Journal Entries – Part 3: Affliction

4 – 5  November 2011

6:27pm  I’m in the midst of re-listening to last night’s message. Pastor John’s talking of how we have affliction to bear more fruit and that instead of reaction and resistance, our response to affliction and suffering should be:

“I’m going to allow the Holy Spirit to develop in me those virtues the Bible says He’s developing in me: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

“I won’t resist, react, panic, despair, go to the world’s way to solve these problems. I know what’s happening now. I trust my Father to handle them.”

Can having more things to do than you can get done be affliction? Yes. I think it certainly can. The temptation and too often the result is that I do resist, panic, react and despair and often go to the world’s way to solve the problem — be more organized, follow Flylady, get more discipline.

And yet… our world and the prosperity we enjoy in the United States especially gives us more choices than ever of how we can spend our time. Not only on activities but possessions — for every possession takes a bit of our time in some way, if not in care and maintenance than in the guilt it inflicts on us for not doing the care and maintenance (or simply not being able to find the time to use the possession as we thought we would).

And then there is the barrage —  the tsunami? — of information and social contact we endure, even sitting alone in our homes. It’s greater than at any time in history. Mind-boggling. Perhaps literally.

And as I mentioned yesterday, even Pastor John brought this up with his reference to the article he’d seen in the Wall Street Journal article called “How to Get More Done” which, he said, really means “How to be More Busy!” And then he exclaimed, “God help the people who want to be more busy! Who wake up every day and say, I want to find a way to do more things (get more things done).”

That’s just what I do: wake up every day and wonder how I can get everything done. And it’s not fun. But to even consider I might not  have to get all those things done, starts a panic in my soul: No! If you do that, you’ll never get anything done. You’ll live in chaos and squalor!

Well, not if I trust God the Holy Spirit to move me.

It occurs to me that I haven’t heard any of the pastors teach that Colonel Thieme phrase about the organized believer having a schedule for each day according to his priorities, so that he has a time for everything and uses his self-discipline to carry it out… Haven’t heard that in a long time.

Instead what I’ve heard has been that as fallen creatures we don’t have the self-discipline. Most of us can’t do it. (Yes, I do think there are areas where we can be disciplined… but most of us if we’re honest can pinpoint at least one in which no matter what we do, we just can’t hold the line for very long). And today the phrases that are coming to mind are “you set yourself to do a thing or not do a thing, have a couple days of success and then it all falls apart. We can’t do it!”

That’s pretty much been my experience.

In fact, Pastor Bob has often spoken of the problems and hindrances and people brought into his life to disrupt his plans. Of God the Holy Spirit changing his message at the last minute. Even in the midst of a message he and the others sense the leading of the Spirit and go off on a tangent and often it’s the best, most important part of the message! I’ve experienced times when I was wrestling with something and the pastor went off subject for just a bit to say something tangential that was exactly what I needed to hear at that moment. How can one ever schedule that? And why would one insist on ‘sticking to the notes’ when to deviate might be precisely what someone needs at the time?

Pastor John actually challenged the whole organized life/plan-out-your-day-and execute-it thing with his teaching a few years ago when he said that was actually a function of the flesh. We, in our own souls, from our own standards, make a list of things to do today and then watch ourselves fail and condemn ourselves for it.

Pastor Bob says,”Don’t try to plan too much. Let God the Holy Spirit plan your day and lead you through it.”

I’ve experienced that leading repeatedly, yet it’s still hard to really trust it. That is, to believe that this could actually be the way I’m to live. I like the idea of making plans and then executing those plans and all being in order. It’s safe. It’s known. It requires no faith, no moment by moment guidance from and reliance upon God.

If only the plans would work out as I had … planned.

Next: Part 4 – Busy-ness is Not Devotion

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