The week after
Strength for the Journey: Ideas and thoughts from our bishop
"In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength." Isaiah 30:15
By BISHOP ROBERT E. HAYES JR.
Well, here I am, the first week after my vacation. Can't you just sense how excited I am to be back? Aren't you as happy as I am to be back in the old saddle again, solving all the problems of humankind, answering 25 or 30 phone calls a day, while trying to return all the calls and letters and messages that came in while I was gone? Sounds exciting doesn't it? Is this a great life or what?
The truth of the matter is, I'm in shock. Just a few days ago I had my trusty fishing rod in hand, sitting out on a quiet lake, watching the birds fly by. Never mind that the fish weren't biting. Like that old saying goes, "A bad day fishing is better than two good days at work." There was peace and quiet. There were no phones or doorbells. I could even hear myself think. Or at least I thought that's what I heard. Everything was great.
But right now, I need a vacation to undo the vacation I had. On this first week back, everything is wrong. I feel cheated. I'm experiencing "post_vacation_depression_blues!" Hey, that sounds pretty good. I think I'll write a song or sermon on that topic.
Does this sound like what you experienced when you returned from your vacation? And if you haven't gone on vacation yet, let me be the first to prepare you for what awaits you when you get back. But really, this predicament is nothing new. Many people find themselves going through this even after a great weekend, so you know how it feels after a couple of weeks.
That's why today's article deals with coming to terms with the place where we work all year to get away from. Wherever your lot is cast, there can be happiness, peace of mind, and even tranquility, if you can master the art of living where you are.
I would like to offer you a couple of brief suggestions on how we can manage to survive when all you want to do is run away and you can't. If you take these suggestions three times a day-with water-I guarantee you will find that the place you're in is not so bad after all. Besides, this is more therapy for me than it is for you.
Seek to Do Your Work and Serve With a Quiet Mind
In the fast and furious pace of our times, one thing is certain, at some point or another we will all get stretched and bent out of shape. You already know that during the day you will need to do at least ten things-all at once. Everybody wants everything done at the same time. It seems like the world is always in a hurry up, hurry up fifth gear, and we're like the snail who experienced a hit and run by a tortoise. When the snail filled out the police report on what he saw, he said, "It all happened so fast!"
There are those kind of days. I have discovered however what is needed most, when we get tossed to and fro from the pressures around us, is the knowledge that our lives are in partnership with God, and together, you and God can do anything. We should never forget where we come from or Who we belong to. We are children of God, created in His image, known of Him, and watched over by Him, and as long as I have God in my life, life itself will always be manageable.
So many of us are like the elderly lady who boarded a street car one day. When she stepped up into the car, she was carrying a heavy bag. As the car rode along, instead of putting the grip down, she held on to it tightly. Finally, the conductor said to her, "Lady, you can put your bag down now, the streetcar will carry it for you!"
I can't tell you now many days I've come into this office trying to carry my own heavy grip. In my bag were my burdens, my problems, other people's worries, my disappointments, and a host of other concerns as well.
But one thing I've found out that has helped me to master the art of dealing with and solving my problems (along with others as well) is the assurance that God can help carry them quite well, thank you. God doesn't remove my troubles from me, but helps me enough so I can stand and deal with each and every circumstance life throws at me.
Along with helping me to carry what seems like the weight of the world, God has given me certain scriptures that strengthen me throughout the day. The one that appears at the beginning of this article is one of my favorites. It says, "in returning and rest..., and, "in quietness and in trust..." I need to hear that today.
There are many other scriptures as well, and if you cultivate the habit of carrying two or three with you each day, living where you are and doing what you have to do won't be so bad.
Lastly, if you really want to master the art of living where you are, you must:
Seek to Fulfill the Ministry God Has Given You
We are all put here for a purpose. God has given each one of us certain gifts and graces that no one else possesses. There is a reason you are who you are and where you are. And the sooner you find out the answers to these questions, you will not only master the art of living where you are, but you will have mastered life as well.
Someone today in need will pass my way. I may have what that person needs to make it to tomorrow. Unless I'm willing to fulfill my duty as a servant of God, then that person will go away still in need. And that's the most important task at hand for me today-to be here when I'm needed.
Ministry my friends is being where you are needed. It has nothing to do with wearing long black robes or standing in a pulpit on Sundays. It has everything to do with caring. And in order for this day to have meaning for me, I have to care. The host of people I see and hear from each day are human, just as I am. That means they too, are often disappointed, frustrated, lonely, discouraged, defeated, and burdened down. And that means we are in this bundle of life together.
God has called me to help, and helping is the thing which I get the most satisfaction from. So then, as much as I long to be out on that lake, as much as I want to be away from here, doing whatever I can do that doesn't sound like work, I know and understand that the most important place I can be is here, answering the phone, responding to the knock at the door, and giving of myself, my time, my energy, and my talents. And accepting this, it makes it easier for me to answer the question, "If I'm not here to help, who will be?"
Go back and look at where you are and what God has called you to do. Sure, we all get tired of doing whatever it is every once in a while, but chances are if you look upon what you do with fascination, knowing that together you and God can get it done, then living where you are will not be that bad.
I must tell you that I feel better now than I did when I first sat down to do this article. My day is half over, and in between the lines of this column, several people have called needing my help. I'm glad I was here for them.
I feel refreshed, and I know great things are in store for me the rest of the day. Thank you for letting me get all of this out of my system. I can only hope and pray that somewhere along the way I have helped you.
I must go now, a huge fish is tugging at my line.