In the last few weeks, I’ve learned of various people who have committed suicide and it’s heart wrenching. A few of these individuals have been pastors, which hits even closer to home considering that I’m a pastor’s kid, I’m married to a pastor and I am a pastor. These events have also made me reflect on various people over the years who have committed suicide.
As much as I want to be articulate in this post, I feel so deeply about this subject that I can’t seem to get my words or thoughts into some semblance of order or cohesive progression. So maybe I’ll just free flow with this post and pray that it’s helpful to you, somehow.
More than anything, I hope that you will be gentle, tender and kind with others and yourself, regardless of any external veneer. When we are in a car and see a handicapped license plate, sticker or a “baby on board” sign, we will often give that person a little extra consideration, grace and space because we know there’s a vulnerable / fragile person inside that vehicle.
May we also have the same mindset with the people in our lives, appreciating that each person with whom we interact, has their own internal struggles regardless of what the exterior looks like or how they behave. Let’s be purposeful to:
Congestion isn’t appealing. We don’t like to be congested from a cough or the flu and when traffic is congested, it’s not a pleasant experience to navigate. Congested means too much and it happens when there are too many cars or when our immune system is trying to fight against a virus or bacteria. So what are some possible solutions for congestion?
Here are some interesting ideas for your consideration:
drink more water: when we are congested with sin, the washing of the water of the Word (Eph 5:26) can help to flush out the sinful toxins that are harmful to our walk with Jesus.
rest: often times our lives get congested because we don’t maximize the rest times that God gives to us (Matt 11:28). If you’re in congested traffic, consider using the time to thank God for various things throughout the day.
patience: congestion can make us anxious and stressed out, which only makes the congestion worse. Consider what Jesus says in Luke 21:19, “In patience, possess your souls.” Seasons change and things come to pass but not stay.
May the healing and redemptive power of Jesus help us get past the congested times and maladies in our lives!
I’m waiting, maybe with some patience, in the airport here in Bangledesh because the Pope is just landing at the airport. Consequently, the airport is shut down & everything has come to a halt. Clearly, he’s a significant dignitary so everything is on pause at the airport until he clears out. This has thrown off everyone’s schedules, interrupted plans & is making a major headache for traffic.
So this makes me think about how i facilitate Jesus’ presence in my life. While i want my life to be convenient, smooth & hassle free, Jesus as my Sovereign, gets to interrupt & change my plans. What would be even more wise on my part, would be to proactively ask Jesus to direct my steps & maybe i can avoid some frustrations with plan changes. Or i can also aim to keep a flexible attitude & be patient in the various hassles & disruptions i can face in any given day 🙂
I’m presently riding with my teenage son who is clocking in driving time so that he can be eligible to get his driver’s license. It’s an interesting experience to watch his confidence or lack of confidence, wax or wane, depending on who’s in the car, his experience, the quantity of traffic & his mind frame. And this confidence thing seems to ring true for all of us.
So here are some things to help with the confidence factor:
Being confident in our abilities is never as safe as being confident in God’s wisdom & power.
Don’t allow fear & past failures contaminate your confidence
Think in terms of what could go right rather than what could go wrong
We all wait for answers on various things. We wait to hear about test results, tryout auditions, questions to be resolved, investments to mature & the list continues endlessly. It seems to me that waiting is a universally human experience. So while we wait for answers, what can we do?
Here are some helpful suggestions:
Exercise patience – in Luke 21:19, Jesus tells us, “In patience, possess your soul”. Easier said than done, for sure, but essential nonetheless!
Keep working – sometimes it helps to work on other projects while we wait, so that we don’t waste time 🙂
Chose to Trust – sometimes waiting is the best way to help us grow in our trust w God (Prov 22:19)
Chose peace & reject worry – be active in this decision so that worry doesn’t consume you!
