New 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.
If we love with heart, soul and mind, is that enough? What about strength?
The Pharisees tested Jesus asking, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matt 22: 36-40)
Heart, soul and mind may be turned to Him, but it takes strength to love your neighbor as yourself. Mental, physical and emotional fortitude are the work of a lifetime and the attention in every day. People are hard to understand, hard to reach and sometimes, very hard to empathize with. But the Lord, insists.
May you be strong enough to face the day, and may the day itself leave you stronger for tomorrow, for the love of yourself, in the service of your neighbor, by the grace of a merciful, all powerful and unimaginably strong God.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
This scripture is on my mind because my daughter is “doing the talk” for the Fellowship of Christian athletes at her school today and this is ‘her’ verse. Not sure whether she chose it or it was chosen for her.
Anyway, this morning it’s mine. And I embark on my day with a mighty, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me…” and a voice a bit louder than a whisper says, “just not all at once.” And this gets right to the heart of the matter. There is so much to be done. So many things needed. So many in need. And in the morning I think, “Yes! A new day.” and I look at my to-do list, neatly categorized and boldly written in black pen. And I think, “Yes! I can do that and that and, oh, I really need to do that, too. And then this has been on the list a long time. I really should either do it or take it off the list.” You can see my problem.
I am trying to do all things through me who strengthens me. And I can beat myself up about this. Re-dedicate to be more organized. Cross off a few things to shorten the list. Pray more and see if a Mighty list appears, complete with a numbering system in the left hand column. Or…I can just get started.
Because that’s what occurred to me when I typed this verse. “Strengthens” is a present tense verb. Meaning, I need not wait to be strengthened before doing. It wouldn’t be wise for me to wait for the starting gun to sound. Because God’s strength will be there in the doing. During. Done deal. I just need to look for it there. I can count on this. Anticipate it, even. He won’t hide it; He’s not like that.
Though I must remember, after, to give thanks for the strength that was mine in the moment I was made able. Not to presume on it next time, but perhaps to feel a bit less anxious awaiting it’s arrival.
Which reminds me of this quote from Seth Godin’s blog yesterday:
“If we define anxiety as experiencing failure in advance, we can also understand its antonym, anticipation.”
Anticipating God. He’ll be here, presently. He says so. So, what am I waiting for???