Taking it to the source

So, my dad owns an older home in the country and has as his water source a spring. The spring is located a few hundred feet away from his home and provides water for not only his house but also my brothers and a neighbor. Now, before you think to yourself, wow! spring water that I don’t have to buy from a little bottle or have delivered by the jug!, Must be sweet. Well, it isn’t all that free sometimes for my dad. There is this long pipe that runs down the side of the road he lives on, under his driveway and into the house. Quite often, this pipe springs a leak somewhere along its length.The only way he can tell when this has happened is for his water pressure to drop and puddles start forming along the road and driveway. The only way to fix the pipe is to first locate the source of the break. This is not as easy as it might sound, for water from the spring runs down a hill alongside the road. The break could be nearer to the spring or further down the piping. It is a matter of trial and error (digging up dirt along the sections of pipe) to find the break. Once he finds the location, the source, he can fix it, and restore his water supply to his home.

Lately, I have been feeling, like many of you, like there is a break in my flow of peace. It is not difficult to find the location of the break, just take a look around the current world situation and it is easy to identify the cause, the source. We feel like chaos and anxiety are winning in the battle for our minds and souls. We are stressed and uneasy, we are feeling insecure and unsure of even making the basic decisions. I sympathize with parents of school aged children who must make decisions about the school year. School administrations are right in there with attempting to decide what to do in the best interests of their students and teachers. We feel confused. We read up on the virus and on the recovery rates, we search for answers and we search for peace in the chaos.

On social media and news feeds we are bombarded with many sides of the same story. Which view is right? Which view is wrong? Is there a right or wrong? Or are we all victims of a greater plot to disrupt our unity as humans so that we see each other as enemies rather than men and women who are created by God in His image? We are seeking truth, but finding more chaos. We are looking for a source for truth, a source for peace. It feels as though our water pipe is broken and we are all parched, thirsty, craving pure spring water that will soothe our weary, tired and parched souls and minds.

Even the most highly respected pastors and ministers of the Gospel are feeling this anxiety and lack of peace. The current situation with the pandemic and violence and confusion happening surrounding the protests for social justice cannot be ignored while Christians pretend it is not there. There is a leak in the pipe. We cannot ignore the problem, but can we seek a better way to deal with it all?

I believe there is. Recently, I have been spending time reading some great books by some great Christian writers that deal with this mind and spiritual battle that is going on in their lives as well. What I have taken away from it is this, we can live in this chaos by re-framing our thinking and focusing on Jesus, our source of peace. See the world and the problems of the world are not going to just disappear.We live in the tension of a world that is groaning and grappling with chaos as it longs for the day when everything will be set right again. Jesus told us that there would be trouble in this world.  But He also told us that He was giving us His peace, the peace that was sure and lasting, not the peace the world gives( John 14:27). If you haven’t read the Book of John before, or if it has been awhile, it is a good place to start to calm your chaos. It will remind you and help you understand just who Jesus is and what He taught. He came to earth as a man, fully human, and He knows what we are feeling. He felt pain, suffering, grief, anger, disappointment. He knows well what we are all going through right now. One thing to remember is He often went off by Himself and prayed to God. Theologians sometimes grapple with this concept, after all Jesus is God, part of the Trinity, so why did He have to pray, was He talking to Himself? True, He is part of the Trinity, father, son and Holy Spirit, but each is different in role, and He, Jesus, was seeking to do the will of the Father, so communication was important.

