Broken-down Poetry: May 2009


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Friday, May 22, 2009

letting the fields die

To heck with brevity.

I know as a journalist I need to learn how to make the most impact with the fewest words, but as a storyteller I refuse to. God has been moving in these past few weeks, and I don't want to cut anything out -- for His sake, if not mine.

The other day, and for at least the third time since I was seventeen, God has told me to let the fields die.

In the Law of Moses, God commands the Israelites to set aside the seventh year as a Sabbath Year in order to let the fields take a break. No pruning or reaping is allowed; land must be left as is. Farmers have been working hard for six years and it's time now for rest -- to "sit down," as Pastor Paul might allude (Heb. 8:1).

And so, like God commanded the Israelites, God wants me to take a Sabbath from personal "field" -- my ambition.

I have wanted to work for RELEVANT Magazine since I was seventeen. My ambition has led me to base a lot of decisions on what I know I need to do to achieve that goal. Sometimes my decisions were insignificant and quirky. (In the summer after eleventh grade, for example, Ashley and I made cakes made to look like each member of the RELEVANT Podcast, including Cara Davis' unborn baby, "Mavis Davis," and tagged the crew on Facebook.) Sometimes they were a little more serious. (I emailed CEO Cameron Strang and told him everything I was doing to prepare myself for the job and followed his advice to the tee.)

The year later I made more drastic decisions like joining the high school newspaper staff, taking a college-level writing course, writing into the RELEVANT Podcast (see episode 4.18.08) and declaring journalism as my major. (After all, Cameron was a journalism major as well.)

This year, of course, I worked even harder. I got a position on my college newspaper staff, took a magazine writing class, emailed Chad from RELEVANT more times than I can count, asked former/current RELEVANT interns questions, applied/received the A&E position for next year's newspaper staff and worked way too hard at keeping my grades up.

But sometimes God tells me to let my fields die.

The first time I remember him doing this was last summer, in August, when Adam Smith moved to New Zealand. I wrote a blog about this, of course, saying how I was devestated that my very favorite member of the RELEVANT Podcast was leaving for good. I'm pretty sure I cried when I found out.

But more than that, for the first time since my dream formed, I began questioning whether or not this was really my calling. Does God really want me to work there? Am I really a good writer? I ended my blog with this:
The questions kept coming. I know that I just need to trust God–there’s no doubt about that. I know what it is to close my eyes and jump, and that’s what I’m going to have to do. I don’t like it, but if I am truly going to call Christ my Savior, I’m going to have to just go–go wherever he says to go.

If it's to RELEVANT, then that's where I'm supposed to be.

If not, then I pray he prepares me for somewhere else.

I let go. I let God take my dreams (my ambitions) just in case they needed revising. God knows that when I love something passionately, I refuse to let go. So every few months he kindly asks me to let the fields die, and I find myself obeying.

Five days after that night, God spoke to me through Haggai. He told me to pick up my plowshare.

I have always equated the Book of Haggai with my life calling; Pastor Tom used the book to teach me that years ago. So when Tom covered the topic again in the "Majoring in the Minors" sermon series last summer, I knew God had something to say. He did. I had always looked at my calling (Ezekiel) and my career (magazine writer) as two separate dreams. God said they're one.

My seven years started over and my fields revived.

January happened, but I will spare you most of the details for time's sake and to protect those involved. I emailed one of my favorite writers, a former writer for RELEVANT, who after one comment I had made told me that perhaps RELEVANT isn't the dreamland workplace I thought it was. I told him that he crushed my dreams, which he did, but in goodwill. God, again, told me to let the fields die.

That was Monday, and by Wednesday God once again revived my calling. It's hard to believe I learned everything I needed to in just two days, but I did. It was Summit Week at school and I learned more spiritual truths in those few days than I had the rest of the semester, sadly.

Wednesday night the topic was on dreams, based off the Book of Daniel:
Big Ideal: Dreams come only with difficulty and delay

Bold Action: Chase your dreams anyway

And the conclusion I came upon:
I'm not supposed to change my dream. Granted, I'm not supposed to bow down and worship it either ... but God place it in my heart for a reason. And I need to fight for it!

My seven years started over and my fields revived.

So now here I am. Two days ago I found out that Chad from RELEVANT no longer works there. Of course I'm anxious to know why, but am in no place to inquire why, so I sit here thinking up horror stories. Chad is who I wanted to be. He used to be a fan of the magazine and the podcast, then he became an intern, then he worked there and practically ran the show when Cameron was on sabbatical. And now?

I began asking those questions again: Is this where I'm supposed to be? What does God want me to do? Should I change my major? Do I really love this? Can I work somewhere else?

