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Friday, August 20, 2010

Hope Springs Eternal... in the Fall

This blog has come to look like most of my journals - off to a respectable start after some fresh inspiration followed by a long period of dormancy.  I've never been particularly successful at maintaining a journal.  I know people who have numerous journals that document their spiritual journey over the years.  I've always liked that idea and admired people who are able to do that.  I have numerous journals too, but mine have ten to twenty pages of entries followed by scores of blank pages, eventually replaced by yet another new journal that brought with it the hopes of a fresh start that would end differently. 

But it's not just my journals and this blog that look that way, my life generally looks that way.  The best of intentions, hopes, and plans gradually gets overtaken by the busyness and demands of life.  One of the saving graces of my job as a pastor is that my schedule changes significantly every fall, spring, and summer.  I love these transition times, because they afford me the opportunity to start over, jettison the clutter that creeps into my calendar and reevaluate my priorities and how I'm spending my time. 

That's where I find myself these days, wiping the calendar clean and deciding what the "big rocks" in my life are and where to put them in my calendar.  Back in the calendar are the exercise plan that I followed regularly for the first time in my life from January through May and then let drop into oblivion during the summer, date nights with my wife and each of my kids, and of course the slower pace and contemplative time that was the original motivation behind starting this blog. 

Along with being a healthy reorientation of priorities, this process is often a good gospel reorientation for me as well.  It always used to (and sometimes still does) come with a sense of shame and frustration.  Along with the hope and excitement for making changes is the realization that I'm making the same changes again because I've failed to maintain them again.  The temptation is to believe that God is disappointed with my failure and his patience is growing thin.  Implicit in this belief is the notion is that he is somehow surprised by my weakness and failure.  But every time He reminds me that He knows me better than I know myself and He is much less surprised by my failures than I am!  There's a delightful freedom and fresh wonder over the depths of His grace when I remember that.  He wasn't somehow duped when He chose me, when Jesus died for me so that I could be His.  He knew what He was getting and wanted me anyway.  And that's the thought that helps me want to start fresh again, to build more time into my schedule to be alone with the one who knows me and loves me like that.  And even if I'm back doing this again in January (which I expect I probably will be), maybe the desire will last a couple days longer, maybe I'll get a little bit better at being with Him, maybe His affection for me will sink in a little deeper, maybe I'll be a little bit different because of it. 

And who knows, maybe this time, it will be different :-)