I tend to live life by ideal, meaning I lean toward seeing things as they should be or as I wish they were instead of focusing on the sadness of reality. I usually view life positively, see sparks of possibility in most situations, and greatly prefer to avoid conflict because I don't like to get worked up or unsettled.
My image of life is best described as a lovely old farmhouse with white picket fences and a gracious porch with a swing for whiling away the hours listening to bird song and enjoying the laughter of children playing nearby as I chat with a friend. No press to get on with anything. No fret or fear, no need for entertainment, just to be and let be as I enjoy a tall glass of iced tea and nibble on chocolate chip cookies.
I thought of my porch swing again when I read this sentence in my devotional. Oswald Chambers writes, "I have a world within the world in which I live, and God will never be able to get me outside it because I am afraid of being frost-bitten." Yep, that's me. I have a world within the world - my hiding place. And I had to agree with Chambers. I don't want to leave it to be frost-bitten by the outside world. My ideal world is warm and cozy. The outside world is harsh and cold.
This "world within a world" Chambers refers to is not an imaginary place like my porch swing. He is talking about a life wholly given to the purpose of God with no barriers to God's will, no set personal ambition, or focus on material gain. He writes, "You can only get the by losing forever any idea of yourself and by letting God take you right out into His purpose for the world."
Sometimes God's purpose is to take us right out into the world. He needs us as lights, mouthpieces, and helping hands. It is our privilege to be used, to get off the porch and do obedient service even when we don't understand why or see an immediate result. We must still be surrendered to His will both on the porch and in the world.
This idea of a porch swing has carried me through our 2020 lockdown. I see myself as shut up with God. My world within the world is the safety of my four walls. I don't have a white picket fence or an old-fashioned porch swing, but I do have my Friend to chat with, children playing next door, and birds singing in the sunshine.
We won't be in lockdown forever. Time will come again when we hear God's call to step out and be the faithful witness, the hands-on servant, the preacher of righteousness on the muddy path of life. And when we do, let's do it with zeal and immense love. Let's be bold and purposeful because I believe there is a harvest ahead. God is preparing us for more extraordinary things, restoring us for increased usefulness, and stowing us away unto an appointed time.
Meanwhile, He is doing a work in the world around us. Make no mistake. He is working all things according to the purpose of His own will. (Ephesians 1:11) We can find comfort and assurance in that fact - that promise from His Word. Everything works according to the purpose of His own will - not ours!
So, if you are out there dragging your boots in the mud and frost-bitten by the world, come aside. There is a spigot of fresh water beside my porch. Wash yourself in the Word and come sit for a while in the sunshine of His love while we wait for our next appointment.