Part I is here.
I am listening to music (A Beautiful Collision, by David Crowder Band) that makes me think of cold sunshine and the prayer room, thinking about what just happened (i.e., the past year). In many ways, I feel as though if this past year has been a test (and it has), then I've failed. Maybe it's that I haven't failed, but that adversity exposes true character, and I am not sure I liked what I've seen. I didn't always believe God is good, or trust that He was going to take care of us. I have less patience than ever for other Christians and/or cultural religion, and I am less certain than ever of what "God's will" or "God's kingdom" actually means. I'm more cynical, more negative (some would say "more realistic," but I don't want to think of it that way).
I talked in Part I about prayer as a vehicle for God's will to be done on earth. I still believe that. I don't want to be a person who uses God as a cop-out for personal responsibility, nor do I want to view prayer - or faith, for that matter - as a way to make my life more comfortable. Since I've been pregnant, I've become so self-centered. The best example I can offer of this happened yesterday, when a fellow barista asked me about the cash register and I started talking about baby registry. Clearly my mind was not on coffee or registers or anything except my own little universe. I think mine is a natural response to what felt like a crisis - homeless and jobless and about to be parents is a little scary, to be sure. BUT GOD IS TAKING CARE OF US. Brian has not one but THREE jobs right now. He really likes what he is doing and still has time at home (somehow). We have health insurance and a place to live that includes a nursery. God used other believers to pay for us to move in and set up house, which in itself feels supernatural. It's time for me to come out of this, to stop being so self-centered and pay attention to what's going on around me. It's time for me to come back to the real world.
Except I'm not really sure what that looks like, after our experiences of the past year (by the way, I've begun to think of it as the Blue Highway Year, in honor of Greg's discussions about adventure and "blue highways" as a mindset more than a book or a class). Where is the balance between faith that God is able to do something, and the reality that we live in a fallen world where people get divorced or get sick and die? Between trusting God to provide and using the gifts and abilities God has given us to take care of ourselves? And how do I love and serve people who see God differently without believing, deep down, that my way of thinking is better? What I'm really asking is, how do I live out what I believe?
But I already know the answer to my own question - apart from the Holy Spirit, none of this is possible. I will ALWAYS be self-centered, I will always only pray for things that benefit me. Apart from God, I'll never change. But if I ask God to change me, and submit to the work of the Holy Spirit, then, thankfully, I will not always be who I am now. If I am willing, God will change me.