“Do one thing every day that scares you.”~~Eleanor Roosevelt
Today’s word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is Panglossian, “characterized by or given to extreme optimism, especially in the face of unrelieved hardship or adversity.” I am most definitely not Panglossian.
Today is Unfriend Day. It’s the “official” day to scroll through your Facebook list and “unfriend” anyone you really don’t know (or, if you dare, those “friends” who are constantly posting annoying political memes).
I was about halfway to work, yesterday morning, when I suddenly realized I had forgotten my trombone. All was not lost, however, as I do have time to drive back home, pick it up, and drive back to Southlake for band practice. Just barely. I got to the middle school, where we practice, at 6:30, which is exactly when I like to arrive. I just didn’t have time to eat dinner beforehand. This actually worked in my favor, I think. I seemed to play much better in a state of hunger. Very interesting. I wound up going through the McDonald’s drive-thru after practice. It’s on the right side of the road, right on my way home, so it’s very convenient. And, they are now serving some breakfast items all day, now! So I had two Sausage McMuffins and a medium order of fries for dinner.
The worst part, though was the rainstorm between home and Southlake. It rained so hard, I almost had to pull over at one point. That, and the sudden downpour caused standing water in multiple places on the freeway, which is always very dangerous. Of course, in conditions like that, I will not drive much more than fifty miles an hour, to prevent hydroplaning.
Then, around 3:30, this morning, we were awakened by a frightened Stephanie, letting us know that the tornado sirens were going off. So we got up, and, rather than doing the smart thing and gathering in the middle bathroom, we turned on the TV, and opened the back door to see what was going on outside. Which was pretty much nothing other than some rain. We watched the weather on TV for a few minutes, the sirens went off, and we went back to bed. The thing that aggravates me is that there was never a confirmed tornado, which tells me that “they” have changed the definition of a “tornado warning.” It used to mean that a funnel cloud had been confirmed in the area. Now it seems to just mean that a “storm capable of producing tornadoes” is in the area. That’s what we used to call a “tornado watch.” Oh, well. Better safe than sorry, I guess. It took a while to get back to sleep on a night when I already don’t get enough sleep, so today is going to be a fun day.
(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)
The eighteenth-century evangelist George Whitefield was once quoted as writing, “God give me a deep humility, a well-guided zeal, a burning love, and a single eye, and then let men or devils do their worst!” Tim Keller says that these four ideas are a good summary of what the Christian life should look like. He then turns this short prayer into a means of daily self-examination.
In the category of deep humility, in order to examine myself, I might ask the following questions: “Have I looked down on anyone? Have I been too stung by criticism? Have I felt snubbed and ignored?” After this, I “consider the free grace of Jesus” until my disdain for others decreases, because I am a sinner too, and until my pain over criticism decreases, because my focus should be on God’s love, not what others think of me. I don’t need to hang on to the need to “keep up a good image.” This leads me to “grateful, restful joy.”
To examine myself for “a well-guided zeal,” I might ask myself: “Have I avoided people or tasks that I know I should face? Have I been anxious and worried? Have I failed to be circumspect, or have I been rash and impulsive?” Then I “consider the free grace of Jesus” until I am no longer avoiding hard things, because Jesus faced the cross for me, and until I have no “anxious or rash behavior,” because Jesus’s death shows me that God cares for me and will take care of me. I continue to reflect on this grace until “I experience calm thoughtfulness and strategic boldness.”
To examine myself for “a burning love,” I might ask myself: “Have I spoken or thought unkindly of anyone? Am I justifying myself by caricaturing someone else in my mind? Have I been impatient and irritable? Have I been self-absorbed, indifferent, and inattentive to people?” Then I “consider the free grace of Jesus” until coldness and unkindness disappear, because of the sacrificial love of Christ, until there is no impatience, because of God’s great patience with me, and until there is no indifference, because God also pays great attention to me. I continue to reflect on this great grace until I feel “warmth and affection.”
To examine myself for “a single eye,” I might ask myself: “Am I doing what I do for God’s glory and the good of others, or am I being driven by fears, need for approval, love of comfort and case, need for control, hunger for acclaim and power, or the fear of other people? Am I looking at anyone with envy? Am I giving in to even the first motions of sexual lust or gluttony? Am I spending my time on urgent things rather than important things because of these inordinate desires?” Then I “consider how the free grace of Jesus provides me what I am looking for in these other things.”
These are four very effective areas of meditation and self-examination, that seem to cover a large spectrum of our lives. May we learn to reflect on these and similar areas in our lives.
Father, teach me to participate in this kind of self-examination on a regular basis. Just in typing those questions, I found myself to be severely lacking in multiple places. I pray for the kind of reflection that would result in knowing how much you love me and allowing me to transfer that love to others, as well as find in you the graces and benefits that I might erroneously seek elsewhere.
Come, Lord Jesus!
Grace and peace, friends.