The Climb

You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more room for God and His rule. You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

Matthew 5:3-4 MSG

Mark grew up in the affluent North Chicago neighborhood of Lincoln Park, graduating at the top of his class from the prestigious Lake Forest Academy–one of Chicago’s best private schools.

Since he was a kid, his dream was to attend Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, where his parents met. Mark applied and was accepted, and in the fall of 1996 he moved into the Freshman dormitory–literally across the street from the Pacific ocean!

Things went well, at first, but during his sophomore year–when students can move off campus–Mark started to party more than he studied and his grades nose-dived.

Late one night, after he drank too much at a party, Mark decided to drive himself home. Traveling at a high rate of speed on the Pacific Coast highway, he lost control–smashing through a guard rail–and flipped his car several times.

Mark sustained a major head injury and was in a coma for a month. When he awoke, there were significant physical and cognitive impairments. He had to drop out of Pepperdine and move back to Chicago for rehab.

It took almost a year for Mark to get back to himself–mostly. The visible injuries healed, but the shame lingered. His dreams had been shattered, not just by one foolish decision, but by one after another–tumbling like dominoes.

Perhaps, like me, you’ve had a few “Mark moments” in life. Rock bottom is a hard place to be. But as low-as-you-can-go is also a good place to start climbing. That’s what Mark discovered, when one desperate day, he happened upon these words:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God.

Jesus Christ

A paradoxical statement? Perhaps.

I think what Jesus meant is this: it’s easier to find Him when we come to the end of ourselves.

Hold on to the rope.

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https://davidsdailydose.org/2019/08/24/the-climb/

Peace by Piece

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Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.

Romans 14:19

During WWII, Matsuko and her family were among the many Japanese Americans forcibly interred in camps. For three years she longed to return to the farm near Salinas, CA where her husband Hayato’s family had grown strawberries for three generations. It was HOME.

Finally, the war ended and the Nakamura family returned. But as they stood across the road from their once well kept farm, it was clear all was NOT well. The strawberry fields surrounding their home were overgrown and the front door of the house gaped wide open.

Thankfully, a kind neighbor had saved all the farm equipment, but the house had been ransacked. Almost everything of value had been either looted or destroyed.

Matsuko was particularly distressed that the pillagers smashed all of her mother’s china. Not one plate, cup, or saucer survived intact. Methodically, she began that same day to sort the broken pieces, putting them back together again as best she could with glue.

One day her young son, Kato, asked her why she was going to so much trouble. After all, she’d only been able to patch together a few plates.

I must take things broken apart and make them one again.

Matsuko Nakamura

Thank God for people like Matsuko who strive to make things right; who pick up the pieces (no matter how small) and put them back together again.

Is there something broken today that with God’s help you could “peace” back together?

Blessed are the peacemakers.

Jesus (Matthew 5:9)

https://davidsdailydose.org/2019/08/03/peace-by-piece/

A Trip Down the Stairs

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Heal me, Oh Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise

Jeremiah 17:14

If you fall head-first down a flight of stairs, you’ll be in the hospital for a week and your friends will feel sorry for you. But take an emotional tumble, that FEELS like somersaulting into a wine cellar, and your loved ones may not understand. After all, falling down a flight of stairs is an accident, but FEELING like you’ve done a cerebral cartwheel into the basement is not.

In truth, injuries to the psyche are ALL to REAL, and they leave the scars to prove it.

Confession: I’m a tortured artist type who occasionally struggles with roller-coaster emotions. But I don’t decide to be anxious or sad any more than I’d choose to physically fall down a flight of stairs. I’m simply one of many who struggle with inexplicable negative feelings.

From the dizzying heights of anxiety, to the double loops of despondency, I’ve experienced the whole enchilada.

Yet the coolest thing is, God always rides along–rooting for me the whole way (Jeremiah 29:11)–and, when it’s over, I always return to a healthier perspective.

I get by with a little help from my friends.

Paul McCartney and John Lennon

So please don’t steer clear of a melancholic buddy. Come along side; ask about their well being. Then bring them back upstairs for some hot chamomile tea and a nap.

Disclaimer:
I speak from my own experience. Your situation may be different. If you struggle with long term anxiety and/or depression, please seek professional help.

