Monday, December 13, 2010

Nontraditional Advent: Psalm 84: I would rather write in my blog than write a research paper.

I wonder what it's like to celebrate Christmas and focus on Christmas and family and friends and parties.  Instead, my Christmases, over my adult life, have consisted of end-of-semester finals (1978-1987, 2008-present), production of Christmas musicals (1979-1988), singing or acting in Christmas programs (random years, 1989-1991, random years), planning Christmas services (2003-2007), working for a church where working the services was mandatory (2006-2009).  In addition, we must include Duane's job, which influences our schedule - UPS (1985-2005) and Newbreak (2006-present).

And so, it's no wonder that for years the Christmas season became such a difficult time for me spiritually.

This year we're trying to balance our lives a little more.  I bought most of our gifts online.  I have a couple of parties and get-togethers planned for the weekend.  We even went to December Nights.

I think I'll be a lot more balanced after I finish this paper that I don't want to work on.
I'm surrounded by research, books, printed journal articles, handwritten and typed notes.  I need a plan, and I don't have one.  And the paper's due tonight.

I keep thinking of balance.  Of worship.  Of keeping my eyes on Jesus.  And I just want to cry.  Why is it that writing this paper is so hard?  The research is a joy.  The writing?  Not so much.  I keep feeling like I haven't done enough research, like there is more I need to understand.  My thesis is too broad, but I'm afraid if I narrow my focus I won't have anything significant to say.

Ah.  I just need to finish.

How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty.  My soul years, even faints, for the courts of the Lord.  My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

How lovely it would be to sit with Jesus, to reflect on His Word, to explore meanings and ideas found there.  I feel so much more comfortable with Jesus than I do with academia.  How lovely it will be when I stop striving for perfection, when I can just enjoy the presence of God.

Yes, I do want to sit with my Bible for an hour, but I'm afraid I don't have time.  Shoot.  This is going to be a 15- to 20-page paper, and I have four lines.

The truth is, I would rather do anything than write this paper.  I've picked up the couch in my office.  I found the ear buds I normally use when I sing on the worship team.  I solved a Sudoku puzzle.  I drank three cups of coffee.  I deleted 500 messages from my inbox.  (There are 1500 left so I've got more to eliminate later.)

You can do a lot of stuff in the three hours I've been up.
And finally, I'm just going to sit with Psalm 84 and talk to Jesus and tell him that I'm really struggling.  Maybe he can help me.

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