Walking at Midnight on the path of restlessness.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

I have another confession to make – I am restless…like pit of my stomach-aching restlessness.  Some days I can put my finger on it, while other days it is as elusive as an honest thief.  I am usually successful at pushing it back down, repacking that box that it lives in and stowing it away in that shadowy corner that I seldom travel to.  Still, I know it’s there…and it weighs on me as if an elephant had decided to perch its rotund bottom on my chest.

I wonder if you feel this way sometimes?
Do you have to push it back down as well?
Do you have to re-tape that worn-out box and pretend that dark corner doesn’t even exist?  Does it keep you up at night – blinking at the ceiling fan, counting the rotation of its blades as shadows dance off reflections of streetlights lit only for 3rd shift workers and insomniacs out for a stroll?  I repress the urge to join them, to open the front door and walk barefooted down the now cooled, uneven sidewalks as I imagine myself trying to avoid the spiny round pods that fall haphazardly from the large gum tree in our front yard.   I have stepped on these awful spiky seeds a time or two while walking barefoot down our path and even in the cool darkness of the night thoughts of the surprise pain causes me to recoil my feet from the lower spaces of my bed.

I wonder if David ever felt this way?  The pre-murder and adulterous David…the one that tended sheep and slew predators to the flock.  I wonder if he ever felt restless in his heart?  I am sure he did when, later he was being pursued by jealous King Saul and his men.  As David hid from cave to cave and village to village, I imagine him laying down on an uncomfortable uneven floor hoping to rest his weary head.  I can picture his deep sadness as he yearned for his best friend Jonathan.  Yet David trusted in God…but I would venture a guess that there were moments in which he was restless and he too had to push it back down and re-tape his box.

It is said that there is a season for everything…and yet Jesus told the people of his day not to worry about anything, yet I can’t help but find myself in the season of worry from time to time.  Doe that mean that I am not heeding His words?  That, despite my best efforts, I am not trusting in Him?  Perhaps you have thought this also> I worry, but Jesus said not to, and here I am still worrying.<  What do we do with these seasons?  How do we find the glimmers and glints of hope in the mess of our minds?  Sometimes we do believe the lie.  What lie you ask?  The lie that Jesus wasn’t really talking to us when He said those things, that it was just for the disciples and people around Him right then and there… The lie that we are broken people beyond fixing, and that the restlessness that we feel in the pits of our stomachs and the weight of our hearts is what we deserve for being fallen, sinful people.

Don’t live there.
Don’t wallow in that muck and believe that damning lie.
The son who turned his back on his father and spent his entire inheritance on partying, prostitutes and comfort found himself feeding muddy, fetid pigs.  Day in and day out he was covered in mud and pig excrement.  He definitely smelled as bad as they did.  He had lost everything – squandered a small fortune on foolish, regrettable things, and the stink of his life went much deeper than clothes and skin.  He lived there.  He wallowed there.  That pen of stench became his home for a period of time, until he came to senses.  As Jesus told this story of prodigal son, I imagine some who were listening felt that he was telling their story.  The prodigal son came to his senses, got up and devised a plan to return to his father.  He formulated a plan in his mind, he believed he would be unwelcome to return as a son, but maybe, just maybe his father would let him return as a servant.  Can you imagine that restless journey home; The endless loop of things he would finally say to his father in order to stave off the reprisals and chastisements?  As each dusty step led him closer and closer to the home he once knew, thoughts of doubt and fear must have crept in.  “Master, just let me work for you.” (For surely he would never be worthy to call him father after what he did).

And when this beaten-by-life man, who had squandered everything and had hit absolute rock-bottom crested that last hill, and his home was in view…he saw someone running towards him.  Perhaps it was a servant instructed to chase him off.  Perhaps it was a warning not to come any closer…he would have deserved such a welcome.  Instead, it wasn’t any of those things…it was his father that he had wished were dead, running to embrace the son he thought he had lost.

Don’t live in the home of restlessness.
Don’t believe the lie of shame and guilt.
Be forgiven, let your Father embrace you and welcome you home…and when you are finally hope, re-tape that box and then throw it away.

The prodigal son is me.
The prodigal son is you.
But once we have been embraced,
once we have witness our Father running to us,
Once we have been forgiven and returned to our home (where we belong)
don’t even entertain the lie or the box any longer.

But sometimes…we still walk at midnight, say hello, I’ll be waving.

Something more to ponder today.

It Was A Great Birthday!…

Well, I turned another year older today.
I have survived another revolution around the Sun.
I don’t feel much older than I did…twenty three years ago when I was just 18 years old.(yikes!).

Today I received wonderful birthday blessings from so many people from around the world.  It was incredibly humbling and joyful to have so many friends both near and far away!  Thank you all so very much!

Tonight, my beautiful wife is preparing my favorite kind of ethnic food – Indian curry (of course)…what a great way to cap what has been an amazing birthday!

