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I just logged on to Twitter and I remain in awe at the kinds of prayers that people are leaving on the posts. It simply suggests how clearly broken we all are, and how we need God in everything! People are struggling, in need, feeling overwhelmed, stuck, out of their comfort zones, down and out, chained down. The Twitter site for We The Church is amazing: there’s a constant stream of people leaving their hurts, worries, fears, anxieties. I am also reminded that although we’re all searching, God has always been there. He’s the only constant thing in our lives. We might leave our prayers over the Internet or pray by our bedsides; God hears it all.

We are restless in our current stations in life.  There must be hundreds of thousands of us, if not millions of restless people. Restless in their minds. Restless in their spirits.

I have no doubt these days that I am restless. I make no excuses for being a restless person. I don’t shy away from that description. Married I may be; with children I may be; restless still applies.

My wife and I are truly restless. We feel the need to move, the need to live, the need to experience.

I read this article from the Globe and Mail about an English teacher in Japan, Michael Kanert, who is battling the tension between staying in Japan or moving back home to Canada (click here to go to article). It amazes me how many must suffer this tension. Yet, what amazes me even more is the string of comments left by visitors to the article. There is a great polarity, one that borders on abusive and mocking, to the other that encourages a happy-go-lucky joie de vivre.

The question that always pops up is, what is life? What is it that drives you? What is it that amuses you, interests you, moves you, embraces you? How is it that we spend countless hours awake at night thinking about what could have been, what might have been, or what could be? Why is it that we spend so much of our time counting regretsor missed opportunities–or merely daydreaming–instead of living our lives in the moment? Why must there be a persistent conflict between “responsibilities” and what we want to do?

I say this as I ready myself for another move abroad, this time with a full family. Am I circumnavigating responsibility? Should I not have my heart set on acquiring the cottage by the lake or the SUV that my peers drive? Since when did a career path replace a life path? Or have I been disillusioned for my entire life?

Do we go to escape or to experience?

The vast majority of people in this world would consider it a blessing to travel, life, experience and enjoy another foreign culture. We are blessed to have this ability.

Where does the road lead, what rabbit trails will we go down, and what rabbit holes will we fall into, either gleefully or blindly? So what is that voice at the back of my head that says stay and make a life out what’s here in your home country?

We trust that God will take care of our needs, in both the short-term and the long-term, and that His wisdom will guide our steps. Are we crazy to move? Not even a bit, for we have the luxury to live our lives fully and completely, enjoying and savoring the moments given to us. We are truly blessed to have so many opportunities.

When I look at the “Blog Stats,” I am constantly reminded that we all search for meaning, purpose, or answers concerning our lives at work. Without God, work is so pointless.

The writing below came to me from a chain e-mail, so I’m not entirely sure who wrote it.

Psalm 23 (for work)

The Lord is my real boss, and I shall not want.
He gives me peace, when chaos is all around me.
He gently reminds me to pray and do all things without murmuring and complaining.

He reminds me that he is my source and not my job. He restores my sanity everyday and guides my decisions that I might honor him in all that I do.

Even though I face absurd amounts of e-mails, system crashes, unrealistic deadlines, budget cutbacks, gossiping co-workers, discriminating supervisors and an aging body that doesn’t cooperate every morning, I still will not stop— for He is with me! His presence, His peace, and His power will see me through.

He raises me up, even when they fail to promote me. He claims me as His own, even when the company threatens to let me go. His Faithfulness and love is better than any bonus check.

His retirement plan beats every 401k there is!
When it’s all said and done, I’ll be working for Him a whole lot longer and for that, I BLESS HIS NAME!!!!!!

Joe & Maggie

I love this statement about how, in our struggles everday, we are actually struggling with God. Life is a struggle, and like Jacob, we struggle with God because we don’t want to give up control.

What a profound statement A.W. Tozer makes when he wrote, “we make little forward progress because we haven’t come to the end of ourselves.” In many ways, our preoccupation with ourselves means that we limit ourselves to new boundaries, to new domains.

How do you respond to life? Do you accept situations at an intellectual level, or at both an intellectual and emotional level? When we notice that God gave others characteristics or situations that we don’t have, do we respond with envy, jealousy, or self-pity?

I just installed a new widget to my blog, and I now openly admit that I am completely addicted to it. Feedjit tracks in real-time the visitors to my blog and states their location. It’s also a free widget you can paste into your blog. What amazes me is how people from around the world end up viewing my site. I used to love watching the numbers roll over, but now I love seeing the location of visitors. If you’re reading this and you’re a visitor, welcome!!

