It's been quite a while now since we posted! I (Jim) think we ended the school-year (July 17th) out of gas. Physically and mentally exhausted. I'm sure having a newborn and the accompanying short nights has contributed, but still. I had great plans for posts at the beginning of he break. It's been a busy break. We've gone on a couple of great family trips and taken care of lots of loose ends... we may even have a birth certificate and passport for Aaron soon! At any rate, time has gotten away from us. We still have dozens of things to share, but we just haven't found the time or energy to actually DO it! Hopefully that will come eventually, but here is what I've really been thinking about lately:
Being as worn-out as we were at the end of this past term, I've done a lot of thinking about why. I can't remember which term it was but Tim Cook (our now-retired superintendent) shared what he'd been reading about the Cycle of Grace - an idea written about by Dr. Frank Lake and explained well on this guy's blog. (I don't know what else is on the site, so if it's weird, sorry!) The natural cycle is something like this: I work to achieve goals that give me a sense of personal significance and feel success when the world notices. Successful work (properly recognized by others) stokes my ego and gives a sense of acceptance; all is right with the world - and me. But it doesn't stop there. Unless I continue to work, significance fades and with it, success and that sense of acceptance. I am no longer right with the world. I fall into this cycle naturally: in my work, in my relationships with colleagues, my marriage, my relationship with God...
The 'Cycle of Grace' has all the same components, but starts with our acceptance by God and proceeds backward from that. The realization that we are accepted through Christ as adopted children (Romans 8:15) gives the perspective that success is then through Christ alone... who has already accepted me. This gives every action significance and drives my work: now an act of obedience to God... who has already accepted me! Really it's just a simple change in attitude but what if I approached my work (in whatever context) this way?
Believe it or not, there are a LOT of Christians (especially missionaries) who have this cycle backwards. And I think this is dangerous for Christians... Working to achieve significance will lead to burn-out and I think that's where I was heading at the end of our 1st year here (as you can see from the previous post). So... my new goal is to begin working from that position of acceptance. We'll see. It's interesting how the gospel Christ preached takes just about every natural tendency and commands the exact opposite.