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Always Safe, Never Alone!

Life can feel scary, lonely, sad, and very very empty. “Beyond here, there be Monsters”! Grief from loss, fear from a bad medical appointment, pain from a broken heart and relationship ruptured, heartache from a loved one careening towards disaster, the stress and anxiety from professional or financial reversals…

Worst of all… the teeny tiny niggling nagging fear that sometimes assails… that we dare not even ADMIT because we are… in our own eyes and those of others… people of HOPE…

The worst one… the wee small voice that comes in our darkest nights and lowest moments saying… “It’s all empty you know. You’re really just alone and floating, drifting, randomly… on the surface of time. There’s nothing and no one else, it’s all just a great cosmic joke.”

If you’ve never heard this little temptation, this voice of internal despair, with its message of either “there is no God”… or “God really despises you, you know”… then I applaud you. There’s fancy names for this… “Existential Angst”, among others…

This is very powerful in our world. In fact, this, the “deadly despair” that can arise… the call to action prompted, and the depression and suicide associated with this channel of thought, are costing countless lives both young and old.

The most frightening words we can know?

“Abandoned!”   “Betrayed”   “Unclean”   “Cast Out!”   “Unworthy”   “Alone”

These are “Killing Words”… These are “Murdering Words”…

21 “You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.” [Matthew 5]

Strong words, Our Lord uses here. But I think He knew (knows) and could see the sort of harm, the damage, that happens to people when they are isolated, separated, cut off, declared “good-for-nothing” and valueless… in relationships. To be cut off in a relationship is to be wounded, to be judged, to be condemned, and to wither and shrivel.

In our own world, our own time and space, we see people choose to end life, rather than continue in such a state of shadow being. For those who base their hope, their trust, their sense of being anchored and well, in the human relationships around them, there is a danger. People can fail. People are frail and faulty, and sometimes, for whatever reason, we can cut others off… leaving them alone with their fears and concerns. Wrong? Of course! But yet so much a part of being human! So much a part… of US.


I woke this morning with David Wesley’s song in my ears and spirit. It’s not that I am particularly depressed or anxious in these days (as far as I know). Stuff happens, of course, and I have my tense moments… but nothing profound.

Nonetheless, in these times, these days… where we ask meaningful questions like, “What is Church as God envisions it?” “What is a Christian, how do I live that?” “How do we walk in the intimate Oneness of Christ, here and now… moment by moment?”

This song just rang on and on in my mind, my soul, and I realized something incredibly simple, yet absorbingly profound…

When these lyrics wash through you… Here is God’s ministry TO YOU… Here is your hope, your faith, your life, your breath! Here is the embrace… the absolutely unrelenting love, embrace, support, presence, and affirmation of God FOR you! You are Safe! You are Never Alone!

And, at the very same moment, HERE is the Gospel!

Here is OUR grace towards OTHERS! That God’s love through us, never fails, never gives up, never runs out on others. That’s more of a challenge in practice, I know. But just like Sermon on the Mount, or I Corinthians 13, that is nonetheless the Truth of how God touches others through us when we allow.

When we allow…

The answer is love. What was the question?

Enjoy the song again. Now, go love somebody!

Joy, blessing, and grace to you!

The Little Monk

 
8 Comments

Posted by on August 11, 2015 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized

 

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The World Needs More Sleep

mary jesus sleepsRejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is [near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” [Philippians 4:4-7]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A comment to a recent post discussing spiritual warfare brought up the topic of sleep. There are times that the enemy seems able to mess with our ability to fall asleep, the content of our dreams or nightmares, our ability to stay in peaceful restful sleep, and the like. I was struck with the vivid reminder of how true all of that is, and how important is our ability to rest, renew, and refresh in peaceful sleep.

So this is a quick “How-To” post regarding peace and sleep. As per usual, while there are scriptural anchors to this, along with some traditional theology, this is not “authoritative” “finger-pointing” “take notes now, ’cause you gotta do it THIS way” stuff. This is just “here’s some stuff I’ve learned along the journey and if it helps you, use it… if it doesn’t fit, throw it away” stuff.

