I used to think that “Big people must never be scared of ANY-thing!” … Now I know that to be hogwash, because I are one!
The propensity to experience fear is not, as I have learned, restricted to a certain age… (say “10 & under”, “11-19” or “20-24”), it’s just that our reason for fear changes depending on where we’re at in life… what we’re doing: fear is not as much age-related as it is stage-related.
One of the ways I’m tempted to fear, in this new stage, is in the area of “success” versus “failure”.
In North America, busyness is equated to success. If we are busy, we must be accomplishing something and conversely if we want to accomplish something… we must stay busy. So at those times where I find myself not particularly busy… I can fear that I will not accomplish; not meet the expectations of fellow missionaries or you… our supporters.
Ours is a small, home-missions type church where we’re more likely to be 12-15 than we are 25-30, especially during the summer holidays (when two families are missing… we lose 10 people). Since our desire is to not just maintain, but to see growth, if that growth doesn’t happen in the short term… are we succeeding? Can mere maintenance be considered success or does it represent failure?
I’m glad that success can be defined in several ways:
- 1 Corinthians 4.2 says “Moreover it is required of stewards (those that have been entrusted with something) that they be found faithful.” Therefore… if I’m a faithful steward of the things and the people that God has entrusted to our care… that is a measure of success.
- Balance: I can easily forget that we’re still in the “adjustment stage”, getting familiar with people, customs, and the practical details of living in France. On top of that, June was an intensely busy time as you’ve read. The idea that only two weeks later, I should feel negative pressure for uneventful time is itself a bit insane (yet the struggle is real). Balance can often be missing in the midst of busy-driven success. To strive for and achieve balance is a measure of success.
- Kids: We’re working hard to ensure that our time here is a positive experience for Sophie, Dominic & Timo. Right now that means helping them finalize the last details of their school year, alleviating their frustration. The quality of our kids’ overall experience is a measure of success.
- Being vs. Doing: In some economies, the steady accomplishment of tasks is the measure of success: doing. In a “spiritual economy” however, there is a need to pull back and take in before it’s possible to give out. I need to “Be still and know that HE is God” before I can effectively model the peace that comes from that and lead someone else to that realization. “Being” a Christian before I consume myself with “doing” Christian things is a measure of success.
Of course we strive for growth, but until that happens, these are also measures of success. Lord… let me be successful in the most balanced of ways! These thoughts, along with the knowledge that we are exactly in the center of God’s will for our family, allow us to combat fear. I’m glad that fear is subject to the peace of God.
In other news…
- French National Holiday: This past Tuesday was the French National Holiday… July 14th. Oddly enough, it’s often referred to as “Bastille Day” in North America but not so here. It’s either “le 14 juillet” or “la fête nationale”. Pictured are some of the fireworks with the Henri IV bridge as backdrop. (Henri IV was King of France from 1589-1610 and promulgated the Edict of Nantes in 1598 – guaranteeing religious freedom to protestants)
- Jayc: many of you saw our Facebook post last Monday about Jayc (pronounced Jake)… our beagle puppy. Well it’s been an eventful week! By Tuesday morning, his hind quarters (including legs) had inexplicably become paralyzed. The breeder retrieved him almost immediately and took him to the vet who felt it was an extremely rare adverse reaction to standard vaccinations. With no improvement after 4 days and an increasingly traumatized little pup, the vet suggested that the most compassionate route was to put him down. So… today we are going to pick up another puppy. It was a rough start to “Dog-dom” and there may have been a few tears shed.
Please pray for Pierre, one of our members. He’s had a lot of health challenges of late and is in a 3-week treatment session to try to get under some of the issues.
Next Saturday I may tell you about Canoes in the Wind… stay tuned and see you then. Same time, same place.
Thank you for your prayers and support!