Begin each day with a thankful spirit until it becomes a way of life. Start by focusing on the simple, the mundane … the air we breathe, the ability to serve others, the privilege of thinking about God. It is this spirit that raises us to live on a level above our circumstances rather than under them.Darien Cooper, “The Beauty of Beholding God”
One piece of wise advice I’ve received came from a home management book: “Desperate Households” by Kathy Peel. She wrote:
Part of responding to the unexpected is learning to see situations for what they are, not what we imagine them to be.
You could stop and ask God for patience, wisdom and the ability to remain calm and not say anything you’ll regret later. We do ourselves and our families a favor when we’re anchored by our priorities and are able to wisely and calmly meet the inevitable crises we face day in and out.Kathy Peel
Today is the memorial for Martha of Bethany. She’s the woman best known for asking Jesus to tell her sister to get up off her rear end and help her. I think Martha is the patron saint for today’s busy working women.
Brother Lawrence is the patron saint of Christian mindfulness. Here’s some advice from him on getting things done that could have helped Martha:
We must carry out all of our actions with care and with wisdom, without the impetuosity and precipitancy (haste) of a distraught mind. It is necessary to work peacefully, tranquilly and lovingly with God, begging him to accept our work. And by this continual mindfulness of God, we shall crush the head of the devil and cause his weapons to fall from his hands.Brother Lawrence
Jesus told Martha, as you know, that “only one thing was necessary” and her sister was already doing it. Thousands of stories have been told about this conversation. But we also need to remember that Martha understood the truth.
As she said to Jesus when he arrived after her brother Lazarus’ death, “I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.”
When that happens, I know it’s time for me to sit up and listen. It’s usually the Lord speaking.
This week I’ve had synchronicity around the idea of growing so close to the Lord that I can reflect His love to others. As Mother Teresa always said, we start with the people in front of us. Yes, pray for others. But also become aware that God may ask you to be the answer to their prayers.
Spiritual formation begins and ends with love. … The way of Christ is not about earning righteousness or self-development. It’s the total transformation of the human personality into the likeness of Jesus Christ: body, mind, heart and soul.
When the Spirit awakens us with his love, we come to see ourselves utterly known and loved by God. There’s nothing we can do to make him love us more, and there’s nothing we can do to make him love us less.Jonathan R. Bailey, “The Eternal Journey”
Then the Lord answered Job out of the storm and said: “Where were you when I founded the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its size? Surely you know? Who stretched out the measuring line for it? Who shut within doors the sea, when it burst forth from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment, and thick darkness its swaddling bands? When I set limits for it and fastened the bar of its door, and said: Thus far shall you come but no farther, and here shall your proud waves stop?Job 38: 1, 4-5, 8-11
First of all, my child, think magnificently of God. Magnify His providence. Adore His power. Pray to Him frequently and incessantly. Bear Him always in your mind. Teach your thoughts to reverence Him in every place for there is no place where He is not. Therefore, my child, fear and worship and love God. First and last, think magnificently of Him.Paternus, “Advice to a Son”
Just as we must learn to obey God one choice at a time, we also must learn to trust God one circumstance at a time.
Trusting God is not a matter of my feelings, but of my will. The truth we must believe is that God is sovereign. He carries out His own good purposes without ever being thwarted.
Our first priority in times of adversity is to honor and glorify God by trusting Him.
We tend to make our first priority the gaining of relief from our feelings of heartache, disappointment and frustration. This is a natural desire, and God has promised to give us grace sufficient for our trials and peace for our anxieties.
We honor God by choosing to trust Him when we don’t understand what He is doing or why He has allowed some circumstance.Jerry Bridges, “Trusting God”
What does it mean to live in the world with a truly compassionate heart, a heart that remains open to all people at all times? It is very important to realize the compassion is more than sympathy or empathy.
When we are asked to listen to the pains of people, and empathize with their suffering, we soon reach our emotional limits. We can listen only for a short time and only to a few people.
In our society we are bombarded with so much “news” about human misery that our hearts easily get numbed simply because of the overload. But God’s compassionate heart does not have limits. God’s heart is greater, infinitely greater, than the human heart.
It is that divine heart that God wants to give to us so that we can love all people without burning out or becoming numb.Henri J.M. Nouwen, “Here and Now”
Do not fret because of the wicked; do not envy those who do evil: for they wither quickly like grass and fade like the green of the fields. If you trust in the Lord and do good, then you will live in the land and be secure. If you find your delight in the Lord, he will grant your heart's desire. Commit your life to the Lord, trust in him and he will act, so that your justice breaks forth like the light, your cause like the noon-day sun. Be still before the Lord and wait in patience; do not fret at the man who prospers; a man who makes evil plots to bring down the needy and the poor. Calm your anger and forget your rage; do not fret, it only leads to evil. For those who do evil shall perish; the patient shall inherit the land. A little longer -- and the wicked shall have gone. Look at his place, he is not there. But the humble shall own the land and enjoy the fullness of peace. Psalm 37: 1-11
We are not the only ones who benefit when we practice Christian mindfulness day after day. Experiencing the presence of Jesus comforts and changes us, so we become better co-workers, neighbors, family members and friends. We become lamps on the table in a very dark place.
The world is out of control. People face uncertainty and fear. In the midst of a long-term, ongoing crisis, people notice when someone else is at peace. It is a significant witness in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. Our attitudes show our trust in God.
In 2 Corinthians 1:5-7, Paul writes that those of us who experience God’s comfort are not just storehouses. We don’t just enjoy the experience. We are conduits that share that comfort with others … sometimes through purposeful ministry, sometime just in daily interactions with others.
Practicing the presence of Jesus brings peace to more than just us. It can show the world a safe path in a challenging time.