Thursday, September 8, 2011

Of course, people do go both ways.

When I think of today's post, this scene plays in my head:

The hunt for gainful employment, which is my role in this Louisville adventure, has had less success thus far than I had hoped, but more success than I had actually anticipated. As of last Friday, I am technically a Red Robin employee. Training should start next week for that. However, Brooks Bros. has also offered me a full-time job. I originally turned them down because I didn't feel comfortable with commission-based selling. I talked again with the GM today, though, and I think that I could make more working for Brooks Bros than waitressing, even with tips. And I could wear my dress clothes....!

Also, today I had a second interview with the Housing office for a part-time position. It has regular hours, it's on campus, it's a small staff where I'd really be effective serving and not, if I can't do writing or publishing I really just want to work on campus. Of course, a part-time job does not pay rent, tuition, and groceries. So, being me, I've devised another part-time job plan too! I talked to the writing center director and she said "I'd love to have you come on-board! I just don't know when." Then today, housing said, "If hired, you could start on the 19th!" and at the writing center she said "Good news! I can bring you on in about 2 months!"

Well, that's quick turnaround for both of those places, but not for us! Which leads me to the real debacle here: how can I get a quick "best place to work" answer from God? This is something I feel I come up against frequently and I think something that, as Christians, we struggle with almost as much as "what's God's will for my life?" Often we've been stuck in the drylands, where we can't get any response, but now that there are many, I guess the heart question is "Which one is most from God?" The job I have? The job I want more that pays more? The job(s) I want most but don't have yet that won't start yet and might not pay enough?

Recently someone said that sometimes, God lets us choose between two (or three) equally good options. And then Francis Chan (in Forgotten God) told me that we spend too much time asking "What's God's will for my life?" Instead of "Okay Holy Spirit, what's the plan for the next half hour?" He says we use an uncertainty of God's will as an excuse for inaction.

Well, that actually doesn't help me too much immediately or practically, but I think it will long-term. Because maybe, as my friend the Scarecrow says, both ways are pretty nice. And maybe, if the one I pick isn't that nice, God will still be willing to take care of what we need and provide something else when we need it!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A struggle to describe things beyond my understanding

I have tried three different ways to write this post and none are really sufficient. Thank you, Lord, that any words I have are weak compared to your reality. Thanks that my vague, dark understanding doesn't weaken who you are!

Lately, my scriptural truths have found their best illustrations in my dog. Meika worships two things: her owners and herself. She loves the love we lavish on her. When she can't feel our petting anymore, she looks around at us and nudges us hard with her nose, trying to make us touch her again. She likes to bury her head against us and just accept our attention, revel in it even. She repays us in kind, licking our hands and jeans and faces. Sometimes she licks us without even looking at us, as though out of obligation. And then, content that she has fulfilled her debt, she continues to expect us to pet her and play with her. This is her worship of herself.
One night last week, she sat on Ben's lap with her back to him, head lowered, eyes half-closed, getting her fill. Then, suddenly, she turned her head to look at her master. All her puppy attention focused on him, and once she saw him she had to respond, not out of obligation, but out of grateful affection. She crossed her eyes so that she could continue to look at him as she covered his face in dog kisses. She gave the best she could give, despite her slobber being of no real worth to Ben. When she acknowledged his love for her and how wonderful he was, and she had to respond in love.

The theme of last week was not actually searching. It was worship, or, as Don Whitney calls it in Spiritual Disciplines of the Christian Life, "being pre-occupied with God." I spent most of the week being pre-occupied with my own pursuit of God.

Despite wanting a heart for worship, I went to church sleepy. I raised my hands to Heaven hoping that my actions would refocus the rest of me, but I had to put them down to fight the overwhelming feeling of hypocrisy.  I wasn't looking to the face of God. I was thinking about how "spiritually mature" I wanted the people behind me to know I was! I left church feeling really guilty and depressed and bored, none of which are side effects of true worship.
(My friend Jacob laughingly calls the side effects of worship a "God-high," and has explained to me about heightened levels of chemicals in our brains that cause this feeling. I think it's insanely cool that God is so intimately connected to every part of our bodies that he designed chemicals in our brains to help us respond to Him in worship.)

Fortunately, I had several other opportunities for corporate (or large group) worship last week. Ben and I went to chapel twice and I nearly cried at the joy of seeing hundreds of twenty-somethings who were thrilled to focus on the Holiness of God for an hour. Still, the guilt that had hung around me during church remained. I prayed to worship in spirit and truth. I sang my favorite songs loudly and eagerly, but I continued to worship me and to be distracted knowing that I wasn't truly praising God as He deserved. Surely, I thought, this is not the true worship that the forefathers of my faith have practiced. And then, on Thursday, something changed.  It wasn't a state of mind that I figured out. It wasn't any action of mine, lest I should boast. It was more like an invasion, really; a not so hostile takeover. The eyes of my heart (which are not physical body parts, but exist nonetheless) glimpsed something Greater and Holier than themselves. When they fixed on the author of life, I finally stopped mattering. My faithlessness didn't matter, my guilt didn't matter; I could stand pure before the Holy of Holies and know that He had made me worthy to praise Him. And, like the four creatures around His throne in Revelation, I had to praise him. It was the only logical response.

Because my heart is like a sieve, I couldn't stay there in the presence of the Almighty. I had to couldn't hold on to the knowledge of how wonderful He is. Oh how I long for the time when my heart can be filled to overflowing and not need continual filling. I say with the woman at the well in Samaria "Give me some of the water that will keep me from thirst, Lord, so I won't have to draw water day after day!" (John 4)

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Search

Searching has been the theme of these last two weeks in particular: searching for the right church, searching for the right job, searching for new friends, but always searching.

On the job front, I have finally given up having the immediate perfect editing or writing job, or any immediate editing or writing job. I think this was prompted by the realization that we'll be out of money by September 20. Instead, I took a clerical test this week to try for an executive secretary job (I got a 90! Thanks Lord for keeping me clear-headed!). I interviewed at housing for front desk work, and I'm due for a third interview at Red Robin today after my personality test at Outback. And Brooks Bros. called yesterday to offer me a position pending an interview.

Despite not really wanting any of these off-campus jobs (because I want to write and edit and have a career) I am overwhelmed once again at God's faithfulness to us.

Also, the communication department says I can freelance for them as soon as I can provide a writing sample. Too bad all my journalism pieces are on a laptop that's been dead since freshman year of college. And the writing center director says I can come work for her as soon as there's enough business! And the woman at American Printing House for the Blind is going to file a restraining order when she hears the number of messages I've left on her voicemail.
Or, maybe, I'll have worn her down enough that she'll interview me, fall madly in love with my charm and stone cold editing skills, and offer me a job on the spot. Eh, Laura Zierer? How's that sound?