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Straightening Up


Got your ducks in a row? Or, in this case, your roosters in a line!?! In other words, are you on top of things, organized, prepared, ready for whatever may come your way? Another year is drawing to a close. Did you accomplish your goals? Were your hopes fulfilled? Do you feel that you waltzed beautifully through 2022 and are now eager for 2023?

If you are at all like me, you know your ducks are not tidily in a row, your house (literal and/or figurative) is not completely in order, and your life is not a picture of smooth sailing over calm waters! And it's not just the holidays, although many of us have much we could do in the wake of family visits, overeating, and excessive gift-giving. But generally speaking, trying to manage our lives with some semblance of control is an ongoing challenge. With the New Year upon us, we might feel compelled to create a lengthy list of resolutions in service to "straightening up and flying right."

For those of us who not only suffer from the delusion that life can be - or should be - something other than a haphazard slip and slide from birth to death but also believe in a Divine Being, we may find ourselves in double trouble. If we think that God is like a school hall monitor sitting and watching our every move in hopes that we will mind our Ps and Qs, we invite enormous pressure into our daily living. For fear of punishment, we feel it's our duty to straighten ourselves out. Living "decently and in order" pleases God, does it not? Doesn't our Creator desire that we all conduct ourselves like super-nice Scouts on steroids?

The relationship between faith and morality is a slippery slope indeed. We are prone to collapse the two. And while the life of one who believes life itself is the gift of a Benevolent Giver will likely be lived differently from one who rides roughshod through one day and night after another, God never withholds love - or life for that matter - from either. Perhaps the biggest difference between the two is that the former knows where to turn for help while the latter denies need of it. That means that we can ease up on ourselves when it comes to any sense of "straightening up." It means we have the gracious good sense to reach up and out when we trip over the tangled mess we have made of ourselves. The more we call and depend upon our Creator and then look and listen for the help that comes our way, the more we will live in sync with who we are designed to be. To paraphrase the wisdom of Frederick Buechner, "little by little, the forgiven person starts to become a forgiving person, the healed person to become a healing person, the loved person to become a loving person. God does most of it."

Forgive. Heal. Love. With God at the helm. A good start not only for a New Year but also for every day of it!


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