Sunday, March 9, 2014

Ah, yes: That's the Spirit!

I thought and hoped my return to the blog would be more focused and impressive, but alas. This is me. What you see is what you get (to borrow a phrase the acronym for which has become common around my workplace with a computer upgrade -- WYSIWYG).

The task that needed to be completed on a computer before I returned to this blog took place at the home office, but the concurrent preparation and then implementation of the new system at work kept me distracted enough that I wondered whether I really would come back to this little pursuit known as "That's the Spirit."

The pressing task, the debt that had to be paid, was the writing of my story about the European cruise I took aboard the Crystal Serenity back in September. It has not been published, but it is written and available.

Writing it was every bit as hard as I feared it would be by the time I forced myself to do it, although when I agreed to go on the trip and while I was there and even in the early weeks afterward, I really did not think it would be that difficult. I had hoped that my regular crafting of words to post to this blog each week for a few years now would have made it easier to write something for publication. But it did not. I'm still puzzled by that. I know I spent many years as a newspaper reporter, pushing deadlines but eventually getting stories written about people, places, things and issues. It never was easy for me, but it always felt important and right to do and somehow worth the struggle.

Until it wasn't. Maybe that's the key. That was the job for that time, and after that, it was time for something different. I am sure I could not be a writer in today's newspaper world, but the yearning to write will not leave me anymore than the desire to sing will. Both pursuits now are limited to small audiences. That saddens me somewhat.

And yet, I see how the limited audience is probably part of God's plan.

On Feb. 20 -- day 20 of my self-imposed break from blogging until I finished the cruise story and a couple of other tasks involving the home computer -- I wrote:

No regrets.

Bloom where God plants me.

Not everyone can be great.

Trust God.

On Feb. 18, in "My Utmost for His Highest," daily devotionals based on talks by Oswald Chambers, I read Christ's response after He asked the disciples to pray, but they fell asleep: "Rise, let us be going" (Matthew 26:46). Or, as Chambers notes, it's as if "Jesus Christ comes and says, 'Sleep on now, that opportunity is lost forever, you cannot alter it, but arise and go to the next thing.' Let the past sleep, but let it sleep on the bosom of Christ, and go out into the irresistible future with Him."

That's hard for me. I struggle to get started on taking action, and then I struggle with regret for lost opportunities.

And still Christ calls: "Rise, let us be going." He lets it go. Forgives. Doesn't look back. Looks ahead to the next opportunity, all the while offering His love and presence. And what is the next thing? "To trust Him absolutely and to pray ..."

Today is the first Sunday in Lent. Sunshine brightens a blue sky and pushes the temperature into the 70s. I should be walking! But my faith tells me there will be other days to walk. Today I return to writing and also some literal and figurative housekeeping.

But shouldn't I be visiting the people from church who are on my list? I can't really explain why sitting inside is the right thing today. But it is. (I did stand in the sunshine in the back yard while making a phone call, to enjoy the beautiful, fresh air.)

I didn't give up anything or add anything for Lent this year. This isn't the first time that the best I could do is just "give up," and take Lent -- and life in general -- one day at a time, seeking God each day and trusting Him to guide me. To my surprise, that's what the sermon was about today. The preacher expounded on the merit of sometimes being willing to just give up -- and fall into the embrace of God.

So, I'm going to skip the first of the congregation's Lenten challenges, which was to spend a week (or even a day) in the shoes of someone without a car, to rely on public transportation, friends, feet or a bicycle to get around. And I won't make that hospital visit. I hope I will send a couple of cards. And I have a couple more phone calls I need and want to make.

I will take a deep breath. I will exhale slowly. I will rest in God's radiant presence (see "Jesus Calling," March 9).

"But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, 'Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.' But the Lord answered her, 'Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.'" Luke 10:40-42)

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law." (Galatians 5:22)

"But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." (Matthew 6:33)

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