18 Jul 2015

Take that small step... for Grace is always coming

Little things add up.

Good stuff
bad stuff.

Things turn, topple or triumph because of small measures taken repeatedly over time.

The home is crafted
The marriage is enriched
The souls are stronger
The bodies are fitter

In our world of loud, fast and sensational; we forget this pace God has built.

With hi-speed photography and lapse-time, we now get to see within minutes, even seconds; and within the comforts of our home and ever shortening attention-spans. -
the space shuttle that took nearly ten years reach the distant planet
the seed radical emerge, anchor, shoots grow out out from the grown, then leaf, bud, blossom and fruit
the spider spinning her intricate web and then trapping and storing her meal

So if you are feeling discouraged that change is coming too slow, check what mode your camera is in; what lens you are using. Perhaps too much zoom on the details? Perhaps not enough light and the aperture is too small? Perhaps you are taking multiple exposures hoping to see significant change when it isn't time yet?

My good friend has a fiesty mom who after many years grudgingly read some tracts and went to church. She professed Christ but afterwards did not enjoy going to church. Naturally, we dug around the details: did she really mean her response to Christ? Why are her old habits so hard to break? How is it she doesn't seem to show much spiritual hunger or interest?
The weeks dragged on to months. You can feel anxious, worried and angry.
Mom is getting older. She even had to go for surgery. My friend, busy as she is, felt it was important to be around for mom more. When she traveled, I sometimes called in to check on mom for her. They did simple things like watch TV, cook, eat. We prayed for mom.
A few weeks ago, my friend suggested that they could read the Bible together when they had time. Mom agreed! Then mom decided to go back to church too.

This story reminded me of the power of small things.

We can turn away and get busy with other stuff, urgent, attention-seeking, self-satisfying. But what would happen to mom, and what would our hearts miss as a result? 

Grace laps gently and persistently at the shorelines of our lives and each time the waves sweep back, we are cleaner and sometimes we find wondrous deposits.

Over time, the shoreline gets redefined and our shape emerges.

But Grace must be allowed to arrive, to break upon the shore and disrupt it abit, to clean back, glass off ... Grace is not water in a cup but a coming of God upon our lives to invite us to that which we fail to see, and so fail to do.

Grace is Goodness' entrance in daily, seasonal, purposeful ways.

What small thing could you do today?

9 Jul 2015

To Really Live when life is hazy

That haze we all hate is such an apt metaphor for our times.

It's in the air.
It affects visibility. We all want to see clearly.

It gets in our air.
It affects air quality. We all want to breathe easy.

It gets on our nerves.
It reminds us that others may not care about what matters to us; may be unfair or even barbaric (to us) - and vice versa, really. We all want respect, fairness, and the power to get our due.

Life is hazy. We don't always see properly, our breaths are quick and shallow as we rush from one thing to another; and we bump into situations and people we wish we did not!

Our faith, purpose in life, motivations can all be hazy too.

This blog site is called To Really Live. I don't even remember when i started it! But it is my personal quest. I have one life and I want to really - live - it. I don't want to merely exist. I don't want to skirt around the edges or float like a phantasm.

Being around for nearly half a century, I feel that we have made life less clear and more cluttered. The voices, views and vistas are so many, we are left wondering, longing, and lost.

How does one..... Really . Live?  To have hearts that are not troubled or afraid?

We need to know what we Live For. 
There is a forward pull to life. We need a sense of direction, some goals, a telos of final destination. Heaven perhaps. Or God Himself? It's useful to seek, establish and recall what we live for. Or we shall can be easily troubled when we compare ourselves with others and then, afraid that we are losing out or worse, just plain lost!

We need to know that we Live From.
Many of us try to live away from. Some live away from their homes, their parents, their hearts. We are trained and enticed to look at all that shines and glitter and shun our lives; especially the bits we cannot finish gnawing off, that never quite get digested: regrets, hurts, pains, shame losses.
But to live well we need substance. The very life we have is the substance from which we are to find compost for fresh shoots.
Our hearts are often troubled and afraid when the past creeps up. Though not all of our past can be understood or explained; we can find peace when we embrace it. Peace comes not in the absence of trouble; but in the midst of it.

