Saturday, June 30, 2012
A PACT with God
I just made a PACT with God. This means I agree to do something starting NOW. Actually, I commit to doing a few somethings. This means we have an agreement. It doesn't mean I can save myself, help myself, or better myself. God is the only one who can do that. It does mean however, that I will:
Prayer is where is all starts. Making the committment to turn the moment, the day, tomorrow -- over to God. I don't do this enough. I start each day by crossing myself and saying, "The day is your's." What I pray later that morning, then that afternoon and later that evening varies. Some prayers are short, "Help me." "Go before me." Others are longer and involve petitions for those who are sick and struggling. I say thanks - for health, for support, for salvation, for strength - for blessings like dogs, music and friendship and being able to live in the best City, in the best state, in the best country in the world. (Is my Californi-centrism showing?)
Bottom line? Go to God. With all of it. Regularly. Cast those cares.
Asking is also in my PACT. I ask God for these specific things:
To understand how much he loves me
To create a clean heart in me
To make each one of my words a gift
To see/love someone the way God sees/loves them
To break my heart for what breaks His
To put people in my path who need to feel/know His love and to cause me to reach out to them
To help me forgive someone
To help leaders rule with compassion
To bless my church, the community center, my staff, all those doing His work
To help me understand WHO He is
To show me His will and give me the courage to act on it
Next in the pact is Connect.
Connect what? Connect how?
Connect to others. To family. To friends. To co-workers. To the needy. Connect with those around me. Get up, out of my chair, up from my desk, out of my pugh, out of the house, out of my routine, my rut, my riga-ma-row, and CONNECT.
Not touch base. Connect.
Not text. Connect.
Not call. Connect.
Not e-mail. Connect. Face to face. Heart to heart.
And I want God to connect me by way of compassion. So I ask "God, who needs me? Who needs YOU? Put me in their path. Take my focus off of me and put it on them. Use me to deliver your love, your hope, your peace."
This past week at work, I made it a point to put down my busy work and go spend time with a co-worker I've know for many years. She unloaded on me. I was with her at her desk about 20 minutes longer than I wanted to be. I felt as though she had been saving up all kinds of stories just for that moment. Then I thought, actually that is probably exactly what happened! We've worked together for over ten years and used to connect regularly. She is smart, well spoken, and has a mind for the latest political and financial news, which I purposefully ignore because of my distain for politics and math. I would often ask her to fill me in on the latest action of Congress or explain the changes to our retirement plan. I wasn't the only one who would hit her up for information. When ObamaCare passed, everyone asked her, "So what does this mean?" She had answers, examples, website referrals. Unfortunately, my work life lately has caused me to withdraw into my overwhelming mountain of responsibilities and focus my eyes on me. I have been too stressed and exhausted to connect. I would spend the mornings wading through emails, furiously typing up agendas and notes and answering phone calls. In the afternoons, my work took me out of the office to countless "meetings about meetings" as I call them. So when I spoke to her the other day, she unloaded weeks and weeks of updates, news, and personal stories she had not shared with me. I could tell she also needed a pat on the back because she told me about something she had done at a meeting that meant a lot to someone who were there. I gave her the pat on the back she was looking for. She deserved it. She needed it. It felt good to re-connect. The next morning on the way to her desk, she stopped in front of my office and said, "Hopester, it is good to hear your voice here in the afternoons."
You're right, my friend, it is good to connect.
Trust is also good. I am pretty trusting in general. I am not one of those people who goes through life with one eyebrow raised about everything and everyone. I can be vulnerable pretty easily. But trusting God? That is a bit harder. Why? Because of my pride. Lately, God has been trying to teach me that despite what I believe or think, I am NOT in control of everything. I do not hold the whole world in my hands. I might feel the weight of it on my shoulders (because I think it is in my hands), but it is NOT in my hands. Now, does that mean I recline on the couch with a bucket of bon-bons while "God does all the work"? Nope. It just means I need to stop with the worrying and start with the trusting. It means I recognize that all of it - the then, the now and the tomorrow are ALL in God's hands. He, who is without a beginning or an ending point, holds MY beginning and ending points in his hands. When I think of this, I get a clear picture in my mind. I see God, white bearded and on top of a rocky mountain (I may be confusing his image with that of Moses from a Mel Brooks movie) holding my timeline in his hands. There is a new song out by Casting Crowns that covers this same topic: Already There by Casting Crowns
To fulfill this part of my pact -- to TRUST GOD -- it helps me to keep in mind:
God is good (Psalm 136:1). God has my best interests in mind (Jeremiah 29:11). God keeps his promises (I Corinthians 1:9). This world is not all there is (I John 3:17).
Terrible things happen - people are dishonest - sickness strikes and kills - relationships suffer - life is full of tragedy and toils, none of which are easily understood or beared. There are no simple answers and most of the time, no quick fix. Sometimes life stinks and this is not about Poly-Anna-ism. It's about living in reality with an eternal mindset. Lately, my work life has been like an 18 wheeler that's just blown half it's tires (all on one side) on a downhill, curvy mountain grade. To say in passing that "It's no big deal!" would be like standing next to my disabled big-rig, now dangling off the top of a run-away truck ramp, with a can of "Fix a Flat." God doesn't expect that. He DOES want me to trust him though. This week I realized that it is OK to be SAD about the unfortunate things that happen in life, but when it starts turning to MAD, then I need to check myself before I wreck myself. Mad means I am going to take matters into my own hands - in this case my own clenched fists! You hurt me so I am going to resent you. You took something from me and I am going to get it back if its the last thing I do! Oh yeah, think you can hurt me? Just wait, you'll get your's! While I am steaming in my own dark, dingy motel room of bitterness and anger, and that person is sipping an apple martini by the hotel pool.
Trust God. So hard to do, but part of my pact. God you are in control. Not me. I trust you.
So, that's the PACT I made for my faith journey.
Care to join me?