Wednesday, December 28, 2011

How Big is Your Boat?

But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things...
(Luke 10:41)

Have you been in that place, the place of busyness, of doing too much and--it seems--none of it well? Ever felt that you might not be able to do all that needs to be done? I have been dwelling in that place lately, not merely passing through in the past few weeks. Though I cast off the label of worrier and do not claim to fret or worry habitually, I acknowledge there are some seasons of life where the mounting needs to be met and concerns to be prayed over cast a huge shadow, dwarfing my limited ability to get the job done. We can easily feel overwhelmed, especially at the peak of the busiest season of the year at work.

What we call the holiday season is really the perfect storm.

This post-holiday let down is a common phenomenon, if that were merely all it is. It happens to everyone. But this is not about holidays at all, as I see it. It is Real Life. Life comes to us as a gentle breeze at times, lifting us and caressing us along the way, and with a storm's fury at others. Part of the rhythmic ebb and flow we can expect.

We must shift gears, adjusting to the demands to be met. And if we are wise, we will adjust our expectations of ourselves. That can be the hardest part.

I've written about jettisoning excess baggage to lighten our load when our boat feels too small to weather the storm. Get rid of non-essentials. Cut out something. As we go into a new year, that admonition rings true again as good advice.

As I am walking alongside a friend with a life-threatening disease, I will not let my whining about busyness and fatigue gain so much as a foothold. I will keep it in check, I promise. But we must be honest wherever we find ourselves, and live authentically out of our present situation--whatever it is. "Do not compare yourself with others. There will always be someone.....[thinner, richer, sicker, better, faster, healthier...]," is an oft-quoted directive that springs to mind here.

That is one thing that needs to go: comparison. It only invites envy or self-pity. Either is toxic to the soul. So, out it goes. My boat is too small to hold anything that feeds the flesh- and soul-eating bacteria of envy or allows for self-absorbed feelings.

If we take only one step toward lightening the load and making life's journey manageable today, may we cast off anything that causes us to look upon others with jealousy or envy because of what they appear to have that we do not. Sounds so simple, doesn't it? We do not think of ourselves as jealous people, I am sure. And that is just what makes envy and covetousness so universal and slippery for us. Just when we say we do not have a problem with something, we just got a problem with it; we set ourselves up for a match with the master of deception. Watch and see how such a practice can weave through our conversations and our actions during the course of a week, allowing us the chance to let it go.

My mother says it often and lives it well: Let it go. It's one of many gems we have learned from her.

No matter the size of our boat, it is sufficient to contain the One who will never leave us nor forsake us in the storm of life. His grace is sufficient when our abilities fail. Thanks be to God!

We may find ourselves in that place of being worried and distracted about many things, as referenced in the scripture above, on multiple occasions. If not for ourselves, we may experience such turmoil alongside others who are weathering tough times.

Storms of discouragement, disease and doubt slam into us at the most unexpected times ravaging our 'boats'.

Financial and relational struggles slash our sails.

High winds and turbulence toss us about leaving us fearful and wounded.

Where is the joy? Where is the peace in all this?

We've heard it said before: Those who try to anchor to position, prestige and power will drift away because those things cannot supply ultimate security and protection. They never have. They may only appear to do so. And how frustrating to see one spend a lifetime navigating the sea of Other People's Opinions only to find it leads nowhere.

...There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her." Luke 10:42

Storms may batter, winds may blow, the sails may be torn, but the anchor holds! We have hope.

Reminds me of an old hymn from my childhood:
"In times like these you need a savior.
In times like these you need an anchor.
Be very sure, Be very sure, Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock.

That Rock is Jesus
Yes, He's the one,
That Rock is Jesus
The only one
Be very sure.
Be very sure,
Your anchor holds
And grips the Solid Rock."

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