The Journey: Back to school with wisdom and sanity

Posted by Rev. Daniel Christian on

                     School has started for almost every student and teacher. Our daughter bounded out the door as an official second grader! Back to school night was exciting for everyone. The beginning of school marks a turning point in our lives. It is a time when we turn and however briefly examine our life and how we want to live it. It may be big or small, but the turning point is about experiencing a change.

Watching all the kids return to school got me thinking about my own turning point. How am I turning and changing in my life? By doing so I am acting, believing, behaving and seeing God’s creation and purpose in new ways. By turning and living out of a new way or seeing, believing and behaving we can’t help but be different!

Learning how to faithfully turn isn’t such a bad thing. It fact it is very much a good thing! Pivoting in faith and trying to live through each day has a certain goodness about it. Simply facing each day before me, and not thinking too much about yesterday or tomorrow. By doing this we are saying that by faith I am willing to see the world and God’s goodness in the world in new ways. By doing so we can’t help but be different.

This has a certain Zen quality to it, or as Jesus taught his disciples how to pray the Lord’s Prayer. Praying or meditating is about being present with your life, present with God and present with your fellow human being right now, today, in this moment.

Being present as we turn and change and grow in our faith is the most challenging thing we can do in this life. Ponder that for a moment? Most of you reading right now are probably off someplace else in your mind. Hey no judgement from me! As I was writing about being present my mind wandered off. I had a strong desire to go online and find out what the difference is between a sweet potato and yam? Do you know? Well I do! It seemed important at the time. Then all of a sudden in a desperate need to further distract myself, I had to know now what Aaron Rodgers thinks of Colin Kaepernick? Did you know that Walking Dead is to get Pokemon Go?

All of these distractions and many more challenge us to pivot and live our lives in a more present and connected way. With this in mind I am reminded of a passage from the book of Proverbs.

Proverbs 8 is about the wisdom that is written into and upon the fabric of creation. Creation is imprinted with God’s plan and purpose.

Said another way, our role as human beings is not to create the world or to create our own order, but to fit into the divine order, the plan and purposes of God. This goes back to the turning points in our life and how we are present in them.

Modern Life conveys the idea that the individual is sovereign and it is up to each and every one of us to sort out life pretty much on our own. While true in some sense, but in a much deeper and more profound way our role is to pay attention. In heeding this eternal plan our own lives find purpose, meaning and sanity. When we live disconnected from these values and from others, life easily becomes discombobulated. We don’t have to look far to see this on display most everywhere we turn.

When we turn and live by a present faith we are saying we don’t want to keep living in yesterday and tomorrow.

Living by faith is being present and witnessing the goodness of God right now, today. Being present with God, your life and your fellow human being right now. Easy words to say, but challenging to live.

Do I place obstacles in my life of being present with God when I isolate myself through work, anger, hurt, betrayal, addiction or self- importance and thus deny myself and God my life as a pathway for God’s Shalom?

I like to imagine that we are all partners with God. Partners in creation, shalom, beauty, kindness, compassion, rejoicing with those who rejoice and weeping with those who weep, living peaceably with all, seeking compassion for those who are hurting.

I know I risk sounding naïve to some. I am aware that our current national tone, especially online and social media is filled with malice, insults and cruelty. However, I believe that all of us are better than that.

I ask each of you to notice your own turning point. Be present with God, your life, your community today! Here is the good news. We don’t have to go to the mountain top or travel to some faraway place. We can begin turning and being present right now. That my friends is the first step toward allowing God to break through in you.

Rev. Daniel Christian is the Pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Ukiah