Sitting outside a mud hut in the African bush, sweat dripping off my eyebrows, surrounded by palm trees and sand, I remember thinking “Just be.”
It was a phrase that was taught during our orientation, to help attune us to the value of relationships in African culture. There I was, sitting on the ground with a group of women - my new neighbours - some braiding hair, others crafting a mat, another was shucking beans. I didn’t know the language, I wasn’t sure what I was really supposed to do, but there I was, just being present. Trusting that in my awkwardness, relationships would develop.
I don’t know if it is just our western culture of always having to DO something, but just sitting, just trying to BE, was really difficult at first. Slowly, I began to see the value of being. I would pick up pieces of language, through sign language they would teach me different skills, weaving, shucking beans, cooking and starting fires. Being is about the relationships you develop as you sit, and as you engage; your presence marks the nature of community.
Are we most focused on what we are to do, rather than who we are to be?
It is a humbling thought for me, as I look back on our life in Africa and compare it to our life here in Canada. Admittedly, here I often have more focus on what I am doing; what my kids are doing, what my husband is doing, it seems the schedule that runs our life. Ouch - the truth hurts.
I get absorbed with doing, and I tend to forget about being, forget about who I am to be, who God is molding me to become. This is a humbling reorientation for me. Os Guiness writes in his book The Call, “Calling is not only a matter of being and doing what we are but also of becoming what we are not yet but are called by God to be.” We are called by God into sanctification, into becoming more like Him.
“But we must always thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God has chosen you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth.” 2 Thess 2:13.
We walk in relationship with Him, we evaluate what our becoming looks like, what He wants it to be. The things we do can be very important, but the most important is attending to the growing process inside of us, what God wants to do as He leads and guides us. Circumstances around us change, relationships become broken, life gets challenging and if we keep our focus on what we do, we are turning our head from who we are to become.
So, who am I becoming?
In Jen Wilkin’s book “In His Image” she states that “the hope of the gospel in our sanctification is not simply that we would make better choices, but that we would become better people.” What does that look like for us, as we engage in our culture, as we are actively involved in different roles and situations, at work, in our families, and in our churches. Who is God inviting us to become?
We discern this answer as we read His Word and reflect on who He is. God created us in His image, and He calls us to become more like him, “But as the One who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct; for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:15-16 HCSB. Our life is not only about the things we do, it is about who we are becoming. By the grace of God, He continues to do a transforming work in our lives, molding us through the circumstances of our life, into His likeness.
Will you take some time to reflect today on who you are becoming? Where do you see God at work in your life? Where do you find yourself “doing” where you could “just be”?
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