…but one thing I do: forgetting what is behind me and straining forward toward what lies ahead, I keep pursuing the goal in order to win the prize offered by God’s upward calling in Messiah Yeshua. Therefore, as many of us as are mature, let us keep paying attention to this; and if you are differently minded about anything, God will also reveal this to you.  Only let our conduct fit the level we have already reached.

Philippians 3:13b-16, Complete Jewish Bible

This is the time of year where this verse can really stick and propel us forward. The latter part of this popular passage comes to mind…and, another grenade from Parker Palmer (Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation).

I’m at the part of this book where Palmer describes his season of depression, and how “the way to God is down” (p. 69). He tries to give voice to feelings he could not express at the time. He explains how certain friends were like Job’s friends while others knew the right things to say (or not say) and do (or not do, but just be present). Here is the statement that prompts today’s meditation (pp. 71-72):

One of the most painful discoveries I made in the midst of the dark woods of depression was that a part of me wanted to stay depressed…I had failed to understand the perverse comfort we sometimes get from choosing death in life, exempting ourselves from the challenge of using our gifts, of living our lives in authentic relationship with others.

WOW, to say the least! Moving forward requires the confrontation with self that I choose one way so that I can monitor and be accountable for the dysfunctional part of me that I want to remain. We want to “cast our cares” and be content with simply the acknowledgement of a self-destructive habit or thought process, but without admitting the hidden truth that even our bad habits are familiar and bring a level of comfort.

As many of us have decided and declared a move from our comfort zones, I encourage us to do it in TRUTH. Acknowledge yes, and also confront the perverse comfort of living authentically for Christ and choosing death at the same time. Denial of the hidden truth does only increases the burden and makes this life cumbersome and heavy where it need not be.

Father, help us look to ourselves in this season of fresh reflection and strategy. Cause us to live at our best in full awareness of knowledge and understanding — what we should know at this place in our lives. Let there be glory now, in our understanding, as we cast off the perverse comfort of those things we cling to that are not good for us. Come quickly with Your light, and help us, in the name of Jesus. Amen.

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