The fields are still at rest, and I suppose they will be for a while. Now that God has revealed the reason behind my crises of ambition, I think these periods are going to last longer. At least, this one might.


Congratulations for making it this far. I'll try to make this brief because I feel like the blog itself shows what I have learned more than anything.

God does not want us to worship anything but Him. Period. If I have learned anything in the past few years it's that. I have a strong tendency to bow down to whatever intrigues me at the moment, and have spent time serving the RELEVANT god instead of Jesus Christ. Taking a break from my dreams has shown me how far I've fallen from what God wants of me and my ambitions. He wants me to use them for Him, not for myself.

Being vulnerable is okay. Letting things die is how they come back stronger. One of my favorite snippets of the Gospels is Jesus' statement that every seed must first die before it may grow. Dreams work the same way. If I'm willing to let God take the reigns, they I know my dreams will be steered in the right direction.

God knows what's best -- I cannot forget that.

My world may seem like it's falling apart, but it's not.

My dreams may seem to be stalling or falling short, but they're not.

They're resting.

Just for a little bit.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

between the river and the ravens I'm fed

It's really hard to write when nothing's going on.

I'm used to being fed up with something or obsessing over some new found philosophy I can write about for three blogs in a row. But not right now. School's out, I don't have a job, my reading's been light and uninspiring (ah, no offense, brilliant writers from whom I'm reading) and I'm not really enraged about anything. I usually am about this time. Last year I was going through my anti-politics kick, the year before that (and the year before that) I was frustrated by everyone's lack of faith. (Or something like that.)

I have spent most of my summer (so far) running errands, listening to music, reading, watching the news, watching TV, drinking coffee, redoing my Web site, inviting myself to people's houses, applying for jobs and eating cake. Not simultaneously, though that would be funny.

Anyway, my goals for this summer included writing every day (fail), reading three different magazines (fail, fail), submitting articles for publication (augh, fail) and reading nine books (I'm still doing okay). I want this summer to matter (as I say every year) but it can't get much liftoff without money to make it matter.

Here comes the punchline.

Yesterday my state tax return came - and not a moment too soon. I'm not broke - yet - but I will be soon if I don't get a job. Sure, I'd be fine if I didn't drive anywhere, ever. But if I stay at home all summer I might go crazy.

I've been selling textbooks, too, periodically, which has put a little bit of money into my account at the end of the month.

I smiled as I folded the state-issued check into my wallet because I knew that I had just enough to get by. I can still afford gas to get to my Wednesday night Bible study at Ruthanne's and I can afford to buy at least one or two presents for all the weddings and grad parties I have to go to (ahh!). But I don't have enough to waste on crap.

I have enough.

And it's beautiful.

But really hard, too.

Part of me is so frustrated that I haven't found a job yet, but the other part of me is excited by the discipline. I've never had a steady job. I work freelance or seasonal or the darn business shuts down. I'm learning to be flexible, to have to depend on God.

It's great, but it's so scary too.

Hopefully, hopefully I'll still get a job so that I can participate in more this summer.

But even if not, I will have to keep trusting.

Between the river and ravens I'm fed Sweet deliverer, you lift up my head and lead me in your way

Sunday, May 10, 2009


I wonder if you remember my blog from September when I promised to do everything to the glory of God. I wrote:
I want my college experience–my going-to-class, homework-ing, studying, note-taking–to be my spiritual act of worship.

I decided that just a month into school, promising to work my hardest to make that possible. And you know what? I succeeded. I worked so hard, didn't let myself get lazy. I was an overachiever, ambitious, a great student.

But I also worshiped my GPA.

Here's a lesson in idolatry.

Idolatry is one of those sins that kind of sneaks up on you. It's unintentional, that's for sure, but it's also incredibly stealthy. I don't set out to commit idolatry, it just seems to happen.

This has been one of my more casual sins for some time. I get really excited about certain things - I'm passionate - but it turns deadly after quite some time. It starts to consume me. My dream to work for RELEVANT, for example, has become an idol for my a lot. I just want to work there so bad ... I get so caught up with that, instead of the big picture, and instead of looking to God who will equip me for that job.

I think of Aaron and the golden calf. We learned in BIL101 that the Israelites weren't trying to worship the calf when Aaron formed it out of gold, rather, they were trying to worship God through the golden calf. Calves were used as a pedestal for a god to sit upon, not as a god itself. The Israelites hoped to have a sort of visual aid for worshiping God, not realizing that he cannot be contained to a tiny golden altar.

How often do we do that? We see the good in our jobs or our dreams, our hardwork or successes, but instead of worshiping God for them, we worship the thing itself. We think we're trying to worship God through the calf, but we end up falling to our knees and worshiping the thing created before us.