The more difficult my week is, the more I look forward to Sundays at C3. The more I struggle, the more I need to see and experience the reason for the struggle. Sundays are like closure for me, the glimpse of some great hope coming into focus. The more the lens of my perspective gets blurry, often from too much self-focus, the more I need the clarity that comes from remembering the vision – from refocusing on the needs of others.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get to go to C3 this morning. Our family is fighting some kind of “bug”, and it has benched us all for the weekend…
So, we watched several different services and speakers – some local, most not. Of course, Joel Osteen helped with my mood – with his positive thinking and friendly manner; And other pastors encouraged me with their sermons and talks – any time scripture is spoken to a heart that knows God, it is refreshed. And some services/pastors reminded me of why we now “do church” the way we now do. But still, I missed the element that, for me, I find only at C3…my particular purpose for the tough days, the struggles, the sleepless nights – my calling coming again into focus.
I won’t say that it wasn’t a discouragement to me, personally, to see the services of local churches where so many of those I considered my friends, and yet left me, now attend. Not a profound discouragement, as I have already dealt with my feelings about these losses, but just a momentary pang of disappointment…
So, I missed the highlight of my week. I have already heard that everything went well. Of course, Pastor Barry, did an awesome job of speaking in Byron’s absence. But, on Sunday afternoon, I’m just used to feeling uplifted…lighter and more focused to tackle the week ahead. So I will have to work harder to keep things in proper perspective.
I’ve spent some time reading this morning. I love to read quotes…quotable quotes. Here are a couple that spoke to me, in particular:
“Who will tell whether one happy moment of love or the joy of breathing or walking on a bright morning and smelling the fresh air, is not worth all the suffering and effort which life implies.”- Erich Fromm
“What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.”- Saint Augustine
“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” – Helen Keller
Of course, my greatest quotable source of inspiration is The Word. Paul writes this when his friends are concerned about his well-being:
Philippians 4:10-12 (The Message)
The Message (MSG)10-14 “I’m glad in God, far happier than you would ever guess—happy that you’re again showing such strong concern for me. Not that you ever quit praying and thinking about me. You just had no chance to show it. Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. I don’t mean that your help didn’t mean a lot to me—it did. It was a beautiful thing that you came alongside me in my troubles.”
In this passage, I am reminded that:
*God, alone, can provide the strength to accomplish His purpose.
*Succes is not determined by the amount of possessions accumulated…or the lack thereof.
*Contentment is not based upon outward circumstances.
*Peace comes from within, and is a supernatural act of God.
*True, deep friendship can strengthen the soul in times of hardship.
I suppose that today, for me, is less about inspiration and more about focus. There are lessons for me to revisit, grace and forgiveness to be remembered, and true contentment and peace to be more fully embraced. In doing these things, this Sunday remains like the others…a highlight, a resting place to gather my courage for the days to come.
And, as Robert Frost said: “The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep. And miles to go before I sleep…”
Peace and contentment to you all!