Friday, April 30, 2010

Why I Avoid Work

I’ve been mute lately, maybe you noticed. In a slump, I guess. Being “out there” is not always where I want to be. And the hard thing about living with who we are and the doubt we can generate about our worthiness – I should probably change the pronouns to first person since I shouldn’t be speaking or writing for you – which also may be a cue or would that be clue? – that I shouldn’t say or write anything at all. This morning I got up and Denis asked right away, what’s wrong? And I was evasive, just saying, I had bad dreams. I’m moody. He managed to make me laugh right away, or a little laugh, anyway, by saying I wasn’t allowed to be moody, that was his department. And true, it usually is.

However. Taking a deep breath. Sighing and trying to come round again. Begun to read a little book by John Stott The Radical Disciple. It will be his last. In it he says farewell: “As I lay down my pen for the last time (literally since I confess I am not computerized) at the age of eighty-eight, I venture to send this valedictory message to my readers.” As he says, he is “reflecting on death and seeking to prepare for it” and thus leaving us behind, he distills with piercing clarity what we need to know to remain faithful disciples.

John Stott has meant much to me over the years, his whole-hearted following of Jesus. The profoundness of his writing – so elegant and yet simple enough for me to gain not only the ideas, but the love and devotion behind them. At my own crossroads with dark questions, he’s met me through his words and pointed me on, on to following Christ. He’s been one of my dear teachers. I don’t want to see him stop writing. I don’t want him to go. And yet, stupidly saying the obvious, he must. We all must.

Anyway, bits and pieces of this final book will stick to me, I hope, here is one that in the moment helps re-orient my thinking, my heart, and points me onward, specifically addressing the fact that I sometimes don’t want to do the work I’m called to do. I want to glide. I don’t want to be bothered. I want to complain and be miserable.

So he gently chides: “Our common way of avoiding radical discipleship is to be selective: choosing those areas in which commitment suits us and staying away from those areas in which it will be costly. But, because Jesus is Lord, we have no right to pick and choose the areas in which we will submit to his authority.”

And so…. Soon I will tell you about the angora bunny our housemate brought home, and will try to get that video posted of me making cast iron bread and answer some mail, and make a pot of chile for a friend who just had a baby… my work for the kingdom.


Rebecca Brown said...

You are so encouraging.

Dawn Dahl Merz said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dawn Dahl Merz said...

I love you, Margie! Why do you always make me cry? Thank you for reminding me that faithfulness and following are not a mood, but a calling. Thank you for writing even if you are on the edges of a slump.

Margie Haack said...

Thank you, Rebecca. Dawn, I wouldn't do it knowingly. You're heart is very tender, in any case, and you have enough going on right now to challenge even the most mood resistant person. Bless.

Walking to China said...

How lovely to be "gently chided" by John Stott-even through a book. He is a true gentleman,a teacher and a disciple. When it is his time to go, he will be dearly missed.

Alina said...

While I often describe the act of writing as "creative", "artistic", and "good hobby",'s funny and so true to add "an act of obedience to the list." I've felt the same conviction lately.

Anonymous said...

Whatever is foreseen in joy
Must be lived out from day to day.
Vision held open in the dark
By our ten thousand days of work.
Harvest will fill the barn; for that
The hand must ache, the face must sweat.

And yet no leaf or grain is filled
By work of ours; the field is tilled
And left to grace. That we may reap,
Great work is done while we're asleep.

When we work well, a Sabbath mood
Rests on our day, and finds it good.

Wendell Berry, from Sabbaths

Margie Haack said...

Anonymous, thank you for sharing Berry. I love the line: "Vision held open in the dark by our ten thousands days of work."