My diabetic specialist of many years thinks he is funny – he is one of those who will say when you complain about something hurting when you do it “Then don’t do that.” And I pay for this??? But he has a point. When something hurts, my body is saying – “Something is wrong. Don’t do that again.” While not every one would agree, I have always seen that kind of pain as a sign of God’s wonderful design. If I didn’t know something was wrong, I might do real damage to myself or not attend to something that could be cured or bettered.
Last week was one filled with pains for me – there were multiple times of frustration and several times I was just plain hurt and angry. Nothing physical – all mental and psychic. What I need to remind myself is that my life is no different from my body in that respect. When things hurt, when circumstances bring pain or frustration then something is there that needs my attention.
To be frank, there are some people I should avoid because they will always cause me pain. There are some circumstances that I know are going to push my buttons of anger or grief. The pain tells me “Don’t go there” or “Don’t do that” – unless I do so with the clarity of what’s coming and have prepared myself as best I can to face it.
And sometimes… sometimes what hurts tells me I need to work on something. Some area of my character that isn’t where God would have it. Some times I need divine help and that of people who love me to work through, walk through make it through with me.
Pay attention to those pains in your life… they may be telling you something that God wants you to know!
This has been an interesting week. I am in Lakeside, Ohio, for the just-concluded session of the West Ohio Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church. Last night we were awakened by sirens and kept awake for a few hours by the local news reports of tornadoes and severe winds. At least until the lights went out! Sitting in the dark in a summer cottage with no basement contemplating devastating winds that thankfully missed us is not an experience I longed to have this week.
Part of this week’s event is the announcement of where United Methodist pastors are appointed for the next year (which begins July 1). Coincidentally I had a conversation with a former United Methodist last week who was unsettled by this practice among others. He was bemoaning the pastors he had come to know who then left, often just when he came to know and trust them.
What these things have in common is the way they remind me of the temporary nature of life. How quickly things move and change. How fleetingly we enjoy even the most important things in life. My daughters are young adults – yesterday they were young girls running down the streets of Lakeside where I am this week. My dad stops by our temporary Lakeside residence to see if we want to go to dinner.. but not this year and not last year, And never again in this life. (There’s the Father’s Day hook!).
I am not sure what to do with all of this these days. I have been thinking a lot this week about my work, my calling, my life. The reminders of the temporary reality of all things brings me some peace. What could and perhaps should be unsettling is rather a space for peace, for clarity, for reflection. If or when you find yourself in the same place, I pray you will find the same place to reflect and center.
The days of a human life are like grass:
they bloom like a wildflower;
16 but when the wind blows through it, it’s gone;
even the ground where it stood doesn’t remember it.
17 But the Lord’s faithful love is from forever ago to forever from now
for those who honor him. (Psalm 103:15-17 CEB)
I drove to the end of the street where I live and noticed something happening in the mostly empty shopping center across from me. I realized someone was giving out food. I was intrigued – the church I pastor helps give backpacks of food to children at a local elementary school. The need for food and other forms of support is real and ongoing in the part of town where I live and pastor.
That same morning I noticed in my Twitter feed that someone I follow – Scott Sliver – mentioned that he was going to Feed Huber. I put the pieces together and realized I was seeing the event he mentioned. This scene played out in March. For the next several months I would think about what I had seen and wonder about it. And wonder about it. And wonder about it. I couldn’t get this fleeting glimpse out of my mind.
So A few weeks I ago I contacted Scott via Twitter. I went – with several others from church – to witness a similar food distribution in Fairborn and then met Scott for breakfast. As Scott and I talked, it turned out that he had been in my church parking lot (maybe when I was there) while looking for a place to do the food distribution. But he didn’t knock on the door and ask because he didn’t want to hear “no.” The more we talked, the more connections we found we had.
I don’t know if this conversation will lead to a partnership between the church I pastor and what Scott is leading. I hope so. But regardless I have made a friend and made a new connection that God intended. And that I trust will grow into something that I would have never found on my own.
Where is God nagging you?? Nudging you to follow-up. To ask. To look. That morning several months ago I was looking into my future, even though I didn’t know it. God is leading and coaxing and calling each of us all the time to step into a different future. Give in – you’ll be glad you did.