Sometimes I feel overwhelmed, stretched too thin & as Bilbo said, “Too much bread & not enough butter.” Its true that I often do this to myself, attempting to squeeze in too much, yet again. But there are also times when I’m running to catch up to the busy lives of three teenagers & a thoroughly magnificent husband, to say nothing of my own workload. Today is one of those days. From the time I woke up, it’s like I can’t keep up with everything I need to do.
Do you ever feel this way? So what to do?
Here’s some real time lessons:
Do what’s immediately in front of you
Keep a running list of stuff you need to do – this can help you to stop worrying about something falling through the cracks
Solicit help – I just asked someone to give me grace on a deadline & they graciously agreed
Be careful with your attitude – when we’re in hyper busy mode it’s easy to get snappy & curt, only making everything worse
Pray – nothing is more helpful than requesting divine input & intervention
I really like to tell my kids, “Yes!” I like to tell them yes to eating salad, working out, studying, reading good books & hanging out with constructive friends. All of these get a hearty “yes and AMEN!” from me. But alas, they don’t always ask me for these kinds of things.
Sometimes they ask me:
to eat cake when it would be better to have some beets.
to sleep in when they need to go to school.
to hang out with a shady person when it would be better to do their homework.
Sometimes we ask God for stuff that’s not good for us & we often don’t like God’s answer. We can even deny that God is answering our prayers when we don’t like the answer. But alas, God answers prayer even when we don’t like the answer! Let’s trust that when God says no, it’s in our best interest & there’s a better plan or answer than what we’ve been requesting!
I like to pray because in my mind, praying is simply conversing with God. Prayer is a dialogue between God & me, not just a monologue shopping list. From time to time, however, I sense God challenging me to make known my requests & not just stay in the listening mode. Over time, I’m learning to take very seriously what these requests can be for the simple reason that God answers our prayers.
Consider these weighty requests:
Patience – when we ask God to help us be more patient, often the resulting journey to that destination can be tumultuous
Trust – help me trust You more / better; the places in our lives that need this work can get very uncomfortable from the Holy Spirit answering this request
Love – I’ve asked God to help me love better & despite some hotspots, the results are worth the risks
It’s not bad to make weighty prayers, but let’s be prepared to make the changes such prayers require.
In the last several weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to explore the ups & downs of concussion recovery. This is a different adventure than recovering from other physical injuries I’ve had. A concussion is an injury to the brain, so it takes awhile to get the neurons back online & return to one’s normal routines & responsibilities. I’m definitely making progress, but typical to my personality, I’d like to be moving along more quickly. In the meantime, these are some rich benefits I’m experiencing in this journey:
relying on the Holy Spirit has helped me with my independence struggle
this weakness has facilitated greater fellowship with the Holy Spirit in a real time context & not just hindsight
Waiting doesn’t seem to be one of my strong suits. Frankly put, I’m often impetuous, sometimes impulsive and infrequently patient. So the idea of chilling out and waiting for something is not appealing to me. And yet, this is exactly what Jesus told His followers in Luke 24:49, “‘ . . . , stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.'” Thankfully, the disciples followed Jesus’ directive and I’m grateful to read about the fruit of their patience and waiting in Acts 2 – the Day of Pentecost.
So in our fast-paced, microwave popcorn and warp speed living, let’s take a step back & consider some of the benefits of waiting for the Holy Spirit:
waiting in a community affords the opportunity to build relationships and grow in our fellowship with other believers
waiting enforces a healthy discipline on a personal level that defies instant gratification
waiting teaches us to let Jesus be the Lord of our time and how we resolve our desires
waiting to be clothed with power and the Holy Spirit is what our world desperately needs from us, as followers of Jesus
Take a minute to grab a copy of Heavenly Help and as you read it, let the Holy Spirit speak into your heart about Pentecost becoming more real in your life!
My stellar husband cleaned our home office, which had turned into the dumping zone for hiding clutter when guests would come over. This space in our home is also where our kids practice their instruments & we keep the majority of the books I use from time to time. So be clear that entering this room was a hazardous adventure, using politically correct terminology ,)
My husbands way of organizing is to pull EVERYTHING out & then sort through stuff – this can be kind of messy. My way of organizing is to take small parts & deal with them where they are, putting them where they belong a little bit at a time. So over this past weekend, the tripping hazards were plenteous.
