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Sunday, January 29, 2012

The most basic priority will help you become a better prophet

Every one of us has anxieties in our lives, things that we worry about.  This might be especially true when  we are hit by a recession, or the death of a friend or family, or are having trouble with a child.  We might become so wrapped in our anxiety that we lose sight of the big picture.  We might even blame God for our troubles, or wonder why He'd let such things happen.

Sometimes we become so wrapped up in our own anxieties that we leave God in search of answers somewhere else.  We doubt that He exists.  We feel as though he has abandoned us.  Yet with a little soul searching, we usually find ourselves and, like the child who is away from his parents a long time, we yearn for their return.

Yet the Prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 49: 14-15), when the people of Israel felt anxiety and that God had abandoned them, explained, "Can a woman forget her own child, I will never forget you." 

Likewise, when we feel anxiety, it's usually because we are worrying about things of which we have little control.  We worry how we are to put food on the table, or the best clothing on our children.  I presently worry that the mood changes that have effected my 7 year old after the death of her grandma and great grandma in the same day, might linger and effect the rest of her life.

I worry about my other kids, and my relationship with my best friend.  I worry that I might write something on this blog that might offend my boss and get me in the crap shoot.  I worry, like many do, that I might drop dead in a heart beat and never get to see my kids grow up.

Yet Matthew (Matthew 6 (24-34) writes that we should not be worried about the clothes we wear or the food we eat, "after all, isn't life worth more than food?  And isn't the the body worth more than food?" 

I think this passage might be one of my favorites in the Bible, and perhaps the most humbling.  We sit around worrying about these little things in life that seem so big, yet as Matthew continues on, he explains that these things are always provided for by God, or by God's prophets.  God will either provide these things, or one of his little helpers will come along and provide them for Him for you.

Likewise, he is also saying that there is something more important than anything you do in this life.  There is something you should do before you do any worrying, and even before you do any good deed.  Before you become the prophet of the Lord (which is what we RTs are in a way because we are helping people), you must first reaffirm your relationship with your God.

You must become one with God.  You must reaffirm your values and virtues.  You must think about:

1. love
2. hope
3. justice
4. forgiveness
5. family
6. service
7. compassion
8. truth
9. faith
10.  gratuity
Mother Theresa, before she would do any acts of goodness, would spend three hours in prayer every day.  I wouldn't expect you or me to spend three hours in prayer, yet a moment of prayer in the morning is often all it takes.  A moment in the morning, a moment before (or after) meals, and a moment before bed.

Once we have reaffirmed our faith, once we have reaffirmed our relationship with God (you can use God as a metaphor for the values listed above if you want), once we reaffirm with ourselves what our mission is in this life, once we reassure ourselves of our purpose, then and only then should you do anything else. 

Yet you should not worry or be anxious.  As Matthew explains, "Look at the birds:  they do not plant seeds, gather a harvest and put it in barns: yet your Father in heaven takes care of them!  Aren't you worth much more than birds?  Can any of you live a bit longer by worrying about it?"

The answer is not.  In fact, worrying is proven to take years off your life. Worrying causes ulcers and asthma and all sorts of bad stuff.  Worrying causes many to resort to gluttony.  It causes us to do things that feel pleasant but are unpleasant in the long run. A good example of this is the gluttony of yours truly when his first three children were in the making and were infants.  It was easy to replace anxieties with food and drink.

Yet with the last child he did the opposite.  While his while was pregnant, instead of resorting to gluttony and gaining weight with her, he did the Body for Life.  It was a sacrifice and it was almost unpleasantly hard, yet the pleasures of that hard work are now paying off. 

I remember when I was at National Jewish Hospital in 1985.  The first three months were fine, because I was told I'd be home at the end of three months.  Yet then I was told I would be there another three months after that.  This effected me for the worse.  I refused to talk to anyone.  I became a lost in my own head.  I became utterly depressed.  Then I turned to God and reaffirmed my faith (I wrote about this here).  I became closer to God than I ever had been before.

I think this faith lasted until about the year 2000 when I got my full time job working nights.  I became so rapt in my own desires and my own family and my own self that I lost my way. Thankfully when I lost my way I'm not referring to doing anything terrible.  Yet I felt as though I had lost my relationship with God.  I hated my boss.  I hated my job.  I felt utterly miserable. 

Yet after a while I decided it was time to return home.  I missed the way I felt when I was close to God.  I missed being that person who never cursed or never said anything negative.  I missed being the person everyone looked up to.  So I searched for God, and, as Isaiah wrote so many years ago, God was right there with open arms. 

The neat thing, soon after I started reading the Bible every day and going to church every week, good things started to happen.  Bad things happened in my life, and I didn't feel empty.  I didn't blame God.  My mother in law died and she was only 50, and I was able to cope with it quite well.  I quit complaining at work (I wrote about this here), and the boss soon placed me in a more positive position within the department.  People started looking up to me.  People who used to hate me were now getting along with me. 

I see something similar in my children.  My grandma once said to me that you, as a dad, will be like a got to your children.  I see what she means when I discipline my children.  They hate me for a short time, and then an hour later they are my best friend again.  They yearn for me to be with them. 

Ironically, as the priest was discussing the above, my daughter was throwing a fit in church.  She was refusing to sit and stand properly.  She put her coat over hear head.  When I returned to home I had no choice but to punish her to her room.  Then I found a book of mine (Stephen Kings Full Dark, No Stars), and saw that it had been written on.  It was my daughter's handwriting.  It said, "I don't believe in god"

I usually view book desecration by kids a good thing.  I think it makes the book more valuable.  Yet what she wrote stung.  It made me wonder about what is going on in her head.  Yet then I think back to when I was an anxious kid, and how did I turn out?  I turned out perfectly normal.  God provided a normal life for me, so why not would God provide a normal life for my daughter.

So worry I quit.  And an hour later my daughter was in the living room sitting next to me, giving me a big hug.  She loved me, and I loved her back.  God made us in His image.  As my love for my daughter will never end, God's love for me will never end.  When became lost and decided to be found, he was right there with open arms.

As Matthew continues, "So do not start worrying: 'Where will my food come from? or my drink? or my clothes?  (These are things that the pagans are always worried about). Your father in heaven knows you need all of these things.  Instead, be concerned about everything else with the Kingdom of God and with what he requires of you, and he will provide you with all these other things.  So do not worry about tomorrow, it will have enough worries of its own.  there is not need to add to the troubles each day brings."

We are all here in this life on a mission.  We all have a purpose.  Yet, we must prioritize.  As Paul explains (Corinthians 4: 1-2), "You should think of us as Christ's servants, who have been in charge of god's secret truths.  The one thing required of such a servant is that he be faithful to his master."

So we must re-confirm with ourselves the basics of life and what is important.  We must remember our values.  We must know what our mission on this earth is, and then and only then must we go out in the real world and do what we were born to do.  In my case, I was born to spend time with sick people and blog.  What were you born to do?


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