Monday, February 27, 2012

Finally - A Pause in Lent

Hello to all my blogging friends - wow, that was One of Those weekends! Nothing terrible, but so busy...
I took some time out yesterday and this morning to look at some of your Pause in Lent posts, and had a giggle with Betty and Dormouse (I should have been more serious - they were) and went back to my housework this morning to the sound of Northern Irish worship music courtesy of Fraise Lachrimose! Giggles and folk rock (plus) have been about my limits for the last few days...
But now I must take my own advice and Pause for the first Sunday in Lent! Along with lots of the others, the cardinal virtues of Valour and Diligence are the ones that hit me this week. And the virtues do kind of hit you, don't they? They are quite tough and uncompromising, and doen't seem to have many 'get-out' clauses. This is probably quite essential.

Since arriving in France, the Valour I've needed has, so far, been practical, spiritual and emotional. I had to (and still continue to) learn French. I had to learn how another country works, and, more challengingly, thinks. I had to learn, the hard way, the strength of human stubborness which allows us to believe that we have wholy given ourselves up to God whilst we are subconsciously pursuing our own agenda, which could in fact be totally counter to God's will. I had to learn that, in my desire to give up self and follow Jesus, I was actually quite ruled by my emotions - ignoring self is not the same as giving up selfishness! Quite the opposite, it turns out - as I've learned about myself (thank you Happiness Project and Simple Abundance) - I've found out what's good and to be cherished and what's harmful and to be confessed and shunned. Ouch! It all hurt but it continues to be worth it.

Diligence (am I the only person who wants to type that with two 'l's?) is now required. God has taken me on a wild ride and it has been stunning - I don't want to hop off the ride, thank him and go my own way. Now is the time, I'm sure, for the 'filling' part of the hymn I mentioned a while back:
'Break me,
Melt me,
Mould me,
Fill me'.
I sang and prayed that for years, and God answered the first three parts since I've come to France - phew! Be careful what you pray for…
Now I know I will have to be diligent to be available for God - the opportunity to learn from him and to become the real me, living and working with the real Him, is there for the taking. But will I make myself open to him? One practical resolution I have this Lent is to go to church each Sunday. That used to be so easy - a church (or several) in walking or cycling distance, all in your own language, easy to get the children to. As Dormouse has said in her post, Protestant churches in France are none of these things. Why should they be? Our Pastor's wife said to me last month: 'You are in exile here. It's normal if nothing feels easy. Don't worry about it.' That was reassuring. And perhaps her understanding is one of the reasons why I'm willing to haul myself (and often the whole family) the 40 minute drive to church in a foreign language. It doesn't have to be that easy. I don't have to leap into action the way I used to do in English churches. Just turning up is perhaps all the diligence that God requires of me at the moment.


Betty said...

Plenty to think about here Floss. You have achieved so much in making your new life in France and have clearly ensured at all times that what you are doing is God's will. I do hope you will enjoy church more often ... I am attending less and quite honesty, for me, it has become a good thing as I am not any longer turning up like a robot and 'going through the motions' which I had fallen into without realising! When I do go now, it is wholeheartedly and I am rewarded each time. Betty

Angela said...

Sometimes it is right to just turn up - and let the worship wash over you ['shower your head' as Mags says]
Sometimes as Betty says, you can just 'go thru the motions' - and if you are a capable, efficient, caring, committed person [and you know you are, Floss!!], it is far too easy to get involved in the busy-ness of church and taking on roles [SS teacher, creche worker, musician, PA operator...even preacher] and miss out on the very blessings you are enabling the other worshippers to appreciate.

This is such a helpful post - and I appreciate your candour - Lenten blessings, dear friend xx

Fiona said...

Thoughtful post Floss.Sometimes just the discipline of turning up for Church is all that God requires of us for that time!

Nancy McCarroll - Arts, Crafts and Favorites said...

it does seem that showing up would be quite the effort...

you must definitely feel you are in an exile. Prayers to you.