Roller coasters, distant thunder…and what I can control

My favorite way to write is outside in the sun with a tablet and pencil in hand. The current forecast is “widespread thunderstorms” and while I see sun, there is distant thunder. It feels all too familiar.
Times have been tough lately in the place I live…my home and my head. It looks sunny, but in the background there is rumbling.
If you have been tracking with me for any time, you are aware of a financial struggle due to my being the plaintiff in litigation. It has been a long walk through judgment/appeal/judgment/extension/ad nauseum.
I love amusement park roller coasters…this roller coaster, not so much.
Even on days when it doesn’t dominate my thinking (there have been a few),even when I am doing two jobs I love – teaching and writing- there is the rumbling of the toll three years of financial/judicial turmoil has taken.
You probably understand. Maybe it hasn’t been litigation. But there is something that has whipped you up and down, through a corkscrew, upside down at 65 mph.
Sometimes I can, for the most part, ignore the rumbling.
Other times it is loud, gets in my head and bounces around like a pinball until I can’t control the flappers anymore and just give up for the moment or the day.
Do you understand?
A new Senior Pastor has been chosen for my church. Eric Park is respected by colleagues, loved by former parishioners. Eric and his wife Tara are gifted musicians who donate all money from CD sales to overseas ministries. Eric is, by all accounts, a dynamic leader who is devoted to sharing the Savior he loves with a hurting world.  We are blessed to join in ministry with Eric and Tara.
But there is rumbling. Certainly the Bishop hears it. Perhaps the Parks hear as well.
It isn’t personal.
We simply don’t want a new Senior Pastor.  
You see, we prayed and believed for a miracle healing. We were certain the cancer would disappear and our beloved one would return to full health. He fought hard, we prayed diligently.
Surely God would reward us with a miracle.
On May 26, a miracle happened. The Rev Dr. J. David Panther met Jesus and received the crown of eternal life.
It was not the miracle we requested. A rumbling began…and continues.
Sometimes it is a distant, annoying reminder. Other times, it is directly overhead…rolling, pounding, causing terrifying lightning and buckets of tears. The rumbling says we should give up because our ministry is over. It says we did not pray correctly or often enough. It says our congregation will dwindle and we will have no control over things of this world.
It is partially right.
Do you understand?
Have you prayed and believed and done all you know how to do, only to have the situation turn out to be exactly the opposite?
Have you heard the rumbling that says you have failed, that mocks you for trying, that says you should give up and that you have no control over what happens in life?
Everything the rumbling says to me, to you, to a church congregation is wrong, is a lie straight from hell, except this one thing:
We have almost no control.
Read it again…We have almost no control.
How many times have you taken this test?
Yeah, me too.
How many times have you thought you finally passed?
Yeah, me too.
From my first breath until the day I meet Jesus, I truly have control over only one thing in this entire world.
Same for you.
I get to choose how I respond to a financial roller coaster, to circumstances I wouldn’t choose but can’t avoid, to a friend’s death, to an amazing pastor gone too soon.
I get to choose.
Certainly, there are times when the rumbling is part of a storm presenting imminent danger.
More often, however, it is a distraction that can cause unfounded fear and a desire to hide from life.
I know the difference. So do you.
I know what to do when lightning, thunder, and rain are on top of me. I know where to take shelter, how to protect myself and my loved ones.
But the distant rumbling is insidious. It draws my attention from the tasks at hand, sprinkling doubt, creating conflict, making problems seem much bigger than necessary.  It will do that every time I pay attention, for as long as I allow.
But I get to choose.
So do you.
Some days are harder than others…one hour, one rumbling at a time.
Maybe we can help each other…will you join me?
We will talk again soon.


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  1. "But the distant rumbling is insidious. It draws my attention from the tasks at hand, sprinkling doubt, creating conflict, making problems seem much bigger than necessary. It will do that every time I pay attention, for as long as I allow."

    So true!!! Fantastic post, thank you. Insidious is one of my favorite words – because it's important and powerful to remember.

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