I enjoy wearing my small cross around my neck when I go out into the world, not to proclaim to others my chosen beliefs as a Christian, as it is barely visible there; but to remind me of the living example by which I am to be shaping my behavior, words and thoughts. I may not always live up to what others think of me or expect from me; but when I feel that cross of Christ hanging around my neck, my first thought is about what He will think of me and how much He loves me.
It has been a wonderful reminder, as a positive impact in my daily life; but also as an indictment for errant thoughts, words and actions for which I needed reproach or correction. That seemingly insignificant piece of jewelry stops me from being snarky; it often silences me from gossiping and from reacting in anger or from acting out in some other inappropriate way, when my quick-thinking mind and mouth just want to react. Maybe I put too much power in that little cross; but I have found it a significant way in which the Holy Spirit reminds me of my commitment to spiritual growth and maturity as a follower of Christ!
God works within us through the Holy Spirit, with His Word; and externally through others to teach, shape, change, develop and challenge us to become more like the Son whom He sent to save and redeem us! If we aren’t willing to be His pupils at any moment and in every moment, we will miss many chances to willingly sit on the Potter’s wheel; we will stunt our growth and undermine the ongoing processes of spiritual maturity which God sets into play the minute we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior! God wasn’t looking for a stagnant body, content to stay where we are when we find Him; but rather He created us all to be an obedient body of disciples who are actively pursuing and developing our individual and very personal relationship with Him! So I look for all ways in which I may draw into God through the Holy Spirit, in the name of Jesus . . by way of the cross!
I got to visit my dear friend’s new place yesterday. Somehow it was satisfying and comforting to explore the place into which she moved after giving up so much from her other residence at this stage of her life. She is elderly, in her early 80’s. My friend didn’t want her children to go through what she had gone through with her own mother years before; having to quickly find a nursing home for her mom upon the sudden eroding of ability, mind, thinking, cognition and/or loss of faculties. So she chose to go on her own timing and by her own choice to a smaller place in a senior residence community (with assisted-care on site), where she can get ready help should it be necessary some day or any day.
She left most of what she had collected in her 40+ years of living in her own home behind. Most everything she had amassed as family matriarch, along with her husband who passed away a decade ago, her sons left for the less fortunate curbside at her old house. In a lot of ways, I mourned for her decision, knowing that she didn’t really want to move or change address after all this time. She enjoys her freedom, lamenting having to be accountable to staff at her new place for safety sake; and her house was her connection to her deceased husband and many memories of prior times which have passed for good. But she did this out of love and because she didn’t want to be a burden to her children. She gave up the bigger house, the pool, the secure garage, the possessions and her freedom to move into a place where she has her own space for now; she is part of a community of seniors in transition, each learning how to face whatever is to come.
Each of us must find our way through the minefield of life, often fraught with such discomfort and significant change that we are rendered stunned. In hopes that she has eased that stage for her sons, I give her great credit! It takes unconditional love and an unselfish heart to leave almost all you’ve treasured and gathered behind for the sake of the ease of others. It is hard to imagine rendering most everything material as inconsequential; but not when measuring the worth of such things against those most precious to your heart – your children and/or family- and their needs! It is not easy watching people change, but it is incredibly hard to watch them go. I am preparing myself for that time with her, with my own mom and with others in my life; as time itself erodes the illusion of safety nets we seem to have when we’re younger. We must learn to accept the changes, to face things with bravery, even to blaze the pathways into unknown places for the sake of love! Fortunate are those of us who also do it with faith.
In reading a post on a group page on a social media site about birds this morning, it was brought up for question why one type of bird might purposefully force the babies of another species out of their nest at a certain stage of their development. The idea of such a thing with no discernible reason seems perplexing to those who support the type of birds which were the babies in this scenario. This type of bird, Bird A, is routinely up to this “bullying” behavior it seems, and is known as doing exactly this to these babies, if the comments of routine observers are factual. I can only surmise that Bird A is given the task of instigating movement in the babies of the other species, Bird B, purposefully and habitually. So perhaps Bird A rile up the complacent babies of species B on purpose to encourage their movement sooner than they would deem themselves ready! Maybe this is part of a greater plan of inter-species interaction, for which we mere humans have no measure of understanding or awareness.
