Monday, June 24, 2013

I'm sullen. Is that a verb?

Sometimes life with God stinks.

I've been in one of those mopy, moody, melancholy places the last 24 hours or so. What my kids call "meh." Maybe even grumpy.

I've wondered publicly and privately lately if there's some form of "manopause" I could be experiencing. I'm 47, after all, which now doesn't seem old but not that long ago sounded like geriatric ward-age.

I'm sure too that job situations and physical tiredness add to the plot. But this morning, as I sat on the patio drinking my coffee, I was sullen. And I'm not even sure what sullen means.

I've made a deal with God, that even when I'm in a stinky mood like this (and maybe even blaming him for it all) I'll still talk out loud to him, even if I'm cranky. Or sullen (I should really look that up, I could totally be using it wrong). So a few minutes ago, as I headed to the water closet, I grabbed my current devo reading and said out loud something like "God, I really don't want to, but I suppose I'll read this since nothing else is handy."

Leave it to Jesus to take the opportunity to stick his foot in that door to prop it open.

Here's what I read from Charles Ringma: "If we are prepared to admit that we, and not simply others, make a negative contribution, then repentance can prepare us for positive action and real responsibility."

When God spiritually slaps you across the cheek, are you still supposed to turn the other one?

It is so easy to blame the other, whether the "other" is a person (my wife, kids, or the person who invented "one-size-fits-all"), an organization (my current employer, potential employers who reject me, the IRS) or an event (hormonal changes in almost-middle-aged men). But the reality is I need to own my negative contribution. I'm working on that.

I'm still sullen (I just looked it up, and oh boy am I using it appropriately. See #1 definition on and now I'm also feeling guilty. But maybe repentance is around the corner. I do not doubt that grace is sustaining me through all of this, and will continue to do so.

Life with God stinks sometimes. But consider the alternative.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Transitions, transitions

So for some of you this is new news. I've actually known for several months that there was the strong possibility that my current position with World Vision was going to go away. WV, while a large and successful nonprofit, had finished 2 straight fiscal years with budget-to-actual deficits, and committed to paying back those deficits in FY 13 and 14. This spring, the difficult decision was made to eliminate the roles of about 60 WV staff in the US, including 37 of my peers in US Programs.

And I made 38.

It's been several months of up and down emotions, sometimes understanding, sometimes frustration. But most of the time, faith. God is good, all the time.

Back on May 1 I read this quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer: "You have granted me many blessings; now let me also accept what is hard from your hand." He wrote this from the concentration camp where he would eventually die, just days before the camp was emancipated by Allied soldiers. Charles Ringma, in his commentary on this quote, wrote this:

God's way with us is to move us from dependence and immaturity to responsibility. There are no soft options in this journey. We cannot grow into maturity without the pain of growth, the resolution of disappointments, the acceptance of God's chastisements, the suffering of loneliness and rejection, and the transformation of our self-preoccupation into true servanthood. Having received many blessings from God's hand, we must joyfully accept the difficulties that come our way in order to become transformed into a much greater Christlikeness.

Into a much greater Christlikeness. I like the sound of that.

So this week I head to Seattle for probably the last time with World Vision. My current role ends August 9, and to be honest, I'm excited about whatever is coming next in the journey. Let me share with you a few requests for the next few months, things you can be praying about.

1. Pray for World Vision. It has been a privilege to be a part of the incredible community development and relief work that WV does domestically and internationally. Pray that the deep and broad impact of WV will continue.

2. Pray for the 60 or so impacted staff. Many of them were let go immediately after they found out in April, others like me are around until August.  But all of us are searching for that next thing, and some who have been looking for a couple of months already are still looking. Pray that they find it, and that God supplies all their needs according to his riches in glory.

3. Pray that I finish well with WV. This week I'm sure will be difficult emotionally, saying goodbye to some friends whose paths I may not cross again in this life. I'm working to help the organization with the transition itself around the US, so that our work continues to grow in spite of these setbacks.

4. Pray that I know which path is the next one. God has always been gracious to me and my family around my job, and this current situation looks to be no different. I've got several things I'm looking into, including a couple of things outside my comfort zone. Each is exciting in its own way, and each brings a set of challenges with it. Pray that I hear God's voice should he have a specific one, and pray that I make a wise choice should he leave the decision in my and my family's hands.

Thanks for your friendship, and your prayers.