Personal Musing: When good friends move away

People in our life come and go, everything has a time and a season. Sometimes there are times of parting as people go on to their next phase in life. In the past I have had good college friends move on in their life and we still connect or touch base every once and awhile but those relationships are changed, never what they were.  Today, the person who I consider my best friend is moving far away. It is a good thing for him, time to move on, move ahead, and move forward.  Now granted since we have both gotten married we have spent less and less time doing stuff together as we focus on life together, but we were always a phone call away and there was always time to get together as needed. Now he is moving to Oregon, a place a long, long way away. No more getting together to watch a football game or just hang out and talk, that time and season has come to a close. Yet, no matter what the distance he will always be like a brother to me which is interesting because my biological brother lives on the East coast, and he will live now out on the West coast.  

 

The fact is relationships time, people serve their intent and purpose for a season. Some seasons are long, some short.  Some relationships endure but change, others just end. There are many people who have come into my life and left that have no contact with, some cannot even recall their names to look up on Facebook or elsewhere if they were even there. However, that does not diminish at all the value of that relationship.  Some people we let in to the deep stuff others just kept to surface, but the people we come across we touch and they touch us in some manner. 

 

The thing is to be thankful and grateful for the people who come and go and what they give you and you give them.  For each relationship is precious. For those that have been true friends in my life thank you for what you have given me and I have given to you.  So today, a parting as my best friend leaves for Oregon. The question then becomes what is next as move ahead and what the next season brings. The important thing is to stay open and engaged and be willing to move beyond self and connect. For there are blessings for self and others in doing and where God’s love is demonstrated, others are drawn to Him.

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Personal Musing: When things compound

Well, on the verge of getting moving forward when ended up with a new influenza infection resulting in any momentum that was restarting slowed.  Many of what I wanted to get moving forward on and getting back to continued to be on the back burner.  However, one thought notice is that this viral infection was another in a series of compounding events that built up to make it difficult to engage and move forward.  It is the compounding of things in and of themselves minor that can wear one down.  In essence, the more things that can compound the higher the level of “felt suffering” or as we like to call it, stress.  It is one bit of pressure compounding another and so on.  We all have periods in our life where we experience such pressures.  Now, in the long run such moments and seasons of life do strengthen us, for it is under pressure that we grow.  It is times like this that can reveal areas of self that need to be turned from or grow.  It is under such periods of time that we can be aware of things that were doing, ways of interacting or doing that are  not in line with serving Jesus.  It is the ways of self, the routines we get comfortable with even if we know it is just not quite right but have come to have it as acceptable and no big deal.   See, here is the deal, just as what might be considered minor “personal suffering” when taken in whole with other issues will be harder when compounded with others, is it not or sin and selfishness and acceptance of what we consider minor just a reflection of deeper issues.  When sin compounds and builds on sin it becomes far more than one issue.  This is part of why all sin is sin, there is nothing minor.  For it all compounds and before God, even what most may consider no big deal, to Him is corruption and twisting and will only compound with other things that might not be considered no big deal.  So what are your thoughts?  Are you in a period or season of compounding suffering?  Do you have things in your life you consider to be minor and no big deal?  What do you need to turn from in this season, this time?

Musing on the fragility and unpredictability of life

No matter how long we are in this world life is short. Life is filled with twists, turns, ups, and downs. There is good, bad, painful, difficult, ugly, joyous, beautiful, and painful as the Bible states in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 there is a time and season for everything. Recent life events have thoughts musing about the fragility and unpredictability of life on this earth. One day a person can have freedom the next a sudden acceleration can kill some people and a person can end up wrongly imprisoned as was the case of Koua Fong Lee who spent two years in prison but was recently released in light of the evidence of problems with Toyota’s and sudden acceleration. Joseph one day was serving Potipher the best he could and the next minute accused of trying to rape his wife resulting in many years in prison. The fact is difficult and extremely painful things can happen to any of us at anytime. They can range from minor irritations like viral infections to more severe forums of suffering.

It Matthew 5:45b (ESV) Jesus states: For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. The good and difficult things that happen in life, happen. The question for each believer is how we deal with both the good and bad. What does mean to be truly at peace and what can bring the perceived peace into question. It is during the difficult and tough times that test how we stand in pain when things are not going well. In the good times, when everything goes well the question is really is how much is the good taken for granted or seen as a byproduct of self? Paul stated in Philippians 4:13 (ESV) that the secret to any situation any season in life is: I can do all things through him who strengthens me. We can say it easily enough, but do we grasp what it means, or is it a nice phrase that can be put on a plaque on the wall?

So what does that phrase really come down to? Well examining the words a little closer it really comes down to the ability to be at true peace and wholeness comes not from our own effort but in surrender and dependence on the Messiah. It really points for the need to surrender. Times of plenty and times of pain are difficult times to surrender. One it is easy to place a lot of emphasis on self, the other to focus on the pain and suffering. Both can lead to a focus on self. Here it is really a true turning from self and resting in Jesus so that what God puts before us we are able to do regardless of season of life.

