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Read Genesis 11:1-9
ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT)
Well, Happy New Year! It’s 2015 and we’re half-way through the second decade of the 21st century! Isn’t that just mind-boggling? Well, whether we are blown away about that or not, time keeps on moving and so must we. As such, I find this to be an excellent time to take a look at the 4th of 15 ailments that Pope Francis I has addressed with his curia, in order for us to reflect on how the universal church falls into “dis-ease” over these problems.
Ailment #4: Planning too much. How many of you are planners? You know who you are. How many of you spend your days trying to make sure that everything is in order and that all gets done? How many of you plan what time you wake up, what time you eat breakfast, what time you do your daily chores, what time you run your weekly errands, what time you eat dinner, and what time you go to bed? Planning is such an important part of our daily routine and, if the truth be told, without planning life would simply be too chaotic. So, why is planning an ailment of the church?
Simply put, planning is NOT an ailment of the church? In fact, it is not one the 15 Ailments of the Curia that Pope Francis I addresses either; rather, PLANNING TOO MUCH (aka over-planning) is the ailment we are addressing here. There is no sin in having a routine to follow. Structure never killed anyone; however, having an overly cumbersome and top-heavy structure has killed a good many people. Like the Tower of Babel, such a top-heavy and over-reaching structure is bound to come tumbling down.
The church is notorious for over-planning. We’re just pulling out of Advent…a season where there isn’t enough spaces on the calendar for all the planning that gets done. What’s more, we’re quickly approaching Lent…yet another time of crazy planning. But it’s not just the church calendar that gets planned for. Have you ever been to a church administrative council meeting? We get so caught up over our finances (or lack thereof), over capital projects, over parking issues, and over a host of other things. Who will cover for this person when that person is out? What have we got planned if only 2 show up to youth group? What happens if 400 show up to youth group? And on, and on, ad infinitum et nauseum.
Now take that down from the church level to our own personal lives? We plan so much that we barely have time (or so we think) for anything else in our lives? Between work, school, church, family, etc., we are literally all booked up. The question for us, on all of these levels, is this: “What room are you leaving for the Holy Spirit in your life and in the life of the church?” Do we have such of a lack of trust in the Holy Spirit that we feel we must have everything figured and planned out? Are we a people of faith or impeccable planning?
Today’s challenge is for us to stop planning too much and leave some wiggle room for the spontaneity of the Holy Spirit in your life and in the life of the church. It is true that the door will open wide for things to not work out as planned, but that is exactly the point. Things don’t always need to be planned, nor do things always need to work according to our plan. Let’s face it, God is the one with the plan and God is inviting us to join in on the plan, but we have to be willing to trust, follow and obey…and we can’t do those things if we constantly see ourselves at the helm. So, step back and allow God to do some of the steering. It’s okay to have a plan, so long as you know whose plan you are ultimately following.
THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“Earthly wisdom is doing what comes naturally. Godly wisdom is doing what the Holy Spirit compels us to do.” – Charles Stanley
PRAYER by St. Augustine of Hippo
O Holy Spirit, descend plentifully into my heart. Enlighten the dark corners of this neglected dwelling and scatter there Thy cheerful beams. Amen.
Read Psalm 18:2-6
ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“Walk about Zion, go all around it, count its towers, consider well its ramparts; go through its citadels, that you may tell the next generation that this is God, our God forever and ever. He will be our guide forever.” (Psalm 48:12-14)
I just recently watched a movie called “The Dead Matter” and, as you can probably guess by the title, it was a horror film about vampires trying to use some magical relic to raise the dead in order to use them as an army to…I can only guess…take over the world. Okay, so the plot wasn’t anything earth shattering but there was something about the film that struck me as being all too familiar to the human experience.
Gretchen, who is the main human character in the movie, accidentally stumbles upon the relic. She also happens to be a grieving sister who had recently lost her brother in a car accident. She wanted nothing more than to see her brother again. She missed him terribly and just could not let him go. As mentioned earlier, this relic has the power to bring the dead to life and, upon discovering that power, Gretchen seeks to bring back her brother.
Of course, that plan does not work out the way that Gretchen had hoped it would. Rather than bringing her brother back, everyone and their mother starts to come back to life. You can only imagine what kind of nightmare that would be. And even if she did bring her brother back from the dead, would he really still be her brother? I think we all can agree that whatever came back to bite her (pun completely intended), it would not be her brother.
While Gretchen was dealing with the loss of her brother, the fact of the matter is that, regardless of what kind we are dealing with, we often have a hard time dealing with loss. Whether it be our relationships, our careers, our sense of control, our comfort, or our way of doing things, there can be little doubt that we spend a great deal of our time trying to avoid letting go. Some people will resist any kind of change for fear of the loss that will come as a result of it. Indeed, it is hard for us to deal with loss.
Jesus was no stranger to loss. He lost his identity as a carpenter. He lost the comfort of his own home. He lost the trust of his family (who all thought he was crazy). He lost the chance of leading a “normal” life. He lost many of his followers when they realized their lives were on the line; and, in the end, Jesus lost his own life. Yet, Jesus let all of that go because he realized that regardless of the loss, he would never lose the hope of God’s presence.
Remember that you, too, are being called to let go of the things that are holding you back from living the life God has called you to live. Let go of your anxiety, let go of your fear, let go of your resistance to change, let go of your need for control, let go of your grudges, let go of it all. The more you let go, the more you realize that God never lets you go. Today’s challenge is for you to let go and let God’s presence fill you with hope, healing and wholeness.
THOUGHT OF THE DAY
Abundance is a process of letting go; that which is empty can receive.
Lord, teach me to let go and to put my trust completely in you. Amen.