Sunday, November 16, 2008

Getting Beyond the Moment and Moving Into the Future

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Well, it has been some time since I wrote for the “His Place” blog spot, though I have thought to do it many times over. I kept waiting for some good news of the start-up date this season, but it never came. Complicating issues often bring to life things we are not expecting or welcoming, and the news of no new season for His Place was for so many a low day, a sad reminder that not everything is possible all the time. We wait for the movement of the Spirit again upon the hearts of those who loved to organize and perpetuate the ministry that quickly grew into the hearts of those who attended, and pray that it might get a New Year start… better late than never. I defend the need for all of us to step back from time to time, to both evaluate and get a second breath. We have to remember that those involved in His Place, especially in the music, were steeped in the work, some more than others and there needs to be reflection and a real peace with their decisions for all concerned. I pray for it each day.

This Summer brought personal loss; the Fall brought a schedule that was untenable by times, as our son Benjamin got married, bought an older home that has needed much work, and Karen and I not only bought a home in Shelburne, but had no time to finish the rebuild on the cottage. Our Shelburne home needs critical updates (built circa 1830), repairs and maybe even the addition of a downstairs bedroom suite, (for retirement purposes) and we are sometimes overwhelmed by it all. So, as you can see, like many of you, there are days and sometimes weeks, months and even seasons of rush factor that can be brought on by the personal investment in family, community and special interests as well as trials in life. We make very little noise about it until the factor of stress become a reality and we face the limitations of self, pitted against either what we want to do, or the ever stressful expectations placed upon us from external forces.

How do I handle it? Some days I just collapse and say, “Enough is enough!” Other days I am told to just “suck it up”; (mostly by the younger generation who, for whatever reason, seem to think that stress is really good for you)….Ha! That is great for when you are young, strong, and healthy as a bull moose and can sleep like a log any night for at least 8-10 hours. My time clock is often broken, my body aging and arthritic, my heart likes to keep rhythm to some strange foreign beat from time to time and my eyes, ears and balance don’t work like they used to. Hmmm… old age creeps in and we neither desire to acknowledge its coming, or greet it with much pleasure, much less with an eagerness toward a sedentary lifestyle leading to a Senior’s Home somewhere! Argh! But, I am not finished yet, I still have some great days, I am blessed with a wonderful family and a set of experiences in life that have built, not denigrated, my desire to live on into the golden age of retirement and beyond. I am mostly filled with a joy for life and in it, desire to live happily while remembering that to do so will need a constant re-evaluation of methods and priorities, from time to time.

I most importantly have my faith and those who walk with me through it. They are not always the cheering section for sure. Sometimes they challenge me to look at who I am, what I am doing, and ask hard questions about direction, method of attack and motivations. But I covet their presence and the love that is shown in the process.

I am not alone. I have my Lord, His Spirit and His people with me… granting me grace and rebuilding my Spirit when I am down or weakened. Heh, there are the naysayers too, but they less impact less than they think in the big picture, and I go on with the lord’s help. You see, my view is to the future. I love the past, don’t get me wrong, but the key is the future and the decisions I make along the way, will affect my ability to get where I am intended to go, where I want to be, or where I am expected to end up. It’s like playing any sport and not knowing which goal, net or end we are playing towards… there is nothing worse than scoring one for the wrong side. We have to keep our eye on the game, our surroundings and environment, lest we lose sight of the true goal of life… eternal presence with our God.

How is your life going these days? Are you tossed about, tired beyond exhaustion, wondering how you will survive the fray? Well, take some time to breath; ... in and out, in and out, in and out… long slow breaths. Look around at what you have. Is it worth the work it takes? Does it add to life and not take life away? Remember in the process to look deeper than the surface, at what really exists and not at what has become a subtle replacement for the true and meaningful pieces of your life. We get that way (superficial) and don’t even know we have arrived. We don’t often see it coming; that’s the subtly of how it happens, and to get the true meaning of life back, we have to look beyond now and deep into the future. So the real question may be; “What do you really want out of life and what are you willing to do to get it?” I, like you, struggle when faced with that two part question, but nevertheless I need to hear it asked and I need to wrestle with the answer.