In Rick Warren’s incredible book, “The Purpose Driven Life,” the title of his third chapter might be as piercing and groundbreaking for you as it was for me. He asks the reader, “What drives your life?” and then gives five common ‘engines’ that drive our lives. For me, I found that he had quoted a really interesting translation of Ecclesiastes 4:4, from the Living Bible. I had read Ecclesiastes so many times, and I always meaning in the meaninglessness of life, as portrayed in the verses. However, I had never read the Living Bible translation of this verse, and it goes like this:

I observed that the basic motive for success is the driving force of envy and jealousy!              -Ecclesiastes 4:4 (LB)

I do find that a lot of times my motivation isn’t godly or right; most of the time, I’m looking out for me, and not others. I find that my I’m motivated by money and wealth, which is perhaps fueled by envy of others’ wealth. I want a better job because what that other job affords: more money, more status, more cultural capital. So the verse hit the nail on the head, or at least my own head, and I could see I might be driven in other ways as well: by guilt, by resentment and anger, by fear, by materialism, and by need for others’ approval.

If you’re not sure what’s driving your life, an even sharper question to ask yourself is, “What is your life?” (James 4:14, NIV)  Gee whiz, what a sharp question. The question isn’t necessarily about where you’re going in life, what you’re accumulating or consuming in life, or how you’re supposed to live your life. Rather, it’s a more fundamental question we need to ask ourselves each day. “What is my life?”

The Alpha Course has the motto, “Is there more to life?” That seems to be the corrollary to the question found in James. A life without God can’t have any meaning, and thus, for someone who doesn’t know God, the answer to the question is, “nothing.” My life is nothing without God. Without God, everything is random, meaningless, devoid of content and purpose.

In stark contrast, with God, there is meaning, order, purpose, motivations. What is my life? My life is God’s, and I am to honor Him by living a life of love, to honor Him and my neighbour and my family. It’s our point of view that will inevitably shape our answers to life’s greatest questions.

You must read the entry below, coming from a visitor to the blog. The writing in black below comes from a random (or maybe not random) visitor who decided to write something meaningful for the world to read. And boy is it awesome!

“I, too, typed in “God what am I supposed to do?” Did you ever imagine that phrase would be one that brought so many people to your page??

I’m sitting here watching yet ANOTHER free dvd from the library after a dinner of frozen asparagus and bread and cheese, shivering because I can’t afford to turn on my heat, and wondering what I’m going to do now that I’ve drawn the last $30 I’m eligible for in unemployment checks. I’m a good worker, a hard worker, a smart worker. I hate handouts. But I’ve applied for job after job, week after week, for 9 months now and gotten TWO interviews out of it. I pray about it, talk with strong Christians in my life about it, read scripture and meditate on it with my current situation in mind… and still find myself typing my ultimate query and frustration into a Google search. Why?!

You just feel so empty of answers, of logic, of the ability to reason sometimes. You know wisdom is given to those who seek it, but at the end of the day you still want to have a roof over your head, food in your belly. Wisdom may teach you the worthlessness and temporary nature of so many of the things we take for granted as “necessary” parts of our lives, but does wisdom then tell us to expect to live a life of abject poverty and constant hunger because abundance isn’t “necessary”?

I’m not looking for something miraculous. I’m not looking to make loads of money, or even as much as I made at my last job (which I lost because the company closed due to the crumbling economy which is hurting so many of us). I’m not looking for greatness, for gold, or for glory.

I’m looking for sustenance. For the ability to pay my rent, pay for my car, pay for my student loans. To pay back my grandmother who’s generosity has kept me in groceries. To pay back my also-struggling parents who’ve given me so much in the way of true love and support. For the ability to work. To serve and love through work. I love people, I love committing to a task, I love bringing things to completion, I love working.

What’s happening? What is this? Why is this? How is it we can follow God’s commands on how to deal with situations like this and *still* find ourselves, find each other, heaped into a comment board on a stranger’s web page as we all ask this questions we can’t seem to get an answer to?! “God! WHAT am I supposed to DO?!”

I can wait. I have been waiting. I will continue to wait. And I’m running out of money and credit and no closer to a job than I’ve been since I lost my job in May ‘08. I will continue to wait. Maybe that’s what we’re all supposed to do. But the loss, sacrifice, heart ache, pain, and sadness resulting from the situations mentioned on this page– if waiting is what we’re supposed to be doing, shouldn’t some of those symptoms lessen since we’re doing what we’re called to do?

I will continue to wait.”

