Saturday, September 18, 2010

Holding Fast and Pressing On in Isolation

I talked about embracing the unfamiliar and making it familiar last week and this week I am looking at the isolation I am currently experiencing.  It is not an isolation like solitary confinement but an isolation from community.  A community is a group of people who have intent, belief, resources, preferences, needs and other conditions in common.  A sense of community is feeling that one is contributing in some way to the benefit of the whole group by their actions or influence.  I must say currently I am without a sense of community.  I do not have a sense of belonging. 

When in Maine I had many communities where I belonged.  I was in the church community at Cornerstone; I was in the homeschool community with many like minded families; I was in the military community where we were experiencing common things; I was in community of women who were my friends and we had much in common.  Here I am very disconnected from the homeschool community, I have not been accepted into the church community yet and the military community here is very different than what I am used to.  Much has  changed in my life and in how I relate to people.  When we moved before I had little children and it was easy to make them the "common bond" that brought others together with a sense of community.  As I have gotten older and as my children have gotten older that is more difficult.  We are more set in our ways and in how we identify ourselves and it seems more difficult to find a common ground.  I am not saying we can't fellowship, I have met some wonderful people here with whom I fellowship but I still do not feel that sense of belonging. 

This is a real challenge for me since I am a social, extrovert who thrives on relationship and is motivated by those around me.  I am here and am having to do the things I know help me and are right for me without anyone to motivate me.  In the past I have relied on others to push me and make be better.  That is not wrong until one gets to the point where they refuse to move forward with out others who are headed in the same direction.  That desire for others to help motivate can become a heart idol when it becomes a requirement for doing hard things and moving forward. 

I am currently doing Beth Moore's Revelation study and she points out that John is on the Isle of Patmos without a Christian community and yet he is found "in the Spirit on the Day of the Lord."  He has no church to lead, no position to hold, no people counting on his example, no one to minister to and yet we find him doing what he needed to be doing.  He is keeping his heart and mind fixed on the Lord.  Scholars believe he was discouraged because he was the only disciple who had not given his life for the cause of Christ.  He was an exile sitting on an island waiting to die. He was one of the most relational disciples which is shown by his participation with Christ and his loyalty at the cross.  In the books John wrote in the Bible he talks much of relationship, it was very important to him .   He could have given in to the despair created by loneliness but instead he leaned on the Lord and stayed in the Spirit.

I looked at many of those whose lives are recorded in the Bible to see who else experienced this isolation from community.  Abraham left his community to go seek God.  Moses was forced by his choices to find sanctuary in a place where he had no community for 40 years and even when he delivered the people they never really embraced him as one of their own.    David spent much time running and feeling very alone as we see in the Psalms.  Many of the prophets describe times of isolation.  Esther lived in the palace and was void of any community who understood her beliefs and way of life.  Ruth felt isolated after coming from Moab to Israel.  Paul was alone for 3 years as he learned from Christ.  In looking at these people I see God uses isolation to refine us and prepare us for something he has planned for us. 

I am not succeeding all the time in doing what I need to do but I do see God has a purpose even though right now I do not know the purpose God has for me.  I am confident as I look at the evidence of those he has used that he too has a plan for me.  I must press on in my pursuit of God as I hold fast to the knowledge that God has a purpose. 

Holding Fast and Pressing On,

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Holding Fast and Pressing On in the Unfamiliar

I am currently in Colorado getting our daughter.  She stayed in Colorado when we moved to help out family here.  It is good to be someplace familiar.   I have been pondering the past 8 weeks of being in a new place.  It is a place that is unfamiliar.  The scenery is unfamiliar, the people are unfamiliar, the church is unfamiliar, the base is unfamiliar, and I can't even go the Commissary and walk right to what I need because it is unfamiliar.  Now I am not saying the unfamiliar is bad it is just...well, unfamiliar.  We as humans like our rut for the most part.  We want things to "feel normal" in at least one area of our life.  Since so much is unfamiliar I want to find a way to make it familiar.

How do we make the unfamiliar familiar?  We pay attention, we make sure that we give attention to the unfamiliar to make it become familiar.  Fear will stop the process of becoming familiar with something.  We need to be discriminating in what we chose to become familiar with but choosing to look at everything that is unfamiliar as scary or wrong or not worth it because, "I don't know it," robs us of a great amount of joy.

 As I pay attention to the scenery where I live now I see the beauty of God creation which is familiar.  I am now familiar with the covey of quail that forage in my back yard, the rabbits that come to my front lawn in the evening to be cool, the sunsets on the mountains, the doves that nest in the trees.  These are now familiar.

I have purposed to give attention to the new church we are attending.  I am looking at how they do things without comparison to my former church.  I am attending Bible Study and Financial Peace University at church and Caleb and I went to Wednesday night dinner to become familiar with the church and its people.  It is scary to not know anyone, to walk into Bible Study where there are over 85 ladies in attendance when I am accustomed to about 20.  I can be critical about what I am not "used" to or I can embrace the experience and chose to be joyful about the adventure.

I see so many people who become anxious, frustrated and bitter when they are forced to encounter the unfamiliar.  I look at the Patriarchs, the prophets and the disciples and how God constantly had them in the unfamiliar and they were successful when they embarced  to make it familiar.  God does not want us to live where everything looks the same, is the same, feels the same because when we do we do not grow.  God wants us to become like His Son which I know for me is unfamiliar.  Every time I chose to do something new like go to a new study, meet a new person, go to a new doctor, take a different route or change my routine I am learning to become familiar with the unfamiliar and when I do that I can chose to be more content and more joyful even in this world of the unfamiliar. 

Holding Fast and Pressing On