I began the day arguing with all my morning readings. Jesus Calling by Sarah Young started this way, Learn to laugh at yourself more freely. Don’t take your circumstances so seriously….Laughter lightens your load and lifts your heart into heavenly places. (Jesus Calling 6-17 entry). The second reading I picked up is by Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg who suggested we play more. She quoted Rebbe Nachman who wrote, Finding true joy is the hardest of all spiritual tasks. (Nurture the Wow) The third book I picked up dared to suggest that I find ways to detach from whatever is causing angst, worry or chaos. You need to detach most when it seems the least likely possible thing to do. And this: Focus heroically on what is good in your life today. (Codependent No More by Melody Beattie)
Obviously all of these books were written before our current historical situation. These authors had no idea about the times we are living in with this no-end-in-sight global pandemic. They didn’t know about the unrest in the streets; our difficult, painful racial situation and the political vitriol of our day. They obviously can’t understand all the conflicting news we are getting; the way we are divided on almost everything including science or how our internet dishes out anger and divisiveness 24/7.
How in the world could any of them suggest that we laugh, take matters less seriously, detach or find joy right now? I was in the mood to argue and not to receive. I closed the books, shook my head, deciding they were not helpful, none of them.
Then, on my morning walk, with the first hints of sunrise and music in my ears, I felt a tiny place open in my soul. It was that humble place that I usually ignore. It was the place where I’m vulnerable and open enough to hear God’s truth over whatever I’m telling myself.
What if a time out, a breath, a pause is exactly what I need? What if I need to detach for a moment from all that is legitimately worrying me right now? What if I humbly need to follow God’s lead today? What if I do need to heroically focus on what is good today? What if I laugh, surrender, let go? What if I stop arguing and start accepting? What if I quit talking and start listening?
We are living in strange times. Maybe it is time for counterintuitive, upside down living. Maybe the harder things get the more we need to shift our focus from the problems and more on what seems good in this day. Maybe we need less arguing and angsting and more laughing?
Spiritually speaking, this upside down Word of faith has always been true. Less is more. Enemies are for loving. Money is to give away not to get. Laying down one’s life for a friend is our calling.
Jesus always used to say, You have heard it said ______________….but I say to you ___________________. He was always surprising us with his teachings and commandments. Those teachings were always different than we expected.
If someone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. What?
If someone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. Seriously Jesus?
If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Are you kidding me? (Matthew 5:39 and following)
What a strange, upside down way of thinking Jesus had. It is as if we are being asked to do the opposite of what our thoughts and emotions want us to do, even now…especially now. Yes, everything seems in a mess. Yes, it is very serious. Yes, we could worry about it all full time right now.
Yet, we are called to an upside down kind of faith. What if you relaxed for just a moment into the arms of God instead? What if you laughed a little instead of argued? What if you allowed your eyes to shift from the problems at hand just long enough to focus on the good?
Those authors did not know what today would hold when they wrote those words. Jesus lived a long, long time ago. Maybe they are all wrong. But, what if they are right?
God, we dare to believe you know us better than we know ourselves. We humbly and heroically choose to follow you, even when it seems counterintuitive or upside down. Move us please, from argument and angst to the soul soothing upside down place you would have us be. Amen.
Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, wife, mother of three, Mosa to Keller and Pace and a breast cancer survivor. Check out http://www.drcindyryanblog.com for past blog entries, upcoming events, information about the Jesus Calling Weekly Prayer Call she co-hosts each week on Tuesdays at 7 a.m. CST. You can sign up there for her Inner Circle monthly emails for more content, pictures and news. The next issue will arrive in email inboxes on July 1.