Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Finding The Quiet Place in the Midst of Stressful Change

There is a kind of unspoken tension that can be felt everywhere you go these days. It seems like everyone feels stressed, overwhelmed and driven. The hustle to get through the day often ends up with unexpected schedule changes, detours in traffic and for many, an uneasy sense of not getting done all that you had planned. We may begin our day with a check list, but there are variables, like unexpected changes, that frustrate and irritate us. 

Perhaps it is continuous unplanned, out of our control changes, that keep unsettling our lives and act like a flashing yellow light to proceed with caution...a reminder that life is becoming increasingly unpredictable. It may be time to stop, reevaluate our priorities and recheck the road map of our life. Adapting to change and learning to be flexible, works with basic life changes, but continuous change can slowly drain a person of vital coping strength. 

It may be time to pull over, take some time in The Quiet Place and bring a soothing hush to your busy world. When you walk through a quiet forest at sunrise, and smell the fresh dew upon the grass and the heady scent of cedar and fir, you hear the whisper of peace.

The Impact of Continuous Change 

From Chicago to New Deli, or from Auckland to Marseille, we are caught up together in a massive transitional change process these days. It touches all of us in different ways. However, the winds of continuous and life impacting change, lead eventually to burn-out and a progressive sense of apathy.

The Strain of Constant Change is Overwhelming

Adapting to change doesn't seem to be any less stressful whether it is working in jobs that are in federal, state, county, private or non-profit organizations. The constant pressure brought on by unremitting adjustment in the midst of change, the reorganization of priorities and learning new work tasks can be overwhelming. 

This is especially so when there are is a roller coaster of unwanted and unavoidable changes happening in your work life and personal life all at the same time.

The Disappointment of Shattered Dreams

Many find their way into The Quiet Place with hearts that are heavy with the despondency over lost jobs, and homes that have been foreclosed upon. The realization that benefits are not in place to protect one's family, and the burden of financial strain is devastating. Some may feel that God has let them down, and their faith is tottering on the ledge of despair.

Always remember that when it comes to God's attributes and His unending compassion and faithfulness, He is the only constant we will ever have. 

"For I am the Lord and I do not change."Malachi 3:6

It is in The Quiet Place that the weariness and strain of our heavy burdens, and broken dreams, can be lain at the feet of our loving God. The anxiety of the unknown that shadows the pathway of tomorrow is in His sovereign hands. Only He can give us peace. 

We are urged throughout the Scriptures to:"Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you, He will never let the righteous be shaken." Psalm 55:22

The Hebrew word for "cast" is "shalak" and it literally means to throw down, hurl, or to fling away from you. It is insightful to note that the Hebrew word for "cares" is "yehab" and means the burden which is a gift that God has given to you, and His desire is that you will discover that only He can carry it. God sustains and strengthens you from within, while He shoulders the weight of it upon Himself. (See also Matthew 11:28-30 and I Peter 5:7). 

In The Quiet Place we begin to understand that the burdens of life are not there to hurt us, but to deepen our faith and strengthen our trust in God. There is an intimacy that we experience with God in the darkest moments of our  lives, that fills The Quiet Place with His very presence. We are touched by it, and we are never the same.

Families are Rediscovering their Roots
The trans-generational relay race is God's way of making the family a secure support system throughout our lives. From great- grandparents, down to newborns in a family lineage, we can so easily drop the baton of family traditions, memorable events, and slowly lose sight of the most important fabric of any culture...the family.

In some rural regions, the "Nuclear Family" is now returning to a Walton's style "Extended Family," due to the economic restructuring of our World economy. Today many young couples are out of work, large numbers of men and women are returning from tours of duty, and the baby boomer generation is desperately trying to stay employed as they near retirement. With the progressive increase of the  cost of living, there are a lot of people that are starting to consolidate resources and move closer together.

The other day I asked a young man if he knew what Walton's Mountain was and he said, "Isn't that the place where they make that tasty hard caramel candy or somethun?" I think he was thinking of Werther's Original's. He then asked me if I wanted a Jelly Belly and I said, "No thanks, I already have one." What is with these young kids today? Does anyone remember the Walton family?

Large scale sociological change is here. As a society, we will learn from the past or sadly repeat it. The return to an extended family mindset is a good thing  many believe, because we are rediscovering something we cannot afford to lose in life, that wherever we may live on this planet....Making our Journey Mean Something is crucial to all of us.

Take some time out right now and spend it in The Quiet Place.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day: Remembering his Journey through your life

There are certain experiences that will always be a signpost along the pathway of our lives. Events that we will always remember, and some we will never forget, and a small number we wish we could forget. Mileposts...Markers...Memorials...

