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Long lost lessons about dealing with feelings of futility,urgency and anxiety.

dscf1215-copy-copyDevotional Thought of the Day:

“Absolute futility,” says the Teacher. “Everything is futile.”  *Ecc 12:8  HCSB

10  Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. Isaiah 41:10 (NLT2)

6  So, humble yourselves under God’s strong hand, and in his own good time he will lift you up. You can throw the whole weight of your anxieties upon him, for you are his personal concern. 1 Peter 5:6 (Phillips NT)

Rush, rush, rush! Hustle and bustle! Feverish activity! The mad urge to dash about. Amazing material structures … On the spiritual level … shams, illusions: flimsy backdrops, cheesecloth scenery, painted cardboard … Hustle and bustle! And a lot of people running hither and thither. It is because they work thinking only of “today”; their vision is limited to “the present.” But you must see things with the eyes of eternity, “keeping in the present” what has passed and what has yet to come. Calmness. Peace. Intense life within you. Without that wild hurry. Without that mad urge for change. From your own place in life, like a powerful generator of spiritual energy, you will give light and vigor to ever so many without losing your own vitality and your own light.

“slow down, you’re moving to fast, you’ve got to make the morning last!” came to my mind as I read the words in blue this morning.  Had to look the lyrics up -they come from a Simon & Garfunkel hit some 4-5 decades ago.

I remember a booklet in high school, that I read, and set aside because it wasn’t relevant to me, yet.  It was called Tyranny of the Urgent, and it to came to mind as I read these words of St. Josemaria.  As did lessons in my management program about the danger of managing from a reactive position, and the necessity of waiting patiently to see if things resolve.

As I spend more and more time in ministry, I think we have to learn these lessons over again.  Not passively or apathetically taking no action, but doing so with intent and deliberation, and a healthy dependence upon God. 

That’ is the Teacher in Ecclesiastes had to cope with, as he looked around him and realized the futility of life.  It is what the people in Isaiah’s time needed to learn, as they saw their world falling apart. It is what Peter (OF ALL PEOPLE!) advocates to those under pressure because of their faith.

Set all the things causing stress on God, knowing He will help – and keep us able to stand in the midst of a world trying to batter us, trying to break us.  He will heal us, His victory over sin and Satan and death becomes ours. 

The challenge is in realizing the eternal implications of our life in and with Christ.  My son’s teacher asked him this last year, “will this still be an issue in five years?” We should ask a similar question, “how does this affect our eternity?” and then work from that perspective. How does this situation lead people to God’s peace, or away from it? How will God view us, His children differently if we don’t immediately react?  

Take a breath… adjust, take a walk and spend the time looking for clues to God’s presence. 

God is with you….

Rest in that thought not just a second, try ten minutes, or sixty, or a day!

Repeat that, slowly, “The Lord is with me!”  

Be at peace, be still in and awe of the Lord’s work in your life…. and let go of the sense of urgency, the stress of anxiety, and the condemnation of futility.

The Lord is with you!

Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 1928-1936). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Backseat Conversations on the Way to Heaven #10: This Trip Was So Fast!

 Backseat Conversationson the Way to Heaven:

This Trip Was So Fast!Featured image

Psalm 90:1-12

Jesus, Son, Savior

May your confidence in the grace, mercy and peace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be strengthened, and enjoyed!

 

The Journey Continues as We Draw closer

As we’ve compared our life to a long car journey, often times the journeys included a little conflict as some of the sermons mentioned.  But there were times of great fun as well.  Times were we competed in quizzes, or saw the glorious surroundings, or just had great times talking or singing silly songs…..

Anyone remember 99 bottles of beer on the wall?

Did anyone ever finish it?  The song, not the beer!

There were times when we had so much fun in those journeys that we were disappointed when we arrived at Grampy’s house, or Auntie Lainey’s.  We would be so disappointed that we’d have to be dragged out of the car.

It is as if we forgot what was waiting for us when we got to where we were going.  The feast of incredible proportion

We would get to the door, and smell the sausages, or remember there were presents or French onion dip awaiting us, and of course the car was a faint memory.

We had forgotten the destination, we were so intent on the fun.

As we look at the psalm that was read earlier, we can see we aren’t the only ones who spend the journey forgetting about the destination.

We so need what the psalmist prays for, in verse 12 where he writes:

12  Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.”

The Trip Is Too Fast to Get it Right!

Have you ever gotten to the end of the week and realized that all the things you meant to get done didn’t happen?  Then Friday comes, and as we come to think about the week, we realize all that we’ve done that wasted time, and all the important things that we didn’t accomplish.

Life can be like that, it flies by too fast.  One moment I am sitting in a favorite hiding place, reading a Hardy Boy’s book, the next moment I am approaching 50, watching my son read the same story.

Beneath this time issue is an ominous problem.  Like the servant with only one talent in the parable today, when the master returns, what will we have to show Him?

Will Jesus find that we did what He’s asked, giving others the message that God has given them the gift of reconciliation?  Will He find us making disciples of every nation, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit?  Will He see us confessing our sins to one another, that we would be healed?  Will He hear of us caring for the sick, the imprisoned, the lame, the widow and orphans?

Or will our lives be like the Psalmist describes?

