If Life Is A River… It Flows Under The Same Bridge – Once

If Life Is A River… It Flows Under The Same Bridge – Once

Every day’s the same. Every day is different. All true.

20 thousand days I’ve experienced now. This morning, as I sat on the edge of my bed, I considered that number. It’s rather large. One would think I would’ve got it all down with so much practice, but this is my first try. I’ve been here many times, but it’s brand new to me. I’ve seen everything, but my eyes have just been opened.

bridge 4What is it that makes each awakening so similar yet so unfamiliar? Each day is an unmet opportunity and a second chance to live again, just one of many steps on a single, long journey. I think maybe it’s that I’m able now to look up and around more at the scenery I’m passing and the people traveling with me, instead of down at my feet, wishing for better boots and learning how not to stumble. Learning how to live … “righteously,” but that’s not quite the right word. Righteous is old and has been overused.

So I looked up some synonyms and found three that fit my feelings.

Blamelessly

“Innocent of wrongdoing.” For sure. I’m serious! My faith – I pray – helps me to strive to become more like the child I was – by grace and (a lot of) effort. The 12 steps have taught me something about forgiveness and amends. I know I still make mistakes, but my voyage is one of progress, not perfection.

Well

bridge 3I can’t describe this one in my own words, so here are some apt phrases from its definition: “in a good or satisfactory way;” “in a way that is appropriate to the facts or circumstances;” “with praise or approval;” “in a thorough manner;” “intimately, closely;” “sensibly, advisably.” (Note that I didn’t include the one about being comfortable or well-off.) The one thing I’d change here is to make all those “or’s” be “and’s.”

Justified

Again, not my words: “having, done for, or marked by a good or legitimate reason;” “declared or made righteous in the sight of God.” I really like that last one, except that I would add “by God,” “by God’s grace.” This (He) is really what never changes.bridge 1

Even when you are old I will be the same, and when you are grey-haired I will take care of you; I will still be responsible for what I made; yes, I will take you and keep you safe.
(Isaiah 46:4 The Bible in Basic English)

bridge 2So, yes, every day is the same, but different. And what I encounter for the first time is each section of the course, the unique path I’m on, and my attitude about how closely I’m determined to follow it. If life is a river, it’s the landscape that changes, from the mountains and hills of rocky youth, to gently sloping plains of early productive maturity, to the “olderness” at the approaching river’s mouth and, at long last, its entrance into the sea.

As usual, I know a praise and worship song that fits, but it’s lyrics aren’t available online so, I’ll include them below. It’s still available on YouTube here.
You can download it for just $0.99here

Let All I Do Be Praise

Every day’s the same
Heaven and earth so far away
Father, don’t take this as complaint
But I need You here

So won’t you come sweep me off my feet
Tether my heart to presence deep
Father, my spirit seems so weak
So I need You here

Cause I wanna live in Your presence
I wanna dance all my days
My soul will sing of Your goodness
My heart will shout for grace
I live my life as a story
That You be seen in my ways
And in the light of Your glory
Let All I Do Be Praise

I wanna live with You
I wanna serve You
I wanna sing to You
Only to You

I worship You, Lord

I wanna sing
I wanna dance
I wanna live
I wanna laugh
I wanna give praise to You, God

Real-Life Role-Play “Game” (RPG)

This is just a quick plug for something new and fun that I’ve found and am trying out. I’m a big fan of “fantasy role-playing” games (RPG). These are computer/video games set during the times of “swords and sorcerers.” My playing habits used to be “bad,” in that I would escape to this alternate reality for hours and hours at a time. I’ve actually had to work on sobriety from this form of time-wasting. (Sadness)

Great news! There are Apps out there that “gamify” real-life. This week, I’m trying out Habitica, which helps with establishing or breaking habits. So far, I love it! I can definitely see where it can be BOTH a helpful tool in self-improvement and a way to positively give me that RPG experience!

If you’re a Gamer, you might want to check it out!

Run Like Jonah

Run Like Jonah

go to ninevah
Jonah, however, set out in the opposite direction in order to get away from the Lord.
Jonah 1:3 GNT

“What am I doing here?! I don’t belong here! I am certainly not comfortable in this place! I don’t know what to say or how to say it!”

This was my self-talk last night. My friend and I were leading Celebrate Recovery Worcester (pronounced Wusstah), an inner-city program. The setting can’t be more different than the suburban CRs I attend. But there I was (and wondering why!)

worcester old
Worcester MA

We had a couple of first-timers walk in during the meeting. I had no idea on how to relate to them. Thankfully, my friend could and did, and (to keep a long story short) we just might see them again. But had it been up to me, I fear my awkwardness would have led to nothing. Awkwardness, and fear. Yes, fear.

