On Trying Harder

“Believe something and the Universe is on its way to being changed. Because you’ve changed, by believing. Once you’ve changed, other things start to follow. Isn’t that the way it works?” ― Diane Duane, So You Want to Be a Wizard
(Goodreads)

Today’s word of the day, from the Oxford English Dictionary, is nunc stans, a rather weighty phrase, meaning, “Eternity or eternal existence, esp. as an attribute of God, conceived not as infinite temporal duration but as a form of existence not subject to the limitations of time, and hence involving neither change nor succession. Also occasionally in extended use, esp. with reference to mystical experience.”

Today is No Dirty Dishes Day. Too late. I wish I had known this before I cooked my egg, this morning.

Yesterday was a pretty unremarkable day, over all. However, I will make note that my wife received some much-needed appreciation from her bosses. They had been kind of rough on her and her team, the day before, and both of them stopped by to make sure she knew how much they appreciate her and what a great job she is doing.

The Red Sox lost 8-4, yesterday. The Sox, who played the Royals, were ahead briefly, then down 5-1. They came close to tying the game, but then gave up more runs late in the game. Porcello was the loser, making his record 6-2 on the season. Fortunately, Baltimore also lost, so they remain in a virtual tie for first. The Rangers lost their second in a row to the Athletics, 8-5. They, too, were ahead briefly, 3-2 in the fourth inning. But they gave up runs in the sixth and seventh. They tied the game, 5-5, in the bottom of the ninth, only to have Shawn Tolleson come in and blow yet another game. Gave up a grand slam in the bottom of the ninth. Seattle beat the O’s 10-0, so the Rangers are a game out, now.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Praying With the Psalms)

Summon your power, O God, the power, O God, by which you have worked for us.
Because of your temple at Jerusalem kings shall bear gifts to you.
Rebuke the beasts that dwell among the reeds, the herd of bulls with the calves of the peoples. Trample underfoot those who lust after tribute; scatter the peoples who delight in war.
Nobles shall come from Egypt; Cush shall hasten to stretch out her hands to God.

Psalm 68:28-31

As God resurrects and delivers, it develops, within us, an appetite for more. It’s not so much a greediness, which would be bad, but, rather, a healthy lust for the working of the power of God in our lives. And, yes, I firmly believe that “lust” can be a good thing. It all depends on what you are lusting after, right? “The more god does for us, the more we want him to do.” And, hopefully, the more we simply want him.

“That which you have done in me, O God, do in others. Use me as a connection by which others can be brought into relation with your love, your healing, and your salvation. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.”

(From My Utmost For His Highest)

“Careful Unreasonableness”

Look at the birds of the air . . . Consider the lilies of the field . . .
Matthew 6:26, 28

“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they simply are! Think of the sea, the air, the sun, the stars and the moon – all these are, and what a ministration they exert. So often we mar God’s designed influence through us by our self-conscious effort to be consistent and useful.” Let’s read that last sentence again.

“So often we mar God’s designed influence through us by our self-conscious effort to be consistent and useful.”

This is the kind of thing that I believe Dallas Willard would refer to as “trying harder.” We cannot become more useful to God by “trying harder!” There is only one way to develop spiritually, and that is by focusing on God and Jesus. We cannot get there by “common sense.” We’ve heard the phrase “a watched pot never boils.” Of course, it’s not true, but the truth is that if you keep watching it, it certainly seems to take longer. We don’t increase our spirituality by focusing on our spirituality. We must look at the Source.

Who has the most influence on us, in human terms? It is not the people who do nothing but talk at us. It is the people we watch whose lives are lived in the kingdom of God. I can think of one or two in my life, not very many. We are called to the “easy yoke;” called to walk in the kingdom of God.

“If you want to be of use to God, get rightly related to Jesus Christ and He will make you of use unconsciously every minute you live.”

Father, I read these words, and I find great inspiration in them. Everything I have been reading along this line, lately, has led me down the same path. Spiritual formation requires that I concentrate on you and Christ, and leave the results to you. I need not “try harder.” I need only to focus on you and on the words of Christ, and put his words into practice every day of my life. May your Holy Spirit move me and enable me to do this. Help me to put away any notion that I can make myself more useful to you.

Come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Grace and peace, friends.

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