Saturday, August 31, 2013

A Loan of 200

“If God was the owner, I was the manager. I needed to adopt a steward's mentality toward the assets He had entrusted - not given - to me. A steward manages assets for the owner's benefit. The steward carries no sense of entitlement to the assets he manages. It's his job to find out what the owner wants done with his assets, then carry out his will.”

Randy Alcorn

“Be careful to make a good improvement of precious time.”

“Whatever you are, be a good one.”

Abraham Lincoln

Here it is!  My 200th blog.  I’m so excited!  Barely three months ago, I had reached 100.  Now I’ve doubled that and I can feel its effects.  To be in the place where God has called me is to be in the best place in the world.  This is where I want to be, well, here and in my house on the beach.  I’ve used the word “my” twice, but this writing isn’t mine.  It’s a gift to me.  In fact, even “gift” isn’t the right word.  It’s more like a loan from God. 
In fact, everything in my life is a loan from God...possessions, house, money, health, time, children, relationships and life itself.  Knowing this makes me want to hold on more tightly to each of these, while at the same time, let them all go.  I hold on tightly in the same way a parent holds on tightly to her child when the child is leaving for college.  This is not a possessive holding.  It is the recognition of the value of what I have been made a steward of.
I hold on tightly because I am also aware of my failings and inadequacies with what I have been entrusted with.  The truth is that I have often misused, taken for granted or squandered time, money, my body, my relationships, money and everything else that was lent to me.  So I’m holding on tightly as a way of saying, “I’m sorry, but I am still so grateful for you.”
I also hold on tightly because I am aware of how precious it all is.  Everything, I mean everything, has been this amazing gift.  Even difficulty has been a gift, but only from hindsight or when I am completely present in the moment.  But everything is a gift, or, really, as I said, a loan.  So I want to return all of it in as good a shape as I found it.  How do I do that?  I do it by treating everything as if it were sacred.
·      I take care of my body and my health.
·      I stay calm.
·      I keep my environment in order.
·      I use my time well.
·      I smile more.
·      I practice gratitude.
·      I put things where they belong.
·      I express love more often.
·      I stay quiet and peaceful.
·      I sing.
·      I thank God constantly.

There are more, I’m sure, but all of these are ways to hold on tightly to what I have been lent.
I also need to let go at the same time.  I have found few quicker ways to peace than to surrender my life and all its details to God.  Nothing I have is mine.  The moment I think something belongs to me, I immediately belong to that thing.  If I think I am the master of money or home or relationships or anything else, I quickly learn that I am actually a slave to all those things.  I don’t own them; they own me.  This may be why I have spent so much unnecessary time cleaning the house or organizing my comic collection or trying to please people.  I have become enslaved. 
Slavery creates resentment, anger and inefficiency.  I am ruled by whatever I have given myself to.  But I may say, for example, “God, this is not my house.  It is yours and I am giving it back to you.  What do you want me to do with it?”  
Then I can live in it and enjoy it peacefully.  If I have guests who are overstaying their welcome in “my” house, I can remember that it’s God’s house and that I’m a guest, too. 
When I have surrendered it, then I am freer to hear what I am supposed to do. Do I clean the house for the thousandth time, but peacefully this time?  Do I enjoy it?  Do I tend to my guests?  Do I go take a nap?  Any of these possibilities are good.  I will know what to do with “my” things once they are no longer mine.
There is one other element to all of this.  One day I will be accountable for how I have used all that was lent to me.  In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus said that one day we will have to explain how we used what we were given.  This is not meant to scare us, but it is a warning, a way to make us more aware, to “raise the level of concern” as a former colleague once put it.  The problem is that we aren’t told when this will happen.  To not be able to give a good account would be like having someone come to my place unexpectedly when it was a mess.
At work my supervisor often comes into my classroom without warning.  I always feel good when she sees the room looking good and the students and I all appropriately engaged in the work.  I know that she is also looking for certain things, such as the Daily Learning Target written on the board.  That’s why I make sure it’s there every day.  My supervisor has entrusted me to take care of things.  It’s not really my classroom.  It’s hers and she trusts me to take care of it.
So nothing is really mine.  Not even my writing.  This is why I pray before I start each blog.  I want it to be a blessing to God and then to the world, my family and friends and finally to me.  I hope, with 200 blogs, that each of them have been that.
It is a sacred privilege to Get Started and to Keep Going and it is equally sacred to be entrusted with so much.