I had an uninvited guest stay with me for several days last week. His visits are frequent and unannounced. His presence is initially disturbing and eventually pleasant.
This guest’s name is Unsettledness and his presence stirs these desires:
I don’t want to dabble my life away.
I want to finish my life swinging for the fence.
I want to be on a mission that’s significant and that needs the real me.
I want to be someone my kids can proudly talk about and want to emulate.
By living for something more important than his children, a father gives them the most precious gift any father can give, the gift of transcendence.” – Dr. Larry Crabb
These “wants” pulse through my heart continually, but grab my full attention only occasionally, as it did last week.
I wrestled with the origin of these thoughts. Were they centered in pride, envy, and jealousy; or were they focused on a desire for transcendence, advancing the Kingdom, and loving my neighbor?
I knew that this unsettledness was at least an invitation from God to ask, seek and knock, and that it would not be solely between Him and me.
He who separates himself seeks his own desire, he quarrels against all sound wisdom.” – Proverbs 18:1
To be very candid, I was wrestling with the state of The Noble Heart – one of the expressions of the glory and desire of my heart. I thought it might look different by now – not so small and unstable.
I knew from experience that when I am alone in this, I will end up in the cul-de-sac of Self-Examination. I needed another to help me navigate this road of asking, seeking and knocking.
I had a long conversation with Sam (Williamson) in which he asked me numerous probing, clarifying questions in the tone of sincere caring and curiosity.
Later that day Sam emailed me saying that he had been praying about our conversation, and he sensed the nudging of the Holy Spirit to re-read the previous day’s writing in Oswald Chamber’s, My Utmost for His Highest, which he could not recollect at that moment. It read:
One student a year who hears God’s call would be sufficient for God to have called the Bible Training College into existence. This college has no value as an organization, not even academically. Its sole value for existence is for God to help Himself to lives. Will we allow Him to help Himself to us, or are we more concerned with our own ideas of what we are going to be?”
Chambers articulated my greatest desire for The Noble Heart (for God to help Himself to lives) and my greatest struggle (being more concerned with my own ideas of what I’m going to be).
I’d like to say that this has settled the question of my life’s effect with God in this world, but I can’t. I can say that I feel heard by God and that He has given me something specific to ponder: Can it be sufficient for one person a year to hear God’s call?
I believe that these questions are universal to the human heart, they are good, and they are designed to bring us into intimacy with God and into a weighty life.
Unsettledness will visit frequently and unannounced, but each time it does, we wrestle with our desires from a different place. It’s part of the cyclical awakening and deepening process.
So, let unsettledness remind us to ask, seek and knock as we explore our life in this world. Asking, seeking and knocking will first lead us back to God and then back to our true heart.
I want to encourage you, Gary, by reiterating what a blessing your ministry has been in our lives. In addition to the direct blessing of the Calling Course, Base Camp and Secret Garden, it has opened the door to many relationships with people who bring new dimension to our lives and walk with God. I am very grateful to Noble Heart, and to what you, Sam, Leigh and Misty do on a daily basis.
Blessings to you all, and be encouraged!
Cynthia, I stand encouraged.
(As always, thank you for your heart and life.)
I have wrestled with these same thoughts myself. And as I read your words I had a flood of thoughts rush my mind.
[A man rushes into the street to save another person from being hit by an oncoming car. A soldier throws himself on a grenade for his team. A baseball player hits a “sacrifice” pop fly to allow a teammate to score the winning run.]
And then this verse comes to mind, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for a friend.” (Jn 15:13)
Why do we struggle to see the value in a life? (Not in “lives” but in ‘A’ life.). I think we lose sight of the true value of each other. And this causes us to lose touch with the value of our own life (our effect, our calling). Instead we fall into the trap of “more”; thinking that if we help 10 that’s better than 5… and 50 is better than 20… and on it goes… and we become lost in the forest of ‘more’.
We must reorient our perspective. Of course, you’ve touched far more than 50 lives, but my guess is you still lose sight of the value of that from time to time. It’s time to reorient.
When I rock climb, I don’t climb alone. But I don’t climb with a crowd either. I climb with one person at a time. And when I’m belaying another person, in that moment I’m the most important person in their world.
You’ve taught me that as I live out my calling, offering myself to others, the unique effect and weight of my life will do what God intends it to do. And in those moments in time, I am the most important person in their world. I hope right now, as you sit 5 states away reading my words, that the spark that is my life (stirred and fanned by the effect of your life) helps reorient you to the value of ‘A’ life, your life, and the lives of the few or many with whom you climb.
