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Mark’s Musings – Cultivating Peace in Challenging Times

by | Jun 18, 2019 | South District Webpage

“Where are your circuit breakers?” This is the message I received from our pet/house sitter during Annual Conference. I was a little alarmed! We haven’t had any problems with our current house on blowing circuits. What was happening at home?

With further discussion, she said there wasn’t any power in the den, effecting the TV, lights, and fan. I thought she also said the washer and dryer weren’t working. A symptom of moving a lot, I couldn’t remember where the circuit breaker box was located. I suggested looking in the garage, and later remembered it might be outside. She confirmed it was in the garage but was afraid to try anything.

My hope was I would come home to a simple blown breaker, though I was concerned if multiple breakers were involved. It’s good that our pet/house sitter didn’t try fixing anything, since our breaker box is located outside. What she was seeing belongs to our plumbing system. The washer and dryer were also fine. I could tell the breaker for the den was not thrown, and it appeared to me the switch was in a strange position. I looked on-line, and consulted with a friend, to see what needed to be done. The advice from both sources was to call an electrician.

How do we approach “problems” or “issues”? The practice I try to follow is to anticipate, and look for, a blessing coming from the situation. As I write this article, we are waiting for the electrician. We don’t know if it will be today or tomorrow. How might God use this situation for good? It is too soon for me to know this answer. What I do know is the approach I choose to use effects my attitude. Anticipating, and looking for, God’s blessing(s) is different from having a problem to fix and endure.

Is it possible to be at personal peace in the midst of challenging times? I believe the answer is “yes”. It’s hard to be at peace, though, when we choose to approach issues using fear and anger. For those who are wondering, I’m intentionally using the word “choose”. It’s my position we can control how we respond. This starts with the question “Do we want to be at peace?”. The answer isn’t “yes” for everyone. What is our answer?

During Annual Conference I found that my peace was shook a couple of times. During those times, it was hard for me to act in ways that would encourage others to respond in peace. For most of Annual Conference I sensed that anger and fear—along with other feelings—were just below the surface of a general calm. It didn’t take much to create a storm. For sure there are theological, political, and justice issues going on. I’m wondering, though, if our biggest struggle is with spiritual issues? Do we individually need to strengthen our spiritual disciplines so that we as a group—both within our Conference and throughout our denomination—can draw upon a deeper spirituality?

I can live with the fact that United Methodist Christians have come to different conclusions on theological, political, and justice issues. What hurts me the most, though, is how we treat each other. If our spirituality was stronger, would we treat each other differently? In addition to being well informed on the issues, maybe this is a time for us to engage more fully with Christian disciplines. Are we talking about Christian disciplines at church? Are we teaching Christian disciplines to others? Then there is the  more sensitive question: “Are we aggressively practicing Christian disciplines in our own lives?”

                Your brother on the journey, Mark

Further thoughts: It turns out that we were looking in the right place to fix our electrical problem but didn’t know how to interpret what we were seeing. There was a circuit breaker thrown, but it didn’t move much. Instead of being the breaker labeled “Living & Den” or “Family Rm”, it turned out to be the one called “Lites”.  I’m grateful for the blessing of additional knowledge at a low cost! As a reminder, there will be one more “Mark’s Musings” before I take my renewal leave. My articles will start again on September 10.

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