Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Plains of Sluggishness

Brothers and sisters:
God is not unjust so as to overlook your work
and the love you have demonstrated for his name
by having served and continuing to serve the holy ones.
We earnestly desire each of you to demonstrate the same eagerness
for the fulfillment of hope until the end,
so that you may not become sluggish, but imitators of those who,
through faith and patience, are inheriting the promises.

(taken from the first reading for today, Hebrews 6:10-20)

As I said on a facebook post this morning, I am already at "sluggish". In fact, I think I might spend most of my time there. Faith? Patience? Those are familiar words, and words worthy of striving for, but ones I rarely attain.

This reading seems to be touching on a repeated phrase in my life - keep going. The mountaintops of our lives are so wonderful - heady, exciting, full of promise, fulfilling. The valleys are torturous - painful, lonely, anguished. But most of our lives are lived on the plains.

If you have ever taken a long walk or a hike, you know about plains. Sure, they are much easier to navigate than valleys or mountaintops. No screaming calf muscles on the plains. But plains are boring. They stretch endlessly, with little to vary the scene. Your mind wanders, since there isn't much change in scenery to engage the thoughts.
I should know, living in North Central Texas, which is almost all plains. Sometimes when we drive up to Oklahoma or down to Austin, we marvel at the change in scenery. Heck, even in our own town there are hills. But of course, not where we live. Right before my neighborhood, it all evens out to the familiar flat lands.

It takes a great deal of endurance to keep going, especially on the plains, when it seems you are getting no where.The thing is, although the scenery may not reflect it, a lot of ground is being covered. Sometimes we don't realize it until we reach a change in scenery, and we regret not paying more attention to the journey.

"So that you may not become sluggish"...

Every little thing counts. Opportunities abound. Chances to love. Chances to give. Chances to engage in life. In this way, doing dishes becomes a way to "serve the holy ones". So does the morning commute, how we respond to the cashier at the grocery store, what we say when the teenager "forgets" yet again to tell you about a deadline.

And when we do these things, but no one seems to notice or care? When the thoughts begin to creep in that "if I just stopped (cleaning/teaching/volunteering/working/trying/caring/loving) no one would notice or care" - even then, keep going. Even if what you do seems to be unappreciated, "God is not so unjust so as to overlook your work and the love you have demonstrated".

Just keep going.

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