Living Serenity – November 17, 2022 (336-338/365)

On Compounding And Restoration, On Faithfulness and Peace

He leads me besides the still waters.

He restores my soul.

The older you get, the more you realize that consistent wins have a greater and longer lasting effect and benefit, compared to quick one-time victories. It’s just as Naval Ravikant would share – these gains would compound. It’s just that he probably didn’t emphasize how, every now and then, you would be pleasantly surprised to notice how far you’ve gotten.

These past few days, however, I’ve been seeing the other side of the coin… and it’s made more apparent now more than ever, well, because I have gotten older. Compounding certainly works the other way – I mean, consistent losses have a greater and longer lasting effect. God save us when it dawns on us – it isn’t a pleasant surprise. It’s kind of like how we see older pictures of ourselves and notice how much weight we’ve gained; Or, well, in the tragic case of my father, we only noticed far after he passed away just how much weight he lost in the twilight of his life.

And while I won’t go into too much detail as to how I’ve seen this happen in my own life, I will say that I realize only now just how drastic and how grave the damage was. It’s affected me down to twisting my worldview and consequently in my ideas on relationships and other people in general.

Two things I’m realizing as I write and revisit this train of thought – (1) I see just how flawed we are as created beings, considering how I’m having struggles keeping my wins consistent, and trying to avoid losses to break consistency, or just trying to avoid losing consistently; And that’s as far as wins and losses I’m aware of. In other words, we’re flawed, and we’re in need of help, for what we’re aware of, and for everything else happening around the world that affects us, that we know nothing about. And now that I think of it, the slightest struggle is already such a great indication of how much we fall short of absolute perfection. It’s humbling.

It’s in our struggles and it’s in the compounded losses and flaws we see in ourselves that we are humbled… and it’s in this humility that (2) I recognize how we need Jesus. I mean, putting it as plain and simple as possible, we, as imperfect creations, need the help – or, hell, the mere presence of Perfection if we’re to amount to anything, whether in this reality or beyond.

I need Him, in particular. The way I see it, I’m paying for more than 3 decades of consistent mistakes, and I don’t think I like the idea of a consequent 3 decades of consistent recovery and fixing. Hence, my current cry, my current prayer to the Lord:

Oh, that He would lead me besides the still waters.

Oh, that He would restore my soul.

These past few days I haven’t been playing music on the car stereo as I usually would, leaving things quiet for me to think, perhaps to pray, as I drove from one place to the other. In my thinking, I thought I’d explore that first line.

I’m learning just how our Savior is our Good Shepherd, just through His willingness to lead. I’ve said many times that people need to learn how to think; it’s superior to telling them what to think. But the thing is, it’s not that you stay away completely from telling them what to think. Correct me if I’m wrong, or if my observation is inaccurate, but in the majority of people who we claim we are leading, I’ve noticed we’re leading them by telling them what to think. In my case, when I preach, I’m essentially telling them what I think, inadvertently telling them to consider what I share for them to think, and only telling in the tail end, or in sprinklings, that if they find something wrong with what I’m saying, that they should immediately call me out for it – in an effort to encourage them to figure out how to think, I suppose.

My point in all this is that we’re still in need of a leader. We could lead ourselves, or we can let the Shepherd take on the burden of leading us.

And He does lead us… but not just anywhere. He leads us besides the waters. And as the ‘Waters of March’ starts playing in the background of my mind, the stereo in my head, we’re led to understand that it’s in the waters that life begins. It’s the waters and the depths that raged before the Creator proclaimed, ‘Let there be life’; Christ leads us, and He leads us to life.

But two more things before we move on: They aren’t just any waters, but still waters. Peaceful waters. And it implies, or at least I’m making an assumption that these waters wouldn’t be still if the earth and the environment surrounding it aren’t as still. You’d see the smallest disturbance in your surroundings if the waters are moved. And in the stillness, the smallest pebble creates the most prominent of ripples. Not sure I’m making sense there, but yes. Christ leads us, and not only does He lead us to life, but He surely leads us to peace.

Also, did you notice? He leads us besides the waters. Surely He could give us the directions to the peaceful waters and trust us to get there; No, Christ, as we discussed in previous articles and sermons, we’re finding out that Christ is as meticulous as He is visible. He leaves nothing to chance, even if He is greater than the powers that affect chance. To that end, He not only leads us TO the still waters, but beside them. I imagine He sits with us along the side of the waters.

Naval also said something to the effect of, ‘Meditation is a sure way of seeing where we stand’, or something like that. And I understand that those of us who lean more to the secular humanist way of thinking find meditation advantageous (as they should), but I see how we who have considered Christ and His finished work have a greater option – that is, to pray. For it is in prayer that we can tell the Creator where we think we stand, knowing that He is on our side.

