August 30, 2010

Family Photos and Capacity Building

Here is the long awaited family photo with all of us buzzed and beautiful. I include two different versions and James is creating his own version of our family photo. My family photos are mild renditions (coneheads and a few additions), but James' rendition of our family photo is a little more unique. Curious George joined us for the original shot because everytime Jude gets a buzz cut, he looks like a monkey (of whom Curious George just happens to be his favorite).

And here we have the Coneheads!

And here is a sneak peak into future blog posts: After shopping around James finally found a wig he likes (WHAT!) and we are officially moving into a permanent house this week. Hurray!

I have recently been reading the biography of Watchman Nee. This man was a Chinese Christian who taught and wrote many well recognized foundational Christian books. He had a huge influence among Chinese Christians during a very tumultuous time in Chinese history. Much more could be said about him, but it is his teaching that has hit me hard in the last few days.

He wrote that "Maturity is a matter of the enlargement of capacity. You must allow God to give you time to suffer beyond measure. Then your capacity will be enlarged. It takes hard times to mature a Christian. The fact is that you will never be the same after you pass through suffering. Either your capacity will be enlarged, you will become more hardened. For this reason, when you are experiencing hard times you must pay attention." He also wrote that if we try to avoid these times of suffering, it will only prolong the time that it takes for us to become mature in Christ.

I guess I can see how this could be that new perspective for me that I have been looking for, like I asked for at the end of the last posting. But what bothers me is that This perspective is largely based on suffering, and there something in me that is loath to call what I am going through "suffering". Discomfort, yes. But, if I am suffering, then I am doing so in a whole lot of comfort. I have people taking care of me who love me. Even when I can't eat, I still have food available. I lay my sick body in a soft bed. I feel that to call what I am going through "suffering" would be to do a serious discredit to those who have truly suffered. Not to mention, I don't want my "new" life perspective to be based on a martyr complex.

Second Attempt

We all remember the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand. There he was with his disciples and five thousand people were following him to listen to his preaching. They were hungry and had not eaten in days. The disciples suggested that Jesus send them home to find food, and Jesus in turn suggested that the disciples find food for them to eat. This of course was impossible, but a quick search revealed that one boy had brought a long a lunch of five little barley loaves and two small fish. Jesus blessed the food, and after he had blessed it, there was enough for everyone to eat with twelve baskets full of food left over.

In one of his last recorded sermons, Watchman Nee points this out. It didn't matter how much food Jesus started with. Even if he had had 100 loaves of bread and 200 fish (although it is far greater 5 loaves and 2 fish), it still would have been a miracle that the people were fed.

What matters is not how much they had to begin with, but the fact that Jesus' blessing was on it. I will poorly summarize Nee's words here for the sake of brevity. He says that blessing is the working of God where there is no explanation for it; where what we put in does not equal what is put out. If we think that his blessing is reliant on what we put in (our capacity), we limit God's abilities. However, when we realize that it is God's blessing that makes the outcome, we find out that the outcome is far beyond our capacity and even surpasses our wildest dreams.

I have zero capacity right now. I lay on a bed for half the day sleeping and vomiting. I'm exhausted and I struggle with depression (especially in the afternoon). My ears are inflamed and my eyes often feel like they have needles poking into them. I know God is with me, but I'm starting to feel very vulnerable right now.

But however small my capacity is, all I need is his blessing in order for what I do have to become a massive outpouring. So what do I have? I have his love. I have the assurance that Jesus has conquered death. I have a role. I have the assurance of Jesus' life inside of me and that as a child of God, I reflect his character and his nature to other people. I don't feel these things all the time. I would be lying if I said that I don't have days of serious doubts and depression. But feeling emotions is different than knowing truth. Even when I feel different emotions, I still know what the truth is. Unfortunately, feelings are much easier to pay attention to!

I suppose that I just contradicted myself. Suffering enlarges capacity... and yet capacity is nothing without God's blessing. So do I have my new perspective now? No, not by a long shot. Not any one of the things I read about or think about or that people tell me is going to offer me universal comfort. But I am being changed and transformed day by day. "For I am confident of this, that he who began a good work in you (me) will be faithful to perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1:6).

Don't worry. Lighterhearted posts are coming!

1 comment:

Tim & Joyce said...

Jessica I look forward to reading what you have to say & how you are feeling good or bad.It has always been a great encouragement to me.This is an amazing gift you have.
Love Aunt Joyce