God only knows what will happen in each of our lives. We can face tests like Koua Fong Lee or Joseph with wrongful imprisonment. We can face choices to serve God and give up what appears to be good for self? We can be asked to give up what God has promised like Abraham. The fact is we will all face times of testing of one form or another. Some testing is short, some are longer, but when you surrender to God, he works to His good purpose. As the Bible states in Romans 8:28 (ESV)
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Now each of us may never know what was the good brought in difficult times. God simply asks us to surrender and trust him regardless. It is real easy to lose focus and sight of what God is doing. Honestly there are many times in my life where focus was lost. There are times of great anger and sin that came from circumstances in my life not matching my hopes and expectations and God not bringing things about according to my will. Ultimately the process becomes about bringing my will in alignment to his and living in surrender. For it is only in surrender of self and alignment of my will to God’s where there is any peace and wholeness.

Groundhog Day Musings

Today is Groundhog’s day. It is a day of superstitious tradition that the extension of winter occurs for six more weeks if the groundhog sees his shadow. For those curious about the history and foundation of the practice, it is connected primarily to ancient Celtic pagan practices. In particular it stems from a festival called Imbolc and is part of the pagan concept of Wheel of the Year. There was a Catholic syncretistic festival known as Candlemas and focused on being the time when Mary presented at temple for purification and when Simeon made his pronouncement. The main themes of both the pagan and Catholic tradition are of purification, initiation, and fire. It is seen as a time of light returning and overcoming darkness. This brief history examination is to really show the shaky foundation of Groundhogs day. As with most superstitious rights, the actual accuracy is poor. The Groundhog Day results have only been accurate about 39 percent of the time. It is interesting to examine why this ritual and superstition is held and remains a part of culture. Groundhogs day is really about looking to an early end to the winter season.

The winter season is generally one of trial. It is a time when darkness is greater than light. It is a time hoping for an end and release to what is seen as suffering and trial. In life, we often look for signs or hope that suffering will come to an end. We hope the course of any trial in life is short, or runs a shorter course. It is a focus on hoping that what is not liked ends quickly. Like winter, trials have a set course, they run only for a season. Granted some seasons last a lifetime, but it is always but a moment. Ultimately, the pain and suffering can be blinding. Pain can be all-consuming and the focus becomes on just quick release. Yet, everything serves a purpose. We all suffer, just as we all face winter. It is just a matter of the differences in perspective. No matter how severe the pain or trial it can be endured and transcended. It is all about focus. It is all about connecting to the true light, Jesus. It is about seeing the pains and suffering in this world from a different perspective. Suffering is not the greatest evil in the world. Our focus on self is. Often how we deal with the trials in our life really illuminate how self-focused we are.

Here is a challenge, face each day as it comes. Each day look to Jesus first and take eyes off the ebbs and flows of the seasons of life and the ongoing turning of time. Life is far more than the empty turning of a wheel found in paganistic views, but rather each day has meaning, even the trials and pain. All true meaning is illuminated in Jesus, who is the light of the world. It is Jesus who redeems the darkness and brings true newness. Jesus is the end and beginning of the true circle of life. He is the one who bring true hope, true peace, and true joy that enables standing in the midst.

Musings on Seasons

Life consists of a varied series of seasons. We know the obvious seasons of spring, summer, winter, and fall that are part of the regular ebb and flow of life. Yet, the seasons of life are more than the orderly flow of time. Even the flow of the seasons is variable. The Bible even indicates that in life there are many seasons in Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 (ESV):


For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

Many things come, go and are part of life. Often the things we enjoy and get pleasure from last too short. The things that hurt and are painful last too long. The lengths of season are variable and impacted by our perceptions of the season. Sometimes a treasured relationship ends abruptly; conflicts last too long. In the end, our time in life is but an instance. As James 4:14 (KJV) states: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

Yet, many focus on capitalizing and focusing on pursuit the seasons of pleasure. We all like pleasure, yet when we encounter it, we do not savor it but rather often seek to engorge on the pleasure. For many, life is just moving from one momentary pleasure to the next. Yet, those seasons of pleasure fade, times of pain and sorrow always come. For many, life is about minimizing the suffering and maximizing the pleasure. There is another way. A way that looks beyond the constant shifting of seasons, there is something solid that stands up to the shifts. While seasons come and go, the Kingdom of God always stands. The rock of the Gospel is everlasting and un-shifting. It is not a momentary pleasure that last but awhile. It is the source of wholeness and completeness. For only in establishing right relationship with the Creator, which only happens not by self-effort but by, the redemption offered in the death and resurrection of Jesus. It all really comes down to where the focus of your life is. The continual pursuit of self and the temporary seasons of pleasure, or surrender to the King of Kings and accepting the gift of redemption allowing reconciliation and citizenship in the Kingdom of God.