Thursday, January 24, 2008

work or wait: living in the tension

remember my work or wait struggle? i still think about it. i'm pretty sure i'm in the right place by just chilling out and trying to continually do new things and meet new people. just because i'm not on 2 or 3 internet dating sites or going out with every possible guy i meet, doesn't mean i'll be single forever. and that doesn't mean i'm not listening to and being challenged by god and other people.

i think my struggle represents something that a lot of us deal with. recently i was talking to my single friend david about relationships. he's been in several, but none of them have worked out (ie lead to marriage) and he's frustrated. after listening to him for a while, i said i thought maybe he needed to turn the dating part of his life over to god. he said he thought he already had, and i sensed that the unspoken thought was 'i have, and he's not delivering!' he went on to say that he was confused about what he was supposed to do and what god was supposed to do. and yeah, i agree; that's often really hard to figure out.

it's also really hard, as rob bell said when i saw him speak, to 'live with the tension'. most of us want to know the answer. we want to know what to do, how to make things right. but it seems like with god (and people and relationships) the point is to live with the tension. for example; i have to figure out how to continually give god control of my dating life, yet be able to step up and do what needs to be done. i guess an example might be the hockey guy. i'm pretty sure a date with him would be a waste of time for both of us. if he called or texted me, it might be easier for me to just go out with him. but i'm pretty sure god's quietly asking me not to do that. so i listen to him and then i act. and i try to enjoy the tension that there are things i can't do on my own and things i have to do on my own, all while living under the direction of god.

i've been reading how people grow by drs henry cloud and john townsend. it's a fantastic book, and i recommend it to anyone interested in how the bible and personal growth (all forms of it) are connected. even if you're just interested how you can grow more or help others grow more, check it out. it can be a bit dry sometimes, but it's worth it.

this morning, i came across this passage which summed up the idea of loving (or at least living in) the tension. in the passage, dr. cloud talks about explaining to a guy in a training session the idea of giving control of things to god while still making choices and setting goals and working.

We cannot do the things we need to do on our own. We are unable to make choices on our own. We have to face our inability and depend on God. We have to depend on others. We have to reach out and be empowered. I emphasized we could not do it on our ow. There is no 'self-help.'

I thought we were on the same page, but then he showed me we were not by saying: "Oh, I see. We can't do it so we just depend on the Holy Spirit to do it. We give it all to him."

"No," I said. "We don't just give it all to him. We can't do it, and we don't just give it all to him. We must 'work out our salvation,' but we also have to be asking him to help us to do all of it. It is both not one or the other."

Humans tend to be unable to hold opposite ideas in dynamic tension. But this is a tension we will always need to hold: God has a part and we have a part. Beware of dichotomizing between your tasks and God's.

living in the tension. difficult, but i'm starting to think it's worth it. of course, it's also a lot easier if you know god's character and completely trust him, even when circumstances make you not want to trust him. but i think that's another topic for another post.


Atypical Christian Woman said...

Great post. Hey, guess what? Many Luxury Vacations said that there is really no "Anne". I had a weird feeling about "Anne's" existence after reading her post.

single/certain said...

hey, thanks atc. you know... after 'anne's' last post, i was kind of wondering.....