Happy is the Breeze

There are memories that never seem to fade from the landscape of my life’s meanderings. Like an Eastern NC sand burr, they continuously catch and attach to the fabric of my wandering thoughts, requiring the painstaking chore of extraction. There is no ignoring a sand burr once you are aware of their firm attachment to your party of one.
sticker-field-sandburYears ago I was asked by my pastor, “Are you happy here?”
“I’m not clear on what you’re getting at.”, I replied.
Without relinquishing, the question was reposed, “Are you happy at (name of job I worked at the time)?”

I recall a similar question posed years before the other. “Why are you here?”, asked a deacon of the church I served at the time.
I responded similarly, “What do you mean?”
“Why are you here, right now, at (name of job I worked at the time)?”
“Because it’s my job.”, I replied slightly confused and dismissively.
“No, not good enough. What is your reason for being here today, tomorrow, and the day after, and so on?” Like the extraction of a sand burr, this line of questioning continued for a few minutes.

Over years of living days into nights into days, these particular memories of completed conversations have continued to infuse ongoing conversations. They have led me to answer the question, “Why…?”, anew, afresh, again and again.

I am grateful to my inquisitive companions for their distracting questions that subtly guided me to realize that I prefer meaningfulness over happiness. And…I have come to learn that there is a profound difference between meaningfulness and happiness. Though there is a harmonic kinship in the experience of meaningfulness and happiness, we can find ourself dreadfully misplaced if we negotiate our journey towards happiness, targeting it as the destination…the intended end. Pursuing destinations of meaningfulness or happiness have the power to become a moment’s…a day’s…a life’s purpose. Give me a path of meaning. Happy is the breeze.

No Matter the Circumstance, Focus on the Goal

While reading 1 Samuel 16: 1-13, I began to ponder ministry and goals. There are times that my attempts to adhere to God’s instruction while working to accomplish the work that He has given me to do feels a lot like what Samuel’s experiences may have been in this chapter.

Long story short; Samuel receives an assignment from God, goes to Bethlehem as instructed, gets excited about the first son that he lays eyes on (though God did not name him as He said he would) and then proceeds to go through each remaining son, one by one, taking who knows how long, until at last he asks the question, “Is there anyone else?” Ah…there is. And finally, “mission accomplished”.

It is interesting to me that God chose not to dramatically shorten Samuel’s process to accomplish the goal. God could have said,”Go to Bethlehem. You will find David in a specific location. Anoint him.” Why did He not do that?

Instead, Samuel goes to Bethlehem, invites Jesse and his sons to a religious service, gets hyped by the first son he sees, learns that he’s wrong in his choice while getting a lesson in allowing human characteristics to cloud Kingdom-vision, proceeds to evaluate all remaining sons, and then has to ask if there are any others remaining before he finally arrives at the correct son, David.

I don’t know the answer to the question, “why?”. I am positive that there is an answer. Maybe Jesse needed to see all his sons reviewed prior to David being selected. Maybe Samuel needed his own heart checked since he was recently seen mourning God’s rejection of Saul. Maybe the leaders at the service needed to learn something by their presence at this event. Maybe all of these things and more are the reason. Again, I don’t know. What I do know is this: Samuel did not stop until the work was completed. He knew what he was there to do. He did not know how long it would take. He did not know how the work would take shape. He DID know what the end result was supposed to be. So he went son, after son, after son, after son, after son, after son, etc. He endured the awkwardness of “No, it’s not you. No it’s not you. No it’s not you. No it’s not you.”, etc. He received instruction. He asked questions. He gave instruction. Whatever it took to accomplish the goal, he did it. Once it was done, he was onto the next thing.

So what mission are you on for God? Are you enduring the process while keeping your eye on the goal? Are you strategizing as you encounter circumstances that appear to thwart the goal? Will you remain committed though you may not always see the answer right away? Will you endure though the experience in the moment may not appear to be achieving anything tangible?

While doing His work we are being instructed, tested, developed. We are having an impact on others (seen or not, understood or not).

1) KNOW the goal.
4) Do not allow EMOTION to dictate when the DIRECTIVE is clear.

God knows what He is doing.