Loving the view from here,
Beautiful words, Mark. Yes, I hear you and I’m encouraged and humbled. Thank you, my friend.
Thank was beautifully explained Mark!
I love this! Isolation can ambush us so quickly. The value of a one solitary life is worth meditating on. Unsettled ness seems to be a frequent visitor for me lately and this perspective really helps! Thanks so much! You both really hit home for me with your posts and helped me reorient!
Jacqueline, you’re so welcome.
It’s healthy to periodically ask if we are doing what He wants us to do with our lives. If we are being used in His best and most effective way given our lives and gifts. If indulged too much, though, it aggravates unnecessary doubt and self centeredness.
If there is something else we should be doing and we are praying about it He will show us. So far, Gary, this looks like what He wants you to be doing!
I always admire your honesty and vulnerability. It’s one of the things that makes your ministry so powerful. Tony’s and my life have been forever changed because of our paths crossing with yours and Leigh’s. I know the point of your blog wasn’t to solicit encouragement – but please know that you are loved and valued and supported!
Yvette, thank you. You are always so kind with your words to Leigh and me. And no, the point of this blog was not to solicit encouragement, but I gladly take it anyway.
I remember something you said over coffee. The exact words I don’t have down, but the premise I certainly do. You don’t operate The Noble Heart like a business, but you allow the voice of Jesus to guide you along as you intimately draw near to him.
I don’t want to be too bold, but it may be that while you aren’t where you thought you would be, you are exactly where Jesus wants you. I respect you greatly.
I have this same visitor quite often, he is not welcomed but continues for return extended stays…..en theos….jim
Good word for the day, thanks! I’m curious, does this uninvited guest have something to do with the survey you sent out last week? Were the answers helpful to you? When it comes to calling, I don’t think you can ever stop asking, seeking and knocking. Keep at it.
Russell, it looks like the survey was tied to unsettledness, but it wasn’t. We had planned to gather that information weeks before this. An astute observation and question…I hadn’t thought of that.
Thanks for this!
This year I became the primary homemaker of a household of seven, and my wife and I both wrestle with our differing (and non-stereotypical) roles at this time. This assignment is unique in that my wife’s two oldest sons have lived most of their life without a father.
Only two days ago, after a year of trying to find gainful employment or volunteer opportunities that would advance my own personal ideas for ministry, I was pleading with God for a job, any job, anything He wants to put in front of me, and the response I heard was, “why are you so unhappy with what I have you doing right now”.
Meditating on that response all day reminded me that the core of my desire work somewhere outside of our home came not from any call but from my own pride and from a desire to sidestep the friction that exists when partnering adults try to embrace unconventional roles.
I came to understand, as I have so many times this year, that God is intent on making sure my children have what they need to grow up in Christ which is neither a small assignment nor an unworthy ministry. I know that any discontent I foster during this assignment can prevent the arrival of the next.
Thanks for helping underlining these revelations this week.
Alec, thank you for letting me in on your life. I’m amazing how we can have a clearer view of the importance of an assignment from outside it. I can see how your current assignment of fathering is transcendent, weighty and critical….and difficult. Way to hang in there.
I’m a 26 year old addict in recovery. You and your blog show me to a large degree what it looks like to ‘bend my heart before God’
Thank you sir.
Your words are much needed, I know, in my life. I wrestle with unsettledness very often and to hear that it is okay to feel unsettled.
I often don’t know or understand that it’s “ok” to feel. The honesty of feeling and that talking to people openly about those feelings with others is a new concept for me, but I’m seeing how important it is.
Thank you for God in you.
Timely and beautiful post, Gary. Thank you!
As I have said before, contradiction seems to be in play with the way we understand what God says to us or wants from us. Do we “wait on the Lord” or do we “keep knocking” do we “use our 10 talents” or do we “let go and let God”?
So we get unsettled, is this God’s way of drawing closer to him? Or is it our flesh wanting more? I think what you did is the right thing, you seek consul from people who care for you and have the same questions and who are also unsettled at times.
This helps us all look to God to get as you say “reoriented” with Him.
I love these thoughts Gary. Been getting them often myself. Lately at church and work I’ve been hearing this small voice telling me, “you’re in the wrong place”. It doesn’t say I’m in the wrong church or at the wrong job but the wrong place. May sound strange but I know I’m in the right orchestra but feel like a trumpet player sitting in the violin section. It’s just the wrong place.
Still working on this but through the Holy Spirit I’m starting to understand how he will equip me with Spiritual gifts, mix em with the talents he’s given to lead me to the right place.
Ted, great illustration! Keep me updated…I’d love to know what God is up to in your life.