Smell the Roses…

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You know, I just don’t know what to make of it.

Years ago, I was twenty-something, married, had young kids, employed. But I was also struggling with things, yet those things are not things I struggle with today.

Back then, the chaos of youth, starting out, young family. Now, things are calm, collected, assured, yet chaotic in other ways.

But I guess the one thing that I miss the most about youth is the ease on my mind. Here’s what I mean.

From a youth, I was taught to go to church. We did so, primarily on Sunday mornings. Yet, somewhere along the way, Sunday night was added, then Wednesday, then church meetings, then Bible Studies, and before I knew it I went to Bible School and emerged a pulpit minister.

In all those years, the routine of Bible Study and Bible research became part of my life. Every week, I spend time in study, some weeks more than others.

During my younger years, I was taught that spiritual exercise was more valuable than physical exercise. So I learned to work my spiritual muscles, over the years my prayer life, spiritual life, biblical study life, even spiritual family life have vastly improved.

My gut suffered, I have an expanded waist line. I’m not over weight, just not as muscular in my physical being as I am in my spiritual being. And sometimes this makes me reflective, like today.

You see, when I was a youth, my mind hadn’t been filled with expectations and duties to those expectations. As I moved forward in my life, I listened to those around me and did the greater thing, I matured both in intellect and in spirit while others, well, chose differently.

I became a minister not realizing that I would become a minister, and week to week, month to month, year to year, I witnessed and ministered to those who simply could not or would not put forth efforts that I did.

Now, that does not make me more righteous, not in the slightest, nope, not one iota. But after stepping away from the pulpit, and spending more years in Bible study, I observed several things.

One, synagogue/church attendance is a product of human development, not God revelational development. You see, God was very lenient with Israel in learning the Scriptures, expected them to learn, expected them to take ethics and spirituality seriously, but did not demand anything other than a few specified annual feasts, along with sacrifices when necessary.

Now, of course, the Priesthood was quite busy, and later found some additional assistance by having a priestly rotation schedule.

But the point is, that God never pushed righteousness on the people the way in which I have experienced in my life. Yet, I am a product of all the studies and all the teachings that I have heard about God during my lifetime.

So when I am up town having to take care of some shopping needs (like picking up fresh veggies for dinner), I observe the common ordinary citizen.

Yes, each citizen is bothered and burdened with aspects in their life (bills, work, children, other routine life events) and they feel misplaced, uncared for, unnoticed. What is a minister, ahem, former minister to do, encourage, pray with them, lead them to God.

You see my faith has brought me peace, at least in my spirit. But I can’t help but wonder what I am missing out on. Here’s what I mean.

I am not looking to understand misery, not looking to understand drug addiction, not looking to understand alcohol addiction, not looking for adversity in my life.

Yet, I see the normal ordinary citizen who goes to church, maybe, and they have something that I feel that I am missing. It’s difficult to put that into words, because many will attempt to reassure me that it is the ordinary citizen that is missing out.

But, I don’t think that is the case, not any longer. Years ago, I was missing God in my life. I went to church, did the routines, prayers, Bible readings. But it was not until, I entered into intense Bible Study and then pulpit ministry that my prayer life took a turn and taught me that there is much more to being with God than routine.

So I grasp the need for Bible Study and Bible Research, I understand the internal need for prayer and receiving guidance from above. But during those years, there is also something that I have come to grasp and understand, the need for personal fulfillment.

Now, some might take that and misconstrue what I am saying, some might take me as encouraging debauchery and advocating neglecting one’s accountabilities and responsibilities, so that is certainly not the case. I am encouraging accountability and responsibility.

But for me, in my mind and in my spirit, there has to be permission to enjoy frivolity, like spending time at a beach, walking the trails, enjoying that which God has obviously permitted – life.

What I believe I have observed is that Christianity has, at least for my experience, sapped the goodness out of life: in the sense that it seems that I was led to believe that if one enjoyed life then they had not counted the cost and fully understood the concept of a limited life and that every moment was precious and needed to be properly accounted for because one just never knows when they will have to stand before the Almighty and give an account for every action and deed and word whether wise or foolish.

Wipe the sweat from my brow!

Relax. Enjoy life. Walk. Exercise. Breathe. Smell the roses.

Life is most definitely short, and shorter for some than others. But, and I mean but, God is not so deleterious to our life as to stop us from being in the beauty that God has provided.

So I am learning to do the very thing that I just said: relax and enjoy life.

This is probably one of the most difficult things I have had to learn, dismantle from my mind, overcome in my life. In order to truly understand that God permits all of us to enjoy the life that God has given.