Background Info:

  • Jesus is/was Son of Man, Son of God… both
  • We, in His image, have physical and spiritual nature
  • We, in His image, have will and creativity… imagination, ability to form and direct the mind in configurations we design
  • We, in His image, are subject to “spiritual input of others” whether of darkness or of Light, and we can choose how to respond
  • God is Our Father, Our Mother, Our Parent… neither abusive, nor neglectful
  • NO ONE and NOTHING is more loving, powerful, and/or protective of us… than Our Father
  • Sabbath is not only a command, but a blessing, a time for “trusting God with the care of ourselves and our stuff” without our own effort or help
  • God is Light and in Him is no darkess
  • Darkness cannot bear Light

OK, I could write an entire post (and often have), and more (and sometimes have) on EACH of those bullets… but not here, not now. If any one (or more) of them need more words from me… leave a comment or send an email.

The enemy can, at times, intrude on our thoughts and minds to prompt anxiety, stress, and restlessness. God, on the other hand, brings peace, trust, joy.

Before bed, take a few moments to prepare:

  • “Count blessings” – Childish as it sounds, “enter His gates with thanksgiving” is real, true, and grown-up. You are preparing to “sleep like Samuel” in the Holy of Holies of the Temple that is you, your own life. Begin, simply with a heart of gratitude (“gratitude is foundational”, a friend of mine says… True ‘dat.)
  • Leave worries outside the gate – Don’t deny or repress, just acknowledge all the stuff on the To Do list, pat them on the head, wish them a good night’s sleep, and resolve to see them tomorrow. For right now, you all need rest. They will manage without you for this time.
  • Wash up to change clothes – We all accumulate “road dust” through our days. Without making any big deal of it, take some time to reflect and acknowledge those moments of the day where conscience prompts that “this could have been handled better”, and resolve to improve. No archaeology here… no deep digging… just the thanks for what was done well, acknowledgement that not all was done perfectly, and resolution to do better… in our role of “clear vessel” for Him in our days.
  • Put on Your Night Robes – Draw onto your clean washed self, the fullness of your Private Interior Robes of the righteousness of Christ. He clothes you in His power, love, grace, and righteousness. Such clothing is embued with the very aroma of His grace and care. NOTHING can damage these, or pass their protection.
  • Enter the Holy of Holies, and settle in for the night.
  • Let Daddy tell you a bedtime story. Go to the Gospels, let the Spirit select a scene. Read it over, close your eyes. Use your sacred imagination to “apply the senses” to the scene. Envision it utterly, including sights, sounds, smells, textures, flavors… Then put yourself into the scene, AS A SMALL CHILD, hanging on to Jesus’ robes, or hand. When He sits down, climb into His lap and listen to Him speak.
  • Let the Spirit do whatever the Spirit chooses, and let Jesus rock you to sleep in His arms, there by the fire after supper. (Btw, He often sings or hums.)

No mother bear ever so guarded her cubs, as He guards a child in His arms.

Over time, with practice, this becomes ever more fun. He not only guards His children with peace, but He starts taking them places in their dreams and sleep. And THERE, they can do extraordinary things together.

When threatened with violence by human authorities that were astonished by His lack of fear, He responded, “…do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” [Matthew 26:53]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“Well!” one could say, “If we can do all this… Why isn’t EVERY night like this?! If THIS is what God intends in sleep, why hasn’t it ever happened to me before NOW??!!”

Um, it kinda depends on where we choose to sleep, dunnit? I myself, used to sleep in the scrub… at the mercy of every passing weasel and wolf. Then I figured out that I had my own “fortifications” available, and I used that. My own mansion, prayer closet, chamber. I knew I could hedge and post angels, and I did that for a long time.

