Monday, March 13, 2017

True Hope Enters Only As False Hope Departs

HUMANITY is utterly dependent on hope. We all derive hope from somewhere. We all place our faith in something. Not all hope is healthy or productive.
It can be difficult to discern whether the hope we hope upon is a hope that will stack up at crunch time. One thing for sure, however, is once hope is gone — I’m talking all hope — a new never more vibrant hope may finally be allowed to make its long-awaited entrance. Requisite with surrender.
This can only be explained as the hope of God — hope that is stripped of every scaffold with which to attach false and failing hopes.
When we lose something uniquely valuable in life it feels we’ve lost everything. But there’s one thing we gain in losing it all. A fresh start. An unadulterated hope. Courage to begin again. To recommence life in a way that God designed us to live from the beginning. To hope in the only Source that can never disappoint.
Some, maybe many, of us will never truly believe in God until we’re desperate enough — when we need to hope, finally we hope with complete abandon.
Hope, when to hope is all we have left, because there is no other hope.
Back’s against the wall stuff. Nothing left to attach vain hopes to. Nothing else works. Only the true hope of Christ does. And it requires the fullest surrender, not to men, but to God’s leading Spirit. Then, and only then, do we realise that His Spirit is real, alive.
Hope, when to hope is all we have left, because there is no other hope. Think about it like this. We only grow beyond the gravitational pull of the forces that hold us in old and sick patterns when we have the courage to get past dated trajectories.
The Blessed Hope in Jesus Christ works. He heals and restores. But only if we let Him.
Hope works when we have no hope left but to hope. Then we find such a hope is the only true hope.
When we need to hope, we hope!
Only as we’re forced to relinquish a long list of false hopes do we then see the one True Hope, which is all we’ll ever need.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Wisdom in the Wind and the Destinations of Leaves

WORK is good for us, even if we don’t enjoy it. It’s one of the purposes of our lives — to enjoy our work. Work teaches us wisdom.
I’ve found God teaching me such a wisdom in the work of sweeping, sucking and blowing leaves. Most times I come back two days later and the leaves have returned. Sometimes it’s two hours, and worse when it’s two minutes. (Perth, Western Australia, is one of the windiest cities in the world.)
Whenever someone tells me that they would prefer work like mine — blowing and sucking leaves — over their more nebulous work, because they’d actually see results for their work, they may well forget how short-lived the results are. Instead of seeing results in my work, many times God has tested me with the futility of it.
But such work is not futile even if it seems so. There is wisdom over the horizon beyond futility.
Whenever we do anything in life that seems futile, we’re simply a step from frustration.
And that’s where purpose is birthed: on the cusp of something like frustration. In frustration we’re only a moment from God — or an eternity away.
The ultimate purpose in frustration is to teach us something: that we have less control over the physics of life than we’d prefer.
Knowing the leaves are coming back need not cause frustration, but awareness of our place in life. This physical life runs according to physical laws.
Frustration is futility. But it is equally an invitation into acceptance of that cannot be changed.
Such is the wisdom of God nurtured within; whenever we agree with incontrovertible reality.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Questions I’ve Found Useful in Unravelling Anxiety

Managing anxiety is a complex topic, and simplistic answers don’t cut it. By asking questions, like those of the following, may give some insight, and could prove a worthy investment of time. I’ve found them of benefit, personally.
1.      Using concrete terms, what does my fear feel like at present?
Naming the sources and components and manifestations of fear is mastery of anxiety. It leads us on a journey for the truth, and such a search can unearth gold.
2.     How is this anxiety actually affecting me? Is it in my mind or is it affecting my body? Or both.
Become mindfully aware of the type of changes anxiety induces means we begin to measure the personal cost. List the differing indicators.
3.     When is this worse? Early in the morning upon waking, during the day, or evening?
Having noticed the patterns in how anxiety hits and shapes mood helps us strategise around how to mitigate vulnerable parts of the day.
4.     What or whom is giving me the perception that I’m being pursued?
Knowing what or whom is making us feel fearful is an important awareness. It could be one or a bunch of things. We only learn if we make a study of these things. Write them down.
5.     Where is the anxiety pointing me? Do I feel I’m sliding deeper or coming out?
Discovering the trajectory of our anxiety helps us track our progress, as well as know when to call for help. There’s no shame in asking for help, and indeed that’s wisdom.
6.     What can I do today to get out of my mind by focusing on something else?
Even if we can only get out of our minds and distracted onto life for a few moments several times a day, we’ve achieved something.
7.     Where is the role for hope in the strategy for living today?
Hope is such an important thing, and when anxiety comes into full effect, hope can seem vanquished. But hope can be resurrected through planning and doing things we’re looking forward to. We have sound hope when have three or four things per week that we’re looking forward to.
These are only a sample set of questions on a topic that could yield a thousand.
Learning about our anxiety cannot make it worse, but it can make coping with it better.
Add your question in the comments.

Learning the Indispensable Lesson of Patience

When I started a particular role, I had no idea how God would use it to fashion the character refinement I need right now, for character refinement is a right now kind of thing.
In one word, patience. It continues to be an indispensable lesson through which God speaks.
Not that I see myself as principally impatient. But there are nuances of patience that are sometimes sadly lacking in me. I’m patient with the people I help, for instance. But I have been very impatient in the case of some interruptions and disruptions.
Here’s a story. Delivering meals to a ninety-five-year-old, I had to walk about 200 metres from my delivery van. I help her get the meals inside and then she asks for a menu. (I hadn’t thought about bringing one with me!) It’s nearly forty degrees Celsius (over 100 degrees Fahrenheit) and I will need not one more trek, but at least three. As I walked back to the van I began to complain. My heart was turning red. And immediately I knew it. What is worse than complaint? The ugliness of soul that must be borne in that mood. And it was my fault, which enigmatically made me more frustrated.
Isn’t it maddening, debilitating, and ultimately futile, when we kick against the goads of life? Yet, we all tend to rail against God some way or other. In this situation, I was complaining even in the knowledge it was making matters worse. Then, finally, comes the opportunity of resolve: PATIENCE, now. Not in five minutes. NOW.
I’ve had to learn the old-fashioned hard way, over several months, that God has His purpose in interruptions and disruptions, even if I still don’t like it. And no amount of frustration can reconcile that purpose. Frustration only leads to the promulgation of confusion, and that is the path paved with the bricks of becoming overwhelmed. Anger tips into sadness, which can end in tears, and finally the long way around to peace. And if anger doesn’t lead to surrender it follows that we may end up violent. Never good!
Patience is a direct route to peace, because it surrenders what is outside its control.
Patience is taking one’s opportunity to hear God speak into a situation of complaint.
Hear God say, “Ease up, you’re making much more of this than you have a say over.”
Patience is wisdom that borrows insight from hindsight, making it foresight.