New month – new topic – new approach – searching for a renewed attitude!
Tuesday was one of the more frustrating days I have had in a long time. It felt like I ran into roadblocks at every turn – most (but certainly not all) coming during my efforts to navigate the system of being in contact with an individual in jail. I made multiple phone calls – but never spoke with a live person or received a return call. I repeatedly went to the link that I was directed to and received a message something like “there is no access to this link” every time.
Wednesday I finally heard back from the chaplain’s office. They were very kind, informative and helpful – they even called back later to report on their efforts to help out. Through their assistance I was able to set up an appointment for a video chat from my office with the inmate. I went through all the steps and everything checked out. At the appropriate time I clicked “Join” and then for the next 35 minutes I … heard nothing and saw only “Please wait while we connect to your visit … and that frustrating spinning circle.” At least the rest of my day on Wednesday was more fulfilling than almost everything on Tuesday.
It may have all caught up to me this morning. I was wide awake at my normal time, but once up found that I had little drive. I cut my road work to half the normal distance, and of that, ran about half of what I usually run. And then I read my morning devotions.
The first one (Portals of Prayer) reminded me “Often, when faced with life’s problems, we can be spiritually blind to all that God is doing in our lives.” The second one (Lutheran Church Charities) concluded with “Your most effective ministry to others can come out of some of the experiences you’re going through right now, especially the painful ones you’d like to escape,” and a prayer “Heavenly Father, help me to understand, from others’ perspectives, what they are going through.”
Talk about being smacked between the eyes! Here I am getting worn out and frustrated by the minor challenges I encounter while I am surrounded by people facing ones ten times (or 100) bigger than mine. What about that person in jail, waiting week after week while the system seems to be moving slower than molasses? Think about the person with chronic pain that drags them down day after day. And what about the many blacks who live in the terrors of poverty and racism with no idea of how to escape?
To my prayer “Heavenly Father, help me to understand, from others’ perspectives, what they are going through” I add the ancient words of the psalmist, “I lift my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun will not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.” (Psalm 121 – my favorite)
Now, I am not sure where you find yourself this day – with me in my position or aligned with those who face things 100 times worse than I ever will, or in a totally different place. What I do know is where Jesus is – call him Immanuel (God with us) today – because that is where he is. And I also know that wherever he is Present he brings four additional “P’s” … his Provision … his Protection … Preparing you for all that is yet to come … and his Peace. “Peace be to you, my brothers and sisters, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.” (Ephesians 6.23-24) And may God use your experiences this day to prepare you to be a blessing to many others.