Monday, August 20, 2012

Redeemed from Idleness

In the desert they gave in to their craving;
in the wasteland they put God to the test. 
So he gave them what they asked for,
but sent a wasting disease upon them. 
Psalm 106:14-15 (NIV)

They only cared about pleasing themselves in that desert,
provoked God with their insistent demands.
He gave them exactly what they asked for-
but along with it they got an empty heart. 
Psalm 106:14-15 (The Message)

I would not say I have been discontent.  To call the land and life I've been wandering through these last years a dry place would mean the manna had gone stale, heaped so high it could not be swallowed down in one day.  No, I have not been discontent in the green desert abroad.

I would say I have been idle.  Not lazy or without work, but idle in the truest sense of the word: undisciplined.  One year before we moved from Utah I stopped being consistent in meeting with God first thing in the morning.  My heart's beat gradually faded from the pounded out bass of "Good morning, Glory" to the muted strikes of an emptying heart.  

I was tired and lonely and simply poured out from ministry.  Three years of chasing the dream of community groups in our church, culminating in the first leadership training and one year's successes, and I was left wondering if anyone would call to be with me instead of my ministry.  It was in this place, looking down the long slope of the hill I had climbed too fast, I started avoiding God.  I walked past our conversation spots, averted my eyes and my heart from the face I treasure most, and filled our time with the many works to be done.  I became a busybody while I waited for my spirit to catch up to the high place I had summited.  How weary Martha's name is, the woman whose syndrome is marked by attending to needless things and missing the point.  "Lord, don't you care?" Luke 10:40  

I never want my gifts to take me further than my character can sustain me.  ~ Mark Batterson 

Idleness substitutes God's care with personal control and a busybody is born.  And control is no true God.  It can perform no mighty acts.  It cannot rescue a lost child or redeem moments that were his, re-gifted to another.  It does not save, even from messy relationships, but squares its shoulders against another's control and wages war.  Control masquerades as put together when in reality it forgets appointments, doesn't nurture friendships, demands perfection in all things, and hopes no one hears the howl behind the closed door.  Control thinks it owns time, unwieldy as a weapon, filled with life as a gift.  It leaves insistent demands on the lips and an emptiness of heart.

I have moved three times in the desert, wandering to the very edge of the Cross at times.  Three times in three years and He has finally brought me home from idleness and called me His Favored One.  I needed those years of wandering, loneliness turned to solitude, for my character to catch up with my gifts.  My character dropped a few pounds on the journey.  It left measures of pride, self-reliance, perfectionism, and control along the path.  And though I know everything mastered has a potential for back-sliding, at least I have good muscle memory now, in both my gifts and my character.

It is in remembering that we choose obedience.  
Merciful Lord, grant that my remembrance of your ways will lead me to a more trusting obedience, and grant that my obedience may improve my memory, so that I may not forget anything you have done for me or quarrel with any of your commands.  ~ Eugene Peterson, Praying with the Psalms, August 19

I feel more like myself than I ever have.  What a strange thing to say?  I have many things to keep me busy, Favored One.  Many good works to fill my days with.  But without the passionate pursuit of the One who fills my heart, I will simply be eating of the bread of idleness.  And idleness misses the point.  

Praise the LORD.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
Psalm 106:1 (NIV)

...counting grace...

1542.  the gift of time
1543.  time for character to catch up with gifts
1544.  time for writing today
1545.  endurance
1546.  an abundance of favor
1547.  learning to receive gifts free from unworthiness
1548.  time for answered prayers
1549.  Mosaics for Him
1550.  time with my husband
1551.  time in my marriage for you to redeem things most precious
1552.  time for influencing my children
1553.  time for worship at NCC
1554.  time for fellowship and new beginnings in a homeschool group
1555.  time for work
1556. and 1557.


  1. Just beautiful! Love seeing your transformation here. I've been on a similar journey at least regarding control. Thank you for sharing your heart. (Found you at Ann's place. Glad I did)

    1. I guess the control journey is one we all run? Thanks for visiting today. Blessings.

  2. a beautiful testimony - honest, authentic and such an encouragement as well as a challenge. thank you for sharing and may our Lord continue to bless you in this journey!

    1. thank you so much for finding me in the community - it was your post that spoke such beauty to my heart. Such beautiful stories through the lens of a child's camera! Many, many blessings as you live the gospel of Christ as a missionary. It's a beautiful family we share, yes?

  3. #1549 So honored to make the list!

    1. Oh, I am SO grateful for Mosaics. It is an answer to a prayer I began on January 1st this year. So glad He plans to knit us together!

  4. Beautiful gratitude post, Tobi! So glad you stopped my blog and left a comment. So nice to "meet" other gratitude gatherers!

  5. Sweetness is in letting go and not frantically trying to control it all. I search for that some days. I'm so glad you are finding it again.

    Because I can't help myself... Poor Martha was never told she was attending to needless things. Jesus only commented on what Mary was doing and that she wouldn't be called from it. My thought process has always been Martha's problem was not her actions but her heart. I'm sorry. I really can't help myself. :)


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