Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Well Worn Life

I remember so clearly her voice as we carried our backpacks and tents off those Tennessee grounds. We had gathered with thousands from our generation for a day of worship and prayer- the whole weekend hinging on those hours of prayer. We camped two nights and walked, prayed, slept on the ground, sweat, rejoiced, ate little, prayed more, cried, and laughed, carrying everything in.... and everything out. We were worn at the end and as we waited for a bus, my room mate said,
"I'm glad I'm worn out. I wouldn't want to leave this time, leave this place, with reserves of my heart or soul that I had not poured out here. I'm really glad I'm worn out."
Those words are well etched in my heart and often spark reminders and challenges for me. Like 1 John 2:28 that gripped me well recently: “And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.”
And I remember David Platt's needed challenge... to check how slave-owning sinful is my selfish materialism, hoarding trendy "treasures" as if they are mine or the least bit worthwhile, or as if “the world owes me such because I’m me” (as Jerry Bridges describes in Transforming Grace.)
I remember another roommate, a fashionable, smart girl, a nursing student experienced with studying cadavers, happily announcing to our house of girls that when she dies, she wants smile lines on her face.... "load them up, or leave them simple, but right there at the corners of my mouth, I want the testimony etched that I have lived joyously." Gracious, beautiful humility that I still lack but I do love.
And I think of one of my favorite set of words in the world: The Prodigal’s Sister, a poem by John Piper (if you look at the link, be sure to start at part 1 of the poem). The Father is described, when he sees his son at a distance, finally coming home,
“He knew. For all his soul was drawn,
And there was no resisting this.
He left his cane, and, lest he miss,
A step, he jumped them all, and ran,
Forgetting that he was a man
Of dignity, and that his knees
Were bad. He often thought, with ease
Someday I’ll run on these, and more,
Is this not what they’re ruined for?”
The story would have been nothing worth noticing if the Father just glibly greeted his son.... But he didn’t. He outstretched his hands and his heart and he ran and in the poem he ruined his knees for that running and it was full of glory.
How can I live and work and run, in such a way as to ruin my knees- my life- gloriously well?
So I’ve been thinking and praying about living more intentionally, seeking a life that is joyously poured out for that which is lastingly, ultimately worthy. Like William Borden , to somehow carve these words into my heart and raise them like a banner over my days: “No retreats. No reserves. No regrets.”
I am fully convinced that standing before Christ with no regrets (which will be sheer grace) will be joy worth every bit of effort, intent, sacrifice (if it can be said that I could make one for him) and suffering. Actually, far more than this. At that moment in the end, standing before Him, I can think of no possibility for more exquisite joy or more piercing sorrow.
And all this is finally taking shape in our hearts. We are happily aiming to live more simply and live strategically. I know that for all my desire and all the blessing I see in this, we're still not going to live as simply as any average family in Africa, Asia or South America- and they must be the bulk of the families on our planet. But still, I want to aim to live more of my life for Christ, shaped by Christ, instead of simply swinging with my luxury home culture and my own sinfully self-consumed wiring- no questions asked.
I don’t want to give in to my culture because I’m too ignorant or lazy to check myself on this or because I’ve considered things and have settled for blissful deception, gladly defending my “rights” to... everything I desire.
Lord help me see all this clearly and submit myself to your Word, which is full of words of strong caution for our choices. I would keep this to myself, not bothering to post about it, except that I really think it’s worth it for all of us, to look carefully at our lives and pray seriously, discuss and aim and reorient our lives with accountability and in community so that we might be shaped more by the Word than by the world.... because that’s right where the current will take us if we don’t pay careful attention and make effort. I don’t want to stand ashamed, even ashamed that I didn't mention this to friends...1 John 2:28.
Dr. Ralph Winter wrote of an excellent and boldly inspiring strategy for living, which he called “wartime living.” And Jonathan Edwards wrote his famous, thoroughly exhilarating and challenging Resolutions. Led by these greats and inspired by Scripture, I’m gathering prayers and hopes for my life and for the life that I cultivate in our home.
Well worn is what I want to be. It isn’t voluntary poverty. When I think "well worn," I mean wearing myself well for lasting things, worthy aims, and wearing and using my possessions well before replacing them. It means intentionally and strategically using all that God has given me (talents, passions, possessions, skills, relationships, opportunities...) to the max for His brightest glory. I am plainly out for my own good in this... it's just that I believe the best things for my life are lasting things and I will best enjoy life when I work hard for them and have the pleasure of doing every bit of my life for the Lord's smiling glory.
The Lord calls each of us to and gifts each of us with a wide array of possibilities, talents, and roles in his kingdom. I’m not saying that the specifics we are aiming for in our home are for every home, or even for any other home. This is simply what we’re aiming for for our lives. We would love to hear how you might want to work towards things or word things if a similar aim finds focus before you.


The specific prayers~ aims, if you will~ for living this dreamed of "well worn life" are poured out here, on the Well Worn page on this blog.  
May Christ our Savior be Exalted, the nations Joy and our Greatest Treasure!

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