I've been sick with the croupy crud for the past few days. I don't normally get sick. Wanda says I'm too mean for germs to live in my body. She's probably right.
Anyhow, I've had to sit around and do nothing. I preached Sunday morning and can barely remember what I said. Most of the people who listen to my sermons have the same experience.
Wanda cleaned out the medicine cabinet. She brought out about five cold and flu medications, and I took them all. I still feel like a zombie. Not much different than usual, huh? Nevertheless, this forced inactivity has given me time for reflection. I've had some time to just ponder with Papa. He didn't give me any answers. He seldom does. What fun would that be to have the answers? It's the journey that's enjoyable, not the destination. It's the search that's stimulating and challenging, not the discovery.
Here are a few things I'm learning on my journey:
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• Control is an illusion. I have about as much control over my life as a leaf in a tornado. I can't control my health, my wealth, my friends and family, what goes on at work, much less the circumstances I encounter every day. I can't control whether I get a raise or lose my job. I can't control how you interpret my ideas in this writing. I can't control whether you like me, but I sure as heck try real hard to make sure you do. Therefore, I measure my words carefully. There are things in my heart I would love to share, but I'd like to talk about them to someone who would listen. But then, I would be giving that person control of who I am, because as a man thinks in his heart, so is he. So I choose to be frustrated because I think I have to be in control -- control is the Matrix, and the Matrix is not real.
• What time is it? The time is now. I am what I am at this moment. I am not what I was. I am not what I shall be. As Popeye says, "I yam what I yam." God is pretty much like that Himself. He calls Himself, the Great "I Am." He does not call Himself the Great "I Was." Nor does He call Himself, the Great "I Shall Be." He is and lives in the eternal now. God is not trapped by time as we are. Everything that has ever happened, is happening and will happen, God is experiencing now. Wow! If we are made in His image, maybe we should be living in the now. It's all we have. The past is gone, and tomorrow is not here yet. All we have is this moment. Do we really want to waste it by fretting over the past and worrying about the future over which we have no control?
• Who am I? You will have to look fast because I am constantly changing. Life is dynamic. It never stays the same, and neither do I. God keeps stretching me, making more room for Himself inside of me. He keeps showing me more and more of Himself. And the more I get to know Him, the less I know about Him. Knowing facts about Him was the way I tried to stay in control. I figured if I could understand God, I could be in control of how I wanted Him to play out in my life. I could manipulate Him into being and doing what I wanted. Then I would be happy.
• God created me to be happy. God wants me to be happy. Then why am I so miserable? Because my happiness is found only in total dependence upon Him. To be dependent upon Him means I must give up control. Therein lies the rub.
• The world lies to me, and I believe the lie. The world tells me there are certain things without which I cannot be happy. These things are called attachments. Until I let go of my attachments, I will never be happy. If I get my attachment, I may experience momentary pleasure or a sense of fulfillment, but it will be fleeting at best. Once I get my attachment, I worry about how to keep it and that kicks me out of the now into worrying about the future. It is a vicious cycle.
• Do you have any attachments? Do you have anything in your life you believe you could not live happily without? Ask God to make you aware of what they are. Awareness is the key to true happiness that never fades. Once we see attachments for what they are, we simply drop them. But we cannot try to drop them on our own. That would put us back into the control cycle that leads us back into bondage. We simply have to ask God to drop them for us. If we stay attached to Him, then we can be happy regardless of how life changes, because He never does. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. It's time to detach. Think about that.
Kenny Ashley is pastor of discipleship and teaching for River Hills Community Church. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can read more thoughts from him at kennyashley.com.