Friday, August 24, 2007

The View Through New Lenses

Well, I've killed myself at work to take a vacation, taken the vacation, and had a little (read: major) breakdown at work since I last wrote. Most importantly, I've come to see life through a new lens. Here's my story.

Last night as I drove home from work, the far horizon wore dark clouds that taunted us with the unfulfilled promise of much-needed rain. Yet the sun shone on over me, so I put on my sunglasses. Suddenly, off to the left, I saw a rainbow. It was if it had just popped into the sky. I pulled my sunglasses down and looked over them, but now the rainbow was barely visible, and only if I squinted hard. Slipping the shades back up, a symbol of a promise appeared before my eyes once again. With the glasses on, the rainbow was perfectly visible; with them off, I wouldn't have known it was there.

This was a perfect metaphor for things God has been teaching me. Over the past few weeks, he has brought me to the end of myself in several areas. I have a very clear mental visual of me coming weakly before God's throne and placing before Him some marred, wadded up paper which is a particular area of my life. I say, "Here's this area of my life (again), Lord. I'm sorry it's a mess (again), but I offer it back to You to make of it what You will."

One area of my life like this has been my work. Over the years, I have often found that I have created a monster in my workplace: creating high expectations of what I'm capable of by working too much, too hard, too long. Recently, I have found that I have been working 60+ work weeks, trying to get everything that has been handed to me done. Yet my bosses have repeatedly told me, "You cannot get it all done; we know that. Just do what you can and go home." But in my pride (and it was my pride), I stayed. I wanted to be known as someone who could do it all and do it well.

Last week, after a week of vacation which provided no relief from the intense stress I've been living under, I buckled. I went to my bosses Monday and shared with them how bad things were. I confessed my culpability, but was so overwhelmed that I couldn't offer a solution. By Wednesday, things had continued to build, and by the end of the day, I cried for the third time that week. This time, I sobbed all the way home.

That evening, one of my good friends called, a beautiful woman who had been fighting Christ's offer of salvation for the entire seven years I had known her. I have prayed so often for her, and that night she shared that she had accepted Jesus. She could have spoken in Swahili and I would have known, for there was a joy in her voice that could have only been placed there by Jesus Himself! My friend had entered into the kingdom of light! She was no longer hell-bound, but would spend eternity in heaven!! I cried again (and am threatening to now), but this time filled with exceedingly great joy.

Suddenly, my perspective was different. Though my work was important, it was not what was really important. Eternity with God--now that's at the top of the list. That night as I talked with my friend, something clicked in my heart and I suddenly understood something that has been said to me by every important person in my life: if they give me too much to do, and I’ve told them so, and they tell me to let things fall off my plate, then it’s not my responsibility to get it all done, just to work as hard as I can. It's not my new mantra!

Perhaps this doesn't sound earth-shattering to you, and perhaps it is not. But it is significant. God brought me to the end of myself and then, when I had humbled myself before Him, He gave me new lenses through which to see. I cannot articulate the boulder that was removed from my shoulders as I looked through these shades. With this understanding, I saw a new a promise: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)

I think life looks pretty good in my new shades.

(c) 2007

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