Week 40: Monday – Spiritual Disciplines for the Overwhelmed

WEEK 40 : MONDAY (Spiritual Disciplines for the Overwhelmed)

“Every age has its own characteristics, right now we are in an age of religious complexity. The simplicity which is in Christ is rarely found among us.” A.W. TOZER

Scripture: 2 CORINTHIANS 11:1-3
“1I hope you will put up with a little more of my foolishness. Please bear with me. 2For I am jealous for you with the jealousy of God himself. I promised you as a pure bride to one husband—Christ. 3But I fear that somehow your pure and undivided devotion to Christ will be corrupted, just as Eve was deceived by the cunning ways of the serpent.”

Psalm 23:1
“The LORD is my shepherd; I have all that I need.”

John Naisbitt in his book “High Tech, High Touch” writes, In the 196Os and 1970s, Ralph Nader encouraged Americans to become “informed consumers” giving rise to ingredient labels and safety regulations.

Today it is no longer enough to compare brands, consult Consumer Reports , or research the performance and quality of a given product. Today’s consumer technologies are far more powerful and intoxicating than they were in Nader’s time. In order to transcend the technologically intoxicated zone, we must Reflective Consumers and begin to consider the consequences of introducing new technology into our lives , begin examining the effect that technology has on time and the value it adds to human experience. Reflective Consumers understand that the promise of technology can be deceiving and often omits the unintended consequences on our community ,our business , our children and ourselves.

According to John Naisbitt, after all the research , after scores of interviews with cultural leaders in business and the arts, with academics and theologians and after careful examinations of our own lives, we discover a handful of clear symptoms that indicate an unsettling diagnosis of our way to life. These symptoms reveal our society to be a TECHNOLOGICAL INTOXICATED ZONE, one defined by the complicated and often paradoxical relationship between TECHNOLOGY and our SEARCH for MEANING.

The INTERNET is full of millions of personal websites, people sharing their private lives with everyone, everywhere, now and forever.

The internet and smart phones promise to connect us to the world. But when is it appropriate and when is it a distraction?

• Sitting alone in a room, “talking” in a chat room on the Internet is a new social phenomenon, but it does not constitute community.
• Email in the office connects employees, but many people e-mail their co- worker down the hall and complain about the number to their own messages.
• A laptop on vacation connects you to work but distracts you from the experience of being away from work.
• The noise of these technologies, both literally and figuratively, can actually isolate humans from each other, from nature , and from ourselves.
• Family members scatter to different rooms of the house to watch their own favourite shows or listen to their own music.
Technology can create physical and emotional distance and distract us from our lives.

Technology bells and whistles are seductive, but we are fully aware of how they distance and distract us from our own lives.

Is isolation the reward of technology?

Nothing but God can satisfy this loneliness of humanity. No change of any circumstance, not even the dearest earthly ties, could really satisfy the hungry depths of your soul for any length of time. I am speaking out of the depths of my own experience when I say:

For weeks I felt so exhausted, feeling so alone…( a leader’s dilemma),I was listening to God in prayer, reading my devotional book entitled Stories of Faith by Ruth Tucker. I stumbled in one of the inspirational episodes from the lives of Christians. When I read the story behind the song, I broke down and cried, not of sadness or emptiness but of A LONGING for HIS PRESENCE… The one line message of the song ministered to me during my devotional time.
A HYMN OF INVITATION, WRITTEN OUT OF DESPAIR

One of the greatest evangelistic hymns of all time was written by a woman who knew well the release and peace that comes from confessing one’s sins and failures to God.

“Just As I Am”, a hymn frequently sung at the close of evangelistic meetings, was written by Charlotte Elliott, who at one time had been very bitter with God about the circumstances of her life.

Charlotte was an invalid from her youth and deeply resented the constraints her handicap placed on her activities. In an emotional outburst on one occasion, she expressed those feelings to Dr. Cesar Malan, a minister visiting her home. Dr. Malan listened to her problems and then told her that she should not divert her attention from what she most needed to know. He challenged her to turn her life over to God, to come to him just as she was – with all her bitterness and anger.

“Just come to him as you are,”
She resented what seemed to be an almost callous attitude on his part, but God spoke to her through Dr. Malan and she committed her life to the Lord. Each year on the anniversary of that decision, Dr. Malan wrote Charlotte a letter encouraging her to continue to be strong in the faith. But even as a Christian, she had doubts and struggles.

One particularly sore point was her inability to effectively go out and serve the Lord. At times, she almost resented her brother’s successful preaching and evangelistic ministry. She longed to be used by God herself, but she felt that her health prevented it. Then in 1836, on the fourteenth anniversary of her conversion, while she was alone in the evening, the forty-seven year old Charlotte Elliott wrote her spiritual autobiography in verse. Here, in this prayer of confession, she poured out her feelings to God – feelings that countless individuals have identified with in the generations that followed. The third stanza, perhaps more than the others, described her own pilgrimage:

Just as I am, though tossed about

With many a conflict, many a doubt,

Figthings and fears within, without

Oh Lamb of God, I come.

Many years later, when reflecting on the impact his sister made in penning this one hymn , the Reverend Henry Venn Elliott said, “ In the course of a long ministry I hope I have been permitted to see more fruit of my labours, but I feel far more than been done by a single hymn of my sister’s, “ Just As I Am”

“Just As I Am”
Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidst me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
Just as I am, and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot,
To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
Just as I am, though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Figthings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;
Sight, riches, healing of the mind,
Yea, all I need in Thee to find,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
Just as I am, Thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
Just as I am, Thy love unknown
Hath broken every barrier down;
Now, to be Thine, yea, Thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
Just as I am, of that free love
The breadth, length, depth, and height to prove,
Here for a season, then above,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

There is not only joy but also sorrow in every life. Oh, but in the end, we shall see His face and we shall serve Him together!

The best preparation is to learn to accept everything as it comes, from Him whom our soul loves.

“(Jesus said) Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and burden is light”

(Matthew 11:28)

REF:
Ruth Tucker, Stories of Faith, Inspirational Episodes from the Lives of Christians. 1989, p.10.

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