So while the world would have us do so much as to do nothing if only to clear our minds, our standing in Christ means that He has done everything so we could come boldly to the throne of grace, with all in our hearts AND minds.

Or let’s see it in another light: The world would suggest meditation – which I’m assuming is not doing anything in order for mental clarity, inspiration, and so on and so forth. If we take time to meditate on the Living Word, who is Christ Himself, we are not only finding mere ‘enlightenment’ from a limited standpoint, but we find peace – Peace beyond understanding, superior peace beyond what our minds could contain.

Christ is our Good Shepherd who not only brings us to peace; No, the Good Shepherd is also the Prince of Peace.

He leads us besides the still waters.

And I could end it right there and say that because He leads us besides the still waters, we have cause to claim that He restores our soul. Or, because we are led to peace, our souls are restored.

But for my own sake, I’d like to bring back what I mentioned earlier, about seeing the sheer weight of the consequence of the incremental and consistent sin. Surely, in the face of our being led to the still waters, and as we read the guarantee that our souls are restored by the Good Shepherd – Surely I could cry out to my God, my Creator for a reprieve.

Immediate restoration. A straight-up wiping of my mind, of all the damage of all the filth I’ve brought myself to.

But even now, I’m learning – rather, remembering how Paul asked God to remove a certain thorn in His side. Perhaps I shouldn’t be so focused on the damage done. Maybe all I need to focus on is the grace. For in response to Paul, Christ said, ‘My grace is sufficient, for My power is made perfect in your weakness.’

And this is why I’m thankful for the gift of writing… if only to push out all of these thoughts in my head, and all these reminders of the beautiful Scripture, as directed by Christ, who is my Living Word. Maybe I shouldn’t be so focused on how I am healed and restored. Maybe I shouldn’t be so impatient as to how long it takes. Maybe there’s already more than enough value to be had in casting even this burden to the Lord.

So while I WANT instant healing and re-alignment in my mind and my thoughts, and as an effect, immediate correction to the rest of my being… well, it still remains something that I want according to my limited point of view… but especially during these moments, and in the rest of the great mountains that are before me, my trust is in the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He is my Good Shepherd, my Prince of Peace. He leads me besides the still waters, and He restores my soul.

To only my Maker, my Father, my Savior,

Redeemer, Restorer, Rebuilder, Rewarder,

To only a God like You do I give my praise.

That’s not all that’s going on in my mind these past days. I’ve noticed that I’m being pushed into discomfort. Not that I’m not enjoying it, but it’s been more frequent these past days, and it’s coming mostly in the form of people asking me to help them in things I don’t know much about. It’s also coming in the form of meeting up with people I haven’t seen in the longest time, if not meeting with people for the very first time.

I don’t know if this is related to me wanting an immediate fix to my head for all the messed up things I’ve been feeding it for the past decades. I suppose I could see it as me moving long-dormant muscles so I could concentrate energy into more fruitful pursuits, versus putting everything into one basket – or more like cramming it all into a small container and waiting for the whole thing to explode, as a grenade.

But in all this I’m reminded that it’s not too late for me to get into new things. In fact, I don’t think it’s ever too late for anyone, no matter how old they are, to get started in new stuff. I’m reading about a certain celebrity, Tuesday Vargas, who mentioned that it was in her 40s that she started, oh, painting, among other hobbies. It’s also in her 40s that, in her words, she found love. I suppose that’s comforting for me to read and to share.

It’s never too late for any of us to get out of our comfort zones.

And there it is – the link between this recent thought and all I’ve been typing about formerly. See, we’re already established and drawing confidence in the truth of Christ – He is truly our Good Shepherd who leads us by the still waters. He is also our Good Shepherd who restores our soul. We can come to Him with how we were hoping to be restored, but I was reminded of how we ought to just stay focused on Him, because it’s in His great wisdom and His great power that the best for us is happening; It’s His grace that is sufficient for us.

Again, it’s never too late for any of us to get out of our comfort zones; For if we are so bold to proclaim that His power is made perfect in our weakness, so His power is made perfect in our discomfort. And on top of this, if Christ is our Good Shepherd to leads us to the peace of still waters, we can also count on Him to be our Prince of Peace in the raging seas.

Perhaps this is all for me to remember the faithfulness of God towards the body of Christ.

I’ve spoken in length last week about God’s love and mercy, as mentioned in Lamentations 3:22-23. I brought up this passage in an attempt to explain what God is doing, after talking about who God is the week before that. So after saying that Paul introduced the ‘unknown’ God as the God who made the earth and everything in it, we concluded and established that from one point of view, we may appreciate Him as the visible and detailed Creator. In light of this, I explained that one thing I’m sure God has done for us is that He has made Himself known; not necessarily through His Creation, but certainly through His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.

