The Obscurity Lists

Have you ever read through the Old Testament?  I decided I wanted to read it recently because honestly, I’ve never read it cover to cover. I’m not done yet, not even close.  I feel like the Israelites wandering through the desert only I’m wandering through some of these books, thinking to myself, “Why do I need to know this? Why is this important?

I believe if it’s in the Word of God, then it’s important.  I may never know why.  Like the family lines and who led what tribe.  Really?  My eyes drift over the page, skimming.  My mind wandering.  I’m one of those people who have to read every word or I consider it not read.  I breathe a sigh of relief when I get to the end of the lists.  “Do I really need to know, not just the names of these people but who their fathers were and what tribe they are from?

Like the names on those lists, most of us will live lives of obscurity.  I mean that in the best way possible.  These people were important to their generations and families.  They were leaders but we don’t know them.  We have a list of their names but that’s it.  They are not a Moses, Joshua or Caleb.  We may not know who they are but God does.  He knows all about them, their jobs and families.  What was in their hearts.  He listed them in His Word.  That’s pretty big in my books.

They may just be an endless list to us but to God, they are living, breathing people.  His people.  People who He called to do a job and they did.  Not to applause or fame and recognition.  Not to success or money.  To Him.  And they were faithful to their calling.

I think we get caught up in the hype of the Name Fame Game.  I know I do.  You gotta go out there and make a name for yourself.  That’s what we tell our graduates from high school and university.  No pressure there by the way.

We think that to be important to God, we have to have a name for ourselves.  We have to be out there, spinning our platforms and selling ourselves, our brands, our product or our churches.  I think we have it all wrong.  I think I have it all wrong.  I’m not even going to try and pretend this isn’t an issue for me as a writer.  I mean, I didn’t pick journalism as a career choice because it’s a behind the scenes job!  I struggle with this.  I’ve had to think about this.  A. Lot.

I’ve come to the conclusion, that there is a place for some of that, some of the time.  It is how the world works but don’t you get sick of it after a while?  Even I do.  It starts to become lame.  The other thing I’m learning is this; what it doesn’t mean is that my life is determined by it or hangs in the balance because of it.  I serve a much bigger God than any platform on any given day.

Some of us will be called to public ministry and may God grant us heaping does of humility.  May He have our hearts so close to Him that we never even want to take a look to the left or the right.

For the rest of us, we live life in the lane of obscurity.  According to the world.  According to platform.  According to success.  But what do they know anyway?  Like the list of obscure names in the bible, God knows our names.  He knows our hearts and He knows what He’s purposed for us in our lives.

I was asked on the weekend who was a hero of mine.  It wasn’t anyone famous.  Who had made a name for himself or herself.  It was a grade two teacher who taught my child not just academics but about life.  He taught him intelligence is a gift, run with it because their are no limits to what you can do.  He exemplified that doing your job well every day matters because the people who you encounter in it, are worth it.  He is my hero because he made a difference in an entire class of grade two and three kids.  Nobodies in the world’s eyes.  Yet. His impact upon their lives could make the difference and he taught like it.

Our obscure lives as moms and dads, friends, community leaders may never garner us fame or wealth or anything other than the satisfaction of knowing we were faithful to our calling.  That we made a difference to someone.  In the grand scheme of things, it’s an obscure act but to the One who sees everything, it’s noted.  Maybe added to a heavenly list.

 

 

The Importance of Celebration

Have you attended a party lately?  Maybe a wedding or a bridal shower?  An anniversary party or birthday fete?  I appreciate very much people who understand how to celebrate and do it well.

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I have a friend who’s family parties are awesome.  I have gladly attended a few of them.  The food is scrumptious and generous.  The atmosphere is fun and festive.  They sing.  They really do – they are very talented.  They talk.  They laugh.  They enjoy each other’s company.  You leave their festivities wanting more.

Although we don’t have parties to attend every day, shouldn’t we be practicing the art of celebration in our every day lives?  I saw a quote yesterday on social media that I’ve seen floating around before.  I can’t remember it word for word, but the gist of it was that it’s not the big decisions that count, it is what is done in the everyday.  Or something like that.

I’m also seeing people listing three things to be thankful for everyday for a five day challenge or something.  A couple of years ago, I did a Year of Thankfulness on social media for two years. (If you are my friend you can see the albums).  Anyway I learned a lot from practicing  gratitude.  I slowed down.  I particpated in the moments of my day.

Like forgetting the party the day after, we forget gratitude.  We forget to be intentional in our lives.  We forget to celebrate the everyday!

It’s been a bit of a roller coaster week here in the Willcock household.  Today is a new day.  We survived a couple of hiccups in the week.  I felt grateful.  His mercies are new every morning.  I wanted to celebrate those moments by being thankful for them and intentional in remembering them.  Taking them off the shelf to really explore them.

