A year of peace and well placed trust

So it is finally 2017…2016 was a pretty crappy year here in my house as it was for many I know. In all actuality, even though we all say stuff to the contrary, we know that the new year is really just another day in the long line of days that is our life. Life has its ups and downs and sometimes those days are mostly good and we have a good year and sometimes it is the opposite. Perseverance is the key…perseverance and trusting that whatever comes God is on His throne and all things will work out to His glory.

We went back to the mountains for Christmas this year and while I was there I snapped the picture above one foggy morning. It is what remains of an old train trestle bridge spanning the South Holston River. It has always struck me: these small trees have persevered through severe weather only rooted into the crevasses of the stones. How they came to be planted there is anyone’s guess but they have held on for decades in those rocks.

The interesting thing about trees is that their strength comes from their growth rings; the tighter the rings, the stronger the tree.  Rings are only close together in the years the tree has to overcome great stresses and thus grows very little; otherwise the tree can grow easily and the rings will be farther apart. The more stress, the stronger the tree and the more likely it will survive whatever comes its way.

It is easy to get caught us in the woes of this world, be it personal or global. I myself have problems not getting caught up in it myself. It is easy, especially in the bad years like 2016, to become downcast and sit in defeat, despair, and hopelessness. I for one have stayed there for far too long. Becoming this way leaves me catatonic in fear as life swirls around me. Life never stops regardless of our personal circumstances. This leads me to complete exhaustion and a complete lack of planning and prone to make major mistakes, and that perpetuates the cycle and lack to margin.

I have this icon of Saint Thomas that I keep in my wallet. I am unsure exactly of how it came to find its way there but I keep it there as a reminder that doubt and fear are normal but easy. It is easier to believe that nothing is going to change and have an “I’ll believe it when I see it” mentality. It is harder to take things on faith. The doubt and fear come from a place of mistrust, or at least, misplaced trust. I fear that XYZ will happen because I am misplacing my trust into myself and others and not placing that trust in the right place-with God.

Regardless if a child has a resurgence of illness or another financial disaster plagues this home, God is on His throne and all will be to His glory. It is laughable that I move my trust from the unfailing God to myself, a sinner and mistake prone human. It is laughable, but oh so easy to do. It is easier to misplace our trust into ourselves and others, that we can see and feel, and not place it where it belongs with God; because that requires that we trust the unknown.

Trials are of two kinds. Either affliction will test our souls as gold is tried in a furnace, and make trial of us through patience, or the very prosperity of our lives will oftentimes, for many, be itself an occasion of trial and temptation. For it is equally difficult to keep the soul upright and undefeated in the midst of afflictions, as to keep oneself from insolence and pride in prosperity.”
~St. Basil the Great

This year I have no resolution…no word of the year. There is no guarantee of tomorrow…or for the next breath, for that matter. Instead of living in fear I choose to trust in God. I choose to work toward my goals every day and no longer look at them as pipe dreams that will happen ‘whenever I get the time and money’ or ‘one day when I retire’. Most of all, I choose life..to live in the world as the creation of God that I am…because to borrow a phrase from the musical Hamilton, “Dying is easy, son. Living is harder”.

Peace on Earth

My boys love looking at the stars and dreaming. They love all things space, as most boys their age do, and they love to watch NASA videos. Like them I too was enamored with all things space and wanted to become an astronaut…or at least an astronomer. Of course the closest I ever got was an astronomy 101 class in college to know that I was not cut out for that. It has always struck me though the view of the Earth from space. From up high all is beautiful and peaceful. It is truly the closest to “Peace on Earth” we will most likely ever see. From space you can’t see the fighting in the Middle East, or the torture and martyrdom of Christians in Syria and elsewhere, or the gang violence in the urban streets of America. From that lofty view you see the World from a different perspective. Even the hurricanes and thunderstorms look beautiful. You look at an image of the Earth and you realize just how small you are compared to everything…and you see how great God truly is.

The sad thing is the Earth is not as it appears from space. There is anger and violence, natural and man made disasters, and many more sinful and evil things going on down there. However up high in space looking back on the Earth you see it as intended…a beautiful place of peace. This Christmas season many of us are going to be going out into this world traveling and meeting people. We will be standing in long lines after long lines… fighting traffic and crowded parking lots… we will be getting frustrated with the insanity of the Christmas season that has turned from love to consumerism. During this time lets make the conscious choice to take a deep breath and stay calm. Remember the world as it is from space and do what we can to bring peace to our little corner of the world. It isn’t easy I sure struggle with anger and frustration I know… but for the sake of other and to the glory of God lets be the icon of Christ to the world.