Here is a meditation and some beautiful photos that my friend Charylene Powers shared with me, with a spiritual analogy that the Lord gave her during her morning prayer time recently. As the end of 2017 approaches and we consider where we’ve been and where we’d like to go next year, perhaps this will encourage us.
From the side of the therapy pool my Back Splash instructor looks down at me with compassion and understanding in her eyes and says, “You MUST strengthen your core.” It is a bone chilling January morning. As I back out of my driveway, the snow crunches under the weight of my car tires. I’m leaving for the MVP therapy pool in the darkness of early morning. My back pain has pretty much put a halt to life as I have known it. Immersing myself in the warmth of the therapy pool every morning is about all I can do. One morning a week, I am attending a Back Splash class offered at MVP. There are usually ten ladies in attendance; all of us with muscle and joint problems. Our instructor directs us to the deep end of the pool, which prevents us from touching the bottom of the pool. She continues to instruct us saying, “place the swim noodle under your arms and hang straight down, straight as a pencil, back straight, legs together. Look straight ahead; your head is the eraser.” These instructions sound easy enough. However, as I try to follow her directions, my legs float off to the right. I struggle in the water trying to control my body, and I attempt the pencil formation once again. This time my legs float off to the left….and this is when I hear, “You MUST strengthen your core!” After weeks of daily trips to MVP and attending my Back Splash class, faithfully practicing all the exercises that I am being taught, I am finally able to hold a perfect pencil formation as my instructor counts off the seconds. Spring is approaching, I am back on my bike….riding down the bike path, enjoying a strengthened core and the freedom that brings. I have another core: My spiritual core. How do I strengthen my spiritual core? The same way that I strengthen my physical core. Daily, I must practice the spiritual disciplines that keep me on the path that God has asked me to walk. “Not turning aside to the right or to the left.” In Celebration of Discipline, R.J. Foster tells us “God has given us the Disciplines of the spiritual life as a means of receiving His grace. The Disciplines allow us to place ourselves before God so that He can transform us.” ……hence as I practice spiritual disciplines, it is God who strengthens my spiritual core. As I read and mediate on God’s Word, the Psalmist tells me, “His Word is a lamp to my feet, a light to my path.” The path God has chosen for me. “The Word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” This is my powerful promise from God. Prayer is how I communicate with God. I hear His “gentle whisper” and feel His “Divine nudging.” In Luke one of the disciples asks, “Lord teach us to pray.” The Lord will teach me to pray as He taught His disciples. When I do not know what to pray the Holy Spirit directs my thoughts. The more I pray the more, I long to pray and “praying without ceasing” becomes a reality in my life not just a desire. Fasting has been a part of the Christian tradition for centuries. It is a discipline that Christ talks about in Matthew… “when you fast.” Why am I not pursuing this discipline like I do the other disciplines? Probably because I think it sounds like too much work and sacrifice. Maybe this is the discipline that would bring me closer to God ….. The key to my success in strengthening my physical core has been my daily trips to our health club and practicing all the exercises my caring instructor has given me….hence leading to the healing of my body and the freedom that brings.
The key to my success in strengthening my spiritual core is the same: Daily coming to my heavenly instructor and embracing the spiritual disciplines that He is teaching me….hence leading to the healing of my soul and the freedom that brings.
“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice
behind you saying ‘this is the way; walk in it’.” (Isaiah 30:21).
Alan and I have now have 6 close friends on our daily prayer list who are grieving the loss of their lifetime mate. That’s about 6 times as many as we knew 6 years ago, and prospects for the future are not looking up. This morning I had the rather dubious honor of signing up for Medicare…proof positive that I’m reaching the esteemed age of senior citizen, which (at least in our country) isn’t cause for anything more cheery than black frosting. However, there have been a few bright spots lately as we muse our way through our sixties, and one has been the gently humorous romantic drama just released this year under the title Heaven is Waiting. It’s actually the (fictitious) story of “Ned,” a 43-year-old who has been grieving the loss of his wife for 3 years but still isn’t ready to move on… although his daughter is more than ready for him to move on so that he’ll let her grow up! In the movie, Ned’s deceased wife, Kate, talks to him and gives him good advice, which some viewers find offensive, but I don’t! Ned isn’t “conjuring” her up; she just appears. In fact, most of the people I’ve known closely who’ve lost their mates do find themselves talking to their beloved MIA partners every now and then…you know…just to run ideas by them. If we talk to ourselves, why can’t we talk to a loved one who’s not present? Is that any different from asking yourself, “What would Father think?” (or whoever you used to go to for advice when you were little)? Of course, ultimately, the best advice comes from asking our Father, who art already in heaven waiting for us. He’s the only One who knows when and how to lead us past grief ruling paramount into living freely in the present again. But, that takes a long time, no matter how young or old.