Why didn’t I sleep in His arms? Um, ’cause nobody told me it was OK. Sounds dumb, I know… the Bible screams it at us constantly, but frankly… I thought it would be too “bold”, too “forward”, too “irreverent”. But then, one day I paid some serious attention to Samuel as a child in 1 Samuel 3, and found myself thinking/praying, “Wow, how neat would it be to have slept in the Holy of Holies with the Ark?”

God challenged me to try it. We actually LIVE in the presence of the Ark. The Ark dwells within us. The Holy Spirit within us occupies the Mercy Seat.

So… things have never been quite the same.

As to “night terrors” I shall say only this. The Immediate Presence of God is Light… no darkness. Darkness cannot enter that space. Evil, sin, cannot enter that space (just ask Nadab and Abihu). WE can enter that space because of the cleansing we have undergone in Jesus.

Use Superpowers… will, co-creation… following the prompts of Holy Spirit… and try an evening sleeping there.

Let me know how that goes…

Grace to thee — The Little Monk

P.S. This may help…

 

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NOAA 42 — IFR Living

hurricaneOnce upon a time, a lifetime or two ago, I used to fly airplanes. Little airplanes, I’ll grant, but still… I flew them.

I’ve also endured a hurricane or two in my time, (totally as a ground-dweller!)

But I’ve watched a program about an aircraft dubbed “NOAA 42”, where grown men in (ostensibly) their right minds actually and on purpose fly their airplane INTO a hurricane (often at laughingly low altitude) to acquire scientific/meteorological data to predict the behavior of a given storm to predict landfall and severity. (Please bear in mind, while this sounds dare-devilish… this exercise saves lives as these storms bear down on us landlocked.)

But as I watched this program… an episode about a flight that went in a distinctly UNscripted fashion as they explored Hurricane Hugo a while back… I found myself echoing with how apt their experience is to life itself.

I mean, there they fly (willingly! knowingly!) into the outer wall of Hurricane Hugo… from a gorgeous blue sky tropical paradise day over the Caribbean… into the violence of total gray out, wind, waves, storm, at 1500 feet. Into a storm that can fling them down with a 1000 foot slap, or up 500 feet, faster than a pilot can react. “White knuckled” doesn’t begin to cover my own vicarious feeling about a flight like this.

But once they are THERE, once they are INSIDE this thing, this monster, there is nothing there that their own senses, their own eyes, ears, backsides can tell them… no sensory input or reasoning between their minds and their bodies, that they can rely on to manage the situation. There is total lack of sensory data for them, and they must rely… with absolute confidence… on their instruments and the information those instruments give them, to manage their aircraft safely.

This is the ultimate form of IFR Flying — Instrument Flight Rules — and this is the skill set needed when the pilot simply cannot see anything helpful outside the aircraft. Whether it is night flying or foul bad weather, when a pilot can see for a distance of 3+ nautical miles, they may fly under Visual Flight Rules (VFR). If not… it’s IFR or stay on the ground.

Now, I myself, never undertook the discipline of acquiring an IFR ticket, never took the rating.  But I did have a marvelous instructor who, a couple times, brought the training “hood” out with us and let me experience what was required to control the aircraft by instrumentation, without reference to outside aids (like the horizon, landmarks, etc.) (By the way, an obvious caution, never do this solo unless you ARE on IFR and transponder equipped. My instructor was there and maintaining the visual scan diligence needed, to watch for hazards or other aircraft. Right, ’nuff said.) But, it’s an incredible sensation… as alien as, like, walking around your house with a cane, blindfolded.

Anyway, as I watched NOAA 42 in the midst of a hurricane, I was overwhelmed with a new appreciation of “Faith”.

In the moments they are in that storm, they are utterly blind, deaf, and helpless. They are totally at the mercy of the wind, waves, the storm. In those moments, their crew simply “switch over” in their heads, to radar screens, attitude indicators, altimeters, pitch indicators, and they stop trusting anything their senses tell them, if sensation conflicts with what their instruments say.

As I realized this… God just seemed to “interrupt this program with an important Truth”… as the obvious parallel to Life just lit up.

