June 27, 2014

The Glory of God

Today is a good day, a very good day. I know that, for me, yesterday was a down day. I felt so very blue all day long, and I had this feeling of overwhelm and confusion hang over me. God is good, though, and thanks to some wonderful friends who always keep me in prayer, I was able to focus and complete all the tasks assigned to me.

I love my prayer-warrior friends! I can share my feelings, even if they are just that -- fleeting and fickle feelings -- and they go to bat for me and pray for God's blessing and covering over every area of my day. I do the same for them, of course! As soon as I hear that they are suffering, I lift them up in prayer and I ask for God to bless them and comfort them. Prayer really works! It moves mountains and it lifts the fog of depression. God is good, so very good, all the time.

Psalm 19

For the choir director: A psalm of David.

The heavens proclaim the glory of God.
    The skies display his craftsmanship.
Day after day they continue to speak;
    night after night they make him known.
They speak without a sound or word;
    their voice is never heard.[a]
Yet their message has gone throughout the earth,
    and their words to all the world.
God has made a home in the heavens for the sun.
It bursts forth like a radiant bridegroom after his wedding.
    It rejoices like a great athlete eager to run the race.
The sun rises at one end of the heavens
    and follows its course to the other end.
    Nothing can hide from its heat.
The instructions of the Lord are perfect,
    reviving the soul.
The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy,
    making wise the simple.
The commandments of the Lord are right,
    bringing joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are clear,
    giving insight for living.
Reverence for the Lord is pure,
    lasting forever.
The laws of the Lord are true;
    each one is fair.
10 They are more desirable than gold,
    even the finest gold.
They are sweeter than honey,
    even honey dripping from the comb.
11 They are a warning to your servant,
    a great reward for those who obey them.
12 How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart?
    Cleanse me from these hidden faults.
13 Keep your servant from deliberate sins!
    Don’t let them control me.
Then I will be free of guilt
    and innocent of great sin.
14 May the words of my mouth
    and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing to you,
    O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Today, I am focusing on the glory of God. And why not? God's glory is proclaimed every single day when we look up at the sky or consider His creation. Here in AZ, it is hot and always sunny. The days can be brutal, but the mornings and evenings are glorious. Last evening, the sky was completely pink with just scattered gray clouds sprinkled about. It was a glorious sunset and it reminded me that from God's perspective things do not always appear as bleak as they do from our vantage point.

My desire is to look at life, my life and other people's lives, through God's lens. I am not very good at doing this, and I am not diligent to remember to do it, but what a life lesson it would be if I tried a little harder to shift vantage points every so often. I mean, what if I stopped and considered a circumstance or situation from God's point of view? How would I interpret the data? Would I make the same judgment or decision once I had factored in His criteria?

I have a feeling, an inkling, that I would come to a different conclusion most of the time. If the data were limited, I would probably stop and say, "Well, I just don't have enough data to draw that conclusion yet?" Oh, WOW! Just think of the outcome of that type of thinking. Instead of rushing to judgment, I would sit back and not take a position UNTIL I had more information, more input, more data. Yes, I think I would be far more apt to go with the "benefit of doubt" approach than to be so critical all the time.

So today, I consider my life, my approach to life, and I confess that I tend to be critical of matters. It is partly my personality, but it is also my brain wiring. I am a logical, analytical person. I like to analyze data and crunch numbers to get results. I know that I tend to turn on my data collecting machine and just absorb facts. I need to spend more time using my listener capacity so that I don't miss crucial information to aid in my analysis. I guess you can say that I am "just the facts" when I really need to be more of a social observer/sponge. God knows me well, and I believe that my wiring is necessary for the kind of work He has in mind for me. I also know that He desires that I be more relationship-oriented so that I can listen to people, and process emotional behaviors and responses more appropriately. It is difficult for me, but I am willing to be used in this way. God can use me as I am, but I think He would be pleased if I let my heart rule sometimes before I let my head take over.

A case in point: I received some disheartening news today. A close family member (older) had a serious stroke this weekend, but the final diagnosis came in this morning. This stroke comes after a long battle with dementia and other physical issues. It wasn't anticipated, but it wasn't completely out of the blue (age, health, etc.) Still, the impact of this event has triggered a lot of emotion in my house. My first reaction was to analyze the situation and to provide what I thought were "comforting" statistics (data).

In truth, my analysis is probably spot-on -- I mean -- when compared with a cancer diagnosis or other painful death scenario this situation is not the best, but not the worse to be given. The person involved will get excellent care, far better than the care she has had previously. Moreover, this is a better transition into long-term care (ex. how do you tell a loved one that they need to be moved to a care facility because they can no longer be cared for at home?) Although, my approach was oh-so very rational and pragmatic it was not what was needed at the time. I should have just responded emotionally and said something caring such as "I see how upset you are and I understand how hard this is for you" (given the relationship you share with this person.) UGH! The Lord gave me an opportunity to be sensitive and I blew it. I guess this being more sensitive and touchy-feely is going to be more difficult for me than first thought.  

Oh, Lord, help me to be more caring to people, and to show my ability to be "in the moment" and less analytical all the time.

On other fronts, I am almost finished with my Crisis Communication class. I turned in my church-related image management project, and so far I have received good reviews from my colleagues. I am trusting the Lord for a good review from my professor.  I think I turned in the best effort possible, given the limited data and access to crisis information. I am not worried about the grade because I need this class to be over so that I can focus on my ethnography project for Qualitative Research. I can see the light at the end of that tunnel, PTL, and I am getting excited to start interviewing people on their experience, perception and commitment in churches in crisis. I didn't think I would be interested in interviewing (in fact, I was loathing it), but now I am getting charged up to have conversations with these people and to LISTEN to them. The good news is that as an interviewer, I am restricted from making comments and from being part of the conversation. I get to ask open ended questions, but the floor belongs to these folks. I just listen and take notes.

Second news - I am feeling better about starting to create my syllabi for my fall classes. I am actually getting excited to layout the plans for fall, choosing assignments, and coming up with quizzes and exams. I am really looking forward to teaching (Oh, did I say that?!) I have been panicked over teaching four classes, but now that this one big project is over, and my discussion responsibilities finished, I am able to think about next steps. I am really looking forward to these next steps...

Lastly - it looks like the family and I are heading to CA in July. There was a chance we would drive over to see my brother, but schedules were uncertain and such. Now, though, it looks probable that we will get to have a short vacation in So. CAL this summer.

Today is a good day. God is good all the time, and thanks be to the One who sits on heaven's throne, I can rest and be assured that my life is well-covered in and good hands (His!) I trust Him today to show me what to do, to help me focus on tasks that need to be done, and to rest, always to rest, in His care and comfort. I know Him well, and I love Him so deeply. I am fully committed to following after Him and to keeping Him front and center in every area of my life. Selah!!

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