One of my favorite living poets Ted Kooser once wrote this poem that pretty much sums up my amazing day –

‘A Birthday Poem’
Just past dawn, the sun stands ted
with its heavy red head
in a black stanchion of trees,
waiting for someone to come
with his bucket
for the foamy white light,
and then a long day in the pasture.
I too spend my days grazing,
feasting on every green moment
till darkness calls,
and with the others
I walk away into the night,
swinging the little tin bell
of my name.

Thank you friends!

3 Ways To Let Peace Boost Your Thanksgiving

Peace…
peace1
It’s more than some iconic symbol.
It’s more than words or a global award.
It’s more than a time of calm amidst the storms of conflict.

We want the calm.
We crave these times especially when the rush of life casts us about like rag dolls thrown into the midst of a blood thirsty pack of wolves.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:15

Sometimes we wonder how we could possibly be thankful when it seems our day or week has been wrought with problems.  Sometimes life just sucks.  Sometimes the joy seems to just get sucked right out of us by circumstances and even other people.  In THOSE times it seems nearly impossible to find something to be thankful for.

Allow me but a few moments today to share with you 3 ways that you can boost your thanksgiving.

3 Ways To Let Peace Boost Your Thanksgiving:

1) Take Time For YOU!
phil

This may sound like something out of a self-help book or something you might hear Dr. Phil say…but it’s true.  We need time alone, and time for self-soulcare.  We must find healthy ways to unwind and relax now and then.  We cannot go 100 miles an hour at everything and expect to find peace when we haven’t slowed down enough to find ourselves again.  We can sometimes get lost in the pile of stuff on our desks or amidst the bills piling up at home.  If Jesus got away from His disciples in order to commune with The Father, we ought to consider doing this as well.  How else can we recharge our spent souls?  How else will we find peace again?  When someone is thirsty they don’t go looking for more saltine crackers do they?  No!  They look for a nice cold glass of water to quench that thirst.  We too are spiritually thirsty and in order to quench that thirst we have to go back to the Well of our Father again and again.  As we take personal time we will once again gain perspective and find peace once more.  It is often difficult to disconnect from a very connected world…but it is necessary for our own sanity and personal care!

invent2) A Personal Inventory Of Gratefulness
It’s seems a little silly, maybe a bit childish…but can we bring to mind all of our blessings?  Can we do a personal inventory of our lives right now and evaluate the things that we can be grateful for?  I think we might find that we have so much by way of blessings from God.

All too often we can dwell from a place of “have nots” that we run the risk of forgetting all that we “have” already.   We live in a very materialistic world where products and stuff is valued above everything.  There is this notion that if we do not possess the next big thing then we aren’t truly living a good life.  What a lie that is.  We buy this lie over and over again in our over-saturated marketed world.  We spend countless dollars in order to recapture an element of happiness with that next “thing” only to find elements of discontentment and sadness once more.

When we dwell in the place of “have nots”, we will never truly be content.  We will never truly be happy.  If we live there we will not be able to properly conduct an authentic personal inventory of our gratefulness – because true gratefulness doesn’t come from stuff.  We have been blessed by a Creator who so desperately wants to fellowship with us.  When we can evaluate our lives by the blessings of Him, we can finally tap into that pure element of His peace; and in so doing, we will once again place Him in His rightful place above the “stuff” that we have accumulated and allowed to become our god.

others3) Others.
It goes without saying but I’ll say it anyway.
When we can allow ourselves to become less and Christ to become more, we open ourselves up to finally see the needs of others around us.  We live in a very self-indulged world.  This isn’t news to you I am sure!  Allowing the needs of others to replace our needs isn’t easy, nor is it natural in our present state.  That shouldn’t be taken to mean that we don’t care for ourselves and disregard #1, we need those times as well to refresh and find our source of life again, but after those re-connections with the Father, if we can see the needs of others we can find peace and thanksgiving in our lives!

There are so many people in our communities that need a friend.  There are so many people who need an ear to hear their sorrows and burdens.  We shouldn’t go into those times of “listening” expecting we can fix all of life’s problems for them, but we can be a support to souls who have lost their way.

Can you be a friend?
Can you see the needs of others?
What kinds of selfishness (let’s call it for what it is) prevent us from seeing others?
Do we truly crave genuine peace and thanksgiving in our lives and long to share that with others?

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:15

In order for the peace of Christ to rule in our hearts we have to take time to commune with Him, we have to see our joys and blessings that He has provided, and we have to share that joy and blessing with others.

Do you want to boost your thanksgiving this season?
I hope it lasts a little longer than just a season…but let’s start there.
If you long to boost your thanksgiving, give these three suggestions a try.
It’s not a “cure all”…but it’s sure a great first step!

Something more to ponder today.
To God Be The Glory!

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