Sunday, July 22, 2012

Comfort & Joy

It's like God found my list of "All things comfortable" and began checking items off -shortly after He blew them up.

Last week I directed caMP3, a worship arts afternoon program for kids which concluded with the presentation of a musical for the community Friday night. I approached the week prayerfully as I prepared for 60 K-6th graders and a [fabulous] staff of 25 talented folks, but soon realized my heart had farther to go to reach full surrender.

Background: last year was our first year for caMP3. Who knew if we could even pull it off? Responding full force toward my fear of the unknown, I spent 6 months planning and prepping - crossing hundreds of t's and dotting countless i's before camp ever began. After spending the caMP3 week with 30+ students last year, our small, but greatly talented and spirited staff remarked at how smoothly things had gone. Cue the gleam of pride.

Cut to this year. During the spring, caMP3 never made it very high on my list of prioritized projects. "I've already got spread sheets and templates for everything from last year. 90% of my staff are returning. We'll just do it exactly like we did last year and it will be great."

Those sentences pacified any nagging notions to stress about it. Until the last week of registration, when an explosion of last-minute registrations destroyed the possibility of using last year's plan. With more students, we needed a different schedule, more electives, and more staff. God provided it all, but it was at the price of my comfort.

As a recovering control-freak (sincerely, no joke), I took a huge step in new found freedom to "let it go". Instead of doing everything, I delegated almost everything and focused on faith.

Faith in what, though?

"'Faith in God' is the correct answer, boys and girls!"

But, sadly, not the reality of my poor, poor heart.

I had faith that when I eat nutritiously and go to bed early, I have ample energy throughout the day. I live a busy, productive life. Nothing to fear.

I had faith that I had given the lead role to a bright child with committed parents. He has been very faithful in the past with learning lines and having them memorized. He has a great attitude and perfect attendance. Nothing to fear.

I had faith that all hormonal complications were expected during another part of the month. Calendar check. No worries.

I had faith that even if things went terribly wrong, I could lob that crisis hot potato straight at my Minister of Music and HE would have to deal with it. "I'm just a volunteer. This is HIS job. Right?" He's very supportive and trustworthy and capable. Nothing to fear.

I had faith that I had done everything in my power to allow my home to run smoothly while we spent much of our time planning for and recovering from each day of caMP3. "I'll have a peaceful comfortable place in which to rest." No worries.


Sunday I contracted some sort of stomach issue that lingered all week.
(I thought to myself, "treasure this weakness...He can be strong in me." Maturity intact.)

Monday morning, I got the call that my lead character was in the hospital.
(I heard God say, "Oh, NOW, you want to pray for this child? Now that he's in the hospital? I sorta thought you might wanna chat about him since he has accepted such a big responsibility in sharing My truths to the crowd Friday night, but whatever. We can pray for him now. It's cool." Determined to find the deeper meaning.)

Tuesday morning my body defied my calendar.
(I said to the Lord, "Seriously??" He said "Yes." Rolling my eyes, but keeping my bloated chin up.)

Wednesday afternoon, my music minister left town for the week, because of a surgery in his family.
(I actually knew this would be happening. And my main concern was the audio/visual for the musical. Having him run it alleviates almost all my fear. When we drove to camp on Monday, I was power-walking in faith because Luke Johnson was locked in as Plan Q for sound man, and he had never done it before. But God is a merciful Provider, and there was an experienced sound man at camp every day including the show. So with the sound taken care of, I merely had my residual nervousness about all the bucks that might stop with me. AND I was beginning to see what God was up to.)

Wednesday evening, our A/C at home went out.
(Now that was just mean. I'm trying to serve the Lord, here, people. And it is strictly in my contract that my best servitude occurs when the climate is controlled at 71 degrees. Not cool ... on a lot of levels. Not even pretending to see a broader purpose, I was Up. Set.)

Wednesday night, as I lay in bed, sweating, cramping, and crying - my brain swirling with reminders concerning camp - I reached the depth of discomfort. I gathered 90 minutes of 90 degree, troubled sleep and started the next day: physically depleted, emotionally fragile, spiritually confused.

Thursday, I became unhappy with a tiny detail at camp and I began to vent to God about it. I'm pretty sure He squinched up His nose when He asked, "Who has set that as an expectation? You, Cari? Because I haven't." Huh? I'm just looking for perfection, God. You are a perfect God. We're doing this for You, don't You prefer things as close to perfection as possible?
*awkward silence

"He has shown you, [chica], what is good and what the Lord requires of you.
To act justly, to love mercy, and walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8

Perfection is not even mentioned. Fabulousness is nowhere in this verse.

I'd love to say that there was a totally happy ending to this story. But the truth is that Friday was moderately stressful. I may have still been pouting toward God just a tiny bit. It was such a busy, crazy day, I don't really remember. I know I fell short.

But do you know what? At the end of the day ... I found joy. God was faithful and He inhabited our praise. Dozens of beautiful children in matching shirts, including one healed lead actor, sang with n cheerful energy about the armor of God and His leadership in our lives, and His calling on our lives, and His promise to use us especially when we're at the end of our own abilities. He was honored by our efforts - our less than perfect, mis-managed, humble efforts to love others as we make Him famous.

Today my tummy is better. My hormones have stabilized. Luke is a fully trained, experienced sound tech. Our A/C is fixed. I hope I've learned my lesson. I really hope. I don't want to trust in men and chariots. I don't want to rely on reliable people and plans. I don't want to depend on comfort in order to find joy.

I want to find comfort and joy in the dependability of God alone.

Thank You, God, for caMP3. Thank You for providing everything we needed. I know Your Word was planted in the hearts of many children this week. It will not return void. Thank You for never leaving me. Thank You for Your patience with my silliness and immaturity. Thank You for using Truth to set us free. Help me learn from my mistakes. I love You.