I often find myself, at the age of 53, comparing myself with other missionaries, their ability to minister in Russian (I’m not), what they have in terms of a purchased apartment or car (we rent and take public), etc.. I find these thoughts and feelings binding to me and would like to experience more freedom. Do you deal with these things? Am I providing enough for my family when we do not seem to be able to do what other missionary families here do? comparison again. So, at my age and having known the Lord for over 30 years and being exposed to teaching on the life of faith and ministry of the Holy Spirit, I still struggle to feel adequate and worthwhile. Any thoughts Jim? Tim
Hello my friend, Tim!
Thoughts? Indeed!! :)
Our mutual feelings of inadequacy have left us no where else to turn, my brother! Though we often find ourselves comparing ourselves with others, we are just as quickly slammed with the reality that comparisons are all bogus. Yeah, I know there are many who quote Paul’s words, such as those that speak of not comparing ourselves with those who compare themselves, as if they are no longer tempted to do so, but it was Paul’s constant, intense awareness of inadequacy that left him glorying in his true awareness!! If you will read his 2 letters to the Corinthians as a continuation of his whole heart to these believers you will see that he was constantly torn between what he could see and know … and what he could not see nor know.
I find myself no longer impressed by those and by that which so easily impresses me. And I don’t have to pretend not to be affected by such things, for instead it is those things that have now become a constant witness as to where my only true adequacy is found.
I am now 52 and I fully understand the concerns that plague you from time to time. Though it might appear by the size and scope of my website that I must truly be something I am so quickly and constantly reminded every time I put out a new mailing that “the shovel” is not popular. No, it’s not because I’m hit by numerous negative attacks, but that I can almost guarantee that less than a handful of the hundreds sent will bring any kind of a reply. In comparison to any other “ministry” I am well aware that I am quite a failure. But this awareness only solidifies the reality that i would be a fool to compare myself to those who compare themselves with one another. It is only in Christ — the new creation — we are anything at all. And in him we are everything.
Consider the faith of Abraham. Did you ever seriously think that he could possibly not have struggled during that whole time between the promise of an heir and the birth of Isaac? Paul’s comment that Abraham did not waver in view of the promise was not a negation of his obvious struggles (which made the preposterous option of sexual intercourse with Hagar seem like God’s will to both Abraham and Sarah). It was the long years of doubt and struggle that kept building his confidence in that which he could not see nor know, according to the flesh. He did not waver in faith because faith is of a different place, of a different reality, of a different life, one in which our confidence continues to grow. It is the place of the invisible, which is the truly substantial.
Are you saying that perhaps I am not wavering in my faith though I feel like I am? Tim
That is in fact what I am saying. :) Your faith is instead being tested and refined as it passes through this realm of disappointment. Your dependency upon this world was destroyed in Christ and your growing awareness of this can put you through a rather painful process.
But I would sure like to hear from you sometime how indeed you apply and think this through with the everyday things of life. What does “everything” include? Tim
Everywhere I go I am walking in another realm, which is that of freedom. I go to work at Home Depot and am confronted with a set of rules and standards which are demanded to me as being the “core values” of my life as an employee. The truth of the matter is that the whole realm of HD standards is not mine, but theirs. It belongs to those who are driven by law and who need outward stimuli of punishment versus reward to do what they do. Though I have many times fallen into the trap of seeking my Home Depot justification according to values of the flesh, the truth is that my justification is found in Christ. I do what I do and think what I think because HE is my life. Disappointment and failure in view of such judgments have only made it so stinking clear to me that I am totally free and alive despite what any standards may say.
While some may argue that such a viewpoint would make for a lousy employee, I am instead highly regarded at Home Depot. It has been expressed to me numerous times by fellow employees and managers that they simply do not understand how and why I do what I do, because of the fact that though I have not been seeking to move up in the company that I stay extremely motivated and highly customer oriented. Just yesterday, at my monetary review, I was told by a department head that he not only can’t understand how I keep going, but that he could never have made it through in spite of so many other struggles. Ironically, 12 years of being called “outstanding” has not yet reflected an outstanding score by their official judgment papers. Yeah, go figure. I don’t want to mislead you for I do get very good scores, but the whole system of outward judgment must be manipulated, and has been done so for my whole employment.
I think one of the things that bothers them the most is that I know why they do what they do better than they do. I have been very matter-of-fact with the management over my whole employment there, having been both praised for it and then of course targeted for it. :)
The question is: can I be assessed by any kind of fleshly judgment? Not a chance. All it can do is to get caught in the quagmire of opinion and relativity that is based upon appearances and stuff that is quickly breaking down and falling apart into oblivion. In Christ I have learned to be satisfied with real life so that I am free to live as one who is alive even in the course of my work day … or whatever other part of my day the world would call it.