Step Out of Traffic! The process of learning to be still.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Psalm 46:10
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

I’m not good at being still. My dad gave me the nickname “worm” – as in wiggle worm – when I was just a little kid. I was always on the move – never sat still. It must have driven them crazy at times.

But I’m now on day 10 of having to be more still than usual following my lower back surgery.

And today, in my stillness, God showed me something so unexpected that I broke. Literally sat down and cried brokenness.

God showed me that
·      in my busyness
·      in my good health
·      in my strength
·      in my affluence

He showed me that in all the goodness that He has blessed me with it is so easy for me to forget Him and His purpose for my life. 

Busyness creates opportunities for our focus to move away from God and more toward ourselves. 

And I seem to love to focus on me so much that I have not given as much thought to;
·      Those who need a helping hand
·      Those who are also lacking strength
·      Those who are suffering great loss
·      Those who have no one to defend themselves
·      Those who are wondering through this world without hope, without Jesus

I love how Pastor Peterson paraphrases this passage in The Message;
8-10Attention, all! See the marvels of God! He plants flowers and trees all over the earth, Bans war from pole to pole, breaks all the weapons across his knee. “Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.”

“Step out of traffic! Take a long loving look at me, your High God…” 

For me today, the step out of the traffic was to remind me of how great my God is, how blessed I am and how many people still need God’s love, hope, and grace.

I seriously hate sitting still. But I’m thankful I stepped out of the traffic today and am starting to look forward to seeing what the Master has to teach me over the next several weeks on this journey of stillness.

How about you?

Have you stepped out of the traffic today? 

If so, what is God teaching you? 

And, who can you share God’s love, hope and grace with today? 

6 Days After Surgery

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Six days post op and most of the difficult pain is gone - it no longer hurts to turn over or sit up - the incision is itching like crazy which means its healing as well - I'm still very tight and sore in the lower back - walking is a struggle simply because of the tightness in my back muscles - my brain is a groggy mess due to the pain meds and muscle relaxers - which I will start slowly reducing today. I can't remember a time in my life in which I have slept so much - I have had no chance of reading a book or even catching up on a tv show. Even my appetite has gone missing in action! 

But I have to say that my biggest struggle is watching others do simple tasks for me. The things I have always been able to do but now, since I can't lift over 5 to 10 lbs, have to be done for me. I have to ask my wife and daughters to do almost everything for me. To make matters worse, I'm a list maker and I keep thinking of all the things I would love to do around the house or at church.  I have even found myself writing these things down only to realize I can't do them. This loss of freedom - loss of being able to do normal tasks has opened the door to frustration, anger, and even depression. Yes, even pastors get depressed.

Now, please understand - I'm not sharing these things with you to make you feel sorry for me. I'm sharing so that you might have a glimpse into the life of your friends who might be going through similar things and possibly allow God to use you to encourage or bless them in a way you haven't thought of before. Everywhere you look, people are going through hard times or facing struggles. Opportunities to help are everywhere and isn’t that what God calls us to do? (See James chapter 2)

So, how can you make a difference? First, you can pray. But lets be honest - that's the easy thing to do. "I'm praying for you!" Yes, we all need prayer - yes I believe in the power of prayer - yes, by all means please pray for one another - it's biblical! And if you tell someone you are going to pray for them then do it! But, don't just stop there. I want to encourage you to move beyond your prayers.

Secondly, you can text, email, or facebook. We live in a digital age and these are all great ways to let people know that you care for them and are thinking about them. Do it. But, again, I think this is often the easy way out. If you truly want to make an impression or impact someone who is going through a tough time - then try one of the following "Old School" methods.

Old school methods that still have new found impact!
1. Make a phone call. Actually pick up the phone and call your friend so they can hear your voice and you can hear theirs. You can even “facetime” with most phones now. This is really helpful for those who live hours away.
2. Send a card or letter. Yep - the US Post Office still operates and they still deliver. Call me old school but I think there is something pretty special about getting a hand written letter – card. For an added touch, include a hand drawn and colored picture by one of your kids.
3. Send a gift like food, homemade bread, cookies, flowers, or a gift card to their favorite place. 
4. Finally, one of the most impactful things you can show up personally. That's right. Go see them. “Love” is often spelled “t.i.m.e.” We live in some of the busiest of times. Everyone’s schedules are crazy. Taking the time out of your schedule to stop by and see someone makes a serious impact. Hand deliver the card, flowers, or cookies. Show up to pray with them before or after the surgery. Be there when they come home from the hospital. One key point here – make it short and sweet! It’s not about the length of your visit – just that you cared enough to stop by.

As with every experience in life, you can either learn from it or ignore it. My appreciation and empathy for those who have gone through similar procedures has grown enormously. As a result, I hope I become a better follower of Jesus to those who are facing the challenges of life.