Tuesday, April 10, 2007

When Prayer Isn't Enough

My friend taught me a lesson yesterday. Generally speaking this is nothing new. Each day I am constantly learning and relearning lessons retold by those I respect. This is one such friend but this was not the same such lesson.
But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
-- Matthew 6:6
It is no secret that I'm not the most empathetic person in the world. But as time passes, wounds heal, and faith matures, I find I've become more so with each day. As I watch my friend calmly handle those challenges life throws with grace and composure my desire to pray was physical and immediate.

In truth, I think I get that from my father who is a prayer warrior of indomitable resolve. In no way would I compare my meager measure with his full treasure but if through vicinity and not vocation some small smatter of him no doubt has rubbed off on me.
Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.
-- Luke 18:1
Like my father, when faced with trials of my own my first response is to pray. When faced with a friend under fire, the visceral reaction attempts to vomit from my lips without restraint, "Can we pray?"

Unfortunately, in the workplace and other certain social settings, it is important to exercise restraint; to recognize that sometimes remaining circumspect is the most effective use of my life as His reflection.

How do I reconcile my faith system that asserts the most effective support I can proffer is to pray, with the world view rooted only in words and actions? Once again, I learn how powerless I must become when all I can offer is prayer to a world that doesn't value it.

At least I have prayer to console my heavy heart. What despair must be felt by one without faith?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Caring Clearly

Someone I mentor recently sent me a list of questions from a class he was taking. The class is all about entrepreneurialism and so forth. One question in particular really stuck out to me as I was writing his responses. It matched well with my devotion for the day.
What is one key word you would give me to live by in the future?
My answer for what it is worth was "Care". You have to really care about your place in the world. Understanding how you fit, what is your purpose, what you bring to relationships, how you will spend your time. All of these are rooted in your ability, your desire, to Care.

I was reading in Mark, the parable of the rich young ruler. He came to Jesus and prostrated himself. He asked simply what he needed to do to accomplish his goal: Eternal Life. As it is written, "Jesus, looking at him, loved him."

The ruler wasn't aligning what he was doing with what he cared about. His world view wasn't matching his desires. He thought his end goal was one thing, but really it wasn't. All around me I see evidence of this, even in my own life. It is a normal, trivial thing for us to delude ourselves about our motivations. We lie to no one as easy as ourselves.

There is a certain type of jellyfish found in the Mediterranean that feeds on tiny snails. What is interesting is that the jellyfish cannot digest these snails because of their protective shells. After the jellyfish eats the snails the diner become the dinner. The snails attach themselves to the inside of the jellyfish and begins to eat. Eventually the jellyfish is consumed by what it once consumed.

This simply story in nature is found over and over in our world today. We get swallowed up pursuing money, fame, or power. We get on the treadmill of doing the things we hate, supposedly for the things we love; never realizing our needs our already met.

If we are clear in our Care, then we'll be able to break the cycle of selfishness. Our motivations won't be delusions, but tangible and attainable.