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Say Yes to Grace - Excerpt
SAY YES TO GRACE: HOW TO BURN BRIGHT WITHOUT BURNING OUT
We Bless the World Best When We Rest
Many have difficulty taking time to play, pause, and rest because they see it as being selfish. Whenever they do break, they are constantly haunted by feelings of guilt and the need to return to action as soon as possible. If this is your predicament, I want you to carefully consider a major shift in perception: Not taking time to rest is selfish because lack of rest insures that the world rarely sees you at your best.
Your non-stop lifestyle does not serve your interests and the interests of others as well as you may think. Living on limited rest gives the world a limited version of who you are. Being in the world constantly fatigued and chronically stressed offers the illusion of your actual presence, at best. Just because you are in attendance, it doesn’t mean that you are present. We may be in attendance here or there, but when we are weary and worn, we are not wholly present. A real danger is that we can get so used to living tired, we never get a sense of who we are at our freshest and fullest. Some of us are so used to living on an "empty tank,” it’s hard to even imagine what living on a "full tank” feels like.
Yet, living full, flourishing, is your natural calling as an energized and empowered spiritual being. Our challenge is to reject fatigue and embrace vitality as our living norm. Moreover, living rested and well is precisely what will insure your best offering to the world no matter what your labor in life may be.
Learn to live full. Love the world enough to rest. A rested you means that the world will see you at your finest. Not resting is the selfish act. Resting is not a sign of failure, negligence, or weakness; it is an act of unsung benevolence.
We bless the world best when we rest.
Living From Acceptance not For Acceptance
There is a story told of the musk deer of North India. In the springtime, the roe is haunted by the odor of musk. He runs wildly over hill and ravine with his nostrils dilating and his little body throbbing with desire, sure that around the next clump of trees or bush he will find musk, the object of his quest. Then at last he falls, exhausted, with his little head resting on his tiny hoofs, only to discover that the odor of musk is in his own hide.
So often, the musk deer’s fate is our own. We push and pull so hard so often to be acknowledged and affirmed. This inner drive to be accepted can get out of hand when the acceptance is not easily won, and we end up over-reaching for it in our relationships and on our jobs. Additionally, many of us know that the acceptance-feeling tends to wear off pretty quickly when it is over-linked to achievement and accomplishment. Almost immediately we begin to desire a higher degree of acceptance associated with a higher level of achievement. The end result is the maddening tyranny of never feeling fully satisfied.
Thankfully, there is a clear way out of such a predicament. That way is living from acceptance, not for acceptance. Grace is the difference between living from acceptance and for acceptance. Living from acceptance is living with the firm belief that you are eternally embraced in the most exquisite love of all, God’s love. Most importantly, such glorious internal acceptance is not based on what you do, but who you are. God’s love is all-encompassing and all-fulfilling. We are the created love-children of God, conceived and created by love, for love. Living with the glad awareness of God’s love within, eliminates the need to over-reach for acceptance elsewhere, ever again.
Practicing Continual Radical Gratefulness
David, the great biblical Poet-King, was not beyond asking God for anything. In Psalm 7:1, he asks God for protection and deliverance. In Psalm 26: 1, and 12, his request is for vindication and redemption. In Psalm 28: 9, David moves beyond asking for himself to seeking salvation for the nation. Perhaps the most admirable, albeit anguished, request of all is related in Psalm 51:10-12. In the wake of an act in which David was, to borrow a phrase I once heard preaching titan Gardner Taylor use, "disloyal to that which was royal inside of him,” he pleads for God to, "Create in me a clean heart.”
Yet, David’s relationship with God went beyond him always asking God for things. Notably, his momentous 23rd Psalm is devoid of any request of Divinity. Indeed, there is a clue in the very first verse that there will be no requests here. David writes, "I shall not want.”
In place of constantly needing, we may substitute continual radical gratefulness. To live continually grateful is to regularly and intentionally feed our minds with thoughts of thankfulness. It is living with a keener vision of the gifts in life, and the gift of life. To live this way is not to look away from the trials of life, but to see that even in life’s trials, there is something to be thankful for. To practice continual radical gratefulness is to learn to be thankful deliberately, no matter what.
A posture of continual radical gratefulness need not eliminate needing. There is a good deal of positive life energy associated with feeling and meeting needs that enhance us as human beings, and help bring justice to our world. Continual radical gratefulness simply roots our needing in the soil of deep gratitude. We learn to need from a place of fulfillment. We learn to need from fulfillment, not for fulfillment. The difference between needing from fulfillment and not for fulfillment is the difference between peace and anxiety. There is a big difference between needing from an empty cup, and needing from a cup that is always running over.
From a spiritual perspective, there is more to this matter. Continual radical gratefulness repositions our relationship with God. It is very easy to have a needs-only relationship with God. In this kind of spiritual communion, we are constantly asking God to do something for us. While it is valuable to view God as our ultimate source, there is much to be said for desiring God’s presence more than God’s presents. One of the most powerful benefits of enjoying God for God is the dissolving of needs. It is in experiencing God for God’s presence more than God’s presents that something wildly wonderful happens: We begin to realize we already have in lavish portions all we truly need.