Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Beyond the Story

Today, I published two more prayer requests submitted at I took time to lift them up, especially the first one, which was a frantic, desperate cry for help.

It occurred to me that, while some of the prayer requests sent to us are for someone's salvation, most of them have their root cause in the person's life story -- they are trapped in the past or the future. Sometimes this mental prison has created severe physical and emotional problems.

Maybe that's one reason Jesus said, "Do not worry about tomorrow." And in the book of Hebrews, we read about a new day of rest, the day called "Today." Getting lost in the mind is a problem we all have. Most of us never realize it, and many of us who realize it never do anything about it.

We get restless and bored because we want what we hope will happen in the next moment. We don't like the present moment because it doesn't match up with our memory of some moment that happened in the past. We judge people and circumstances based on something that happened yesterday or something we hope or fear may happen tomorrow.

And so everything becomes a problem we must solve. On the road, other drivers are bad. At home, people just don't do the right things, don't understand us, or in some other way need to be changed. At church, the leadership doesn't appreciate us, the music is too quiet or too loud, or the people who work the overhead just don't switch to the next song lyrics quickly enough which ruins our time of worship.

We develop high blood pressure and ulcers because we are living in a nightmare future in which the car is reposessed, the house is in forclosure, our boss fires us, our spouse leaves us, and we are destitute, alone, and ruined.

We continue to do the same things, practice the same bad habits, have the same reactions, and remain trapped in the same old patterns because we are stuck in the past, with our self-identity carefully formed around what we've done, what people have said about us, what has happened to us, and all the other events that make up our story.

And so we join with the rest of humanity, at least most of them, in that "normal" insanity. In rare, brief moments, we come into the present. Then we are abducted once again into a time that doesn't even exist. After all, the past is only a memory, and the future is only a possibility. The only time that really exists is NOW.

With that, I realized that most of our serious problems are the result of our own insanity. If we stop worrying about tomorrow, and accept the fact that God makes all things new (regardless of our memories of the past), and if we instead come into the present moment, that place of quiet stillness, that place of true rest, then we'll find that we are no longer controlled by our memories or what might happen; instead, we will be at peace and fully content, not searching for the next moment or being mastered by the last, but living fully in the only time God has given us.

It's like waking up. Most of us have heard of "altered states of consciousness," and that's what we tend to think of when we hear about meditation. But we generally don't realize that almost everyone in the world lives in altered states of consciousness, the "unaltered" state being fully awake to what "is" in the only time that is real.

And so I will continue to write about waking up, and will continue to help others realize how their lives can change by doing so, and how they can experience that change. As I pray for each prayer request that people send us, I cannot help doing my part to help others escape from the mental prison that keeps them from entering God's rest and seeing the answers to prayer God has already sent to encamp all around them, beyond the story, right here in the present moment.

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