Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Easily Turned

Matthew 6:30-33 If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

The weather here has been nothing short of spectacular. For the past week, brilliant sunshine, low humidity, cool mornings, and warm afternoons have been gratefully welcomed. The mood of the people seems to be more positive and upbeat. Everyone seems to be seeking a reason to be outside, enjoying it. These are the days that we ought to remember when the February cold and snow is upon us.

So just as these beautiful summer days turn our hearts upwards, the mere mention of winter and what it holds for us, brings gloom and a downward cast. It is as if something or someone just flips a switch inside of us.

We are so easily turned!

In her book Taking the Leap (2009), author Pema Chodron, speaks of our tendency to escape from our uncomfortable feelings. She says that awareness of our feelings (good and bad) is a sign that we are "fully awake".

"They're fully conscious of whatever is happening. Their minds don't go off anywhere. They just stay right there with chaos, with silence, with a carnival, in an emergency room, on a mountainside: they're completely receptive and open to what is happening." (p 14)

Admittedly, the very last thing I want to do in these days is remain with the chaos. It is not easy to be receptive and open to an unwelcome diagnosis, to chronic pain and suffering, to a problem without a solution, or to the inevitable change looming on the horizon. In an instant, life events can lead to shock, worry, fear, doubt, and discouragement.

We are so easily turned!

Our opportunity is to decide whether or not we will remain "turned". Will the promises found in Matthew 6 become an anchor for us to hang on to in bad times, or will we permit the circumstances of our lives to dictate our faith? Will we choose to be "awake" during times of chaos and stay with our feelings instead of being in denial about them?

In his first chapter, James puts it like this - Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

Being aware of our feelings and acknowledging and staying with them, standing firm on God's promises in the midst of chaos, not being tossed about by bad news, all seem to be hallmarks of this "mature and well-developed life", that James writes about.

My Beloved and I have had a lot of bad news over the past few weeks. Truthfully this news has spun us around, shocked us, surprised us, and disappointed us. A unfavorable diagnosis, layered on with a nasty virus and unexpected dental work simply laid us out! And so, we find ourselves making choices about how to live with these circumstances. Finding the right medical team has been an extremely positive experience deeply impacting the quality of G's medical care. Seeking the wisdom of others who are skilled in caring for our spirits and souls has provided new perspectives on living with an incurable disease. Being gentle with ourselves and extending ourselves grace has brought rest and renewal.

Our circumstances remain largely unchanged. But a willingness to remain in the chaos has been pivotal in helping us move towards a life steeped in "God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions".

In the midst of it all, our gratitude for your prayers and presence in our lives continues to overflow. Thank you to all near and far who continue to care for us. May we also remember to pray for others in need...grace and peace...