Saturday, September 20, 2014

Experiencing and Overcoming Despondency

Despondency is a normal state in life,
We all experience dejection at some stage,
When doors of mood open to strife,
There is the certain outcome of rage.
Then comes awareness of our Lord,
To fix our eyes above the despair,
An extravagance of spirituality we can afford,
To know Jesus and his care.
Dictionary definitions for the word despondency talk about a person bearing the state of low spirits, a lack of hope, a vacuum of courage, and a sense of dejection.
A Reminder from Hebrews 12
As I write this I am feeling quite despondent, yet not about what the typical reader might predict; the situation with our baby. I am being real in these matters of brokenness for the lack of hope, courage, and even faith that I am experiencing. What it is that is causing the distress is not so much the issue, it’s the fact that I’ve taken my eyes off the Lord Jesus Christ.
As I wrangle with the emotion churning within me, God offers a simple and effective alternative; to fix my eyes upon Jesus, the Author and Finisher of my faith.
When we consider that each moment we walk upon this earth we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses – those who have strode their own steps, valiantly and in despair and all between – we are inspired to keep going where these angels are urging us to stride that Ancient Path: the will of God.
Although we can know that despondency is no appropriate final destination in the will of God, sometimes it is part of the experience of adjusting emotionally and spiritually.
We must not stop in our despondency and get stuck there.
We have an opportunity in experiencing despondency to see it for what it is. God can only use despondency if it is impetus to learning; that which gets us back on to that Ancient Path.
Awareness is the key. Once we become aware all we then need is the humility to repent of our despondency, to take courage to take another step, and then one more, and so on.
It is the gospel way to be resurrected from these crucifixion experiences; even if we are, ourselves, the very ones hammering the nails.
Experiencing despondency is normal in life. Upon awareness we have the opportunity to overcome it. We need faith and courage, and the rekindling of hope. Think of that great cloud of witnesses whom watch us. We are urged on in the heavens, and we experience such encouragement spiritually when we are aware of it.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

10 Ways to Love Like Jesus Does

What would Jesus do? It’s a perennial question regarding life. Jesus would love. It is as basic and as simple as that. But what are the nuances of Jesus’ love? Grace is so far from the concept of sin that grace covers over every blot in the book of life for the sinner who runs home to God.
Jesus paid humanity’s price,
He took full penalty for our sin,
The fullness of grace to suffice,
All because of Him.
Listen without interrupting (Proverbs 18:2, 13) – it is such a shame to the one who answers before listening. Their self-interest is exposed in their opinion. We must know that Jesus always sought to understand situations prior to speaking, and his understanding was remarkable in his responding through parables.
Speak without accusing (James 1:19) – when we are “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry” life always works out better. But our sinful nature rages in pride at the very time God is trying to show us a new thing. For the amount of haranguing and constant jostling Jesus was subject to he gave a great account of testimony for being “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry,” per the character of God.
Give without sparing (Proverbs 21:26) – the only real satisfaction in life is to give away what we cannot keep in order to keep what we cannot ever lose. As we give up our rights, possession and association to material things we receive spiritual things in abundance. Jesus taught this in Mark 8:35; 9:35; and, 10:44-45.
Pray without ceasing (Colossians 1:9) – similar in effect to 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (“pray continually”). Jesus was in constant communion with the Father, and this is exactly what we are to aspire to.
Answer without arguing (Proverbs 17:1) – how peaceful a home can be when we just let vicious comments sit; to not react, but to come back to them, in the cool light of day is wisdom. Sometimes no verbal answer is the best answer at all – especially when emotions are rapidly trending south. Jesus was always able to consider carefully his responses to all relational situations.
Speak truth without hurting others (Ephesians 4:15) – every word Jesus ever uttered was truth spoken through grace, even if some of what he said was hard to hear. We have the same opportunity – to find the balance between reality and emotion, catering to both, equally, at the same time.
Enjoy without complaint (Philippians 2:14) – as a friend once posted, “Complaint is evidence of blessing.” Everything we complain about is something that was once given to us. But Jesus had nothing and became nothing so we could be reunited to the Father.
Trust without wavering (1 Corinthians 13:7) – love protects, it trusts, it hopes, and it perseveres. Love never fails. Trust is based in love. Jesus never gave up on the hope of love and it endures today as much as ever in history.
Forgive without punishing (Colossians 3:13) – though we will occasionally want to punish those who transgress us, we are reminded of the example of Jesus who forgave those who killed him when he said, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”
Promise without forgetting (Proverbs 13:12) – I’ve been guilty, even in this present stage of life, of promising more than I could fulfil. Missing the mark like this, as I’ve found out, makes the heart of the person I’ve missed ‘sick’. They felt disrespected, even disregarded. I had to repent. Jesus, however, not only kept all his promises, he made better from some of those promises than people expected. That’s our task. To surprise people by how well we follow through.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

