Archive for March, 2018

Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Bulletin Board
My office bulletin board hosts photos of happy people celebrating joyful occasions. It also displays several snippets of wisdom:

•Act as if it were impossible to fail.
•Pray First!
•Philippians 4:6-8 (“Be anxious for nothing . . . whatever things are true . . . noble . . . just . . . pure . . . lovely . . . of good report . . . meditate on these things.”)

These tend to be fairly effective reminders, since they are right there—in my face each morning—as I settle in at my desk. Based on what feels like a pressing need for focus, I may soon tack up a few more helpful prompts.

In her book 100 Ways to Simplify Your Life, Joyce Meyer devotes two sequential chapters to “Don’t Worry about Tomorrow” and “Let Go of What Lies Behind.” If I follow her advice, that leaves me smack dab in the middle of today. I gave this obvious conclusion considerable thought and ended up feeling more lost than found.

Like many of us, I worry. I know I should turn it all over. That I should trust the Lord to sustain me through the future—fog, thunderstorm, or sunshine. And I know the only thing worrying accomplishes is to distract me from those things I can do something about. Ditto for my habit of revisiting past events.

So, why is the simple act of living fully in today’s possibilities so difficult for some of us?

Ms. Meyer revisits this subject in Chapter 74: “Tackle Each Day as It Comes.” Here, she quotes Sir William Osler, “Live neither in the past nor in the future, but let each day’s work absorb your entire energies, and satisfy your wildest ambition.” And Acts 25:16, “Therefore I always . . . discipline myself to have a clear conscience, void of offense toward God and toward men.”

I thwack myself on the forehead. Well, duh.

Of course it offends God when we waste the coin of life or squander our emotions. Maybe I can’t regulate each little worry that creeps into my mind, or every thought that wanders to the “should haves” of my past. But I can certainly shoo away unproductive musings the second I become aware of them.

This leaves me with a new perspective. I can waste time and energy nursing unfounded fears for the future or punishing myself with remorse over missed opportunities I can never recapture. Or I can adopt as a realistic goal the daily discipline of mind and body, with those chapter 74 quotes in mind.

Reasoning with myself hasn’t effectively motivated me. But an awareness that I disappoint my Creator, this lights a fire in my belly.

Another compelling incentive is a more peaceful heart and mind. With God’s guidance and my commitment to ushering out unproductive thoughts, maybe I can avoid looking back on today and wishing I’d spent more time doing and less time stewing.

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Now there’s a quaint saying to post on my bulletin board. What does your office wall look like?

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March 26, 2018 at 10:53 pm 2 comments

An Unblessed Day??

CLC Church in Togo.jpg

I say it to people often. Have a blessed day. Particularly on special occasions, as if blessings are somehow meant for birthdays and anniversaries.

I got to thinking the other day about how every day is blessed—regardless of the calendar date. I wake up in a sturdy structure, protected from the weather. Walk my dog in a safe area, surrounded by good-hearted neighbors. Open my cupboard or refrigerator to a selection of nourishing options.

We lost water supply to my subdivision not long ago. That’s the second time in six months that we’ve suffered this inconvenience. Of course, “suffer” is entirely the wrong word. Clean water piped in on demand is just another one of those luxuries I’ve come to expect as a citizen of a developed and (fairly) well-run society.

Yet medical care, police protection, emergency assistance, and a never-interrupted supply of fresh food available within a few minutes’ drive are all blessings virtually unknown in some parts of the world.

And the very word “blessing” is certainly infused with meaning. Online dictionaries define it as a thing conducive to happiness or welfare. Technically correct from the effect end of things. But they leave inquiries into the origin of those good and helpful things unexplored.

People of faith understand that all blessings flow from God’s good grace. Nothing pious about that, since the rains fall on believers and nonbelievers alike, and the crops feed all who either harvest or purchase them. Any lack of shared blessings falls to man’s inadequacy, not the Creator’s.

I heard a radio commentator explain it once: There are plenty of resources to go around. It’s mankind’s greed, corruption, and lack of empathy that cause shortages of universal “happiness and welfare.” The filthy rich autocrat siphoning off aid funds while his subjects starve; the self-centered, jet-setting celebrity, quick to lecture others but slow to redistribute their own wealth; me, settling complacently into preserving what I have for fear of future unmet needs.

But my conscience whispers additional reminders . . .

-One more day passes in which my inoculation protects me against influenza.

-Each Sunday, I worship in a soundly-built church building—much more aesthetically pleasing and secure than the humble structure where my brethren in Tongo gather. (See photo.)

-I wake up, flip a switch, and electricity magically flows into my home, filling the early morning hours with light.

-My furnace pumps out warmth whenever the inside temperature drops below 68 degrees; the air conditioner reverses the process when temps rise above 78.

So, I’m doubling-down today in offering thanks for everyday blessings that I sometimes take for granted and asking for guidance in ways I can serve and share.

How was your day blessed, and what are your favorite channels for sharing?

 

March 3, 2018 at 9:33 pm 3 comments


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