Monday, November 05, 2012

Time and grace

 Well, my mini-vacation is over.  Tomorrow I go back to work and the daily grind.

So how was it, my mini solo retreat?

It's something hard to put into words.

It was peaceful.  Beautiful weather.  A lake.  Mountains.  Trees.  Not too hot, not too cold.  Leisurely.  Romantic.

 I spent lots of time walking slowly, taking in the atmosphere.  Taking pictures is a great way to really be able to see things.

Mountain towns in Japan shut down pretty early.  The buses stopped running by 4:30.  So I did lots of walking.  I was limited to where I could walk to.

Of course this is a good way to save money.
 I was refreshed by my time away.  It was good to get out, have a different rhythm, and do things at my own pace.

But yet, I went looking for answers. 

I wanted profound revelation from God.

I wanted something spectacular that would fix all my problems, or at least make them start falling into place.

I didn't get any of that.

The only thing I came away with was:
struggle isn't a short term thing.  It's not something you do for a night or a weekend and then everything is magically better.

I have to be in it for the long haul.

I still have a long way to go.  I still have hard questions to struggle with.  Relationships to fight for.

But I think there are some important things I have to hold on to while I am struggling.

One is that I have to accept that I must change.  I cannot keep going the way I am.

Two is that I have to believe that I am not a hopeless piece of trash.  I think this is important, and something I struggle with a lot.  It's easy to believe that because of sin, and everything else, I am just valueless trash that Jesus might pick up and recycle.  But I think that way of thinking is wrong.

While on my trip, I went to a place called the "Forest of Jewelry."  I saw many kinds of precious stones, in various stages.  (I even saw some beautiful green Amber!)  And this got me to thinking.  As a human, I am not valueless.  I am not a piece of trash.  I am an unpolished gem.  I saw many kinds of unfinished stones there.  They even had a meteorite.  And when left unfinished, the rocks just look like rocks.  Not much good for anything.  Nothing special.  Not anything anyone would want.

But when broken correctly, cut, polished, and set, they become beautiful.  So many different stones, so many different and beautiful designs.

I am in the process of becoming a gem.

This might take longer for me than others.  There might be many times when I resist the finishing process.  Maybe I will run away.  Maybe some of those around me will give up on me.

But I have confidence that God will never give up on me.  I am in the hands of a Master Jeweler.

And that is the third thing I cannot forget.

No matter how long the road, how many bends, how painful it is, how many times I fall down....

God will not abandon me.

I can't see around the bend,  and I'm sure there are many more bends to come.

But it's ok, because I won't be abandoned, even if I never find all the answers, and even if I never become the perfect sparkling jewel.

Even if there are no dramatic revelations, My God is Faithful, more faithful than I, and He will be with me always.

So now it's time to challenge the bend.