As Pastor Dave said during the announcements before last Sunday's sermon by Courtney H., "It doesn't take much salt to change the flavor." (Of course, he was referencing Mark 9:50.) In The Living Bible translation, the verse is stated as follows: "Salt is good for seasoning. But if it loses its flavor, how do you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other."
So, according to that verse, salt equates with peace, right? Being uniquely made in the image of God is a right we have to use to combat anxiety and worry, correct? Because let me tell you, there was one time and a situation in my early childhood in which only I could have added just a smidge too much flavor to my surroundings.
Two of the most popular films of my childhood - and two of my favorites - were "Sister Act" and "Sister Act II." Among the many lessons anyone could take from the films depicting a Vegas "Has Been" turned humorously and slightly rebellious nun-in-hiding, perhaps one of the greatest themes was "Tenacity," i.e. "Believing it can be done against all odds." Those movies bolstered so much of my faith...in both myself and the Lord. They showed not only the power and responsibility of how teaching can shape the next generation, but, for me personally, they also provided a Gospel-like context and meaning to the Catholic school system I, a Protestant, grew up in. Yes, it's true: Singing nuns helped me feel at home in a foreign world.
So, when - in Kindergarten - it was finally my turn to volunteer for one of the lessons on stage in front of a 1,000 person congregation, I had only one basic task: Remove the shoebox labeled "compassion" from the middle of the tower of shoeboxes that had other Christ-like words written on them so the tower would come crashing down and the point that, without compassion, love had no substance, would have been made.
Trying to be funny because I was nervous about making a good impression and with anxiety getting the best of me, just like in Sister Act, instead of doing what I knew I was wanted to do, I rearranged the boxes and handed the "compassion" box to the priest instead of allowing the tower to fall. I promise you, I did not intend to be snarky but, rather, give everybody a good laugh, and the congregation did roar; but, the priest did not, and he kicked down the tower anyway with his light-up Nike's. Fun Fact about your blogger that I bet you already guessed: I found myself in the Principal's office for a few afternoons because of that little stunt, but I regret absolutely none of that moment in time. Like when anxiety is momentarily defeated or you have a positive breakthrough in your self-doubt, you could say that moment "kick started" my involvement with church. And here I am today absolutely in love with, and with a writing gig, here at Capital Christian Center. I've come a long way since my days of frustrating clerical orders. See? God really can redeem just about anything or any situation. All you need do is ask Him for help.
Of course, as an adult, my choices and life-directions carry far more consequence than my choices as a Kindergartener. Questions I know I've recently wondered: Why should I bother studying when I go back to school if I don't have a chance of getting a perfect grade? Why should I try to become healthier and avoid diabetes when weight-loss success is so slow? What's the purpose of getting out of bed if I don't have a job?
Worry, worry, with a side of more worry.
It's as if the six, legendary journalism staples - Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? - have arguably become weapons of the battle for everyone's thoughts. However, intentionally selecting the positive solutions is a task that's easier said than done. When the enemy wages war for the submission of your thinking, he comes to "steal, kill, and destroy," and it's not easy to stand against instead of succumb. But Jesus, mankind's savior and God's planned contradiction to anxiety, states, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." Christ truly is where we can find the peace (and strength) that passes all understanding.
Courtney H. also preached that there were four practical ways to remember how to see the light in the dark maze of anxiety and uncertainty in whatever context it presents itself in your life, and they're good tips:
1. Don't Believe Everything You First Think (and fall for the Enemy's picture that reality in situations is a mirage)
2. Don't Take the Bait of the Enemy (and think that the purpose of failure is anything other than a point on a map to direct you how to use your future time efficiently)
3. Change Your Diet (feed yourself with The Word)
4. Get Into Relationship with Others (and don't live and teach the Gospel out of "theory"...truly believe in the saving power of grace)
Fortunately, the Bible teaches that in order to gain wisdom, all we have to do is ask and it will be granted to us. I sort of bounced through childhood and chose to learn things the hard way most of the time. Asking first would have been easier. Perhaps many of you can relate. But in this battle of anxiety obscuring God's intentions for your life, we must remember to cling to the promises of His word. They are the hedges that line and guide our path as we look to God (and to others for assistance) for the right direction out of whatever maze - hopelessness, depression, anxiety - in which we find ourselves stuck.
Summed up? It sounds good to me. Or, as Sister Mary Clarence would say, "I will follow Him...wherever He may go."
from Miracles of Hope, June 3-4, 2017