Give us this day a better life

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Give us this day a better life

[I wrote this piece before my wife was in excruciating pain all night and was airlifted off our little island for what we thought would be emergency surgery for appendicitis this morning (Turned out to be kidney stones; just as painful). So did what I wrote about a good day stand up given this new development? Decide for yourself~below is what I wrote the night before all the excitement.]
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I suppose a good life is the succession of good days lived one after another. Therefore, to aim for a good life means concentrating on living one good day at a time.

But what does that mean and how do I do it?

A good day is one in which we don’t worry regardless of our circumstances. These may be the best of times or they may be the worst of times, but they are the only times we have, so the Apostle Paul advised, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds.”

Jesus taught us to be content with the simple basics of life. “Give us this day our daily bread.” Jesus doesn’t oppose our long-range plans, 401k’s and investment portfolios, but our happiness should not depend on them.

In Jesus view, a good day is one where we do God’s will, which he summarized as loving God and loving our neighbor too.

That God is central to a good day means that God is central in our individual lives each day. In our self-centered age, this is so counterintuitive that spiritual writer Simon Tugwell concluded, “Christianity has to be disappointing, precisely because it is not a mechanism for accomplishing all our human ambitions and aspirations; it is a mechanism for subjecting all things to the will of God.”

Accepting and doing God’s will requires knowing God’s will and knowing God’s will requires knowing God. For me a good day requires some daily space and quietness set aside for praying, reading scripture, thinking and meditating. This also takes time ~ it turns out that the eternal transcendent “ground of all being” is not in a hurry.

God’s will requires avoiding the daily temptations to do wrong things; doing good things makes a good day and doing bad things makes a bad day.

Loving our neighbor takes time. When George Washington returned to Mount Vernon citizens would show up unannounced to meet him. Martha would make tea and invite them for dinner. This socializing generally took place between 3PM and 7PM each day. Then at 7PM Washington would dismiss himself and go to his office where he would spend another hour or two on his correspondence. A big chunk of his afternoon and evening was set-aside for people, often strangers.

Jesus knew that loving people would get nettlesome, so he said we should learn to forgive other people and ask them to forgive us each day. Keeping short accounts makes for a good day.

Read biographies and you’ll see most productive people developed daily routines enabling them to chip away at the duties attendant to everyday life. Paul Ford said of C.S. Lewis, “life-style is revealed by the use of time: what is given place and space; what is included and what, therefore, is excluded. For all of his immense output of literary work, his life is marked by a spacious, un-frantic rhythm of worship, work, conversation, availability, and intimacy.”

I notice in healthy people a balance of time alone, time for their work and time for their family and friends. The Hebrew word shalom, or peace, comes to mind, for in the Jewish tradition peace was not the cessation of war, but rather the wholeness and completeness of life.

So can I have a good day with my wife in the hospital and me waiting to catch the next ferry in two hours? I think I can. Good days are not delivered with nice pretty bows on them. We make every day a good day. It is a choice. Sometimes, like for me today, events take an unexpected, unwanted turn.

Our job is to make every day a good one whatever comes our way and I’ve learned I can do all things through God who strengthens me.

Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

PS 2. Order one of Dick’s books from amazon: Christian Wisdom of the Jedi Masters
OR
The Culturally Savvy Christian: A Manifesto for Deepening Faith and Enriching Popular Culture in an Age of Christianity-Lite

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    Posted in Staublog in March 24, 2010 by | No Comments »

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