Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Rebellion and Submission

I had an interview yesterday.

It was for a manager position at a company located about 17 hours away. It was a good interview - in fact, the second best interview of my life in its challenges and questions.

In the end, the discussion came down to two things: 1) What guarantee is there that I won't move away again (I have a history of short stays at companies)? ; 2) What is my industry background and how do I compensate for the lack of a typical one?

We left the conversation at a "Let's think about it and touch bases next week." However, driving home after that, I had a keen sense that God wanted to talk to me about it - one of those "I don't know how, I just know" things.

So after dinner, after dishes, after the rabbits and grocery shopping, I came home and read the last two chapters of Lord, Change my Attitude Before It's Too Late by James MacDonald. The last two chapters were "Replacing an Attitude of Rebellion..." "...with an Attitude of Submission".


There it was, written by someone other than me. The key to my unhappiness, to my constant job changing, to a plethora of things I had faced at my previous church. Rebellion and Submission.

I have always thought that my job moves were normal, that they were good and necessary and smart on my part. Could it be that I changed jobs so much because I was in rebellion towards those who were over me?

Could it be that when I went to The Firm, it was in rebellion, ultimately to God, about where I was and what I was doing?

Could my job change from the last but one be the same thing?

And church in Old Home - how I clung to the idea of being an elder, or a deacon, or even a teacher. In ever case, they didn't work out - in fact, I clung to teaching even after I was told I would not be officially sponsored, even turning down opportunities to co-lead a larger group? Was it a rebellion against authority?

MacDonald makes the point that if we are in rebellion, we are ultimately in rebellion against God. If in rebellion, then we are out from His authority and if out from under His authority, we place ourselves in a position of great risk. Says MacDonald:

"I'm amazed at how many people's lives are nothing more than the sum total of decisions they've made to get out from under worthy authority - bad choices and their consequences that follow, often for the rest of their lives."

That's me.

My life is more defined by jobs I've left than jobs I've remained at, losses rather than gains (first The Firm, then our house - at a not unsubstantial sum of money), and ministries removed by God than exercised.

And here I am - miles from family and friends, no permanent home that we own, redlining financially - contemplating moving again? Uprooting my family even as they attempt to become established where they are?

Why? I can come up with lots of justifications: not liking the current sub-field of my employment, ethics, boredom, lack of resources, my management. But for a great many reasons, I'm forced to admit that I am simply in rebellion to the fact that I am not in charge and not "happy" or "fulfilled" on a daily basis.

So what do I do about this?

In a way it's amazingly simple: repent. In a way it's amazingly hard. Submit.

Submit. Submit to where God has placed me, under whom God has placed me. Submit to the fact that this "need" to move is simply a dream, a feeling, a real version of the rich inner fantasy life I have always had. There are no dragons to slay or worlds to explore; neither are there perfect jobs to be had.

Of course I rise up within myself as I write this. Submit? Oh, indeed submit: submit to a job that dead ends, to a life of a job that you can tolerate and leaders who will command poorly. Submit to never getting ahead, of being what you are for the rest of your working life. Submit to whatever dreams you may have being laid waste in a foreign desert.

But that's where faith comes in.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own insight.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
and He will direct your path.
Be not wise in your own eyes:
Fear the Lord, and turn away from evil." - Proverbs 3:3-5

By submitting, one is putting one's faith in God. Faith that He can (and will) see and hear us. Faith that by bearing up, He is glorified - and we are rewarded.

I fear, of course. Fears of being trapped, fears of being useless, fears of (frankly) never getting financially ahead, fears of never doing anything that I want.

But God is good. The question is, will I submit - or continue in rebellion?

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