Make It a Year of True Change

“Two people went up to the temple area to pray;
one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector.
The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself,
‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity —
greedy, dishonest, adulterous — or even like this tax collector.
I fast twice a week,
and I pay tithes on my whole income.’
But the tax collector stood off at a distance
and would not even raise his eyes to heaven
but beat his breast and prayed,
‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’
Luke 18

“Still we are lured
By the shadows and the chains we leave behind. But
Change our hearts this time,
You word says it can be.
Change our minds this time
Your life could make us free.”
Rory Cooney

The beauty of being around this long is that I can say “I may not have ‘seen it all’, but I have seen enough”.

An understatement, “we’ve had a challenging year” is just that. Every aspect of our lives has been upended, our very human need for touch and embrace is sequestered for what may be some time.

We can “control” the virus. We can’t defeat it. We will immunize ourselves from this one, and prepare for the next one. And the next one. Viruses have been here much longer than humans, and likely will continue to be.

It’s the perfect example of the adage, we can’t change attitudes and events, but we can change ourselves and our reaction.

The January 8 Wall Street Journal has an excellent op-ed contribution from Pro Football Hall of Famer Tony Dungy and Benjamin Watson, director of NFL Programs for Pro Athletes Outreach. “A Call for Christian Revival in 2021” Messrs. Dungy and Watson have some basic markers as you and I move into 2021:

  • Read the entire Bible
  • Pray
  • Repent
  • Return to our home churches
  • Tithe and do good works.

Reads like a plan — for any time, but especially, now.

I am not a behavioral expert, again, just the guy in the seats, but it strikes me that if you’re filled with anger/angst publicly, you have an undercurrent of fears, just below the surface. Justifiable and rational? Likely not. Actionable? it depends on what action you wish to take.

My “action?”

To continue to thank God for all His wonderful gifts to me, to my family, to my friends. I am so imperfect, but so full of joy.

Wait … joy.

As I have mentored younger friends, I continue pointing out that positive emotion are a stop on life’s path. They are temporal, and, many times, artificial. Emotion is not the main ingredient in following the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Joy, is.

It is being the best listener I am able, to embrace empathy, and preach personal action. Sometimes, that requires a bit of “fraternal admonition” is part of the mix. It’s interesting how the most complex solutions seem to be at the heart of what seem to be simple issues.

Control what you can control. Ask God’s grace to guide. Be attuned to his whisper.

Change will come.

Michael Throop