Sunday, June 19, 2011

Control and Surrender, Part 2

It's Sunday again, and if you read Part 1 of this series, then you know how I am feeling. There is so much I want to get done this week, and I am feeling the need to sit down and schedule it all out. I have great new books to read (I Believe in Love: A Personal Retreat Based on the Teaching of St. Therese of Lisieux, God's Smuggler, and The Night Is Far Spent to name a few), some adorable newborn cloth diapers that could use some new elastic, writing that I have set aside as I worked on this retreat, I would really like to get back to the Y and get moving again, and there is that housekeeping challenge that I began but never finished. Not that I have any problem with to do lists or planning out accomplishments, I just know that I have to be careful about HOW I plan them. If I had absolute control of my time, a simple list would make sense. But I am somewhat at the whim of 9 other people (at the very least!) and they are my real job. The other stuff I get done may be of benefit to them, but I have a lot of things to keep in mind.

So personally, if I have a giant to do list, it becomes my failure list at the end of the day. Things like holding a crabby toddler through her nap or taking the toddler potty 83 times a day never seem to make the list, and always push aside several other more quantifiable items. Flexibility is key for my vocation at this time and for my personal sanity.

The next part of our Control and Surrender Retreat is to explore some others who have dealt with not being in control and surrendering to God’s will and how they handled it. We will start with one of my very favorite Bible characters ever: Joseph (of the Technicolor Dream Coat).

We will be tackling Joseph's life in several parts, it is just so eventful.

As a disclaimer: I am no Bible scholar, I am taking these stories mostly at face value and looking specifically for the issues of circumstances out of their control and surrendering to God.

The first part of his life we will cover is Genesis 37:23-28, 36 and Genesis 39: 2-5

So when Joseph came up to them, they stripped him of the long tunic he had on; then they took him and threw him into the cistern, which was empty and dry. They then sat down to their meal. Looking up, they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, their camels laden with gum, balm and resin to be taken down to Egypt. Judah said to his brothers: "What is to be gained by killing our brother and concealing his blood? Rather, let us sell him to these Ishmaelites, instead of doing away with him ourselves. After all, he is our brother, our own flesh." His brothers agreed. They sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. Some Midianite traders passed by, and they pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and took him to Egypt.

The Midianites, meanwhile, sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, a courtier of Pharaoh and his chief steward.

But since the LORD was with him, Joseph got on very well and was assigned to the household of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that the LORD was with him and brought him success in whatever he did, he took a liking to Joseph and made him his personal attendant; he put him in charge of his household and entrusted to him all his possessions. From the moment that he put him in charge of his household and all his possessions, the LORD blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake; in fact, the LORD'S blessing was on everything he owned, both inside the house and out.

Sold into slavery by his own brothers!  According to Gen 37:2, he was about 17 at the time.  I can't imagine being taken from all I know in the world and carted off to a life of... who knew what?  Could he even have any idea what to expect at all?

But Joseph didn't despair.  He got right down to work.  The Lord was with him, just as I think He is with us.  God's blessing doesn't always mean success, as we will see as we get further into this, but sometimes it does.

I think that Joseph had to be leaning on the Lord and open to His whisperings, as well as just putting in the elbow grease to get the job done.  That is a reminder that I need from time to time (or all the time).  In the middle of my freak out over my inability to get a handle on our money perfectly or to "keep up with the house" (whatever that means...), I need to lean heavily on the Lord, listen to Him (Oh, that would mean some prayer time, right?), and get my butt in gear and get moving to the degree I am able.  Even in the face of lack of control, we still have a life to live and our God to love and honor.

Somehow there has to be a way to balance crabby toddlers (and other little people) with prayer time.  Often even sitting down to consider the possibilities is enough for chaos to break out.  That is the part that leaves me feeling out of control.  I really think I am missing the primary step - that reminder that the Lord is with us (me!) and having trust in that.  So my journey towards really surrendering something that I don't have control of in the first place will continue.  It's a bumpy ride with steps forward and backward as a forget lessons I learn as often as I learn a new one.

It's a good thing I have so much opportunity to practice how to deal with being out of control!

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