Tag Archives: spirituality

An Old Saying

There’s a particular saying that’s really resonated with me lately.  It’s an oldie but a goodie and I’m sure you’ve heard it before–many times possibly.  Still, I felt it worth passing on:

“What if . . .
You woke up tomorrow
with only the things
you thanked God for today?”

Hmm . . . Personally, I wouldn’t have a whole lot.

Oh sure, I’ll pray–crying out to God in times of distress or anguish, or when I’ve run out of options on my own.  But I can’t remember the last time I simply “thanked” God for where I’m at today, and what I’ve been blessed with.

It’s just not something I think about. Continue reading An Old Saying

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Dear God, I’m Tired of Growing!

I’m not one to throw a pity party for myself but this needs to get off my chest. I’m up at four o’clock in the morning today, tossing and turning with this rolling around in my mind:

“Dear God, I’m tired of growing. I just want to be left alone for a while. Thank you very much, amen.”

I’ve tried over the last several weeks to put on a brave face within these blog posts. I’ve written what I perceived as positive, uplifting messages to those who deal with doubt or those who question the very existence of God and/or His purpose for them in their lives, or if there is a purpose at all. I guess all along I’ve been trying to convince myself as much as anyone else.

I’ve read several books over the past months that have dealt with the question of God’s purpose for life, or of the indwelling and prompting of God’s Holy Spirit, and of leveraging “gifts” for the greater good of the  community, be it for your family, your neighborhood or the church community in general. They’ve all been well written, well documented, and well meaning.

But I sit here now more confused than ever.

I have a beautiful little girl who happens to have a learning disability that, for the first time in her young school life, is beginning to adversely affect her performance and her very enjoyment of school. It’s getting increasingly frustrating for her to master some of the most basic learning skills. Not that she isn’t capable of learning them, but as we’re only beginning to understand, her little brain doesn’t quite work the way ours does, and she’s feeling the frustration of not getting it. Why is it that she can be so proud to write on her little white board that 1 +1 =2, and even that 2 + 2 = 4, but the concept of writing 1 + 2 frustrates her to the point of refusal?

Every day I go in to work, it gets harder and harder to find fulfillment, enjoyment or even motivation in being there. All I feel lately is trapped. I’m a middle-aged man in a middle-management retail position that someone younger, smarter, and faster could probably do cheaper, and maybe the company knows that. There is no longer any opportunity to step down from this level of responsibility (and growing workload as our store’s hours shrink and shrink), because our company policy is now to no longer hire anyone at full time. All I know is there is still a certain level of workload and a certain expectation of customer service, and fewer and fewer employees to fulfill those requirements. Meaning those of us with a “guaranteed” schedule must pick up the slack. Morale is terrible, both for those whose hours have been cut, and for those whose hours haven’t… But in this economy, what can you do? I’m in a season of doubt, a season of questioning. And, yeah, I’m mad as hell. I’m tired of this crap.

I’m tired of “growing.” If there’s a purpose to all this, I’ve been waiting several YEARS to learn of it.

I know that the life of a Christ follower is not going to be all rainbows and roses. I know test and trials and persecutions are a part of this thing called faith, but if I’m supposed to be living a life fulfilling to the body of Christ, pleasing in the eyes of the Lord, and satisfying to the Holy Spirit that lives within me, I have no idea, after several, SEVERAL years of following God and listening for His prompting, what that life is supposed to be.

All I know is that this isn’t it. It can’t be. I’m miserable, which I can live with, but I’m making those around me—friends, coworkers and, more importantly and maddeningly, my family—miserable as well. I’m becoming ineffective in my position at work, as it pains me that I’m no longer able, physically or mentally, to be the caliber of employee I know I should be. And this mental drain at work spills over into my home life… That’s not right. That’s not the way it should be, this I know!

So, I’m sorry, God, but I’m tired of “growing.” I’m tired of thinking, “Well, I must be here for a reason, for a purpose. Hopefully, soon it will be revealed.”

It’s NOT being revealed, and I’m tired of waiting. I don’t know what I’m supposed to be learning. I don’t know how I’m supposed to be growing. But I’m tired of looking for it.

If you want me, God, I’m here for you. But I’ve got a family that deserves more from their dad, and a wife that deserves more from her husband, than I’ve been able to give them—for too many years now—because I’ve been too busy pursuing the currently intangible.

If you have a purpose for my life, I’m ready for it.  But I need a break from the looking. I need a rest from the pursuit.

I’ll always be here for you, but I’m tired: tired of being tired. My family deserves more. You deserve more. I deserve more. More of me, more quality out of my time, and more out of this life.

Amen.

 

Faith & Spiritual Drift: Holy Wha….??

I have an ongoing debate with my father-in-law about the fourth commandment: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it Holy . . .” You see, my family and I go to church, but we go on Sunday. My in-laws are of the Seventh Day Adventist faith, and go to church on Sabbath (or Saturday).

So, who’s right?

I joke that I would hate to be sitting in hell between Charles Manson and Adolph Hitler as one of them turns to ask me, “Hey, what’re you in for?”

“Uuhh, well . . . I went to church on the wrong day.”

Ouch!