 

Even as we sat and talked, I was thinking about Jonah and how he ran the other way – trying to get as far away as possible – when God called him to go to the big city, Ninevah. I am not a city person, and I identify with Jonah’s reluctance because of this. But there I was, led by God’s purpose, and I needed to know (to relearn?) how I could do this.

 

jonah-map
Tarshish was in Spain

First, God places us each where we are for a reason. In hindsight, I can see His perfect timing and how each phase of my journey has prepared me for the next, even when, at the time, it seemed all wrong.

 

Let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him,
and to which God has called him.
1 Corinthians 7:17 ESV

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit…
John 15:16

Sometimes God prefers that I’m uncomfortable. As Rick Thomas puts it, “God is calling you to do what you cannot do with the ability that you do not have… because His desire is for you to rely on Him… There will be times when God will accomplish things outside of your abilities.” (rickthomas.net) His power and glory will be on display, not anything of mine.

Second, Proverbs 3:5-6 says to trust in the Lord and lean not on my own understanding of things. Easier said than done! I often have to reassure myself that I am in full agreement with what God is doing with and through me, even when it is scary. I believe He “has put dreams in our hearts and writes a destiny for our lives. And if we trust Him enough to take Him at His word, we will find ourselves on a journey toward fulfillment of that dream.” (myfaithradio.com) (Of course, my problem is that I tend to try and envision what that fulfillment will look like. I get way ahead of Him!)

When I am afraid, I will trust in You.
Psalm 56:3
(One of the first verses I found and memorized in my recovery.)

Third. Free will. Sort of. I always have the choice. Or do I? Did Jonah? I am tempted to distract myself; tempted to run like Jonah. “The flesh dies hard and unfortunately for many, they’ve opted to let their dream die before they’d ever allow their flesh to be confronted.” (myfaithradio.com) I remind myself that I choose God and His way. This helps me to really feel 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love.”

Fourth. Love. Love for others. A desire to see all get the chance that I did, to know the Creator.

But how will people call on Him in whom they have not believed?
And how will they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?
And how will they hear without a messenger?
Romans 10:14 AMP

082Finally, what to say? This is an easy one. First, the more I share my testimony – God’s Story in my life – the easier it gets, and the better it’s delivered (I hope). But I remember

…the Holy Spirit will give you the words to say at the moment you need them…
Luke 12:12 VOICE

So, it’s almost like I don’t have to do anything except show up.

This post is important to me because I know the feeling of wanting unpleasantness “out of sight, out of mind.” I have no ill will toward the least of these. I think it’s more about “ignorance being bliss.” I can pretend to not be aware; to be filled with the direction of my own life and not want(?) to worry about anybody else’s.

I have a couple of great songs to go with this blog! Two of my very favorites.

“These Are The Words I Would Say”  is from the Sidewalk Prophets (a great band name!)
You can download it from my Amazon affiliate link here.

“I Refuse” is from Josh Wilson, and is one of the first songs I heard in my journey.
You can download it here.

1:30AM: When you wake up and… you’re awake

1:30AM: When you wake up and… you’re awake

lampHaving faith is like waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to go back to sleep. I know this from experience. I often find myself in the “wee hours,” wide-eyed, and no matter how I try, I simply can not drift away.

adventureAnd so, sooner or later, out comes the coffee and the journal, and I begin scribbling another blogging adventure. There’s usually some main idea that’s stirred me, maybe based on something that has happened recently (in this case, waking up and not going back to sleep, and wondering how (or if) that relates to my spiritual and tangible life).

…you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep.
For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.
Romans 13:11 ESV

281This verse states the obvious. Of course, every second I live brings me closer to that time when “He returns or calls me home” (In Christ Alone). But what actually gave me the idea that “believing is like being awake” is that, once I wake up (like this morning), I know I can not fall back asleep, which is just like knowing that, having become a believer, I can never “unbelieve” again. This can be a good or not-so-good feeling, like the memory of something seen that can never be “unseen.” It can be pleasant or gruesome.

Part of me does not want to forget. Part of me knows I should not ever forget.

Therefore let us not sleep as others do.
But let us be alert and sober.
1 Thessalonians 5:6 MEV

IMG_3338It’s both the knowledge of God’s grace for me (now) and the promise (or threat?) of what is to come (in the future) that’s behind this need to stay awake. I know because I’ve read God’s Word; I believe because I’ve had personal experience that proves His Word.

The only debate, I suppose, is whether this belief (God’s forgiveness of sin) is a constant completely conscious choice (based on my knowledge), or whether it is fully a divine gift, an uninstallable “system-upgrade” to fix some behavioral bugs.

