Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Meditation

Pilgrim Gratefulness
Is it possible for us to be truly thankful again? We have so much. So little is left for which to pray. 

We agonize over new styles for each season, not over our children starving in harsh ones. We put back for retirement, rather than winter meals. Our prayers are for more, while theirs were for enough. We text and sext and post and tweet for attention. They petitioned the Almighty for blessing. Is it possible for us to know pilgrim gratefulness?

Momentary Happiness
Is it possible for us to know more than momentary happiness? Our joys come from what we acquire, possess and own. Theirs came from believing they had received sustenance from Divine hands. We drive by fields of corn destined for fattening calves or filling fuel tanks. They saw kernels of corn, measured out in weathered hands, so many grains per family member, per day. Their children, at risk of not surviving winters, ours at risk of childhood obesity. Is there anything that can make us happy—once and for all?

Extreme Living
Is it possible for us to be satisfied? Our candies must be sour, our sports extreme, our closets walk-in, our lawns without dandelions, our temperatures perfect, our cupboards full, our churches mega; all of our dreams must be fulfilled. We are drunken with plenty and sated with what was once a king’s envy. And we cry out for more, we kick and we scream like spoiled children because we haven't yet found enough. 

And we will not, until we humble ourselves and seek something Higher than our own wishes.

And Jesus Says
God blesses you who are poor, 
    for the Kingdom of God is yours.
God blesses you who are hungry now,
    for you will be satisfied.

What sorrow awaits you who are rich,
    for you have your only happiness now.
What sorrow awaits you who are fat and prosperous now,
    for a time of awful hunger awaits you.  (Luke 6:20b-21a & 24-25a NLT)

—and he also said—

“I’ll say it again—It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”  (Matthew 19:24 NLT)

And in Mary’s famous “Magnificat,”
    “He has scattered the proud and haughty ones.
He has brought down princes from their thrones
    and exalted the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things

    and sent the rich away with empty hands.  (Luke 1:52-53 NLT)

Is it possible for our hands to be so full of stuff, they leave our hearts empty of gratefulness and satisfaction?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Subtle Slide of Individualism

No Compromise

An uncomfortable realization shook me from a discussion with my wife and dearest friend yesterday.  (One would think that after all our years of marriage, our accumulated wisdom would kick-into-gear each time we have a decision to make.  Right?  Nope.)

We were working through a question, and suddenly, each of us slid into our individual preference.  It was so natural to slide into an answer that matched our individual desires.  I wanted what I wanted.  And she wanted what she wanted.  (And for those of you who are engaged or newly married; after thirty-four years of marriage, our desires still differ.  Thank goodness, we still have varying ways of doing life and perceiving issues.)  In this case, there was no hint of understanding the other’s position on the matter.

No Compromise

Now, I know what you are probably thinking.  This is the time for compromise.  Both of us must be at least somewhat comfortable with outcomes.  Right?  This type of thinking was precisely the problem.  We had gotten onto the subtle slide of individualism.  

As people who seek the ways of Jesus in our lives, “comfort” should not be our goal.  “Preferences” should not reign supreme.  Our personal positions are not what we signed-up to defend, or took vows to follow.

Higher Ways

And so yesterday morning, we were suddenly confronted with our self-seeking preferences.  We needed to remember that the most comfortable, desirable, logical or acceptable ways--are not necessarily our way.  We need direction from the One to whom we give our allegiance.

Not, WWJD.  No.  But, as we pray and seek and live toward wisdom, what does he ask of us?  And so we agreed to abandon the subtle slide, drop our preferences, and pray for wisdom that is higher than ours.

After this time of seeking, we may still disagree.  His direction may require some “middle road.”  But not for our own sakes.  There is a higher way, and we can’t afford to slip-slide away from it.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Day in the Life

Ten hours of solid, sweet sleep birthed me into this day.  Sweet prayer, a cleansing shower and a fruit smoothie took me to my office where nothing would go as planned.

Need took me to meet with the Sherriff, then to purchase two very large McDonald’s breakfasts for a homeless couple whom I encouraged and sent on to better help.  

Another couple wept with me as they tried to find a ways to forgive one another, and as I tried to help them see how very worthy of love each of them are.

A beautiful young woman who has invested most of her life in a relationship wept as she wondered at the future left in it.

A day of surprises and unexpected blessings and challenges.  Another day in life.  Most things I planned to do were left undone. 

And its OK.