Thursday, February 28, 2008

I have heard thy voice

Each time I pray these days, I make sure to pray that what I do, I do to God’s glory. That’s a pretty frightening prayer, actually, since I spend a lot of time not really being “good” (not being “bad” per se, but sort of neutral). For example, as a grad student, I spend some portion of my day surfing the Internet. Unless I stick with strictly enriching/edifying websites, how does that give glory to God? And what about the time that I spend trying to work but just getting frustrated? I am not sober enough in temperament to spend all my time intensely goal-driven. I generally find self-help books annoying. Am I missing something?

I remember quite well one moment in a church in 2003, when I had just finished my Peace Corps service and was traveling before returning home. One spends a lot of time reflecting on how the service went and what it revealed about one’s character in that situation. I realized I had been struggling with increasing anger and self-doubt. I had nowhere specific I was going, and I needed to take some time to pray. I told God, “Whatever I am or become in the next few years, I am yours.”

Which reminds me of another story I enjoy telling. A friend several years ago asked me her favorite conversational question: what one word would you use to describe yourself? It posed an interesting, theretofore unencountered, challenge, because I had had opportunities (say, in English class) to describe myself in three words or something like that. One word is an entirely different issue. After thinking for a while, I replied, ”God’s”. Which really is the only answer I can give, because whatever else I am, I owe to him.

It’s not only to myself that I enjoy applying this adjective. I drew a sketch in my youth of all the pieces of the universe I could then conceive of, and included a “quote” which I attributed to God: “Man cannot describe the wonders of creation—the sun and moon, the planets and the stars—with his mortal words. I can. It is—they are—mine.” When something belongs to God, it isn’t constricted by anything. It becomes fully itself. God will bring glory to himself, and if we make ourselves his, then what we are becomes a reflection of and a testament to his glory. So perhaps a better way to phrase that prayer I’ve been trying to get at is, God, please make us yours.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I spend a lot of time not really being “good” (not being “bad” per se, but sort of neutral)... I spend some portion of my day surfing the Internet... what about the time that I spend trying to work but just getting frustrated? I am not sober enough in temperament to spend all my time intensely goal-driven.

Ongoing mindfulness of what ends your present activity serves isn't likely to be a easy habit to develop or maintain in an entertainment/convenience-centered culture.

Nor is it the same thing as being goal-driven (which is too bad, because goal-driven-ness does get support through advertisement and job markets.)

I suggest first making a habit of often asking yourself what ends your current activity serves. That developed, work on maintaining a continuous rather than sporadic awareness of those ends. It won't make you goal driven, but you may find yourself spending less times on lesser goals.

Leon Estes said...

Your title today, "I have heard thy voice" is probably out of the lyrics of "I AM THINE, O LORD". W by Fanny Crosby, Music by Wm Doane.

I am thine, O Lord, I have heard thy voice,
And it told thy love to me;
But I long to rise in the arms of faith,
And be closer drawn to Thee.

This is a Hymn I learned as a child. Thanks for the reminder.