3  You turn people back to dust, saying, “Return to dust, you mortals!” 4  For you, a thousand years are as a passing day, as brief as a few night hours. 5  You sweep people away like dreams that disappear. They are like grass that springs up in the morning. 6  In the morning it blooms and flourishes, but by evening it is dry and withered. 7  We wither beneath your anger; we are overwhelmed by your fury. 8  You spread out our sins before you— our secret sins—and you see them all. 9  We live our lives beneath your wrath, ending our years with a groan.

In thinking about how short the time is, do we see a need for God’s desires, God’s will, God’s priorities to be out own?  Or do we do what we think is right in our own hearts? If we bother to think about time from God’s perspective, then what follows should be realizing how much of God’s wrath we deserve.

Yes, the wrath we deserve.

We admitted to it, if we meant the words we said during our confession and absolution. Or did you not really mean it when you said you deserve His temporal and eternal punishment?  We do.  You do, I do. The world does.

What if God, as the psalmist describes, spread out your sins before him, like a card dealer spreads out a deck of cards? Or a thousand decks of cards… or 100,000 decks of cards.

How would you react, if every sin you committed, with all the documentation, was laid out before God?

How would this time that we have been used?  Would it be well spent, or would we be in fear for our eternal lives?

That is the question the psalmist is asking,

And the very reason we have to be able to know how brief a time our journey is…..

The Verse of the Day      

I am not sure if it is because of time constraints, or why those who choose the length of readings shorten some of the psalms and the readings.  I mean I understand Psalm 119 being broken up.  But here, as in other places, the breaks don’t quite work.

We ended our reading today, with a prayer that God would teach us to realize that the is short, that life is very brief, so that we can gain wisdom, wisdom to spend our time well, and in a God pleasing way.  But how? When we deserve His wrath?

I put part of the psalm in the Alleluia and Verse today, it is a continuance of the prayer to realize how brief the time is…

13  O LORD, come back to us! How long will you delay? Take pity on your servants! 14  Satisfy us each morning with your unfailing love, so we may sing for joy to the end of our lives.

It is a prayer, that was fulfilled at the cross, a prayer where God did come back, and lived among us., he didn’t delay any longer, but He heard the prayer of His people, and responded, and came to us, and died for us.

A prayer answered as He took pity on us, paying the debt for our sin, and even more, He satisfies us with His unfailing love.

A love that will cause us to sing His praises far into eternity, a prayer that is the result of our realizing the time is short, and spending this journey with God.  The psalm goes on, describing the reality of wisdom in prayer,

15  Give us gladness in proportion to our former misery! Replace the evil years with good. 16  Let us, your servants, see you work again; let our children see your glory. 17  And may the Lord our God show us his approval and make our efforts successful.

This is what Moses meant by understanding the brevity of time when he wrote this Psalm, about the joy and good that God provides for us in our lives.  That is what redeeming the time as Paul the apostle calls it. It is about seeing God at work in us, walking with us, and leading us to do work bringing the message of His love, and reconciliation. This is how we fulfill His desire…as we share our lives with Him, trusting Him,

It is then, knowing the value of our time spent with Him, trusting in Him, that we know His peace, and may that peace of God, which passes all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  AMEN?  AMEN!

Don’t Rush the Journey!

Devotional Thought of the Day:

4 Even when walking through the dark valley of death I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me, guarding, guiding all the way.”   Psalm 23:4 (TLB)

“From the hidden life of Jesus you must draw this further consequence: not to be in a hurry… even when you are! That is to say, first and foremost comes the interior life. Everything else, the apostolate (the mission), any apostolate, is a corollary”. (1)

I spent the last three weeks, first in Asia, working with churches and missionaries, and then the first few days back visiting some of my people with huge health challenges, a couple on hospice, a man after major surgery, another with a heart attack.  Then  the last two with a small group of pastors, being mentored and taught ways to  help focus our churches in, well – being the church.  A lot of it is simple – to consider the mission of the church, given to it by God, and help people see that being the church is not about Sunday mornings, but in how we all live our lives, every day, in every situation, realizing we are placed here by God.

As I look back over these three weeks, as I prepare to talk about that journey on Sunday morning, this morning these two comments burn themselves into my mind.  I look back on the mission trip, realizing my “best” work may not have been the preaching and teaching times.  At least the most meaningful to me were the times walking with those who guided me around the cities, and shared with me the joys and frustrations of serving God in far off places.  In encouraging them and in praying with the pastors and people I met. Especially when we took time to discuss and share…. over meals, while walking.

King David knew this wasn’t just how we operate best, it was the way God operates – yes – when He gathers us together, pours out His love and mercy and forgiveness, that seems to be the “big thing” of His interaction with us, but that is simply part of the same journey He takes with us – each and every moment of every day.  As He walks with us through that day, sharing with us the things we experience, helping us to see it, not just with our eyes, but with His, as He redeems the time.   As we read with out children at home, or do prepare  a meal with our spouse.  As we are at work, caring for a co-worker who is going through a bad time, as we visit those in the hospital, waiting to hear news.

Each time we minister and serve those around us. Each time we make sacrifices to be there…

It is, as t Josemaria says, a corollary, a parallel action, caused by the interior journey we are on, with the God who walks close to us, with us through life, guarding and guiding us, ensuring that evil cannot harm us, allowing us to dwell in His peace.

Don’t rush, enjoy the journey, even if our short term destination is critical – even if it is terminal – for the hourney itself, it is far more than we think it is.

For we walk with God.

For the Lord is with you!

 

(1)  Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 2584-2586). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

 

 

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