IMG_3346Patient endurance (something we choose) is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will.
Hebrews 10:36 NLT

Those who have been born from God (something we’re given) don’t live sinful lives.
What God has said lives in them. So they can’t live sinful lives.
1 John 3:9 GW

The only thing which causes me to lean toward the former is the fact that I eventually, consistently slip and fall (and want to, in the heat of that moment). I really do worry about it all being up to me. You might say the thought is what “keeps me up at night.”

IMG_3352For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once and for all.
Dear friends, if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins.
There is only the terrible expectation of God’s judgement…
Hebrews 10:10,26-27 NLT

On the other hand, this certainty I feel (about never again being ignorant) is a comfort. I was given something, a gift that cannot be returned or put aside or ever misplaced.

IMG_3303The two combine for a very practical effect. I wake up. I get up and begin the new day. (Don’t worry, I take a nap around noon and repeat the whole process – 2 days for the price of one!) Likewise, I fall. I get up again and keep moving forward. Once was for all. I have received the knowledge of the truth.

Til on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied;
For ev’ry sin on Him was laid-
Here in the death of Christ I live.

(In Christ Alone)

For songs to go with this post, I simply must include In Christ Alone (the Getty version).
Please download the digital track here.

But here’s a great hymn in a contemporary style that fits the theme of waking and rising, Arise, My Soul, Arise (the Indelible Grace Unplugged version).
Please download it here.

 

…about not writing, option 1

How do you write about not writing?

One way is to write no matter where you are. Technology has made it possible to “speak and be heard” nearly everywhere we can go. This morning, I’m sitting one-armed in my dialysis chair using my iPhone to post this. (Sorry, no images today.)

1 Peter 3:15 NIV

Always be prepared…!

The important thing I’m focusing on right now is that what I am saying does not change, only how (via technology) I say it.

The “old ways” are best for the what to say and do; the “new” ways merely give options for how we say or do it. 

So, when I am seeking for ways to write about not writing, I can just do it, right now. 

Your turn! What’s the craziest, most unusual place or way you’ve posted?

I’m Published In “Faith Bloggers Christian Haiku Group Writing Project!”

Faithful Bloggers Christian Haiku Group Writing Project PDFAll,

I’m happy to announce that I’ve been published! Sort of…

I submitted work to the Faithful Bloggers Christian Haiku Group Writing Project, which produced a PDF!

You can view all the poems at Haiku Group Writing Project

One day, one moment at a time!

Blessings,
Marshall,
Sharing God’s Story

“Let It Play” No More

Hey. (Hmmm, yes?)

I had a thought… (That’s good- kind of like breathing is good.)

Lol. I was just thinking, you know how ____ happened today, and we did ____? (Yes, that was good – the right thing to do.)

Well, it occurred to me that the old me would’ve let that play out – because there might have been something … nice for us- (You mean nice for you, Flesh.)

Right, I keep forgetting… (I know! But you have changed, that’s for sure.)

Although The Book says I’ll ever be the same… (Technically… but that was when Mind followed your lead. Wiser… heads prevail now.)

Yes, I understand that … now. I still say I was just ignorant before… (You were and are easily tempted to chase whatever feels good, Flesh. It’s kind of the way you were made- running from danger does keep you alive, as you know. It was when Mind… didn’t ‘mind’ the shop, so to speak, that you both got into trouble.)

Such trouble! Lol! I’m so glad that I can laugh about those days now- (Laugh only a little, I hope. Some… evil things were done when you got going under the influence.)

I know. I know. And I am truly, deeply sorry I was the cause of such things… I can never forget. Sometimes, I can feel Mind getting really down on us again… starts telling me things would be better off- (Without being accusatory, Flesh, that is your depressive chemical imbalance speaking, but I see what you’re saying. Yes, your slate is clean- spiritually. You simply must not forget that earthly consequences are not at all the same thing. I can’t save you from those.)

… (You still awake?)

Ya, I was just thinking… it’s the ‘team’ of us that gets us by in this world. Y’know each doing what we’re supposed to do; what we’re each good at… (Lol! One might say yours is not the thinking! Ha! That’s a good one! Mind does the thinking and deciding, and you do the moving and heavy lifting. Except when there’s bears- then you have the authority to get us out of here!)

Lol! And those stinging bugs! ‘We hates them, Precious!’ (Ah, great movie! Good redemptive story! It’s on again tomorrow, maybe we could-) My turn to interrupt! We’ve got responsibilities to take care of, you know! But… if we get everything done, maybe there’ll be enough time to relax for a bit.

(As long as you stop relaxing when the time is up…)

Yes. Yes, I get it now:

“Let it play” (No more!)

(Now, put the phone away and go to sleep. It’s 1:30 in the morning!)

I’m thirsty. I think I’ll get a glass of water. (You just did.)