What am I missing?

I woke up in a horrible mood today.

Last night we went to our local county fair.  It should have been a fun time for all; especially as I’ve got two children who love rides, animals, vegetable displays and all the free stuff the vendors hand out to entice a conversation with weary (and wary) adults.  And don’t get me wrong, the kids had a great time overall.  In between bouts of dad constantly yelling, “Get down”, “Get back”, “Come here” (or as Bill Cosby puts it, “Come here!…  comeherecomeherecomeherecomeherecomehere . . . come HERE!!”)

I felt like I was herding cats all night and I came home exhausted and strung out.

Oh, then I didn’t sleep well ‘cuz I felt like crap all night over the way I acted.  Which, when I finally crawled out of bed this morning, got me thinking about how I too often act at work towards surly customers and needy employees.  (Well, not all of them, but those are the ones that usually elicit a reaction out of me . . . usually negative.)  Which spiralled me further into my funk.  Which got me thinking about how hard it is to be attempting to live out the fruits of the spirit within the parameters of “retail customer service.”

Like a dog chasing its tail, my thoughts spiralled around the, “it shouldn’t be this hard.  Well, if God were truly in your life it wouldn’t be this hard.  Well, I’ve asked him to lead in my life and I just have to have faith he is.  Well, maybe you didn’t do it right.  It shouldn’t be this hard!  Well, maybe I shouldn’t even be in this line of work if it’s this hard.  Well, maybe you’re in this line of work for a reason.  Well, this line of work is driving me, and my family, crazy!  Well, maybe you’re doing it wrong.  IT SHOULDN’T BE THIS HARD!!”

Yet it is.

And all this leads me to wonder, in my morning funk and depressing stupor, what am I missing?

I’m currently reading Francis Chan’s book “Forgotten God” for the second time.  Yet, this time it’s incredibly hard to get through.  I feel as though I’m just going through the motions; slogging listlessly, page by page, reading out of some sense of “duty” rather than for the joy and experience I should be feeling.  And again, I can’t help feeling I’m missing something.  I’ve been at this a long time now.  Time and time again, I’ve come before God with my faults and foibles, sins and shortcomings, laying them at the foot of the cross; earnestly praying for the forgiveness I so desperately need and the guidance and wisdom I so desperately crave.  And I rise from my prayers feeling . . . .

. . . . no different.

As Chan puts it in his introduction to Forgotten God, “It doesn’t make sense that Almighty God would have children characterized by fear and insecurity. He put His Spirit in us so we could be known for our power (Acts 1:8; 2 Tim. 1:7).”

What am I missing?

Or, maybe I’m just having a bad day.  The weather is gorgeous this morning.  The kids are quiet.  The coffee’s good.  Maybe in my quest for the answers to the “big things” in life, I’m missing all the little things that are supposed to give me pause, give me a slight centering or at least cause me to just stop and take a breath.  Could that be a “still, small voice” I hear?

Naw, just my six-year-old wanting “purpa grape joos”.

But still . . .

A Long Walk on a Winding Path

My walk along the spiritual path has been long, winding, often diverted and on occasion, totally washed-out. I sometimes get those feelings of cynicism or self-doubt; that I’m a rather poor example of what one would consider a “person of faith”; especially by others that consider themselves “persons of faith”. Not necessarily one to be placed on the lofty wall of the great spiritually enlightened or held in reverence when speaking of those in the pantheon of righteousness.

“Yes, there was Moses of course, and Abraham, Joseph and that fellow Paul was quite smashing as well, but have you seen THIS gentleman! What flawless grace! What profound wisdom! What boundless patience! And such restraint and self-control!”

Mmmm, no.

But, as Lily Burana put it, as written in a 2010 blog post:

 “After all, the self-satisfied and self-righteous have come for me, too: YOU, a Christian? With those politics? With that past? . . . I knew they’d show up, those stingy, uncharitable moral goalkeepers, with their underlined passages in Leviticus and their pointy-finger God. It just ain’t a Jesus party without this particular turd in the spiritual punchbowl. Maybe it’s the believer’s rite of passage — until you’ve encountered this type and had them declare a fundamental component of your identity an “abomination,” you kind of haven’t lived. The challenge is to have your faith tested this way and not blink.”

Or, as Stacie Orrico sings:

“Don’t look at me, look at Him.”

I’m what you would call . . . human. Look around. On the street, in your neighborhood, on the pew next to you; we’re everywhere. There’s a lot more of us than you’d think. 
As many of you know, I’ve left the wild jungles of retail customer service, having been called on the carpet by Francis Chan in his excellent book, “Crazy Love” then seeming to have every single passage in the Bible that I read in some way relate to my life circumstances at the time. (Funny how that works!)  Recently, I was told by someone in our home group what an inspiration my wife and I were to all of them by stepping out on faith like we have.  After all, when I decided to give my notice at work, I had nothing to go to, no back up plan, nothing but the hope and faith that the steps we were taking were the steps God was asking us to take.  We had no idea where we were going just that we were being asked (told) to go.

I don’t feel like an inspiration!  I think my response was, “I don’t know about that, ‘cuz I have no idea what the hell I’m doing!”

Maybe though, that’s the point.  Maybe God is sitting up there going, “Yeah, but I do!”

I hope so.  After all, that’s what faith is all about.  And if that’s an inspiration, that’s okay with me . . . because it certainly isn’t me that’s drivin’ this bus!

“You ‘n me, God! You ‘n me!”

The spiritual life and random musings of a part-time novelist and Spiritual Drifter…"the trouble is not with the law, for the law is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human…"