Free to Be

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The car’s packed and we’re heading down the road to new adventures! …I remember my anticipation as a teen going off to college. Along with some normal anxiety, I looked forward to having my own schedule and being able to make my own decisions. I was free to strike out on my own. Free to be me… Rather a scary thought as I look back on that, but my parents and others had prepared me well and my faith in God was real and strong. Growing and maturing is an important step in life.

Free to be. Free to make choices. Free to consider future and present actions… But isn’t it also easy during that pursuit to become too self-focused, missing out on the richness and satisfaction of reaching outward in service and in working with others? We’ve all heard the clamor of the world. “He said…” “She did…” “That’s a lie…” “You deserve…” Perhaps I am just more aware as I’ve gotten older, but selfishness often seems to be encouraged. Talking at once seems to be the norm. People loudly espouse their agenda, poisonous words tearing others apart, hurting and demeaning everyone.

As I discovered during my college days, along with freedom comes new responsibility, greater accountability and consideration of others. As Paul wrote in his letter to the Corinthians, “’I have the right to do anything,’ you say—but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’—but not everything is constructive.” * In our freedom, I pray that we will remember the element of respect, building up and caring for others, rather than tearing down and destroying.

Of encouragement to me is the observation that when we face common challenges or tragedies, we begin to gain a sense of our shared humanity. When we take time to notice and acknowledge people as important and valued, then differing perspectives, needs, or goals no longer seem as significant. When we reconsider harsh words, there are fewer times to regret. When we choose positive actions, then growth and reconciliation are made possible. When we allow change in our own thinking and perspective, we discover room for compassion.

*1 Corinthians 10:23

 

Reflections on Mountains

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  • We hike along life’s steep trails.
  • Cliffs and crags can appear daunting
  • We find shelter and rest in quiet coves
  • Struggles and death come as dark valleys
  • We flee and hide within when there is danger
  • Understanding comes when light casts its rays over the peaks
  • Gazing over broad vistas improves our perspective
  • Improved perspective brings communion
  • One step at a time to achieve the goal
  • Rocks can assist our climb

Rest Stop

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Blink, flash… rumble-rumble. I paused to watch the display in the night sky. Cool air, smelling of rain, drove away the last of the day’s heat. Watching from a distance provided a larger perspective and I considered the power of the storm and the wideness of the heavens. As the storm drew further away, I drew a deep breath and the rain-washed quiet began to draw from mind and body the day’s lingering roar. It was good to stop and rest.

When I find myself caught up in the rush and stress of life, taking time to pause helps both mentally and physically. Can’t you just imagine that “ahh” as you sink into a favorite chair, slide into bed, or arrive home after a long and busy day?! Wherever our “comfort spot” may be, it is a place to rest our soul and calm our spirit for a time.

When the crowd was pressing around Jesus, he too needed a time of rest. For those who wanted to follow him, Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” * Like us in our daily lives, He too had to seek those special times and places alone and in prayer with his Father, God… places of rest and places where daily needs could be met. The book of Mark tells us that the apostles, the followers or disciples of Jesus, had the same challenge and had to be intentional about taking time to rest. After they had shared with Jesus all that they had been doing and teaching, he reminded them of the importance of ‘stepping out of the stream’ for a while. “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while,” Jesus said, “For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. So, they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves.” *

I think sometimes we don’t give ourselves permission to step aside and rest. We are driven by so many things… I pray for you “rest stops” along life’s way. Times of comfort with friends and family. Quiet reflection with God who loves you. A welcome place to pause, stretch your legs, and relax before continuing on.

*Matthew 8:20 & Luke 9:58; Mark 6:31-32

Reflections on Roads

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• Roads are paths of decisions
• Those decisions lead to many destinations
• Consider all that you encounter along the way
• Some ways are direct and easy to traverse
• Sometimes things ahead are stormy
• It’s hard to see beauty when moving through our storms
• Potholes and cracks develop from stressful situations
• Remembering our origination can help us persevere
• Roadside stops are helpful to the traveler
• Moving along accustomed routes may give a sense of stability
• Sometimes we get stuck or lost and miss the alternate routes
• Whether through wilderness or quiet streets… we seek clear ways

Open

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Open heart now do we heed
Understanding gain

A treasure box with gifts to share
Revealing many things

Open mouth what do we speak
In kindness wisdom not in folly

Careful words produced with thought
Teaching truth and life

Open ears what do we hear
To know the words just spoken

Among the mad uproar and chaos
Listening and discerning

Open eyes what do we see
Wondrous things and tragedy

Hold outheld hands to offer aid
Touching hurt and bringing healing

Open doors we knock in faith
Pass through gates of life

Walking leaping now made right
Prisoners no more

Open

From “My Words to Live By” c-a allen