It’s through Christ that we see God – He said it Himself, he who has seen the Son has seen the Father. And by the finished work of Christ, we can see just how much God loves us – for by the bread we eat each time we celebrate Holy Communion, we remember that Christ gave His body – He did not give some of Himself, but His entire body, as if to say that God loves us with everything. By the juice/wine we drink we remember that Christ shed His blood – and this blood is for the forgiveness of sins both now and forever, as if to say that God does not only want to be with us for a season, nor does He want to be with us up until a certain proximity; No, Christ shed His blood to demonstrate God’s commitment towards us – He wants to be as close as He could be to us, ministering to our past, being with us in the present and the future, to the end of time and beyond.

So we thank God, for by Him the ‘unknown God’ made Himself known; He is our visible and detailed Creator, who not only loved us past-tense, but loves us present-tense, and unto forever; and even if there are enough troubles for a day, we are reminded that by Christ we also enjoy mercies that are new every morning.

That’s pretty much how far I’ve gotten for my congregation this November, but it’s not only part of the Scripture of Lamentations 3:22-23, but in song adaptations – that there part where we sing, ‘Great is thy faithfulness, O Lord, great is they faithfulness.’

I think that’s what I’m personally extracting for myself right now, in the face of all that I’m being brought to realize and consequently chronicle; I think that’s what I’m sticking to and standing upon, in spite of all the attempts of the world and any remnants of my old self trying to distract me and tear down any progress I have seen; I’m sticking to the Truth. Yes, the Truth on top of what has already been said. We cannot sing of God’s steadfast love never ceasing, nor can we sing about God’s mercies also never coming to an end, nor can we sing about these said mercies being new every morning, without mentioning the great faithfulness of God.

That’s where I’m taking comfort right now, in the face of all I’m being led to write about.

In spite of the realization of the potential damage and the twisted mindset that has been established after more than 30 years of struggling with sin, I am thankful, for God has been and is faithful.

In spite of the challenges that are coming up, and the new environments and experiences that are coming in at a faster rate than I’m used to, I am still thankful, for God’s great faithfulness towards me.

In spite of me being brought out of my comfort zone, I am remembering that God’s grace is sufficient, and that His power is made perfect in my weakness – elaborations of God’s great faithfulness, present even when I am faithless.

Jesus Christ is my Good Shepherd, who, of all things, has shown and demonstrated His goodness by way of His faithfulness towards His flock, leading us when we are in need of leading, giving us peace in all circumstances, and joining us up until we reach where we need to be – not content to lead us when we are besides the still waters, I also imagine that He enjoys us as we enjoy Him in this said peace. He is our Faithful Shepherd who keeps us in peace – He not only brings us to peaceful places, but He also ensures that we are at peace, every step of the way.

I’m not sure if I want to share any of this with my audience tomorrow – the Junior and Senior High students. If I do decide on giving this to them, I’ll probably just give them the portion which mentions Christ leading us to the still waters.

What I’m more concerned about is my congregation on Sunday. I’ve set the expectation to them that we will be talking about who we are, coming out of us talking about who God is and what He has done for us. Not sure if I could mix any, and if any, all of this into what I want them to realize, but I will not forget to point something out that’s been prominent even before the struggles escalated to the point of me getting distracted – that is, the point of God loving us so much, and Christ doing everything and giving everything for us; By His blood we have been reconciled, and so reconciled that we have been brought so close to Him, as He has been brought so close to us, so close that He is THAT ingrained into our identity.

What I do want to point out, or at least mention, is that we are no longer Christians the way people treat ‘Christian’ as adjective; We are noun Christians. That means that everything else is made adjective. In my case, I’ve realized that Christ has done so much for me, and is so close to me that I am not merely a Christian, Male, Filipino, Igorot, Heterosexual, Omnivorous Human Oligarch-wannabe who likes to make money, drive and take pictures – No, I am a Male, Filipino, Igorot, Heterosexual, Omnivorous, Oligarch-wannabe Christian who likes to make money, drive and take pictures.

Do you see the difference? Above anything and everything we used to identify ourselves as… we’re Christians.

And right now as I’m recounting all of this in the name of organizing all I want to talk about, I’m also led to remember what’s mentioned in 2 Corinthians 5, particularly where it states that we no longer regard one another by the flesh; But I’m thinking, we probably ought to put this as a topic for the last Sunday, where we talk about what we do now that we have an idea of what we have in terms of God and ourselves.

Actually I would like to remind the congregation, this coming Sunday, about how what we’ve been talking so far since the first Sunday of November… well, they’re part of what I think of who God is and what God has done, but as in everything else that I mention, they are mere PERSPECTIVES – meaning they aren’t the ENTIRE Truth, but are intended to have been shared to get them to thinking of who God is for themselves.

We’re Christians. That’s what I want to share. That’s what I have so far.

More musing and meditation to come. Give me some more time in the still waters.

Until next post, God bless you.

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