Which brings me back to my final point, and one which I am personally trying to incorporate in my daily routine. I have been challenged and convicted about how much importance I have given to social and news feeds in my daily life. I check my phone before I go to sleep and first thing in the morning and I’ve realized it is too connected to my day. It feeds into my anxiety and chaos. I am deciding to leave my phone out of my bedroom at night while it charges. It is too addicting to check it every time it dings. It seems to be one source in my life that has been feeding my anxiety. My husband has decided to stay off of face book for a while because he has realized it changes him and how he views others. Often our phones are what keeps fueling the leaking of our peace as a society. We can easily find something to upset us, or something to which we disagree on with on our news feeds and social media. Our phones are always with us, feeding this anxiety, non stop. For you it might be your tablets, or laptops or TV. Or maybe the radio or podcasts you listen to as you commute. The basic question to ask yourself is what am I letting into my thoughts? What am I giving my allegiance to? Is it helping me, or hurting me emotionally, mentally, spiritually? Am I giving it greater significance than God? Is it making me a better person? Or a bitter, angry, anxious, stressed out one? As a Christian am I reflecting God, or the world?

The source of our anxiety might be the pandemic and social unrest, but are we adding gasoline to the fire by what we are fueling our minds with? To get back to my water pipe analogy, what are we doing that breaks our peace? Are we taking a sledge hammer to our flow of peace by what we devote ourselves to? Are we passively letting the media tell us what to think and believe? Are we letting ourselves be anxious? Are we truly searching for the source of peace?

Its easy to find the leak, its worry and stress, and we can make it worse, as I tried to explain, but what are we doing positively to fix the broken flow of peace in our lives?  In a world that seems out of control,this is something we have control over. Just like my husband and I can choose to put some distance between the chaos that is being fed through our need to be in constant contact with media, and replace it with quiet , you can as well. To stop and give God space in our lives and in our thoughts. To meditate on God and His word. To pray and to be quiet enough to hear God speak.

 

Can We Talk…..

Lately I’ve been thinking about social media and how its shaped our lives. Wait… don’t scroll by and assume I’m bashing technology and media. I’m not. But, I’m really wondering if we can still talk. I mean, has the art of conversation disappeared? And I’m not talking about sitting around and just talking, but being social, you know, the social of social media.  The sharing of our lives with others. The pictures, the updates, the good stuff. And might I add the “real” of our lives, not the perfectly staged pictures of our lives. And I’m not talking about younger generations here, but people closer to my own. It seems to me they can be the worst offenders. Social media can be a great way to keep up with others and share your life with them. We do not all live in the same town or same state or same country anymore, so keeping in touch through media is a great way to stay connected.

But, I’ve been noticing over the last few years how awful some social media sites have gotten. We have reduced it all to political ads and one liners. We’ve all shared those cute cat or dog videos, or nice encouraging phrases or Bible verses, but really it seems its gotten to a whole new level recently. It seems like we all try to find that perfectly succinct phrase that is like a check-mate. It’s not encouraging; its just like boom! That’s it! The answer to it all, the drop the mic,  the “I’ve topped you all in my comments here!” And I’ll be honest, when I read those, I think, “Wow, are they mad at me? or wow that sounds like they are talking about me.”  Some suggest if you read posts like that and feel guilty, maybe you’re harboring unforgivness or something. But really, can we as imperfect people really have the perfect anecdote to life? Why are we trying to outdo each other all the time? Do we really think we are better than others?

As a Christian, being accused of thinking I’m better than others comes with the territory. That is, a whole lot of people think that’s how we (Christians) think of ourselves. But… the reality is that’s not not what the Bible teaches. Philippians is a great book of the Bible to read if you want to understand how we should think of ourselves. Here’s just a part:

“If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also the interests of others” (Philippians 2:1-4, New International Version).

So, there you have the real answer, from the Apostle Paul… be humble, think of others better than yourselves, don’t be vain, conceited or selfish. But, wait a minute, why WAS Paul writing this to a bunch of people in Philippi? I mean there wasn’t social media back then? Well, as advanced as we become, the problem of human nature is still the same, whether its the first century or the 21st.

So my challenge in this new year is to not drop out of social media, but make it better, by sharing life with each other, not to impress others, but to share what God is doing in our lives, to reach out when we need encouragement or prayer, to ask for help, and to offer real hope, the real anecdote, found in Christ, not one liners or cute memes. Let’s not ghost each other or even leave social media. Let’s keep those connections to each other, and let’s talk. -God Bless- Nancy