Daily Devotions

Surfing the Problems

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For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear; I will help you. (Isaiah 41:13)

 

Our Pastor Emeritus, Ken Arentson, shared an interesting article with the church’s Men’s Breakfast Group. The article, “Surfing the Problems” was written by Maryann McKibben Dana, and deals with trying to ride the problems of life with grace and dignity. McKibben Dana used the movie, “Mad Max: Fury Road” as her illustration. The movie is brutal in its post-apocalyptic world of destruction and apparent hopelessness. The movie was filmed in an African desert where the sand was blowing relentlessly. Filming was nearly impossible. But then the director had an epiphany. “Instead of cursing the wind,” he had the star, Charlize Theron, walk across a bridge on a dune and respond as if she had lost all hope. What had been a problem, became a pinnacle moment in the entire movie. McKibben Dana calls this an example of “Surfing the Problems.”

McKibben Dana discusses the challenges facing “congregations and denominations in this post-Christian reality.” She wonders how the faithful “might be called to surf the problems.” Some problems can be named, addressed, and resolved with some level of success. Other problems are more complex and do not have clear answers. What do we do when the problems feel apocalyptic personally or professionally?

The answer lies in designing a new life paradigm. Instead of muddling through, or plowing ahead, or just giving up, McKibben Dana challenges us to get up and start “Surfing the Problems.” “Surfing the problem means accepting on some level that many ‘problems’ cannot be solved. They can merely be managed, weathered…maybe even befriended.” Facing our problems without fear is key. When you surf, the wave is overwhelmingly powerful, but you, as the surfer, have some control how you ride it. The more you surf, the less you crash and the more you control how the wave affects you. In time, the wave no longer overwhelms you, but you can ride above.

Today, prayerfully think about how you handle the waves of problems that consume you. Every human being is forced to deal with life’s problems. We can fearfully panic, and allow problems to crash in on us, or we can learn to surf the waves. This is true of churches and each one of us individually. We may not be in a Charlize Theron apocalyptic movie, but we can still turn life’s hopeless moments into a great spiritual ride. It begins with trusting God’s spirit to help ride on life’s waves, without being consumed.

The Ordinary is Exceptional

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Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. (Proverbs 16:3)

 

 

According to John Gorman, “Nothing Turns Out How You Think It Will.” This is a devotional for those of you who like to make plans and then work the plan. I am sorry to burst your bubble, but John Gorman and I believe “Nothing Turns Out How You Think It Will.” “Life is long. Dreams are weird. Reality is chaos.” Try as we might, control is always just beyond our reach. It remains just close enough for us to keep trying to obsess on our well-organized plan.

I am not saying that we embrace chaos and stop any plans whatsoever. No, what I am saying, is that chaos needs to remain part of the plan. We are not God. We cannot control our surroundings, just how we respond to the chaos around us. Gorman tells us to stop striving for the exceptional. Instead, we should strive to make the ordinary parts of our life exceptional. For a teenager, one shouldn’t strive for popularity. Instead, one should strive to treat each person around you with respect, by listening well and responding with care. When we do ordinary things exceptionally well, we have the capacity to be exceptional.

Today, pray for God to give us the wisdom to focus not on the big picture alone, but on the million little moments of ordinary life. When we are able to create exceptional moments in the ordinary activities of life, our faith and our life becomes exceptional. Ask God to give you the discipline and integrity to focus micro, rather than macro. Be the person God intended you to be, no matter what the long term looks like. We can do this when the outcome isn’t as important as being exceptional in the million little activities each day of our lives.

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