Monday, May 28, 2012

That belief generates huge power

During my Bible reading, I found myself ticked off over Exodus 3:12
Moses, desperate for proof that his venture would pay off and not end in total disaster, had just asked God, "Why me? What makes you think I could ever go to Pharoah and lead the children of Israel out of Egypt?"
God replies, "I'll be with you, and this will be the proof that I'm the one who sent you. When you have brought my people out of Egypt, you will worship God right here at this very mountain (Mount Horeb)"

My first thought was, That's not proof! It's just crazy. He's fobbing Moses off. The reason it annoyed me is that I was sure it wasn't the sort of response Moses was looking for. If I'd been in Moses' position, my first reaction might have been, What a cop-out. When I studied God's choice of words, I figured out why. When I ask somebody for proof, I prefer it to come before I launch out on a limb risking everything rather than after. When you are offered something which will come down the track as proof, you can never be one hundred percent sure that it will actually materialise, can you?

Taking my life as an example, I know which sort of proof I would have preferred before launching out and printing 2000 copies of my early book, Picking up the Pieces back in 2000. Someone could tell me, "Take-a-Chance bookshop has pledged to buy 1500 straight out and heavily promote them and here's the paperwork already signed," or they could tell me, "Here's the proof. When this book is published, you'll look at the cover and thank God for His help."  I would've chosen the first over the second any day. (In fact, I would've even appreciated, "By 2012, you'll have 8 novels published so far, 2 more on the way, the support of a very competent publisher and friend and a network of other like-minded authors you've never even heard of yet." I didn't even get that, but it's all come to pass)

Maybe it all ties in with the saying, "Unbelief says 'I'll believe it when I see it' while true faith says, 'I'll see it when I believe it.'" The more I pondered this, the more it dawned on me that my initial reaction to what God told Moses was faulty. I've seen countless examples from the Bible and life of the way things never seem to work out until we believe with all our hearts that they will. I've also seen the principle backed up by science. The placebo effect is a well-known example. Thousands of people with all sorts of maladies have recovered on sugar pills which they've firmly believed are powerful medications. Christian believers have experienced seemingly miraculous healings and provisions of all kinds when they've trusted with their whole hearts in sayings of Jesus such as, "Anything is possible to the one who believes."

So perhaps God wasn't being mean and stingy when he told Moses that the proof would come after he'd led the people of Egypt. It was a great promise for Moses to hold onto. He could take courage that things would have to go to plan for the people to get to Mount Horeb to worship Him there. Instead of a nasty big brother, nyah nyah, you'll just have to wait, sort of thing, Moses could have taken it as a magnificent promise of grace, which it appears he did, when we read the results. During all those fruitless meetings with stubborn Pharoah, all the plagues and bouts of animosity from his own people, he was able to remind himself, "I know we'll make it out of Egypt because God's given me something to hold onto. We're all going to stand and worship at Mount Horeb. He's promised."

Perhaps the best thing we can do, in the light of all the promises we can find and claim for ourselves in the scriptures we claim to believe, is to actually believe them, in spite of our longing for early evidence. Have I believed that Christian fiction will take off in Australia in the face of bookshops saying, "We're not certain it's worth promoting"? Have I believed that my kids will one day find themselves fulfilling work and supportive spouses? Have I believed that my every need will be supplied for every stage of my life? I'm convinced that if the answer has any traces of, "No, I'm scared," I'll have to get actively onto it and hold tight to the promises I've set my heart to believe.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

to accept the consequences of my decisions

9th May, 1992
9th May, 1992
Not exactly May 9th, 2012 but not all that long ago.

On Wednesday May 9th, Andrew and I celebrated our twentieth wedding anniversary. We let it slide past because we were in the middle of moving house. We did have a sit down breakfast at McDonalds and then took loads of old no-goods to the dump. That was our anniversary but I spent a bit of time reflecting on the twenty years that have passed since 1992. I don't feel old enough to have been married for twenty years until I remember that our oldest child is seventeen.

So I took a quiet moment or two to reflect on what I have done in this time. Basically, I had three children and wrote seven novels. Then I think back to how it might have been. We could have had a lot more money than we do. I'd started a GradDip in Education that year and sort of expected to be a High School English teacher. Andrew was the accountant at the Stirling District Hospital. His boss was nearing retirement age and mentioned that Andrew might have a good chance of being in line for his job as CEO if he was willing to do a part time Uni course to give him all the necessary skills.

Imagine if I'd been an English teacher and Andrew had been the Stirling Hospital CEO. We'd never run out of money. No days waiting for centrelink payments which tend to be just under what we need to get by. We'd be able to make impulse buys and go to interesting, exotic places for holidays. We might have had a house paid off by now. That's what might have been.

Instead of that scenario, neither of us enjoyed our courses and both decided to quit. I became a homeschooling mum and author of novels and he's been many things, the latest of which is a music student at Adelaide University. I was trying to figure out whether I ought to have regrets, and although there is room for a few, there are not many. A book with some great common-sense chapters I read recently reminded me that every decision we make has consequences which we need to accept.

If we're not willing to accept the effects brought about by our choices, we need to re-examine our options and try some other alternatives. If we find we don't want to choose different options, then we need to accept our circumstances. Am I happy renting, not being able to buy the kids great things whenever they fancy them and being unable to holiday in America or Europe? Well, I guess the answer is yes, if I get to keep on homeschooling and writing. Would I have been happy as an English teacher? I'm sure the answer is a definite "NO"

The book told me, "Many people feel secretly comfortable stuck at a dead end and stepping outside your comfort zone can be quite overwhelming. If you find yourself feeling this way, remind yourself that it's your life. You don't have to change it if you don't want to. But if you do decide to leave things as they are, then you must choose to accept your current situation. If you can say, 'I've considered other options and I'm going to accept this situation,' then your sense of contentment will increase."

So I sat back after twenty years of marriage taking this advice and found that it does work. I wouldn't have imagined this for myself back in 1992 when I was 22, but I've been happy with it. We've stayed true to our values and it seems those values have been focused around creativity and living each moment to the full rather than postponing desire gratification, working 9 to 5 days, paying off mortgages and marching to the beat of drums set by others.

Yes, it's been a good twenty years.
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