The Desiderata

Desiderata (Latin: “desired things”, plural of desideratum) is a 1927 prose poem by American writer Max Ehrmann (1872-1945). It exhorts the reader to “be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be”, and to “keep peace with your soul”. “With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,” wrote Ehrmann, “it is still a beautiful world.”Wikipedia

Unquestionably, some of this “prose-poem” may be a bit pretentious, and revolves around concepts, at times which are not entirely sound, especially for the Christian believer. We note these things and look for what we need. My old pastor liked to observe, “Swallow the meat, and spit out the bones.” That seems fitting, especially now. But no matter what we say, this particular work has very much wisdom for each of us. It is worthwhile.

 

  The Desiderata

“Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexatious to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.”

Max Ehrmann, 1927

 

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The Micro and the Macro, by John Piper

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John Piper, Pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis. Writer and Speaker, DesiringGod.org

Originally dated, July 14, 2008 | By: John Piper 

One of the reasons God rarely gives micro reasons for his painful providences, but regularly gives magnificent macro reasons, is that there are too many micro reasons for us to manage, namely, millions and millions and millions and millions and millions. God says things like:

  1. These bad things happened to you because I intend to work it together for your good (Romans 8).
  2. These happened so that you would rely more on God who raises the dead (2 Corinthians 1).
  3. This happened so that the gold and silver of your faith would be refined (1 Peter 1).
  4. This thorn is so that the power of Christ would be magnified in your weakness (2 Corinthians 12).

But we can always object that there are other easier ways for God to accomplish those things. We want to know more specifics: Why now? Why this much? Why this often? Why this way? Why these people?

The problem is, we would have to be God to grasp all that God is doing in our problems. In fact, pushing too hard for more detailed explanations from God is a kind of demand that we be God.

horseshoe-anvil-clipartThink of this, you are a blacksmith making horseshoes. You are hammering on a white hot shoe and it ricochets off and hits you in the leg and burns you. In your haste to tend to your leg you let the shoe alone unfinished. You wonder why God let this happen. You were singing a hymn and doing his will. Your helper, not knowing the horseshoe was unfinished gathered it up and put it with the others.

Later there was an invasion of your country by a hostile army with a powerful cavalry. They came through your town and demanded that you supply them with food and with shoes for their horses. You comply. Their commander has his horse shod by his own smith using the stolen horseshoes, and the unfinished shoe with the thin weak spot is put on the commander’s horse. In the decisive battle against the loyal troops defending your homeland the enemy commander is leading the final charge. The weak shoe snaps and catches on a root and causes his horse to fall. He crashes to the ground and his own soldiers, galloping at full speed, trample him to death. This causes such a confusion that the defenders are able to rout the enemy and the country is saved. Now you might say, well, it would sure help me trust God if he informed me of these events so that I would know why the horseshoe ricocheted and burned my leg. Well maybe it would help you. Maybe not.

God cannot make plain all he is doing, because there are millions and millions and millions and millions of effects of every event in your life, the good and the bad. God guides them all. They all have micro purposes and macro purposes. He cannot tell you all of them because your brain can’t hold all of them.

Trust does not demand more than God has told us. And he has given us immeasurably precious promises that he is in control of all things and only does good to his children. And he has given us a very thick book where we can read story after story after story about how he rules for the good of his people. Let’s trust him and not ask for what our brains cannot contain.

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http://www.desiringgod.org/Blog/1307_why_god_doesnt_fully_explain_pain/

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On a Wing and a Prayer

 

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6 “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”

Philippians 1:6

When I saw this photo of a B-29 it seemed perfect to open up this post. Sometimes we return from combat ‘on a wing and a prayer’

I have been ill for a long time.  My hepatitis has been aggravated the last three months.  The Bipolar depression has been a bit better, but it seems to linger like an unwelcome guest.  Recovery from the effects from my brain tumor has stalled.  And I suppose I could go on, but I won’t.

I’m mindful that I was aware of hypochondriacs before this recent spate with a medical issues.  I was pretty much annoyed by these complainers, they seemed to always be talking about themselves.  Their self-absorption with problems and complaints was an irritant for me.

Until it happens to you.  Lots of times there is a domino effect, with illness following illness.  The doctors call this “kindling.”  There can be an overwhelming co-occurrence.  Things can move down hill fairly fast.  And many conditions can overlap. Things cascade into another crisis. But there can be a right way to handle things.

“The moment an ill can be patiently handled, it is disarmed of its poison, though not of its pain.”

Henry Ward Beecher

Maintaining a spiritual discipleship is an obvious challenge.  Having something even resembling a living faith is pretty hard.  Three things have helped me.  These three doesn’t mean that there aren’t others, its just these are the boiled-down essentials.

1) Prayer–

Things will often turn from bitter to sweet in just a moment. I think of Jesus turning plain, basic water into a delicious and succulent wine.  When He shows up, everything changes– I change.  I need him, His presence isn’t an option.

2)  The Word–

Sometimes a just a phrase, a perceived inflection on the words.  Simple verses, rolling through my heart and thinking create hope, and recharges me through one more day. I realize that these are our promises, for me to call my own.  My enemy who hates me, is afraid when I start reading it. I need to read the Word.

3)  Serving Others–

I can easily paralyze myself with the awful venom of selfishness.  Self-absorbed faith will kill me.  Actually, “brokenbelievers.com” has been a way for me to recover. (I’m sitting here writing from the cozy confines of my loft in Alaska— on a beat-up old laptop.)  It has been a necessary thing.

Each of the three listed above work better when you mix and match them.  Take prayer and combine with the Word and they will strengthen each other.  Sort of a synergy happens, and things will come together for you, for one more day.  And that is just how it seems to work. It’s a pretty good start, anyway.

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An Armored Response

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When the Holy Spirit talks we listen. What He shares is usually pretty relevant, and typically mandates our action. He is into change, and guides us into Christlikeness.

In my prayer time I saw a man climbing into the turret of a tank. He was sheltered there, protected by the tank’s armor. He seemed to be discovering the capabilities of the tank. He slowly began to grasp the potential of it, and soon began to turn the massive gun. He played around, not so much as a soldier, but as a child would. It was fun to spin the turret around. He could go places on its tracks. He could run over trees.

But slowly he realized that this was much more than a shelter, but it was an offense weapon as well. The tank could be quite formidable, as well as safe and secure. Surrounded by the armor, he at last began to understand exactly what this tank was capable of, and his role as driver/gunner. Using the gun, he could go up against enemy strongholds.

We come into a certain maturity when we begin to obey. God-given tasks become a joy. We start to see not just the defensive perspective, but the offensive as well. God’s ability is given to anyone who asks. His power can’t be diminished. He alone is the force to be reckoned with.

We are often stunted by our vision, we simply don’t grasp the enormity of what has been given to us.

I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead,”

Ephesians 1:18-19

“For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power.”

1 Corinthians 4:20

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