Friday, April 04, 2008

Unfinished business

I came across a nice affirmation recently while planning a Bible study lesson. It's from a Maxie Dunnam book I've been reading, Christians Under Construction and In Recovery. Here it is:

Lord, grant me the peace that comes from loving the unfinished part of me.

Hey, aren't we all under construction? Philippians 1:6 says, "He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."

That last part about carrying it to completion until the day of Christ Jesus? That means I won't be "done" until Christ returns or He takes me home. That used to make me feel exhausted. Now, it gives me hope. He will not let go (no matter how many reasons I give him to).

Yes, the Lord has a lot of unfinished business with me and you and all of us. The point of the affirmation is for us to have more patience with ourselves. Growth is gradual and beyond our control. Everything -- everything is in God's plan and on His clock.

I'm finding it rather useful to modify and apply this affirmation to others. I am trying to look at the tendencies or habits or quirks of those around me more as an unfinished part of who they are, God's unfinished business, rather than a rigid, unyielding character flaw. Sounds easy, but it actually takes a degree of discipline to pull it off. All I can say is, whether I fully believe it in the heat of the moment or not, I find it somehow helps me to say, "Lord, grant me the peace that comes from loving the unifinished part of him or her or them...."

Claiming the less endearing parts of people as God's unfinished business also helps me to remind me that they belong to God. He is the one in the heart changing business, not me. If I can convince myself that there is evidence of a person's connection to God, no matter how small or great it may seem, then it gives me hope that He is working on them; on that unfinished part.

I tell the ladies in recovery that there is no magic fairy dust. When they are baptized or when they reaffirm their faith, God puts a claim on them, but there will be daily power struggles. They get to decide to what extent they will facilitate all the changes and realignments that the Lord has in mind for them. At times, they may find themselves kicking against the goads, as a beast of burden. Every day, we all experience some level of struggle within ourselves with staying true to God's claim on us and His call on our lives. I tell them (and I remind myself) that as long as I'm on dirt and dirt ain't on me, I will struggle; I will kick against the goads. It's practically hard wired into my human nature to resist the One who is the source of all good things; the source of my very life and breath and being.

Lord, grant me the peace that comes from loving the unfinished part of me.

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