Some of those days are sometimes celebrated each year and one of those is Father's Day. The idea behind making this a special day for dads is good. With the weird ties, bad cologne, ceramic hand prints of our children, to cards and hugs, Father's Day is celebrated in many ways.

This piece of writing is to try to create a kind of memorable collage of a father's journey through his own life. Not necessarily my own, but fathers all over the world. Some fathers have mentored their children well, and some fathers, who for one reason or another seemingly failed at what fatherhood was supposed to be. Some of us have lost our fathers, some do not know who their father is, or if they do, where he is or why he left. There are people looking at Father's Day today from all sides of the role and relationship of fatherhood. 

We have all had a father, many have become father's, some will be step-fathers, and help try to raise another father's children, and some will have been let down and hurt by a father they cannot seem to forgive.

What we need to Remember about our Fathers

They are men who were sons

Each of our fathers were one day sons. They learned a lot about fatherhood from the fathers who raised them. Some were raised well and some were not. Some have experienced great sorrow in their pilgrimage to fatherhood and some had no idea how incredibly important their relationship and example would mean to you.

They are men who were the best father we needed

There are fathers who in spite of their own experiences as a son, or personal hurts growing up that became the father that was the best of the best. Some of you have been gifted by great fathers who seemingly did it all right.

They are men who made mistakes

All of us were provided with a father that did some things right along the way, in spite of their failings. It is no easy thing to be the provider of financial, relational and spiritual resources, but for all of us, it is possible to do the best that you can. We will all let our children down in some way or another in this life....it is inevitable for fathers are as imperfect as we are.

They are men who often kept their pain to themselves

Many boys were taught to never cry, don't share your feelings, always be strong, and never be vulnerable.  That is what society and their fathers and grandfathers taught them. 
Most men keep their personal pain and sorrow to themselves and have seemed distant to their children because of that choice.

They are men who have hurt their children

There are fathers who have hurt their children deeply and in some cases intentionally. Others do not even realize that their long hours at work, on business trips, being a soldier or a farmer or a business owner have children who may have felt abandoned by them and have never shared that with their fathers. There were missed birthdays, school plays, Christmases, or times when a child needed their father to be there more than any other person in the world. 

They are men who will often have regrets

Fathers will always have regrets. If you are a father reading this remember that no one on this earth will ever be the perfect father. If you have failed your children ask their forgiveness and forgive yourself along the way. 

They are men who need our praise for what they tried to do

Take a moment to thank your father for what he tried to do with what he had. That can be in person, across the miles or with a prayer that he would hear the echo of wherever he may be. 

They are men who need our forgiveness for their failures

Let your father know that you have forgiven his failings or the things that have disappointed you, let you down or hurt you in life. Let it go....release him from that prison of his own guilt and free yourself from the burden of carrying the load of it.

What we can Cherish as we Remember our Fathers

Cherish each special memory that has made you a who you are.Make a list of only the special memories that you have had with your father. If there are photos, make up a poem, a story or a card, and if you can send it today to him. If you cannot send it, save it as a cherished reminder that he gave you those memories and experiences.

Cherish the significant lessons they Taught you about life

Thank your father for any of the lessons that you learned that came directly from him to you. Let him know or remind yourself that life teaches us through many experiences how to be the person that we have become.

Cherish them as imperfect men who were in your life for a reason

There is a strength in knowing that God has sovereignty over the things that touch and impact our lives, especially those that we had no choice in. 
He may be the first father in his family linage to have tried to do it differently. Honor that attempt. There are lessons about being a father that you experience through trial and error, toil and effort, and some work and some do not.

God is the Only Perfect Father
the world will ever have the privilege to have
 He will never abandon you

“Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”   

Psalm 90:1-2

 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”   Psalm 46:1

He will be by your side your whole life
Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto my soul. I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me. I am weary of my crying: my throat is dried: mine eyes fail while I wait for my God.” 

Psalm 69:1-3

You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble;  You shall surround me with songs of deliverance.” Psalm 32:7

Jesus Christ, His Son gave His Life so that you could be His Child

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. “ John 14:6

Receive that gift this Father's Day as the Greatest Gift ever given

Take a long walk today and talk to your Heavenly Father and wish Him a Happy Father's Day. It must be tough to have so many kids that blame Him for things that are not His fault, He doesn't get much credit for what He does do for us each day, and He is lonely for our love and wants us to spend time in The Quiet Place with Him alone.