This is perhaps the most meaningful comment I’ve read on my blog thus far. This entire blog acts as an organic archive of people’s lives around the world who are struggling, including myself. So it’s immensely profound that someone would make an expression of their thoughts, anxieties, worries, and post it as a comment. As Behnnie writes, ” I pray about it, talk with strong Christians in my life about it, read scripture and meditate on it with my current situation in mind…and still find myself typing my ultimate query and frustration into a Goodle search. Why?!”  I’m sure there’s a thesis dissertation lurking in Behnnie’s writing, just waiting and wanting to be penned. How and why is it that so many people type those exact search words into a search engine, seeking meaning? It’s like using Biblegateway.com and typing in some keywords, praying and hoping for divine intervention or to hear God’s gentle voice. Waiting is so difficult, yet, in many ways, God becomes clearer because of it.

HERE IS THE CONTINUATION OF HER STORY.

I *thought* I was a random visitor, sent here via your friend and mine: Google. But perhaps it was via a more literal Deus ex machina? LOL! The real irony, though, is in the timing of that comment I left on your blog. You see: After 9 months of unemployment I got a job today.

For the past 2+ years (plus summers since high school) I worked for the family business which, recently beset by one unfortunate struggle after another, finally had to close after 12 years as the weight of the crashing economy further burdened our efforts. Scores of people lost their jobs when the business closed, most of them with spouses and children to support. It was a difficult situation all around. Luckily, however, my dad was able to use his connections to find jobs within days, sometimes even hours, for almost every employee who needed the help. Almost every employee except me. I’ve got two degrees, several years’ work experience, and references who’d loan me kidneys, but no employers were interested. If that ain’t a blow to the self-esteem I don’t know what is.

I spent the summer working with my family helping close things down on the business end, dismantling steel case cubicles to be recycled for cash to keep us in groceries, selling off our remaining inventory of pens, staplers, and post-it notes to keep us in fuel; it was a summer I want to forget. Every day was sad. Every day was the end of days. Every day was a reason to think that maybe, just maybe, things would be better if there would be no more to follow.

I began looking for work in earnest as our efforts to finalize the company began to draw to a close in August. I wanted to look sooner, but every day so far had been so filled with work, sadness, and stress that somehow walking into people’s offices brandishing my resume and a smile seemed a near impossibility. And the that work that filled our days? It was work that didn’t pay. Work that made us weep. But we had God. We had each other. And I? I had a few friends. I had naps. I had library dvds. I had more naps…

I faithfully applied for at least two jobs a week (a condition of receiving unemployment checks), but companies were beginning to really realize the gravity of the economic depression so no one wanted to hire until we all had a better grip on what to expect. All told I attended one job fair (if you’ve ever attended a job fair you understand why attending even one is more than sufficient!), signed up with four staffing agencies and one talent agency, registered with countless job sites (Monster, CareerBuilder, etc.) which I checked religiously, sent emails to everyone I knew, and searched Craig’s List on a daily basis for postings that weren’t scams. I applied for anywhere from 5-15 jobs a week, every week, for 6 months. If there’s any business in this area that doesn’t have my resume, references, and position specific cover letter at this point I’d be heartily surprised!

From these months of effort I netted one follow-up call asking if I knew how to use Power Point, one interview through a staffing service for a job that went to someone else, and one interview last week which I got because a friend works there and put in a good word for me with HR. My deferred student loans start up again in March, my windshield is cracked from end to end, my auto insurance is up for renewal, and I just drew my final unemployment check on Sunday. It totaled $30. Which brings us to today. To a phone call. To a follow up on last week’s interview. To an offer for a job paying $0.46 more per hour than I need to pay my bills. To a job I don’t know how to do yet but will learn faster than I’ve ever learned anything. To a job near my home. To a job with a friend.

Praise the Lord, stranger. After 9 months in a terrible economy: I have a job.

God has always known my needs, always met them. He has provided ways for me to get by financially during my period of unemployment. He has provided me with strength on days I couldn’t bear to get out of bed. He has provided me with peace and encouragement when I was ready to check out. He has provided me with family and friends who love me and who give me the opportunity to love. And now he has provided me, after nearly a year of waiting, with a job. When following gifts like strength, love, and encouragement, the job really does seem the least of those in many ways doesn’t it…

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What I’m reading now

"Wanderlust: A Social History of Travel," by Laura Byrne Paquet (Fredericton:Goose Lane Editions, 2007) "The Global Soul: Jet Lag, Shopping malls, and the Search for Home," by Pico Iyer (Toronto: Random House of Canada, 2000). "Outliers: The Story of Success," by Malcolm Gladwell (New York: Little, Brown, and Company, 2008).

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