We need to know how to Live In.
If we deny our past, we are likely to fail to engage our present. Life is a series of days and an outworking of choices. Beneath it all is the hum of our emotions.
Yet the most amazing thing about life is The Present Moment. Each present moment has the potential to change the trajectory of our lives. What if God had primed us for this moment? What if God has provided someone or something right now, right here, that will call us forth? What if God is right here with us?
To live in our lives presently is the best act of faith and defiance there is. When we choose to embrace, give thanks and serve right where we are, we are saying we trust God to work things out, we are saying we believe in miracles, we are refusing to let our past suck us back in or the future discombobulate us. It is to be rooted, anchored and steadfast. After all, God is a very present help in trouble. 

This space is for us to learn, let go, love and so, To Really Live. Yes, you will find stuff about -

The past ~ memories, reflections, lessons
The future ~ dreams, plans, inspiration
The present ~ dailiness, doldrums, darting danger and drumming up fun!

And dear friends, join in. Your past can encourage my present, Your future can be energised my past.

 Let's Really Live - together - for it was never meant to be done alone.

Thank you for being here.

28 Jun 2015

are you an anvil or a pickaxe aka how to really be a blessing

We all need to be beaten into shape.

Life will deal us blows. And it rarely happens when we are all alone, although it happens most when we feel we are all alone. Huge difference there.

The blows of intimidation, anger, accusation, rejection, disappointment, betrayal.

Some get these blows direct, hard, often.
Most get them on occasion.
Sometimes the blows aren't enough to kill us, but they are slowly destroying our zeal to live.

What we don't realise enough though is that we serve out those blows too. And it doesn't just happen when we are the direct agents causing the hurt. It can happen too when instead of being an anvil, we become a pickaxe (or ice pick or whatever you fancy).

The anvil is what a piece of metal to be shaped sits on. It is strong, solid and takes the blows with the poor metal being beaten into shape. without the anvil to rest on, the work does not get done. There is no stronger substance to absorb the blows. The anvil also has various parts that help to get the metal beaten into the right shape - to add a curve, to punch a hole.

The pickaxe or ice pick on the other hand works by striking and breaking a large piece up. If you are prone to analysis, love perfection, cannot stand uncertainty - this profile probably fits better. Situations, people, crises are all taken apart in your mind and heart; and comes tumbling out in words and mannerisms. Also, as most of us have become so used to being picked on; by parents, teachers, peers, even the media - it is the easier skill to imbibe.

P: I'm worried.
J: Why? What did you do? Are you sure the worry is valid?

I've come to realise that I lived a very insecure first few years; and my attempts to feel unafraid have ranged from being knowledgeable, to being funny, to be right, to being strong. {what about you?}

So it's easy to be a pickaxe.

Yet, those same experiences and my efforts to make it safely through a treacherous world have given me an empathy and mercy that is deep as it is easy.

So I can be an anvil.

I am writing this because just recently i felt the painful jabs of a pickaxe - again.

My initial response was to pickaxe back - even if I mostly do it within me. But time and many painful episodes have taught me it is a rather futile regiment. I do not ignore my pain or gloss over my sadness. I take it to the One Anvil I know who can take all the blows. I trust Him to accept the blows with me and in His Silent Sovereignty to direct those blows so that they shape me up and not smash me apart.

It is hard to not react when you sense danger or feel alarmed.
It is hard to not despair when in a moment all that you thought was in the past come rushing back.
It is hard to not fantasize of another world, another time and drug yourself with false hopes.

The metal being beat sees that threatening pickaxe or hammer coming down and it must be terrified !

But it is not destroyed. For it sits on The Anvil.

"we are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed." ~ 2 Corinthians 4v8-9

And while waiting for the sting to fade, such moments help a lot: