Blog Archives

Exchanging Fear and Worry for Thanks

015512546cdbd9f6c77eba5e46a668d8b143bf3424New every morning. Or after a nap, a good run, a walk around the lake. It’s not the rising and setting of sun that sets my mood, it’s the respite. A time to let the mind wander and tippy toe over the field of neurons who happily spark and ignite one another on their merry way to thoughts, images, expressions and feelings. Completely unguided by the slave driver who, the rest of the time, cracks the whip….

Get with it! Shape up! You have a deadline to meet! Conference is coming, you know! People are gonna expect things from you! Are you gonna be ready? Heck, is anyone gonna come?

Oh my goodness, why do I talk to myself that way? Take a seat, will ya, and come back a bit later when a swift kick in the pants is in order.

Funny how that guy doesn’t take orders. He’s all about giving orders, but he uses every trick in the book to get his way. All of sudden, he’s got me moving but my motivation is fear and worry, not excitement and energy. Lord, I don’t want to row this life with fear and worry as my paddles. I want to set out to sea with oars of steel and a good strong stroke, waves take me as they will. You call the strokes. You be my Coxswain.

How good it would be if all I had to do was put some muscle into it and not have to keep looking up for land or landmark or buoy.  But there are reefs out there and sharks, you know. There are swells that would swamp me and ocean liners that would smash me to smithereens. Who in their right mind would set out into that on their own?

Oh yeah, me. But the dangers that surround are not nearly as ugly as the ones within. The ones who question whether I should have set out in the first place. Turn back! While you still can!

And then the dark settles. I can’t see a thing, can only feel the muscles pulling at the oars. Stroke. Stroke. Stroke. And I am strong and growing stronger. I am! I am capable. I have a body that listens and works with me, that recovers and tries again, that coordinates itself. Good grief, think of all those neurons and their signals to all those muscle fibers that contract in complicated sequence to choreograph a single pull. What an amazing feat is one stroke. And then another.

I can do this.

And I AM grateful. What an opportunity I have before me. How exciting this all is. Who would have ever thought this would happen? To me.

Suddenly the slave driver’s voice is different. Not shouts and commands but instructions and direction. My thanks for the miracle of muscle and motion has turned the tide. I see and hear anew. And the sun rises.

The path toward right

It’s so hard to stay on track. What with everything pulling us this way and that. Attractive things. Tempting things. Necessary things. They all tug at our sleeves insisting we pay attention. Perhaps this is something of the sense Jesus had in the crowd when the woman who had suffered hemorrhages for years touched the hem of his clothes and was immediately healed. It stopped him into asking “Who touched me?” because he felt the power that had gone out of him.

I wonder about the power going out of me by all this tugging and touching and tempting. Is it dribbling and leaking? Or is it the power of healing to those whom I pass? Am I so determined to stay the course, persist in my doing, struggle through any obstacle, that I apply all of my power to my own path? Because that, I fear, is what happens when I fix my eyes on an objective and insist on getting there in my own strength.

“He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake…” Psalm 23 says. Not, he jumps me straight to the end because I am special or because I have been well-behaved or even because he chooses to. He guides me on the path toward right. The ‘not right’ in me gets me off track. People call this ‘not-rightness’ sin. The Bible calls this not-rightness sin. And we suppose it stands on the path between us and Goodness. It separates us from God, we say, and that seems so.

But what separates may not be something that stands between. It may very well be something that stands behind and calls, or stands next to and tugs, or passes near and tempts. All it takes to draw me off course is a slight misalignment. So, I must attend to my guide, moment by moment.

How many paths of righteousness are there? I don’t know. But they all lead to the foot of the cross. And from each of our vantage points that direction will look a bit different. Almost as if we each stood and looked at the shadow cast by the sun’s beams spilled on the cross itself. The way would look straight from where we are. How simple! But as we walk, the sun rises and the sun sets and the path ebbs ever so slightly. Following it requires constant attention, supreme diligence and everlasting patience when clouds descend. All character traits I expect God intends to sow in me, not to battle death or defeat sin; He has taken care of that. No, I expect they are the power of God to heal. Heal me and heal others.

So many paths.

So we can journey onward toward the foot of the cross, the gateway to the Father Himself. Same gate. Same Way. Infinite number of paths.

Funny, during Lent the path has a different feel under my feet – a sodden, squishy, slosh. And there is a beautiful reflective quality to it, a sort of darkened, deepened, glow. Almost as if the shadow is cast on a lake and I am, we are, walking on water. The cross is planted on firm ground right at water’s edge. Set there to welcome travelers who are damp from effort. “Come on in and dry off,” it seems to say.

Hey, if we are baptized into new life, surely we can be dried off into Kingdom living.

%d bloggers like this: