditionally, using my gifts wholeheartedly, and proclaiming Christ unceasingly. That will always be the biggest priority, the most important thing.

I forgot that. I forgot that my life wasn't about jobs and paychecks. I lost sight of the meaning and value I have, the gift God specifically gave me to contribute. Thankfully, God's been reminding me in some very obvious ways.

Honestly, I love this season of life. I'm getting to contribute to things beyond myself. I'm getting to love on and pour into people in ways I haven't been in a long time. I'm learning to glorify God with my life, and spend large amounts of time meditating on him. I know it won't last forever, but I am so thankful that for now, I have that time.

I want to carry this priority with me forever, so that when I finally get a job, it won't be the most important thing. I want to remember that, as life progresses and time changes things, that this, this is the most important thing.

But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 1 Cor. 12:18

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. Eph. 4:15-16

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