Thursday, June 14, 2007

AH HA! Someone Knows

Okay, Thank you LAINE!! I just started reading my Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World at lunch today. I've been having this feeling - like I'm missing out. I read y'alls blogs and the Lord blesses Laine with two kids from China and specific prayer requests for Kimmie and Quan, LOAs, for them to "know" each other...the list is so long, Laine I love your blog, the Lord is proving himself to me through them! Then I head over to Keith's and I am constantly amazed at how the Lord is giving direction and peace to the Watson family - Clarity, Faith, Excitement, Joy - abundantly. Then there is Graced who has such insight in the everyday occurrences of life - who can teach us all from a butterfly! I have GREAT encouragement surrounding me and I feel empty. I feel like I want that. I feel like I know all the "right" answers but the connection is not there! All my fault of course. BUT, today I was encouraged. Haven't found the answer just yet but I feel one coming on! Joanna Weaver wrote what I was too embarrassed to admit - but now it seems easier because - I'm not the only one to feel this way! Here's a couple of excerpts that encouraged me today.

Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World. The thought intrigues you. Deep inside of you there is a hunger, a calling, to know God. To truly know Jesus Christ and the fellowship of the Spirit. You're not after more head knowledge -it's heart-to-heart intimacy you long for.
Yet a part of you hangs back. Exhausted, you wonder how to find the strength or time. Nurturing your spiritual life seems like one more duty - one more thing to add to a life that is spilling over with responsibilities.
It's almost as if you're standing on the bottom rung of a ladder that stretches up to heaven. Eager but daunted, you name the rungs with spiritual things you know you should do: study the Bible, pray, fellowship...
'He's up there somewhere,' you say, swaying slightly as you peer upward, uncertain how to begin or if you even want to attempt the long, dizzy climb. But to do nothing means you will miss what your heart already knows: There is more to this Christian walk than you've experienced. And you're just hungry enough - just desperate enough - to want it all.
That's just it. I feel like I know things but no intimacy. I WANT INTAMACY! I have a lot of faith. I believe in Jesus as God's only Son who came to take MY place and MY sin. And I even rejoice in the fact - but I want to feel something and I know feelings aren't everything – but they sure are good! But it's been a while since I've felt the Lord working in my life! So later she talks about something I find myself doing right now:

...Perhaps you've felt the same way. You've known the Lord your whole life, and yet you haven't found the peace and fulfillment you've always longed for. So you've stepped up the pace, hoping that in offering more service, somehow you
will merit more love. You volunteer for everything: you sing in the choir,you teach Sunday school, you host Backyard Bible Club, you visit the nursing home weekly. And yet you find yourself staring into the night and wondering if this is all there is.

Or perhaps you've withdrawn from service. You've gone the route I've described above and frankly, you've had it. You've stopped volunteering, stopped saying yes. No one calls anymore. No one asks anymore. You're out of the loop and glad for it. And yet the peace and quiet holds no peace and quiet. The stillness hasn't led to the closer walk with God you'd hoped for, just a sense of resentment. Your heart feels leaden and cold. You go to church; you go through the motions of worship, then leave and go home the same. And at night, sometimes you wonder, "What is the good news? Can someone tell me? I can't remember."

I think I’m just hungry enough to find the answer!

10 comments:

Jason Dollar said...

Boys have a lot to learn from Mary, too. Page, I love you and we are in this thing together and for the long haul.

Virginia said...

That sounds like an amazing book, and girl, I am right there with you. I am totally going to find this book. Thanks for the excerpts!

-C said...

Have I told you I'm reading this right now? In fact me and three other older ladies are going to meet to discuss it ... I can't wait. It's good stuff. Those quotes gave me enough encouragement to keep reading. No matter how intimate my relationship w/God becomes, I still long for more. As soon as I feel satisfied, I'm in trouble.

The Ferrill's said...

Page! I need to read the book again. It's such a daily thing for me...struggling with balancing my Martha and Mary-ness. Thank you so much for posting the quotes from the book. Maybe if you just post the "cliff-notes" that would be just the reminder I need. Besides, I don't have time to read another book...I'm too busy preparing for CHINA! :)
Seriously, God always blesses one's desire to know Him more! Get ready to know Him in a very sweet way!
You are a very sweet friend and I can't wait to see you Saturday...DON'T FORGET!!!!! :)
P.S. I can't come Tues...we're going to Atlanta!
Love you!

Laine

Graced said...

Funny, I just finished that book on the recommendation of my aunt! God must be passing it around. He must really long for us to spend some time at His feet. He is the Hound of Heaven nipping at our heals to head us closer to Him!

-C said...

Just saw your comment on graced's blog ... I'm right there with you about the whole security of a church check. A huge step of faith is required...maybe this is the challenge that you've longed for to bring you closer to Him. Doug and I are dreaming about the future right now and all of the options require GREAT faith. I so long for it and crave to live with more risk, yet I really love the security of our present position. Praying for you as you seek His future for your family, that Jason will be able to minister out of his passion, and that you'll be able to walk straight, head high in faith beside him. I know you can...with God at the top, ther's no doubt you'll grow in faith and be prepared for that next step.

Abbey said...

That's what He's all about, girl. Us wanting more of Him. I'm so glad you're getting fed from that book. I love it when I'm reading a great one and it gets me excited like that. That's awesome!

Christy said...