Leadership and The Respectful Power In Asking

Respect and dignity join themselves,
In the leader who delves,
In the asking of permission,
The seeking for their commission.
This leader, this respecter of all,
Knows on their life God’s ardent call,
Honour’s for the person before them,
No person can they easily condemn.
The leader asks and takes care not to tell,
In this world with decorum they do dwell,
They know the power of influence,
Beyond the trappings of a grievance.
The leader gets on with everyone the best they can,
There is no reason for any sort of punitive ban,
The leader’s love stands high and helpful,
They have a way for progress that’s respectful and gentle.
A good leader – a healthy leader – has no use for coercion as a normal mode of operation. The coercion of telling is reserved for times where all other relational measures have failed.
Relationship is the matter of hope in the midst of conflict.
With relationship we have everything to hope for, even if matters appear forlorn. But without relationship even the simple things appear hard.
Why do leaders and those in a leadership capacity resort to power dynamics and posturing and jostling in order to assert their dominance? It’s a fear that’s unreconciled, unrecognised, and unrequited. They have no control over their fear, so they must endeavour to dominate through coercion.
They will use the powers of position, coercion, and manipulation. The healthy leader, however, knows their limits and they are blessed and are not threatened by the person who – in their difference – can help. They use personal power with which to engage distant persons and they use information power to empower others.
The power in asking is palpable as it is telling.
When we let go of all our fear, then, and only then, are we capable of loving others as we can and as we should.
If we have no use for loving people we have no use as leaders – in any sphere of life. And if we can see that love is to be our central motive for life, then we are on a golden trail replete with majesties of wonder, grace, and joy.
There is great and elusive power in simply asking, without threat of condition, and without need to make people do things beyond their will.
When we use the power of asking over the force of telling, we are joining with God in the heavens to bless people relationally.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

When Less Is Definitely More

This time in life we’re learning what’s new,
We’re learning about the scarcity in the goodness to find,
When life seems to have joys such in the few,
And my wife’s losing weight two-litres at a time!
The routine from here is predictable right now,
Weight gain in its rapidity coming by the day,
Then comes the amnioreduction and her fluid to endow,
And our baby for now is safe to continue his/her amniotic stay.
The third time around this routine and it is predictable, thankfully. The staff at King Edward Memorial Hospital in Perth, Western Australia, where we live are superb; so caring and considerate, when in a more barbaric society we would have been forced to abort by now.
Sarah’s last week has been a real battle. It has been a blessing that I’ve been on leave. Sarah has been unable to do much at all, with the encroaching excess of amniotic fluid making her sitting, standing and lying down all very much postures to endure.
Sarah is so brave. Brave... like a girl. She has borne the emotional pain as well as she has borne the physical pain. She is teaching me a lot about humility.
This present season of waiting, anticipating the moment, and planning for the immediate and short-term future, has made us think logically – funeral planning is in the forefront of our present thinking. We cannot put off these thoughts, and, indeed, we believe God has given us this time to put into place those things that can be thought of easily before the emotions of stark grief arrive by the truckload.
We have received incredible support from our parents and family, from the congregation at Lakeside, from ministers elsewhere, and from the broader Body in the social media world. We are so thankful that God has used all the people who love us to hold us up when we feel quite forlorn.
The picture on this post is the latest of our baby, taken hours ago. We treasure every single moment we can interact with our baby. And even as the needle into Sarah’s womb sucks out the excess amniotic fluid, we watch and marvel as the surgeon skilfully manoeuvres it away from the baby’s unpredictable movements.
It seems this latest of amnioreduction procedures is a warning for more ahead; perhaps weekly. Still, we are thankful.
Less is definitely more. Less amniotic fluid means more comfort for Sarah.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.