Here’s my takeaway lesson: different isn’t always better or worse, it’s just different. When I think about the differences between Joshua & Moses in the Bible, neither was a better or more effective person, they just had different ways of doing things , largely because they had different divine assignments. Let’s be careful not to evaluate people based on our filter, call or methodology ,)
Different isn’t better or worse, necessarily. It’s often just different 🙂
This morning, I read the story of Doubting Thomas & how he didn’t believe that Jesus had risen from the dead until he had physical proof for himself. Despite what Thomas’ friends told him, he made the adamant position that unless he saw the nail prints in Jesus’ hands, put his finger into the nail prints & touched Jesus’ side where He was pierced, he wouldn’t believe. Thomas’ belief had 3 pre-qualifiers, all based on physical evidence.
It’s interesting to me that we don’t read about any of Thomas’ friends getting cranky with Thomas for his unbelief – despite all of them following Jesus for 2+ years and seeing all kinds of crazy miracles. But no one criticized nor chastized Thomas for doubting – maybe they accepted the truth that Thomas was on a journey of faith, not much different from their own journey.
Just because someone is at a different place in their journey of faith doesn’t give us the right to be critical of their lack of faith, anymore than we would want someone to criticize us for some faith deficiencies & shortcomings. Let’s decide to encourage each other in our journey of faith & not throw rocks when someone is struggling with unbelief – indeed, faith works by love ,)
Back in the dark ages when I was in high school, we had this film kind of thing in my US history class where the teacher would put on a cassette tape with a microfiche slide show & when the tape beeped, he’d advance the microfiche to the next slide. Being the very intelligent & cheeky students that we were, we quickly learned that our teacher had a slight hearing impediment & we could fake the “beep” and he’d advance the film to the next slide, thereby finishing the pictures before the tape was done explaining what we were supposed to be looking at. Needless to say, this was heaps of fun for us & quite flustering for him – oh the joys of being mischevious 🙂
Sometimes I think I try to do the same thing with God – beeping to move the lesson forward at a more rapid pace, so we can get finished with the lesson & move onto something more pleasant. Beep.
Let’s trust that God’s timing, God’s lessons and God’s pacing are all working together good things in our hearts, for God’s glory & our maturity – smile 🙂
In an effort to counter-balance my post yesterday with, “stop waiting”, in all fairness, maybe God is doing the pick & shovel work of cultivating patience in my heart with some fertilizer augmenting, maybe. The reason I’m thinking about this possibility is from some recent experiences in a trip to Cambodia for Saving Moses. In this extremely brief trip, I found myself becoming really tense about accomplishing much – a very long way to travel for such a really short trip to get massive amounts of stuff done. Did we accomplish some things? Absolutely!!
But in those conversations I had in Cambodia when someone would say, “I’m happy to do this in the next three months”, or “Let me pray about it” or “Let’s see how this this plays out with some time”, I found myself becoming increasingly uptight. And then I heard this small voice in my heart, “What’s your hurry? Why are you in such a rush?” In my natural thinking, those questions sound like fertilizer augmenting – they smell bad, feel yucky, look revolting & have the greatest resurrection potential for me to grow at this time.
Here are some things to consider about patience, tick tock:
slow change often lasts longer than quick fixes
patience develops roots and roots often last longer than flashy
roots are the groundwork for abiding which facilitates fruit
patience takes my focus off of situations and puts it back on God
I recently returned from leading our first team trip for Saving Moses and it’s been a little tricky getting back in the groove. A few things that I’m presently working through include the regular jet lag sleep challenges, the normal digestion excitement and catching up on missed sleep. Additionally, I’m trying to process some of my experiences and this has proven to be rather difficult.