Hey Page, it's your crusty old reformed friend:). The more years that go by the more different we become and it's gotten to the point where I don't always know how to encourage you. This is my attempt though.
I encourage you to read the Heidelberg Catechism http://www.crivoice.org/creedheidelberg.html and the Westminster standards http://www.opc.org/standards.html. Read a little bit as often as you can. The answer to your problem is pretty simple...if only you could be free'd from your revivalistic approach to spiritual growth. (This is my issue with retreats. They take you away from the very important Lords day and leave you feeling as you described in this blog just a couple of months later). The only way the Lord has promised to nurture our spiritual growth is through the word, prayer and the sacraments. The confession and catechism elaborates on this. It has proven to be true in my own life.
I used to have this same struggle that you are having and reading the catechisms (especially the Heidelberg) helped me understand how to change that.
I'll keep praying for you as I have done for years! My desire is for you to find satisfaction in the Lord with a longing for Heaven.

Christy

Jason Dollar said...

Christy, I'm not sure you really understood the point of Page's post and of the book she is reading.

I very much appreciate the catechisms you mentioned, and we are training Noah and Anna with Westminster, but these catechisms are not the basis of spiritual growth. The Bible nowhere commands the use of them, though they are helpful summaries of biblical truth and yes, they do point to Bible-intake, prayer and the sacraments as means of grace. That said, they are not the equivelants of the Bible. Nor should they be taken as any more or less authoritative than other documents which point to the same means of grace for spiritual growth. There are many teaching tools we might use, of which the catechisms are one.

Page understands prayer, the Word and sacraments (though we might have disagreements on the nature of these last ones) as the means of spiritual growth and the development and fostering of a deeper relationship with God. (After all, she is married to me). These are the very things she struggles with and of which the book she quoted speaks of:

"Eager but daunted, you name the rungs with spiritual things you know you should do: study the Bible, pray, fellowship..."

I do not believe the simplicity of these is what is frustrating Page, but perhaps her motivation or desire for engaging them.

As far as retreats go, I think it is very important to remember Jesus' words and the implications which flow from them.

Mark 2:27 The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.

The Lord's Day is of vital importance, no doubt about it, but in the face of Christ's words, shall we elevate the importance of a day above everything else?

Though there may some disagreement on the levels of importance of various activities, should we not show ample grace in this area because of Christ's words? Especially for a person whose basic and regular practice is to honor the Lord's Day?

The nurturing of fellowship among believers is a good thing. Even though the retreat provided a strong impetus within the participates for deeper fellowship with God through the means of grace, I do not believe that it was "revivalistic" in the since that you seem to be implying.

Though I agree that there are many obvious dangers in "revivalism" as such, nonetheless, it is a fact that people sometimes feel closer to the Lord than they do at other times. Naturally, our relationship with Him is based upon nothing we do, but rather on the finished work of Christ on our behalf. And no doubt revisiting and preaching that truth to ourselves is a major impetus for "feeling" closer to Him. These types of ups and downs are what Page is referring to I think.

And who can fault her for wanting to be up rather than down? Is it not biblical to desire this closer "feeling?" Which I think essentially means the ability to praise God freely and trust Him more completely - that is the essence of this "feeling" we are talking about.

Psalm 42:5 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation.

I guess my point in all of this is would be: Page is not quite as different from you theologically or in practice as you might think.

Christy said...

I guess once again, my attempt to encourage was not an encouragement. I'll try not to respond anymore, but the Lord has done great things in my life and I get excited too you know. I used to have the same struggles of constant ups and downs and I just don't anymore and I told Page about one of the things that helped me remedy that. It's worked for 2+ years so I thought she would appreciate the suggestion. Once I accepted that the Lord uses outward and ordinary means for nurture and that's it (as shocking as that once was to me) I have felt satisfied, and not having or wanting to go outside of the church to find that satisfaction.

Page is my oldest friend and I only want her to feel and be GREAT!

Just a few things though...
(Jason you know me well enough to know that I can't articulate well and give all these grand defenses of my thoughts and beliefs). First. I don't think the confessions and catechisms are equal with the Bible. They are a GREAT summary of the Bible (which I have a hard time understanding and summarizing for myself). I am more quick to trust a book (or whatever you call the confession) that was written by dozens of ordained ministers who put tons of thought and prayer into it over many years and has been tried and trusted for ages more than any book in the bookstore.
Second. I do have a very strong view of the Lords day since that is the primary time when I can partake of the means of grace. It is such a special day and what you said about it is foreign to me. I can't imagine that my walk with the Lord would be any good if I had worldly concerns on that day. (worldly meaning regular weekly activities. Ball games, bridal showers, bills, ebay, shopping etc.) It is a day that the Lord provides for my nourishment and I want to clear my thoughts in anticipation of that.
Third. Maybe one day you will understand how completely different we are. Except for the basics, it's really like night and day. I didn't understand a lot of what you said and I'm thinking you didn't understand a lot of what I said. Wish we lived closer so we could clear some of these things up.
Unlike you, I don't enjoy these discussions. It's very emotional for me. No one that I once knew really understands me and that's pretty hard sometimes. My current peers are great and I love them, but I don't really have a history with them yet like I do with Page. Sometimes I really want to talk to an old friend but the reality is, I just can't because they don't understand me.
I hope there are no hard feelings. None here, just a bit of sadness that I put my friends on the defensive when I didn't intend to.
CD