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From...Through...To (A Life Action Pattern)

While Pastor Rick is on study leave, our guest blogger this week is Fred Meadows, Worship & Production Team Leader at East 91st Street Christian Church.

In my world these days, there seems to be a huge amount of change. As a leader, I find myself being a “change agent” for that is partly what leaders do; and yet, I really appreciate the feeling of landing on two feet in a comfortable environment. So much of my life is lived in the crux between leading change and longing for stability. I have learned that change is inevitable in our society. It is now part of our cultural experience. How to grow with change, then, becomes something we probably need to take more seriously. Perhaps, seeking growth in change may be part of the answer we need in order to actually endure the change that is happening all around us.

I would like to introduce to you a little life action pattern that I have picked up along my studies. It helps me to be able to identify how I can find personal growth in the midst of change. It also helps me to find purpose in change and allows me to articulate what I feel is happening around me. The life action pattern is this: from…through…to. Simple, yes. But what does it mean?

We often say that we are on a journey. Obviously, if we are indeed on a journey, we are moving from one place to another, and between point A and point B is usually where the hurdles, challenges, and road-blocks seem to await us. Well, begin to consider the idea that this is what the journey looks like: from…through…to.  This little life action pattern is something we experience every single day; furthermore, we probably have layers of these life action patterns going on simultaneously. We move from something, through something, to something else.

The from part of this pattern is a way of life that we are used to. It’s a place or something from which we need to move … something that needs to change or needs to move toward something of a greater place, position, or purpose. The through is where our challenges are often experienced. And we really do not like the through because it is often uncharted territory. It’s unfamiliar, frightening, and often not what we would choose. We may not even know how to talk about the through times of our journey. We probably do not understand where the through originates. Sometimes the through can be a loss of a job, an illness, a valley, or any type of interruption in your life that seems to set you back on your heels. Yet, and here’s the good part, the through can be something that will be of service to you in taking you to a desired place that God has designed for you. It may be the toughest place to be, but many times, it is the deepening moment in life that brings the greatest growth. Often, the through part of this life action pattern is the part that moves us from “me being the center of my life” to “God being the center of my life.”

Finally, the to part of this pattern is the desired place that God is leading us, and ultimately, it is the place we long to be. It is the place the journey was taking us all along and there we often find “rest.”

When I think about this life action pattern, I think about the Israelites who were on a journey from being held in captivity in Egypt, through the wandering years in the wilderness with all the challenges that had accompanied them, to finally the Promised Land. Once they had taken the land—the final part of their through phase, Joshua 14:15b says that there was finally “rest in the land.” The ultimate illustration of our life action pattern is Jesus Christ, who came from his Father’s throne in heaven, through a life on earth that lasted 33 years and culminated in his death on a cross, to a resurrected life and ascending back to his Father’s throne where he is continually worshipped by all of Creation.

Are you going through something that is really difficult right now? Are you experiencing a problematic change in your life? Perhaps it is for a greater redemptive purpose. Perhaps the Lord is moving you to a place of rest. You’re going through the through. But remember, there is a to.  It is the place that God is leading us and where we long to be.

Enjoying the Gift of the Present Moment

While Pastor Rick is on study leave, our guest blogger this week is Fred Meadows, Worship & Production Team Leader at East 91st Street Christian Church.

As long as I can remember, I have always thought about my future. I don’t mean that I have just given thought to it, but I have seriously pondered my future. Okay, I have even worried and probably obsessed over my future. There, I said it. I remember as a third grader thinking about what life would be when I turned 30. Would there still be a world then? Would Jesus have already come back? Will I miss out on marriage, kids, and owning a home? Would I even survive the third grade? Yikes!

Well, guess what? I did turn 30 (a few years ago), have been married for 31 years, and have two wonderful adult children. Jesus hasn’t come back yet. I did survive the third grade, junior high, high school, college, and grad school. Recently, I have had to take note of the amount of time and energy I find myself, again, worrying and thinking about the future, to the point that I wonder if I often miss the enjoyment of the present moment.

Jean-Pierre de Caussade, a French Christ-follower of the 1700’s, writes that we literally need to abandon ourselves to God on a daily basis and discover the grace He has for us each new day. He indicates that each day is a moment to draw close to God, to seek His face, and to receive the grace that will diminish our own self-pride and ego. In the process, we focus on the present moment rather than worrying about the future. He calls it, the “sacrament of the present moment.”

Abandoning myself to God’s present moment is a conscious decision I have to make every day. I don’t have to face my future with anxiety, but with great anticipation, knowing that God is at work in my present and in my future.

Another wise Teacher once said, “… do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6 portions)

Jesus tells us that it is counter-productive and really unnecessary to worry about the future. The great promise is that when we seek His kingdom, then everything in our lives will align properly in our world and there is no need to worry about the future. Let’s today, enjoy the gift of the present moment.

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