When I get in these kinds of mindsets, I often get impatient with myself and frustrated that I can’t seem to get back to my regular groove, which only makes things more frustrating & difficult. Thankfully, God had a nice chat with me this morning and reminded me of a few helpful things:
temporary – life can change is big & dramatic ways, but more often, our current situations are temporary & are changing incrementally, even when we don’t know it
be gentle – I can often be harsh & impatient with myself, which often makes things worse; when I’m gentle, gracious and forgiving with myself, I seem to adapt and grow more easily
now – being present today, in Denver, Colorado with my kids, husband & church family is very good
It seems like we all want the “extra” perk – we buy the shampoo that has 25%more for the same price, we look for the value meal, we look for the guy who serves ice cream with a little extra on his scoops, . . . . extra time, more roi, . . . . extra.
Let’s also look at the little ways that we can add some “extra”:
extra patience with the person learning to use the new computer system,
extra grace for the phone agent with the heavy accent,
extra forgiveness for our mate who unknowingly said something hurtful,
extra time on the parking meter for the person who will take our spot,
extra friendly to the cranky check out person at the grocery store
Have you ever felt like you’re in a holding pattern? Sometimes, it seems like God has me in pause mode & I’m continuing to try & faithfully do what’s been given to me, but it’s like I’m on hold. When I’ve been on airplanes that have been in holding patterns it’s usually for a few reasons:
bad weather could make the landing dangerous – preventing danger
our timing for landing was off schedule & we have to wait for our turn – timing alignment
the land crew isn’t quite ready for our arrival – proper preparation to prevent a mishap
If you’re in a holding pattern season, getting impatient usually doesn’t help but using the time to nestle into a deeper walk with God is always a great plan regardless of whatever season in which you find yourself 🙂
I’m currently sitting with my husband & 3 kids at like 9:30pm in the LA airport waiting for our flight to Cambodia. I haven’t travelled a my kids internationally for many years & it’s interesting to watch how they each deal with the diversity of travel in very unique ways. Makes me appreciate how cool God is with us on this journey of life.
I find that God is immensely patient, extravagantly kind, continually generous & infinitely loving. When I watch, listen & wait for God, I find that my life becomes increasingly full of Divine & this is where I find Life 🙂
I’m presently in the middle of another painting project & we’ve just finished the first coat of paint. My kids are helping me with these projects & we are eager to have our painting adventure over. Of course we’re excited to see the outcome & to see if it will look as cool as we hope. But there’s a bit of a hitch on our anticipation. I’ve noticed that because we’d like to be finished with the Summer’s painting adventure, we are kind of rushing our efforts. So far, my take away is that painting & rushing shouldn’t be used in any combination – carpet problems, baseboard problems, angst, relational stress, etc.
As I was carefully trying to edge the ceiling, I felt like God was showing me that often times the best results require patience, being steady & attentive. I want these words, patient, steady & attentive, to be an accurate description of my walk with God. Indeed, those of us who endeavor to follow Jesus must let these words shape our decisions, values & desires in our lives. As Nietzche says, “, . . . a long slow obedience in the same direction.” 🙂
As we come to the conclusion of Winter, it seems like all of my kids “can’t wait for Spring!” I reminded them that once we hit the Spring, they’ll be saying that they can’t wait for Summer and a break from school. It seems like we humans can have some difficulties when it comes to waiting – whether it’s waiting in line at Walmart, waiting for some test results, waiting for a cake to rise or waiting for a bad hair cut to grow out (I never have this problem bc I love my hair cutting guy 🙂
Anyways, here are some good things to consider that are associated with waiting:
maturation & refining – like a fine wine, time can often help us to be more wise & refined
greater awareness – often if we will give time a chance to work its magic, we will see things that we would have missed from being impatient
discipline – being impulsive tends to create half-baked results, but waiting gives us the benefit of growing in our ability for self-control
space & time to check my heart – it seems like when I’m always in a hurry that checking in with my heart and the Holy Spirit unfortunately tends to take a back seat to activity & speed