Daily Devotions

Happy Birthday, Gordie

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So teach us to count our days, that we may gain a wise heart. (Psalm 90:12)

My Grandson, Gordie, is now officially a year old. I remember when our daughter was born, the older people from the congregation would come up to me and say, “Enjoy her, time goes very fast!” I smiled and thought to myself, “Yea, right, I am knee deep in diapers and long work hours with sleepless nights. Give me a break!” But I was wrong, time picks up steam every day, going faster and faster. I hear that retirement is just a blur!

Now, as I get older, I have a different way of looking at time. When I was young, I had time to be bored, because time seemed to go on forever. Now that I am a grandparent and look back at how old I thought my own grandparents were, and the fact they and my mother are all gone now, has given me a greater respect for time, and the time I have left. That old phrase, “waste not, want not” is so true.

Teenagers are often encouraged to set plans and goals for their lives, so they know the direction they would like to take as they move into adulthood. Far too often, that is the last time most people take time to reassess the direction they are moving in their lives. We spend too much time on autopilot. Making the most of the time we have left requires us to reevaluate our life’s vision and goals.

I have eight or nine years before I retire. How am I going to use these last years of my ministry to make them the most productive and meaningful of my career? Now, that my wife and I are empty nesters, how are we going to use these years to nurture our goals and support our family in new ways? Then we must ask, how are my goals aligning with my God-given calling. If I do my homework, working through these questions in a prayerful manner, time will not slip away, and I will remain in control of this rapid time in my life. I do not want to look back at my life at the end and say, “Boy, I wish I had done that better!” I want to look back and say, “I wasn’t perfect, but I sure made the most of my life!” That doesn’t just happen. It takes planning and initiative. Otherwise, I will blink and Gordie will be 25, and I will have missed too much of it.

Breathe in, Breathe out

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“As long as my breath is in me and the spirit of God is in my nostrils,…” Job 27:3)

I wish I was more meditative. Then I would be able to handle uncomfortable situations better. For example, I don’t like snakes, and I am not thrilled with heights, or confined spaces, but I have held a bag of snakes, shingled roofs, and shimmied through a narrow cave entrance. What I cannot rationally overcome are needles, and especially having blood drawn. It can be my blood or someone else’s blood, and my first response is to get lightheaded and even, on a couple of occasions, pass out. Even the smell of the alcohol swab can be a dizzying trigger. Now, image your pastor coming to console you in the hospital and passing out at the sight of your IV!

Over the years, hospitals have become more tolerable, and while I refuse to look at the shot or the IV puncturing my skin, or that of another, I no longer pass out or even become dizzy. Part of my improvement is from the sheer number of shots I’ve received through the years. I am even required to give myself a shot every other week now. (Thank goodness it is an EpiPen and I don’t have to see the needle.) Another part of my improvement has been in focusing on controlling my breathing. This is where meditation comes in handy.

I never sit on a floor, cross-legged with my index and middle fingers touching and sing, “ohm.” But I do regularly sit quietly, focusing on slowing my breathing, breathing deeper, and attempting to empty my mind of all thought. This helps lesson anxiety, and regain a sense of control over my body, and the external situations I must experience.

Breathing is central to all activity. If you ain’t breathin’, you ain’t livin’. But more than that, I was a Cross Country runner in high school, and being a runner required me to control my breathing, getting it into a rhythm, so the timing of my stride, and the breathing in through my nostrils and out through my mouth were in an easy flow. Once a runner gets the timing and the flow down, no matter whether it is running slow, or sprinting, the running was more successful. You can bench press significantly more weight when you breath in as you lower the weight to your chest and exhale as you push the weight up. The same is true with prayer. The more meditative you become in your prayer, the more you can relax, relieve anxiety, and focus on your soul, and God’s still small voice.

Today, pray by focusing on your breathing. Only when you get in the flow, should you attempt to think through your prayer with God. Your prayer life will improve just like a runner who is now able to run faster and longer. Plus, your own phobia will no longer have control over your life!

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