Getting blown around

October 13, 2012

One of the speakers at the Wee Kirk Conference last week gave me a new perspective on John 3:8.

The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.

I’d known for a long time that the same Greek word means both wind and spirit. Both wind and Spirit are unseen, and both have effects that are seen. That’s as far as I ever heard the analogy taken before. I thought of the effects of the Spirit as being on the inside, in changing people’s characters and behaviors.

But the speaker spoke of people being “blown about” by God’s Spirit in a more concrete sense. Not that we get literally blown from one place to another, but we end up in surprising places and situations. To an outside observer, these alterations in our circumstances might seem as haphazard as if we really did get blown here and there by a strong wind.

He had already talked about the unexpected means by which Paul got “blown” into the life of the Philippian jailer. I have always thought of Paul’s encounter with the jailer as God bringing good out of a bad situation. But the speaker suggested that it was because God “had his eye on” that jailer that Paul was there to begin with.

After all, Paul had been trying to preach the Word in the province of Asia. He was prevented from doing so, in some unspecified manner. Then he had a vision of a man asking him to come to Macedonia and help. At Philippi he preached at a place of prayer at the river, and Lydia and her household became Christians. Things were going well.

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Job and identity

July 13, 2012

I don’t think of myself primarily as what I do at work. At least I didn’t think I did. If asked how I think of who/what I am, I think about being a mother, a pastor’s wife, and a child of God. Even if someone asks specifically about my job, it’s hard to sum it up in a few words because what I do right now is help in several different areas – areas that will have to manage without my help once my position is eliminated in about a month.

So I was surprised, recently, to realize how much it bothers me to be losing this rather ill-defined set of responsibilities. It’s not just the financial impact and the difficulty of finding another job in this uncertain economy – though it is discouraging not to get responses regarding any of the few jobs I’ve found to apply for. (I did finally get one “you do not meet the requirements of the position” form letter from the corporation I currently work for, regarding a position in another department.)

Suddenly there is a lack of a sense of purpose to what I am doing at work. I no longer feel part of a team that I am trying to help succeed. The co-workers to whom I have mentioned this assure me I am still part of the team and they appreciate the work I do, but the sense of being “in this together” is gone for me. I feel like a temporary employee, someone who is working here for the time being but has no future here.

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When interests and abilities diverge

January 21, 2012

When I was growing up, I thought that sitting at a desk working with numbers was about the most boring job I could think of. I had very little idea what an actuary like my father actually did (I still have only hazy notions of how his workday was spent), but I knew it involved lots of numbers.

It’s not that I was bad at math. On the contrary, it came easily to me (except for one unit in third grade when we had to learn base 8), and I found it very boring. As a senior in high school I did my calculus homework to relax from more challenging subjects like literary analysis and chemistry. I enjoyed competing in Math League, but I had no interest in studying advanced math topics on my own in order to do better at the meets.

What I liked was writing. I had always been good at it, at least according to my teachers. (My mother also thought I wrote well, but I discounted her opinion as lacking objectivity.) I had always loved to read, and I longed to be able to write stories that other people would enjoy reading.

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