Actually, I get along really well with my wife’s family. They’re very accepting of our differences and we actually have some lively yet productive discussions on faith as we sit around the dinner table. As it should be . . .

But what of those who don’t have such acceptance or, at least, tolerance?

What of those that truly believe “Sunday-keeping” is not only wrong, but we who practice it are an instrument of the enemy? What of those that believe the foods we eat make us “clean” or “unclean”? What of those that believe listening to a certain type of music or, God forbid, dancing, makes us no better than pagans? That any and all of these things are not only wrong for them, they’re wrong for everyone.

That’s unfortunate. (Anyone who knows me, knows that I use this term as the nicest, most politically correct way of saying that something, to me, is B.S.—see the difference?)

I love the book of Romans. Paul is very pointed in his outline of what faith looks like; the actions and mindset of a Christ follower.  In chapter 14 he makes it very clear how he feels about people’s judgements of one another over certain practices.  Here’s just a sample:

1 Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. 2 One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3 The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. 4 Who are you to judge someone else’s (i.e. God’s) servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

In other words, you are accountable only to one, or One. And this is not a “live and let live”, nor is it an “anything goes” principle. To each person is the accountability to God for their actions; if you do something, you do it to the glory of God. Is drunkenness glorifying God? Is gluttony? Yet, is having a hamburger, a beer or glass of wine, or going to church on Sunday, or Thursday, preventing you from your ability to glorify God?

Of course not. Still, there is another side of the coin in Romans 14:

13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. 14 I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. 15 If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died.

Is having that hamburger in front of a brother or sister whose faith places dietary restrictions on them a “stumbling block”? Is having that beer in front of a recovering alcoholic a “stumbling block”? Is trying to convince a Sabbath-keeping believer that the fourth commandment isn’t that important anymore a “stumbling block”?

Absolutely: Because, to them it is important.

What’s right for one person is right for them. What’s wrong for one person is wrong for them. And to flaunt your differences or to condemn those who are different because they’re not “just like you” isn’t right for anyone. After all, you’re just as likely to trip on your own stumbling block as is your neighbor.

Ouch!

A Need for Quiet

I won’t lie. I get some of my best ideas in the shower. I’ll bet you can relate. There’s just something about the hot water, the steam, the relaxing sensation of the water on your skin. What is it about that span of time that makes it so conducive to a free flow of imagination?

It’s mindless for one. I’ve washed myself enough times that I don’t really have to think about the process anymore. (And if I do, there’s something seriously wrong with me.) So the mind tends to wander; freed from the mundane tasks of everyday life; of figuring out what to do at this moment, and this moment, now this moment, etc.

For me, it’s the same with driving to and from work on a daily basis. Some of my favorite times in driving are when I turn off the radio, open up the sunroof, crack the windows, and I’m just . . . thinkin’.

–Okay, off topic for a second. I’ve got Pink Floyd’s “Money” playing on Pandora right now (Pandora btw, is the best thing EVER to happen to the internet!) and Gilmour’s solo in that song is his second best ever . . . here it comes, I’ll be right back . . .

Aahhh . . . Okay, I’m back. And see, there’s my point right there; you can’t seem to concentrate unless there’s a minimum of distraction—both external and internal.

Did you know that a “quiet time”—call it meditation, prayer, astral projection, whatever—is one of the few things that pretty much every religion has in common. That’s the one thing the founders and purveyors of every religious faith, every spiritual belief, got right . . .

We need quiet time.

But, how do we get that?

What if we start with just a couple minutes?

Next time you’re driving by yourself, try to clear your mind for a brief span. Turn off the tunes and just see the road as it unfurls in front of you and into the distance. Next time you’re in the shower, instead of thinking about the day ahead or the day just ended; clear your head and watch the steam rising, swirling into a montage of designs, making its way past the water stream and into the lights. It’s in times like these that I notice my thought patterns shift from rapid fire gottadothisgottadothisgottagottagotta to more of a conversation; “I’ve got to do this . . . Well, if you do that, you might try it this way . . . Hmm, that’s pretty good and you know this might work too.” And on it goes.

I think that too often, when we seek to spend a little “time to ourselves”, we try to make our quiet time DO something. After all, we have to feel like we accomplished something in all that time we spent doing, essentially, nothing.

Kinda not the point, is it?

In fact, I’ve grown accustomed at times when I pray not really saying . . . anything: Just being quiet; still. God knows my heart already. He knows my wants, needs and desires—and there are times that I definitely put voice to them. But there are also times when I just want to listen, to clear my head and see if God has anything He wants to say to me. Most times it just is what it is . . . a quiet time. Then there are times, like in the car or in the shower, that a thought will occur, an idea will strike, and it will be so complete, so fully formed and so right, that I don’t think it could’ve come from anyone else.

What I find funny is usually these particular thoughts have nothing to do with bettering myself or my situation. Usually they have to do with conveying an impression, an action, or an idea for the betterment of someone else; something to tell my wife or something that solves a problem at work, maybe something I feel convicted to express in my writing.

Sure, you can say in a situation like that, that it was your own, or my own, personal brilliance; and it very well may have been. But what if . . .

What if there’s a genuine necessity to a quiet time?

What if there’s a true purpose behind it?

What if it’s a higher purpose?

What have you got to lose in trying?