I know you see it too, so I’ll not belabor the obvious, but just to sum up…

At the most vibrant degree of living… at the point where we can fully live in the embrace and trust of God… sometimes we can walk in harmony with life by “sight” and feel confident that we know what’s going on and can manage our affairs, our behaviors, our feelings participating with our own wills, thoughts, reasoning. Yes. Much of the time we can do this.

But there are other times, other situations, other phenomena… that either we can avoid, because we simply don’t have the personal resources adequate safely to navigate them…

OR, can we develop another skill set… a “Faith Life Rules” set… that allows us to navigate storms, darkness, times of (yes) stressful, perhaps painful or even dangerous phenomena… that we can pass through without harm? Can we disengage from our own fears, anxieties, predictions of probable outcomes, passions, adrenalin, sentiments… and just focus on what we know that we know… the truths of the Gospel, the words and acts of Jesus, the convictions and infusion of peace through the Spirit within?

I ended up with this very strange impression, that we can trust to the bright sunny skies, and EQUALLY we can trust to the hurricane… if we see both as expressions of Life Himself, and are determined to live by trust to His embrace. (I know that makes no sense.) But I just can’t shake the feeling that living in that trust, accepting and embracing even that apparent “danger”, gives us the freedom and joy of High Flight.

Just a thought… Gentle Reader.

Grace to thee — The Little Monk

 
4 Comments

Posted by on February 10, 2015 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized

 

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Knowing My Role

burnoutBurnout — A Near Miss

Sorry I’ve not written here as much recently as usual. A number of projects are currently in work, and I’ve not had my accustomed time available. But that’s what I wanted to mention here, because grace teaches (me) all the time.

A week or so ago, I had a bad day. Let me rephrase… I had a BAD day! I had one of those (rare for me) days where by the time the sun was setting I looked up towards the Lord and said, “OK, Lord… this isn’t fun any longer. I don’t want to play anymore… let’s do something else with my life, eh?”

Seriously, stuff that had been in work for months, all arrowed in with crisis traumas at the same time, none of which I could fix or do a blessed thing about but pray. These were people in terrible and traumatic situations for which:

  • I couldn’t DO anything helpful
  • I couldn’t SAY anything helpful
  • I didn’t KNOW anything helpful

All I could do was pray, which I did with intensity… feeling utterly exhausted and drained by the end of the day.

Are you feeling sorry for me yet? Well, if so… thank you, but I was feeling more than sorry enough for myself by then to cover all that was needed. I seldom succumb to much self-pity, but I guess this was my scheduled day. Know what? Self-pity and petty self-indulgence is exhausting, too!

The Lord, with His customary patience, just sort of stood aside watching and let me “play myself out”, before I actually NOTICED Him! I mean, after all, He was supposed to be sitting somewhere writing down all my desperate prayer needs and requests, right? Oddly enough, He seemed to be doing no such thing.

I didn’t criticize… after all, that wouldn’t be polite. But I wasn’t happy. And He knew it. (It sorta works like that.) It wasn’t like He was upset with me or my attitude, or that He was making fun of me. None of that. But I could tell from the look on His face that it was like… “He knew something I didn’t”, and I don’t mean that in the obvious sense. I mean that He wanted to say something to me that would help, but He knew I wasn’t yet calm enough really to HEAR Him.

The day had drawn to a close, I was starting to cook the evening meal, and over time the adrenalin receded. I wasn’t happy. He knew I wasn’t happy. I waited to see who would speak first, while we chopped onions. Finally, I couldn’t stand it. But it was hard to figure out what to say without being impolite (which I really didn’t want to do).

“I’m not happy, You know.” (the best I could do).

“I know,” He nodded. “I’m sorry about that.”

“Well… what about this? What am I supposed to do? Why don’t You do something? Why don’t You fix it all?” (Not sure if I SAID all of that, but it’s certainly what I was THINKING, and with Him, it amounts to the same thing.)

“I AM doing something, and I CAN’T ‘fix it’, in the way you mean. Neither can you, which is what has you so upset. That’s what I’m sorry about. Oh, and by the way… I don’t have to tell you this isn’t always ‘fun’. But perhaps I do have to tell you, um… no, you’re not going to go do something else with the rest of your life.”

