After focusing on so many serious issues here is an opportunity to return to the quiet of the Father’s presence. Julia Herzog, accompanied by Fontane Liang on harp, is the soloist in this beautiful Andante by Bach, and David Booth the guitarist on this piece he wrote himself and which he entitled Maria es libre.
There are external matters which the devil loves to apply at an over literal level in order to cramp our spiritual freedom. If God is stressing these “untils” – “You need to face this or . . .”, then that’s a conditional promise and a clear warning that we have to act on. But where these are only the words of man, they are a striving after the wind – and it leads to nothing but frustration and legalism.
These things will not go away until we quiet and still our souls as the Psalmist puts it, and yield them all up to the Lord. It may take a lifetime for some people to reach this place of inner quiet and yieldedness; to others it comes more readily, but it is always the key for letting God re-strand the fragments in our life.
The quieter our souls, the more yielded, the more likely we are to be able to bring and communicate such peace and quietness to others. This is especially important in terms of communicating with the primary people in our life.
It is amazing how even relatively small changes can make all the difference to our ability to communicate with them. It’s all the difference between frustration and tension building up on the one hand and a really smooth and welcoming reception for what we have to share with them.
Now I find that, with all the snippets of daily information I need to pass on to Ros each day, my temptation is to blurt out too much and fire off the “bullet points” at machine gun speed. But if she has come home tired with her brain overladen from work, it can come across as altogether too much of a splurge. We are learning instead to write down these necessary and worthwhile “fragments” so we can make our way through them logically at the right time together. May the Lord help us to evaluate how we communicate and to develop tools of communication that work for us and which avoid unnecessary tension.
You see, fragments can end up as being flaming darts that the enemy of our souls shoots at us, and they are capable of inflicting real damage. You know how it is – you are just about to do something, like pray for someone with a bad back, and a well-aimed flashback lands on you to remind you that not a lot happened last time you prayed for a bad back! Don’t let it land. When we pray, God blesses!
And when little things go wrong and our plans are thwarted, it is so important not to allow a foothold to frustration. The truth is that most of the things that we get het up about now are probably less important than we are inclined to feel at the time. “Don’t worry about tomorrow,” Jesus urges, because the more het up we get, (and that is the real force of the expression Jesus is using here in Matthew 6:34), the less energy we have to deal with more serious things.
As The Message says in its own distinctive way, “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”
Perhaps we have been expecting things to be handed to us on a plate instead of needing to go out after them to make them work. And then sloth or lethargy intervened and slowed us down. Or perhaps we recognise that much of our fragmented activity was actually self-centred, selfish even. We may even wonder if we have gone so far as to miss the Lord’s appointment for us – in which case, those thoughts can open the floodgates to regrets – which are particularly unpleasant and counter-productive shards.
“If only I had done this, if only I hadn’t done the other, I would not now be in this place now . . .; I would have borne more fruit; I . . ; I . . ; I . . . look where the emphasis has gone: it’s all about I instead of Christ.”
There may well be legitimate griefs for things that we can no longer put right when we’ve been disobedient, or whatever it may be. And of course the Lord has to prune us. (Matt. 7:19) But let’s take the emphasis away from how much I’ve failed and look to the Lord who delights to restore and re-weave and re-strand.
Regret is a snare, not a spiritual aid. These are not fragments that we should collect and store. We are weakened and disempowered if we constantly bewail our lack, our failure, our smallness. When we realise how much we have hurt others though, or cut corners we should not have cut, or failed to take an opportunity to witness or pray with so or in some other way acted against the truth, then we should repent deeply – and that repentance silences the piercing clamour of regrets and re-opens the flow of God’s living water.
Think of times when you have found yourself caught up in a cycle of regretting what you have (or have not) rather than embracing what you could be doing . . . what have you found helps at those times? What does not help? What would the Lord say to you about this?