If you’re still alive, it’s not too late

Regular David (me)

Plane Perspective

The righteousness of the blameless makes a straight way for them, but the unfaithful are trapped in their own wickedness.

Proverbs 11:5
My friend Jim’s Cessna 172

My friend Jim once took me up in his Cessna for a short flight. As we cruised over the tilled fields at 3500 feet, large round bales of hay on the ground looked like push-pins on a golden map.

That’s a bunch of hay!

As we flew, Jim shared some brief lessons about the fine art of flying.

  • Maintain a consistent altitude. Mostly straight and level is the way to go. The altimeter, which indicates altitude, reacts to where the airplane has just been– there is a delayed reaction. Because of this, it’s easy for a beginner to “chase” the dial, which leads to erratic flight.
  • If there is a mechanical failure. It’s time to find the safest place to land. Most people think if an airplane stops working mid-air there’s not much to do but prepare to meet God. In reality, it’s time to stay calm and remember your training; you are now in command of a glider!
  • Most crashes are due to pilot error. Make sure you’re fully prepared for every trip and don’t fly beyond your capabilities–EVER. Preflight inspections and checklists exist for good reason. Even a small aircraft has more systems than any one person can remember to check consistently. A written plan is needed.

Spiritual Applications:

Maintain a consistent altitude:

A consistent walk with God day by day is better than going up and down like a yo-yo. Don’t chase the dial; trust that God has you on the best path possible. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

If there is a mechanical failure:

The only thing that’s the end of the world is the END OF THE WORLD. Most circumstances are not as bad as they seem. We don’t necessarily think like God or do things the way He does (Isaiah 55:8). So it follows, we don’t always know the true reality. The Bible contains many stories where God and some of the people on the ground didn’t see the situation the same way (my favorite is found in 2 Kings 6:8-17).

Most crashes are due to pilot error:

Work out your salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:2). We can’t do what only God can (save ourselves), but God isn’t going to do what only we can: (maintain a healthy relationship with Him.)

“When God gives me a vision of truth, there is never a question of what He will do, but only what I will do.” Oswald Chambers

Oswald Chambers

That’s why a Christian pre-flight inspection–daily devotional time with God–is vital to spiritual growth.

Coming in for a landing.

May the ground rise up to meet you, but if it doesn’t, circle around and try again.

Regular David (me)

https://davidsdailydose.org/2019/07/20/plane-perspective/

A Brush With a Bobcat

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You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.

Isaiah 26:3

At twilight this morning, I crossed paths with a bobcat. A medium-sized wildcat native to North America, the bobcat is an elusive and solitary predator. The one I met was about the size of my miniature schnauzer, but with razor-sharp claws and teeth. He paused at the edge of the road and stared back at me as if to say, “You’re in MY territory.”

Anxiety is a bobcat of sorts. It too is an elusive predator that specializes in chance encounters. Often appearing in a dusk or dawn moment of life, it pauses at the edge of the road and stares back at us as if to say, “You’re in MY territory.”

Luckily, my brush with a bobcat ended peacefully. He vanished into the trees just after the brief stare down.

In keeping with the analogy, as a card-carrying anxious person, here are three things I do to manage my encounters with negative-“bobcat”-emotions.

Use Mantras: confront weak emotions with logic.
These are short positive statements said over and over to remind yourself what’s really REAL. My favorite mantras are from the Bible. This verse has gotten me through many a restless night:

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.

Isaiah 26:3

Unplug: occasionally choose solitude over people
Spending time alone is a great way to recharge, recalibrate, and reclaim your emotional well being. This is a life hack Jesus used in his busiest ministry days; He often withdrew to lonely places and prayed (Luke 5:16). When anxiety levels rise, try taking a break from anything with a screen–unless it’s a screened in porch!

Don’t fight the feeling: let it pass over you instead.
A soldier friend, who suffers from PTSD, told me he’s learned not to resist the traumatizing pictures in his mind, it only makes them stronger. Instead, he let’s them pass through until they weaken and disperse–like a brief storm.

Hopefully, I can wrap this up with a favorite quote from the movie, “Gladiator”

I knew a man who once said, ‘Death smiles at us all. All a man can do is smile back.’

General Maximus (Russell Crowe)

Bobcats and unwelcome emotions are bound to cross our path at times.

Smile back.

https://davidsdailydose.org/2019/06/29/a-brush-with-a-bobcat/