Crowd of 5000 Hungry Challenges

Like the crowd that was gathered that day long ago to be near Jesus; so our challenges do not come to us in single file line patiently waiting their turn. Instead our challenges feel like a crowd; urgently present and hungry.

All at once parents face children and their everchanging needs, manipulations, and questions. Business owners are challenged by suppliers, buyers, and employees. Educators are challenged with planning, parents, and discipline. Our health, our loved ones and the house all Christ_feeding_the_multitudecrowd us with their needs. It is never one thing at a time rather many responsibilities and challenges come at us at once and it feels like a crowd.  And of course at times we will feel overwhelmed by our crowd of 5000 hungry challenges.

The disciples could not fathom how Jesus planned to feed a crowd from five barley loaves and two fish. “What are they among so many people?”

The crowd presses us. The crowd will not wait. The crowd does not leave.

Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.”

Sit down; settle in, relax, recline, rest.

When we sit down to pray we are in essence telling the crowd of challenges to settle down and rest for awhile.

Whether it is feeding a multitude or facing a whining child/sick parent/interviewing for a new job/replacing the dish washer, Christian wisdom teaches us to recline with what is so urgent and rest with it in prayer.

As people of faith we trust that what is going on is where God is. We believe that everything is grace. God dwells not just in what is going right or what is easy. God dwells with people.  And with people there are challenges, there are problems, there are attitudes, and personalities. God dwells in it all.

Make the crowd sit down.

Sitting means we are open hearted to the grace in what is, simply as it is.

By sitting we cease grasping, controlling, pushing and pulling at our challenges and we rest in a larger grace that is present, always and forever. In that graced sitting God’s favorite work is allowed to have its way with us. Peace, hope and love become busy in us and prayerfully through us as we meet the challenges renewed and refreshed in God’s grace.

I’m an idiot, thank you God

Recently, I lost my car key. I was alone enjoying the sun at the Illinois Beach State Park forty minutes from my home. My husband was out of town. My youngest daughter was at day camp. I had five glorious hours to myself. The beach was beautiful, endless green water stretched out before me, and the sound of the water hitting the shore had relaxed me. I was refreshed body and soul until I discovered I lost my key.

Alone, child needing to be picked up from camp; I immediately knew this was an occasion I would typically allow myself to become anxiety riddled and beat myself up mentally. So I intentionally began a form of meditation. To every thought I replied thank you God. I was not counting my blessings. For every single thought (anxious, helpful, or crazy) I simply unemotionally thought thank you God.

The inner dialogue went something like this:

You locked your keys in the car. Thank you God. How could you do that? Thank you God. They are not in the ignition. Thank you God. They must be on the beach. Thank you God. It’s hot. Thank you God. Mabel needs me to pick her up. Thank you God. What are you going to do now? Thank you God. You are an idiot. Thank you God.

As I continued my course of combing the beach, hiking a half mile to the park office, ordering a cab, and waiting an hour for the driver to show up; I kept up the meditation. I never felt panicked though there were lots of decisions to make in a short time.  I did not get angry though the cab driver gauged me and took me a long way home. I actually felt calm peace. When I got to my daughter at camp I was able to receive her frustration with me with gentleness and before I knew it we were home having a nice evening.

This prayer method practices the reality that everything is grace. As I recited thank you God over and again the gracious gift of life as it is in the moment was real to me.

Meditation connects me with God who is loving presence active in every moment.  As an American suburbanite I am able to purchase things that make me feel secure. But that is the real illusion. And the truth is God’s eternal sustaining presence in every moment a source of peace, hope and joy.

Happy or sad, challenging or easy all hope is only discovered when we receive the gift of the moment just as it is. Thank you God. When we allow the moment to be simply what it is without clinging, grasping or trying to change it we are able to laugh during stressful situations, creatively problem solve, be gentle, kind, patient and loving in all times. Thank you God.

I am often an idiot. Thank you God. I need to rely on the gifted presence of God that is fully with me and this world in every blessed moment. Thank you God.