By REV ANGELA C
WHEN we look at all of what is going on it is easy to feel defeated. Focusing on the wind and the waves can cause us to feel overwhelmed. Just as people held on and held out during Hurricane Joaquin until they we were rescued, we have to exhibit the same courage, fortitude and kindness.
When it comes to battening down and preparing for the spiritual and moral storms of life, have the following items in great supply:
- Gratitude: Count every conceivable blessing that you can recall in the past and present, even as you anticipate future ones. Begin by looking around this wonderful country of ours and see the beauty in all of its profusion. Enjoy the fruit in season, notice the flowers and trees in bloom. Make time to see a sunrise and sunset, watch for star on a dark night, and enjoy the rainbows in the sky and in the windowpanes.
Look at the mirror and see God’s best masterpiece – you! Appreciate the intricacy of your own body systems and take care of the wonder of who you are. Keep fit, eat properly, rest regularly. Do not undermine your own strength and ability to serve God for many years.
- Peace: Like the surfer going through a curled wave, the peace of God keeps us stable if we trust the grace of God to carry us like a surfboard. Focus on Jesus who has already won our victory for us. Allow the Holy Spirit to help you to cope with each moment’s challenges. Throw yourself on God with all the abandon of a child hugging his/her father.
Recall where you have felt most peaceful, and capture those memories to meditate upon and regain the same feeling. Cultivate a sense of serenity within so that when you need to settle your spirit you are able to do so easily. Memorize some Scripture verses, practice the presence of God, breathe rhythmically and feel peace descend. Go to church early and sit in the quiet or stay behind for a few minutes afterwards while the conversations subside. Invite peace in the silence of contemplation by fasting from talking, television, telephones and computers for periods of time. Find your still point and protect it.
- Love: Be gracious, kind and thoughtful. Let generosity, helpfulness, loyalty and devotion become your strongest traits. Seek to reflect the love of God in all you think, say and do.
In order to do this, look for every opportunity to be an instrument of love. There are so many people who need a blessing in some form. Make smiling your weapon of approach, disarming those who expect you to be in a bad mood or to be anti-social. So many keep a frown on their faces and more of us need to radiate God’s love. Be a pleasant person and lighten the mood as best you can. Keep prayer in your heart and mind so that you call on God to give you wisdom in every situation.
- Forgiveness: Only as we look at the cross can we find the motivation that brings transformation so that we may forgive others. What God does for us humbles us to go and do likewise.
No victory can be won with hate. It is the Holy Spirit who sustains us through the hurt to healing and the anger to acceptance.
As you learn the ways of God, you learn how to rid yourself of guilt and shame on your own or with the help of others. You forgive yourself for all the mistakes made, sins committed and omitted. Celebrate that God loves you and feel your blessing.
- Joy: Truly becoming like a child is the best medicine for the soul. If there is something funny that does not hurt someone else’s feelings, then laugh until you cry. Look at ostriches, giraffes, kangaroos and zebras and consider the variety that God has created to keep us entertained.
Swimming fish, flying birds, hopping rabbits, running ants, sleeping cats and barking dogs introduce us to motion and the emotions they evoke.
Food to eat, songs to sing, poems to write, stories to tell, gardens to tend, instruments to play, these remind us of all that we can come to enjoy if we allow ourselves to notice them. The joy of the Lord is our strength and will always keep our hearts lifted if we praise and thank God with enthusiasm and energy.
- Prayer: Keep close to God in prayer and taste the victory that comes from intense and Spirit-saturated communion. Communicate with God Almighty as one who is omnipotent and omnipresent, and as Abba, Daddy.
It is an amazing paradox, but intimacy and awesomeness create mystery and mysticism.
Let us live the victory with gratitude, peace, love, forgiveness, joy and prayer.