Jump Start Prayer

O God, it’s freezing cold outside and my energy level is way below average as well. I know I can’t do a thing about the weather, and I know that prayer about accepting things I can’t change; but this still sucks. I know how to jump start my car when it won’t start, but I’m not as good at firing up my own engine when the battery is low. Yes, I always have to google the battery to remember if the red post is positive or negative, but my own negativity is so much easier to identify.

I’ve run all the virus scans on my computer to avoid starting on my to-do list. With a click of my mouse I’ve quarantined 29 potential threats. I had to reboot my computer. That was easy. I wish it was that simple to debug and reboot my own operating system.

Oh, it’s “Be still and know you are God!” I knew that, but I keep forgetting that the hurrier I go the farther I get from you. My jumper cables won’t reach to the ground of my being when I’m looking for energy in all the wrong places.

They say with computers it’s “garbage in, garbage out.” How true that is for our weary souls, too. We get bombarded by bad news 24/7. It was so much easier to cope with the suffering in the world when it only came in the daily newspaper or the nightly news. Living in the information age is great when I need to know something, but I’m also deluged with drama and disasters from around the globe. Bad news sells; so life feels like a train wreck that I can’t stop watching.

Help me unplug from the cares of the world now and then, God, so I can reconnect to the only true source of peace in which I live and move and have my true being. Help me refocus my attention on things that cannot be stolen from me, eternal things that rust and moth cannot consume and neither can human hate and stupidity. Help me to faithfully be in the world but not consumed by it, to take mini Sabbath breaks where I can be forgiven for my failures and choose again this day, this hour, this moment whom I will serve.

Thanks for listening and Amen.

Be Still and Know

This is usually my favorite season of the year. New life breaking forth after a long winter’s nap, some days nice enough to get outside to work and play, and my favorite sports—golf and baseball—on the TV to distract me from all the bad news in the world. The latter isn’t working well this week as the news from Syria, N. Korea, and Washington DC just keeps going from bad to worse. As I pray hard for wisdom and reason to steer our nation and world through very troubled waters I am reminded by ancient Scripture that we are not the first to experience such times as these, and for just a moment my soul is still and knows the tumult of humankind will not have the final word.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
Though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved; God will help it when the morning dawns.
The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter; God utters his voice, the earth melts.
The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob (and Rebekah) is our refuge.
Come, behold the works of the Lord; see what desolations God has brought on the earth.
God makes wars cease to the end of the earth; God breaks the bow, and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire.
“Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations; I am exalted in the earth.”
The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of (Rebekah and) Jacob is our refuge.” (Psalm 46)

Distracted Living

This week I feel like a walking proverb. I keep relearning lessons I should have learned by heart years ago, and almost always the hard way. Yesterday’s lesson was the old English proverb “Haste Makes Waste.” The teachable moment occurred as I was hurrying out to our shed to jump on the lawn tractor and mow some overgrown grass before an approaching rain storm arrived. On my 30 second walk to the shed I realized my new I-phone was still attached to my belt, and my gut instinct was to take it back into the house and not risk having it fall off my belt and get lost.

But to save the few seconds that would have taken I ignored that notion and hurriedly mowed for 30 minutes or so before the rain started. The grass was very heavy due to a lot of recent rain and at one point I knew I mowed over something that I had not seen in the long grass. Thinking it was a stick or a plastic plant container near the garden I hurried on, not realizing I had chopped my new phone into a million pieces until I finished mowing and realized the phone was no longer on my belt.

Bottom line, the minute I “saved” by not taking my phone back into the house cost me several hours to file an insurance claim, a $199 deductible, and another $60-80 to replace the case the phone was in. Later today I will spend more time activating and updating the new phone when it arrives. Very costly lessons learned.
Ironic that the ever-present cell phone that represents so much of the nano-second, 4G driven pace of life today should be the sacrificial lamb to remind me again to slow down and trust my instincts – you know, that nagging little voice that tells you what you should do that we/I so often override with the cultural norm of faster is better. I have learned that I can actually survive without my phone, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been reminded of how dependent/addicted to it I am as I reached for it or thought of something I could do if I had it.

A good friend helped put things in perspective when I sent him a picture of my phone’s remains. He said, “Well at least it wasn’t a body part.” Very true, but I must admit sometimes it feel like it is. We hear warnings all the time about distracted driving, and that is a major concern. But it is only a symptom of a much larger problem – distracted living. My minor mishap reminded me that there is much more at risk from distracted living than a shiny new I-phone.

When I am not fully present while driving or when talking with another person, I am risking far greater damage to myself and others than the loss of a marvelous handheld computer. When I am not fully present and appreciative of the beauty of God’s creation and my responsibility as a steward of that creation because I’m too busy or too preoccupied to savor and save it, I am disloyal to the one who has given me life. When I am in too much of a hurry to play with a child or notice a homeless brother or sister or to be sensitive to the needs of my neighbors, I need to be reminded to be still and breathe in the awareness of what really matters in life.

Poorer and wiser, I pray for the sense to remember those lessons long after the new phone restores my life to “normal.”

(Note: Part of that return to normalcy will be to continue my series on Pentecost very soon.)