Just maybe this is part of God’s greater plan for the whole of the world. Perhaps what we humans observe is truly limited by our ability to comprehend His design and His purpose for all of life. In that case, we will never grasp the intricacies of nature, of species interacting, of what seems heartless and cold or disturbing and uncalled for. Perhaps our nature is to put upon all other species, and even upon members of our own, our limited perspective, bias and understanding; giving to each situation a self-inflated acceptance and awareness of life which might just be proven flawed or faulty! Imagine instead if we were to just breathe in and observe, free from our judgments and thus, our desire to intervene?! Perhaps a lot of what humans intrude into is already working as planned? Why are we always so eager to know everything, to be right and to solve every issue, to the point that we create problems where none existed? Perhaps it is just human nature.
In this case, the simple question lies in that we just don’t know why! Why does one bird intrude into the happy nest of another to push the babies out? It might be a design flaw; but since I am sure God has not made mistakes in His designs, I will go with purposeful. It might be that Bird A has been given the role of assisting in this one stage of another bird’s development. Were we just to accept that we don’t know everything, letting life go on as God planned; just maybe it would run more smoothly than when we butt in with our fixes, our answers, our alterations and our transforming changes! God does have plans, purposes and reasons for His world to run as it does; if only human beings would stop trying to solve what isn’t wrong with God’s world and cease endeavoring to change what works just fine as is. Some things are necessary interventions, when people are starving or natural disasters occur. Humans meddling in the natural order of things, however, has probably created more chaos than situations it has ever calmed or resolved. But then again, human meddling seems directly proportional to the astronomical level of human ego running amok, which has endeavored with its “I know best” to render God silent and irrelevant at almost every turn! I wonder how many of His miracles we shut down in our endeavor to fix, transform, change or to interpret what was His will, thinking it to be some error??
When you are walking stridently down a particular path, often there are obstacles and barriers, detours and distractions, impatient people and those who try to convince you that your chosen route is erroneous. But if you are on that path purposefully, by choice, and the path itself brings you immeasurable rewards, then why take another course?
It is often the case that what is put before us in our footsteps is meant to test our resolve, to try our patience or to see how easily or readily we’ll give in to some manner of temptation; and in that temptation, we’re promised ease, comfort, happiness, pleasure, and all manner of things we surely won’t find on our chosen way. Temptation is often the lure which takes us from our desired goal. It lures us by promising us a momentary satisfaction, or a pleasure we might be missing. It steals our self-control and takes from us our discipline to remain committed to things, to people, to efforts and to the way we’ve chosen. But temptation is a trick played on a tired, restless, uncertain, tested mind and heart. It often doesn’t bring us anything lasting; and can actually take from us more that would be satisfying, such as the sense of accomplishment after a long, hard trial or effort! How many of us succumb to temptation in a moment of weakness, when we don’t have the strength of resolve to stand in discipline and self-control against it? But we can learn to overcome all the ways in which we might be drawn from a path which promises us success, rewards and hope. We can learn how to be so self-controlled, that no matter who might be tempting us, trying our patience or convincing us that we’re wrong, all will be proven unconvincing against the willful power and determination of our steadfast spirit and disciplined mind!
We are truly not as weak as we might seem. We just need to stand strong a few times against the very things which serve to weaken us to prove that point and to develop those endurance muscles! If you stand against the forces which threaten to weaken your resolve, to break your spirit or to defeat you in your journey towards reaching goals, then you will develop stronger backbone and more enduring discipline! It’s inevitable! Stay the course if what is promised at the finish line means enough to you. And it should when you’ve set your entire life in step with its accomplishment and achievement. Why do we give up when we have already come so far? Why do we quit when others come along with their failed histories, promising us they know better than we what is good for us? Why do we let anything keep us from the rewards we know wait for hard work, effort and endurance? Even if we spend an entire lifetime and still don’t realize a goal, isn’t there much to be gained in the effort which we wouldn’t know within us were we to quit? All too often we let the voices outside of us tell us where we are in our journeys, why we’ve sidestepped in our successes and how we might fix it all according to their limited awareness of our lives! But in actuality, we are most appraised and aware of why we are on that particular road, headed in that certain way, towards those goals waiting to be reached.
Stay the course, learn to adapt to handle the distractions, the interference and the alterations necessary; but don’t give way to temptation or to taking a road promised as easier. Only you can be anointed to live your life and to do what you are called to do by your abilities, talents and experiences. Don’t let others talk you out of the life you’re meant to live just because they seem to think your choices and your direction seem flawed. Remember that their view and vantage point is limited, especially when it comes to the perspective they have of your life so far and the vision of what might lie ahead of you on the pathway you’ve taken! Believe that you are anointed, confident and assured; ask for advice if you need it occasionally, but rely upon the muscles you’re developing from within just by living and venturing onward!