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Holy Spirit . . . onward! The ‘H’ in T.H.R.I.V.E., again . . .#18

I am almost afraid for the Covid-19 season to be over. ‘Are you daft, Man?’ you ask. Sometimes, but not now. People have been nicer . . . gentler, and perhaps a little more in tune. People have had to rely on God, like no time I have ever known in my lifetime. Many months ago, I was asked to speak at a retreat with the theme, “How to Rest in Action.” The retreat was cancelled due to our quarantine--rest granted. Rest without action, prayers answered. Hmmm, I think our Lord chuckles about such things. So, what have we learned during this surreal time? Many of the things to which we had given our time before were not important, only urgent. We have learned: We are not in control. Only One knows what is happening now and in the future. In a nano second, society can be whipped into a frenzy… And yet, because we lost control, many of us were driven to our knees, reminded to call out to God to come and perform a rescue. In my Wednesday morning conference call prayer meeting with my corporate brothers, we marveled at how God has heard and answered our prayers on a magnanimous scale, something only he could have accomplished. Reminded immediately of Paul’s words in Ephesians 3, which I read to them over the phone: "Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever."1 Only God commands economies and governments … only God. But here’s the thing - my brothers and I would not have seen the miraculous hand of God without us being out of control--out of the driver's seat, that is to say, being in a place where there is nothing we could do to change an outcome, such as entire economies. Nerve-wracking ~ as we have been riding the waves, but irreplaceable ~ as we are seeing hints of coming out the other side of it . . . always with prayer. So, how can we go back to thinking all of our outcomes are as dints of our own wills? O, I pray we cannot. Which calls to mind Solomon’s words: Trust in the Lord with all your heart. In all your ways--plans, dealings, purposes--acknowledge him and he will direct your paths.2 As a result of business dealings being askew, travel and face-to-face meetings cancelled, there has been more time at home. At first, many of us did not know how to deal with it, did not know how to cope. When we have been used to 'running' as a coping mechanism, that 0ption just went away. And suddenly, we were able to slow down enough to see what fascinates the very young. Today I literally laid on my belly to video a centipede that four-year-old Alyssa was fascinated with--what an incredible little creature! With space, we have had the privilege to observe the greatness of the Creation, both the scope and the details. We have quieted ourselves to listen to the birds in our gardens, and also to open the Word of God daily without excuse of time crunch. We must not lose this ability to slow down. The psalmist’s words could not be clearer or more succinct: Be still and know that I am God.3 In another day, I will fly home from North Carolina, having been with Amy and the four littles for another week. Back to the gym! Wait, the gym is closed . . . no trainer, no machines? How to work out? Oh yeah, I have two feet, two arms to exercise on my own - ohhhh, yeeeesssss! I pray that we will not abandon outdoor exercise that accounts for the skies, the air, the vistas, nature’s sounds. [I use it all, you see - from inclines to declines--remember how I talked about walking up my hill backwards, even hitting parked cars?!-- to neighborhood benches where I can lie on the grass, raise my legs, cross my ankles and do sit-ups. Come on . . . we used to be creative, remember?!] Indeed, things are loosening up - praise God! But let us move forward wisely. That which we have learned has been hard won, and we certainly have gained new understanding during this time. So let’s move forward, prepared to move out with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, not forgetting the quiet, the wonder, the time to encourage another, to create and to offer kindness. “Holy Spirit, lead us on . . . help us see the way you see! Lead us, guide us, let your voice be clear to us.” Amen. Christine 1 - Ephesians 3.20-21, NRSV 2 - Proverbs 3.5-6 3 - Psalm 46.10

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