This past week, I was traveling on an airplane and was watching a movie on my computer. In the film there was a scene where one of the characters was hooked up to a lie detector machine. As he was asked questions, the needle moved back and forth. The output, if you have seen this before, looks like scribble, much like a seismograph used to measure earthquakes.
That image has stuck with me all week, not related to the film in any way, just that image. Imagine the lines moving back and forth as measuring the good and the bad seasons in our lives. A wide line to the left – times of great plenty such as a bonus at work, a family vacation or prolonged seasons of health. A wide line to the right – times of wilderness such as months of sickness, financial pressure or the loss of a loved one.
What the Lord showed me is that, despite my response, I tend to see God more clearly in the vast extremes. I see His hand in prosperous times, because God is the giver of all “good” things. I also see Him clearer when I need Him the most, like when I lost my job. It’s in those moments that I tend to gravitate to Him the most. I may question why things happen, but I tend to turn to Him as my source of help. God is in the extremes in my theology – the giver of good and the comforter of bad.
So what about the middle? What about what constitutes most of life, when the needle stays at a steady course of small ebbs and flows?
It is here that I struggle most
Where and how do I see God when life moves at a snail’s pace, characterized by monotony and “normalness”?
What I have learned this week is that it is here, in the day-to-day that I often choose to live my life without the Lord. Look back at your own life and you may see it if you look closely. I fall at the feet of Jesus when tragedy strikes; I yell Hallelujah when I get a new job or a new baby comes, but the hallelujahs fall silent when I wake up for work again, and feed my kids breakfast again, mow the lawn again or stare at another weekend with nothing to do or no place to go. It’s almost like I only feel close to the Lord when my budget spreadsheet glows with red numbers or when a friend calls looking for comfort at the passing of her father. That, my friends, is called lukewarm – neither hot nor cold.
So why this long, drawn out analogy about something I saw in a film at 30,000 feet? This year, I want to serve God in the middle.
I want to feel the gentle breeze of small variations in life. I want to cling to Him when my wife and I have one of those “smaller” conflicts, I want to praise God when I have the ability to take my family out for a meal, I want to face the grass this spring with a revitalized thankfulness for grass and working hard to make God’s creation beautiful. I want every conference call, every sandwich made, every night with nothing on the calendar, every trip to the grocery store, every morning quiet time, every family devotion to be done with thankfulness and an awareness of the active presence of God.
The middle is a gift from God and I think if I learn to serve Him in the middle, if I invite God to be a part of my “everyday” life, I will not only live a life of greater happiness, but be better prepared to face those seasons where the needle moves wide left and right.
“Praise to the Lord who over all things so wondrously reigneth”
“Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore Him”
“Blessed be Your name in the land that is plentiful”
“Blessed be Your name when I am found in the desert place”
“When I fear my faith will fail, Christ will hold me fast”
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