God is always here for us. That is the important part of living near the edge. We are not on a tightrope by any stretch of the word, I don’t think. We are on a path and God is here saying, as we blindly trip along; “This way… here is what I want for you… just follow my voice and I will lead you home.” Ah, the future. It is so far away and yet it is the next moment, hour, day and year. It is all about one moment at a time with Him!

I pray for your days and weeks ahead. I will continue to write; after all, I may just help somebody along the way… and that is also what His Place is about.

(Another of my “Living Near the Edge” devotions for those who like me struggle in life.)


Sunday, March 30, 2008

Climb Every Mountain

Sunday, November 30, 2008

I remember from my youth the song that included the words of this weeks thoughts. The words come from a popular song from the “Sound of Music”. Being able to climb every mountain, ford every stream and follow every rainbow, till we find our dreams seems much too fantastic for life. But as always there is some element of truth to the words found there. I have spent much of my life as I have told you in the past following paths of adventure or trying to fulfill dreams, and not always with a great deal of success. I have more than once gotten side-tacked by the needs arriving out of life, family the workplace.

Some years ago, well about 25 in fact, I was invited to go to Africa with a pastor who served in Lockeport at the time. He was here studying at Acadia Divinity College and was looking forward to going back to help the struggling pastors in he own country. As it turned out he did convince me so well of God’s call on my life that I entered Pastoral Ministry and never did get to go to Africa. Many time I have felt the gnawing question of what if I had gone in my younger years. But there have been other direct calls on my life and to each, like you, I have dealt with the enduring question of God’s direct call and will foremost beyond any personal longings.

Well, wouldn’t you know this past week I received another invitation to go on a mission. I was laid up with an nasty ailment and unable to get out and lo and behold in the mail came an opportunity which I just couldn’t seem to shake off. The more I tried to name the reasons why it was both an unreasonable and untimely request, the more the Lord seemed to lay upon my heart the most likely answers to them. I have never challenged God too far and He has never let me down. It was a request to travel to Northwest Bengal (Yup... India) to help train some 100 nationals (Pastors) in Spiritual Walk, Homiletics, and Discipleship or a topic of their choice. I am not a Scholar, but love to teach so I guess the Lord can use even me if I am willing.

I know that I am going to get some flack from certain areas of my life. Yet, the Churches seem to embrace the idea of my going and most seemed thrilled that I was asked and that I would consider the trip. It is not my hearts desire to travel in Winter, away from family and the work at hand, but this seemed like something that must be done and who am I to question, so I am prepared for the nay-sayers when they arrive.

About those mountains though. I have seen mountains of many varieties in my life. While some were so spectacular that they were breath-taking, others were just downright frightening. I have come away on occasion with the feeling that awe is good, smarts are better and prayer is always the best. I used to fling myself into the work of climbing whatever was before me. I never equated going around as anything anymore than defeat or lack of trust. But age brings a touch of wisdom and now I am more likely now to measure the climb before I start, a lot more than I used to. Measuring is not always consideration of calculated risk, it is more often the perspective from which I view the mountain and where God stands in the mix.

This mountain I am about to climb is a tall one indeed and not just because I may be in eyesight of Mount Everest as some point. There are always those calculated risks and how much I am willing to risk for first God and then others may be the measure of my personal stamina for Him. I have come this far and sometimes I am weary and tired with every inch of my body crying out for strength, courage and comfort. Yet, He has never let me down... I am sure of that. I have taken the easy road quite often as well and He has let me know in many ways that easy is not always correct. Could it have something to do with Jesus’ and His command.... “... take up thy cross daily and follow me”? So I am off to climb a much different mountain this time. One that will take me to the other side of the world not just in location, but in culture and economic status as well. I am praying that this will be to God’s glory and the furtherance of His Kingdom that I go.

Today you can pray for me as I prepare to take this giant step in my life toward my biggest mountain yet. The bill is large both economically and physically, but God is up to the task. If God has a mountain for you to climb today, ask Him why and then remember to wait for the answer... it may surprise you what He has in store for you and others.