instead, pray

“Don’t be anxious about things; instead, pray.” Philippians 4:6 (The Voice)

I love trees.  Green, vibrant leaves.  Tall, dark brown trunks.  Nestled in a quiet forest.  This is calm: staring and examining them in stillness.

Growing up in Oregon only fostered my love for trees, and I am still fascinated by the redwoods – the tall, strong redwood trees.  Standing still and ageless, lining the long, winding roads between central Oregon and the coast.  (I confess my obsession with these trees could also be because Return of the Jedi was filmed in Oregon in the redwoods.. I digress.)

When I turned ten we moved into a new house with a backyard full of cherry trees and apple trees.  I dreamed of waking up early and picking fruit each morning – of course this dream quickly dissolved when we discovered birds ate all the cherries, which were only really ripe about two weeks out of the year, and the apples were filled with worms and all sorts of other creatures that shouldn’t be consumed.  The fruit produced by these trees remained uneatable.

Anxiousness often overcomes us and we discover the fruit born of our anxious thoughts are fruits of worry and fear. Thoughts planted in our minds blossom into something – thoughts of lust, fear, greed, pride, and a whole host of other fruits that are more flesh than spirit.

Instead of anxiousness and worry, Paul tells the Philippian believers to instead pray. No formula, no article entitled: “10 Steps to Worry Less.” Just a simple solution: pray. And the fruit of this action?  Peace.  A peace that “(is beyond any and all of our human understanding) will stand watch over your hearts and minds in Jesus, the Anointed One.” Philippians 4:7 (The Voice)

Paul goes on to list what the seeds of our thoughts should be: the seeds to plant that will produce the fruit of peace: “Fill your minds with beauty and truth. Meditate on whatever is lovely, whatever is good, whatever is virtuous and praise worthy. Keep to the script: whatever you learned and received and heard and saw in me – do it- and the peace of God will walk with you.” Philippians 4:8-9.

Seeds of beauty, truth, that which is lovely, good, virtuous and praiseworthy produce those fruits, which ultimately guards us with the peace of God.

Picturing those tall redwoods, or imagining the cherry and apple trees of my childhood, I see wormy apples and cherry pits left behind by the birds.  Uneatable fruit.  But today in my own anxiousness and worry, I pray.  Seeking to plant seeds of truth and goodness, producing not fear or multipied anxiousness, but instead peace.

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holy moments

Each day, I find myself surrounded by holy moments.  Not because I work at a church.  Actually I think that’s the opposite reason I experience these moments.  It’s in working out things.  Talking to people.  Expressing pain.  Expressing beauty.  Expressing love, care and concern in whatever way I can.

I love passing along verses to people.  Especially lately verses that have been so convicting in my own heart and life, I just know I have to share them with others because they’ve impacted me so greatly.  I don’t do it to tell them they need to change, I just throw it out there, because I know it’s changed me.

I experience God in many ways, one of them is in running.  Another is in creation and the beauty of all that is around me.  And another, just as of lately, has been in people.  Now I don’t consider myself a total “people person”, but lately there have been many precious conversations that have caused me to just gently be reminded that God is here.  With me.  Holding my hand.  Wiping my tears. Giving me dreams again.  He’s here.  He uses other people to sometimes show me things I’ve never thought of before.

Holy moments.

Lately I’ve been taking prayer walks.  During the day, especially since it’s been so nice lately.  Walking around the apartments near the church and just praying fervently.  That our church would learn and see how to have compassion and love for these people… these broken people who are so different from us.  Who live with their boyfriends or girlfriends, who have many children.  Who have many tattoos.  Who smell bad.  Who cuss us out.  Who want nothing to do with church.  GOD… how can we love these people????  Our church has been put in this location for a reason.  Why are we not broken over wanting to see these people in church and praying for their salvation?

When I read the gospels, I see this picture of Jesus and I wonder… what would he do, now?  What would he think of our high walls, gates, and beautiful clothing?  What would he think that we are shutting the world out of our “holy” place?

Met with a friend yesterday who goes with a group of people to narcotics anonymous weekly.  She said that meeting is more spiritual to her than any other church service she’s been to.  Because it’s real.

Holy moments.

They are all around us.

In a smile, a warm touch, a friend, an enemy, in working through our bitterness.

Embracing the holy moments.