“I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me”  

Philippians 4:13

Having celebrated a recent birthday, I took some time to look back, considering all of God’s gifts and graces through the years, which continue to flow despite the all the craziness going on in the world. For me, the key to lasting peace and joy is first believing in God, knowing that life unfolds before us each day, giving us direction and a bit of wisdom, through God’s never-ending graces. Fulfilling the will and purpose which has been instilled in our lives gives confidence, knowing that whatever lies before us, including disappointments and setbacks, we can rejoice, knowing that we will be fine because we have been faithful. This is at the heart of “Trust, Obey, Listen and Rejoice”, that the pathway to joy starts with a complete surrender to God’s will, doing what is right by following our informed consciences, listening for even the subtle revelations from God, and then rejoicing, that through the cross and resurrection of his son, Jesus, we have been saved from our sinfulness, and a fulfilled life awaits, now, and for eternity. 

As a young man, I had no idea what God had in store.  At 18 years of age, I had spent three years in a minor seminary in Savannah, which closed right before my senior year, leaving me with no useful skills that I could see, which might give me some sense of meaningful direction.  I kept moving, seeing what each day might bring, sensing that others saw me as just drifting into the future. I met my wife Stephanie within two years of leaving the seminary, and we began an amazing journey together which continues to this day, with so many blessings from the many children and grandchildren.  Of course, our journey had pitfalls and setbacks, yet an overarching confidence and commitment to each other and our life’s work, through the guiding hand and graces of God, helped us stay faithful and fulfilled.     

I have often observed others trying to take control of their lives, eliminating things and even relationships that seem out of sync with one’s own ideas about what a fulfilled life might look like. In this self-directed world, where God is too often pushed to the side, I often hear about regrets, disappointments, and seeking new answers. Life can become more fearful, as time passes, and one’s search for nirvana never seems to materialize in a sustainable way. It’s not uncommon to see the use of medications to tamp down anxieties caused somewhat by a determined need to be self-sufficient, and the disappointment when personal plans just don’t pan out.   

I used to hear that God will do his part, and we must do ours as well.  We can’t sit back, doing little but waiting for God’s direction, but we instead must be proactive, taking care of our health, our family, our finances, and whatever God puts in front of us. Yes, over time, we must make better choices and decisions, getting the junk out of lives, with an eye on achieving an overall level of stabilization which will enable us to better serve God and our neighbor too. Of course, an indispensable bedrock component is our faith and solid trust in God, bolstered by continuous prayer of thanksgiving, with lots of contemplation.

Disappointments, health scares, and dealing with other unexpected problems are inevitable, and can rattle us and evoke fear, yet being more responsible in our choices and actions will likely serve us well as we strive to have more sustainable peace and joy in our lives. We can be better prepared to move forward each day with more confidence, and less fear, having a more abundant life in Jesus Christ! 

Have a Blessed Day!

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