These are the three moments I’m celebrating:
1.  I suddenly have Tweens in my house!  It’s come about slowly but it knocked Mark and I off our feet these last couple of weeks.  It crept up in the form of music.  We do let our boys listen to some secular music.  Don’t judge.  We carefully screen it.  The last few weeks they have wanted to download some questionable music.  We said no.  They got upset with us.  Why am I celebrating this?  Because it gave us the opportunity to have some great conversations with them!  As in: You are our treasure.  It’s our job to keep you safe and that means not just physically but spiritually, and mentally too.  AND: just because the label says Christian doesn’t mean it is.  Just saying.  The answer is still no.

2.  My son went to dive camp this week.  He loves to dive and is fearless.  It didn’t turn out like we hoped.  Some conflict.  I handed the baton to my husband to handle this.  He’s a master at it (because he’s a pastor.  Just kidding…no I’m really not.  But I digress.)  Mark is superb handling conflict and he was dealing with another who is also very good at it.  As a result, all parties concerned were able to tell their stories.  It was a win for everyone when it could have been the very opposite.  My son had a grown up decision to make and we had to let him make it.  Why am I celebrating this awkward moment in our lives?  Because conflict when it’s handled with integrity and honesty can be a beautiful moment of learning for all of us.  My son learned this in a tiny way this week.  I witnessed him put aside his ego and make a decision that was hard and required humility.  Not easy for an eleven year old.

3.  While the oldest was at camp, today it was just me and his little brother.  We had groceries to buy.  I was enjoying him but my irritation was also growing by the time we hit the check out. I’m not the most patient person.  He was trying to fill the bag while hanging onto it and dropped it.  My left eye started to twitch and there may have been a bit of sharpness to my comment.  Why celebrate this mommy fail moment?  In steps the cashier.  An older woman.  I stepped up to pay and she says to me, “He’s a great help to you isn’t he?”  I looked at her.  Had she not seen him drop the bag?  I looked at her smile.  It reached out and slapped me on the forehead.  The irritation drained from me.

“Yes, he is.”  I smiled back.  Then I turned to my youngest and taught him how to fill the bag by putting it on the conveyor belt.  A few well timed words deserve some celebration.

What about you?  What moments are you savouring today?  What has you excited that it’s a new day?  How do you practice celebration?  I’d love to hear your celebration stories!

Upon Returning From that Week Away…

A week away can do wonders for perspective.  It can also set you up for a huge let down as you reenter the real world.  You know that planet.  Where you walk in the door and you are met with a million requests, ninety-nine hundred of them requiring money.  Or everyone wants a snack or a meal, and the kitchen never closes.  You go back to running from one thing to the next in a matter of a nano second of entering your house.  It’s a fact of life in this season of life.  It’s better to laugh about it but some days it makes me want to cry.  Especially when I’m sleep deprived.
The enemy always wants to take you out after you’ve rested and reconnected with your heavenly Father.  I know this and yet I still find myself ill-prepared for the onslaught.  This morning I am awakening to this reality.  After a rough start, I’ve decided to fight back.
What about you?  What are you facing this Monday morning?  Are you prepared or have you been in denial?  Were you caught unawares?
We really shouldn’t be surprised by attacks because we know that if we are walking alongside Jesus, the enemy will do everything in his power to get us to go to the left or the right instead of staying focused on what Jesus is asking us to do.
The past week in the Muskokas was fantastic.  It was restful.  One of the first times it has seemed so.  Maybe it’s because the boys are older now.  Maybe it was the cooler weather.  Maybe it was changes in me.  Whatever the reason, I felt rested.  I felt challenged under the teaching at the conference.  I felt like I could actually take what I learned, look at, study it.  I felt challenged to Do.It.

There are days I feel like I play at being a Jesus follower.  I’m tired of it.  I want to live it out.  Even if it’s inconvenient, irritating, or not on my schedule.  That’s what I took away this week.  There is no time to play at this.  It’s time to live it.
So why am I surprised by distraction, sleep deprivation, impatience, sickness when I get home?

The answer is I shouldn’t be shocked.  You shouldn’t be either after a time of reflection or serious study. Peter tells us to be on our guard because the enemy is prowling around, looking to devour us. (1 Peter 5:8)
This really isn’t the blog I’d thought I’d write upon returning home.  I was hoping to be super encouraging.  Maybe the things I learned will translate into an inspiring blog at some point.  But today as I struggle, I’m writing this more for myself than for any reader.  Sometimes putting into words what’s going on brings clarity for my limping brain.  Writing I’m going to fight back makes me realize that that’s what I’ve got to do.  I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of being the punching bag of the enemy.  To quote a song from the 80’s, I’m not gonna take it anymore.  What about you?