At this we both laughed. “I know, I didn’t mean that. But really… today? Really? This was NOT one of our better days, eh? I couldn’t do a THING! I didn’t accomplish a THING! And all of those are situations with people hurting. So, what am I supposed to feel?”

Time passed as we cooked, and I continued to cool…

I’ve always been drawn to the scriptural image of the disciples and Jesus just sitting together at their fire, eating, after a long and trying day. I can readily imagine the conversations that took place as they shared experiences, impressions, questions, and answers. I always think Jesus just sat, enjoyed his fish or lamb chunks, wrapped them in some flatbreads, maybe spread with some hummus, or enjoying some dipped in honey for dessert, as He just encouraged them all to share… before He began to speak and sort things out.

Well, that’s sort of how things were at dinner that evening. The day kept replaying with my frustrations and concerns, and after a bit more venting I was able to calm down. He is so very patient.

Finally, He said, “I know you’ve heard this before, and you know what I am about to say. But sometimes, you just need to hear it again.

“You’re looking at this all wrong, which is really easy to do. But you’re angry because you’re setting the wrong goals, the wrong expectations. You feel like a failure because you couldn’t ‘fix’ everything.

“Little Monk? That’s not your job! That’s not even MY job! Both of us DID our ‘jobs’ today. The difference is, I recognize that and you do not.

“You are to hold an unconditionally loving relationship with these people. You did that. You are to embrace them and their experience without judging, with empathy and compassion. You did that. You are to share what words I give you to bring My grace into the moment. You did that. Sometimes, there are no such words, or they are minimal. And you are to lift them up to Me, wrapped in love, that My grace flow. You did that.

“You did your job today, and it was a very demanding day. Yes. When I walked, I often had very demanding days. But today, I did My job, too. My job is not to ‘fix’ as you think of it, because each of these people have their own free will and are making choices, and their lives are woven with others doing the same.

“You want to ‘fix’ everything, in terms of ‘making everybody happy’, and ‘relieving all pain’. Sometimes, beloved Little Monk, that is not possible. What I DO, and what you are committed to, is to lift up My presence and My grace in ALL the moments… painful, joyful, or otherwise. I ‘weave time with all the freewill choices’ in such a way that every encounter is perfectly ‘redemptive’. Every person you encounter and interact with, brings a gift of grace and growth into your life in that moment. And you impart such a gift to and for them.

“My ‘job’ is to uphold all things with the word of My power, given Me by Our Father… such that all things work together for good in Our Father’s love. Sometimes… what is truly ‘good’, is not necessarily ‘fun’ or even ‘painless’. That’s just the Truth.

“You say you had a ‘bad day’. Well, if you see it so… that’s up to you. But, in Truth, you had a Good day, doing precisely what you are called and gifted to do. I regret that you’ve felt frustrated about it, but that’s only because you’ve mistaken what you’re here to do. And that is in YOUR control, not Mine.

“But here is your bottom line, and maybe this will help. You’re upset because you didn’t meet your own expectations… you didn’t reach the ‘destination’ you set for yourself. But that’s not My expectation of you. That’s not what I intend for you to do. I want you to be a traveling companion, enjoying the journey and embracing and supporting your fellow travelers. If you will just do that… just focus on that… you’ll take a lot of pressure and frustration off yourself.

“I give you more than enough grace to travel these journeys, I am He who navigates the route and terrain in the first place. I am the only One who can bring you safely to your destination. So, quit mistaking your goals and worrying about that. Just bring grace in and to the trip, and embrace your fellow travelers.

“Just know your role, Little Monk. And embrace with My grace.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Oh, yeah. I’d known that… but I forgot. Sometimes, I just need to hear it again.

Thank you for your prayers, Gentle Reader. I am ever a work in progress. Blessings and grace to thee — The Little Monk

 
5 Comments

Posted by on January 24, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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