Peace on a Sunday (My Answer and My Error)

Even the sweetest of moments can turn dry, and this is what I fear. Based on the perspective I chose, today was so wonderful. For some reason, I began to think of the meanness that can come in, the mundane-ness, the melancholy. Worse yet, my own higher than normal expectations. Let me explain better.

The Ocean Grove season has begun again. I had challenged myself in previous moments of elevated mood and thought to not “be selfish,” by staying in bed and thus miss the early service, but to instead exhibit a more loving “selfishness” by going to church, thereby challenging myself to do what was best for my “Ultimate-Self.” By venturing to make it to the 9am Sunday morning service I would be setting a pattern to do the same every Sunday following, for the rest of the summer, and by this means set myself up to receive more from God… and I did it! I even challenged myself to be a little early. And so I was in the rafters with a smaller crowd of those more dedicated to the church of Ocean Grove in particular, rather than the larger group who only attended choir practices for the upcoming festival. I even dressed up more than usual, and I was pleased with myself and thought that God also must be pleased.

I attended the continental breakfast after the practice, before the service, and I intentionally made new friends.

The service was beautiful and spiritual as it always is in Ocean Ocean GroveGrove. I was as usual, taken to a new place with God. The speaker, the President of the Camp Meeting Dr. Dale C. Whilden, talked about rest. We sang songs I didn’t know, but probably should have. I faked it well, and I’m sure no one knew I didn’t really know what I was doing. I looked at the lady in the row in front of me to figure out what piece of music we were supposed to be singing, and pretended I was not jumbling papers in my hand, confused as ever. But here it was okay to not be perfect, and I knew that, and it was part of the reverie for me. Nothing was “perfect” per se, but it was loving.

One of the soloists came forward and sang a beautiful operatic piece during the offering. I just recall him singing over and over “we will be changed, we will be changed,” and I carefully contemplated the meaning of this, as we all probably should have. The breeze continued through the hot Sunday morning June air, as a comforting fan steadily hummed behind me. For a moment there was rest and peace. The speaker quoted one of my favorite scriptures, “Be still and know that I am God.”

So how could I be down after all this? What is it that I fear? Where does this doubt come from, and how dare I consider that anything bad could disrupt the peace and joy that God has chosen for me, and for others on this day?

I suppose it is in me to believe more in badness than goodness at times. In one blessed moment, all is well. But it is my course to stop believing in the good, to take my life back into my own hands once again and believe somewhere with in me that God could never handle such a life as mine, such a person as I am, and I am on my own. Then I live that way. This seems to be the case. Lows follow highs.

Only yesterday I realized the remedy to this, as hard as it may be to believe there could be a solution for my own tendency to interrupt blessings with curses. I listened to Psalm 103 in its entirety while driving to class. “Bless the Lord, oh my soul, and forget not all His benefits.”

In this Scripture truly lies my answer and my error. It is in forgetting His benefits, and believing in the down side of life, that things always start to fall apart for me. Remembering the benefits of God does not seem to be a simple matter. It will take practice. Today I commit to dwelling on the positive things I know God has done and is doing around me. I will thank Him over and over if need be. I am sure that God is not pleased when my mind falls back into negative thinking. But I am most aware of the sadness I enter into, when with this simple formula a more constant joy can be mine instead, a joy like I felt this morning from the choir loft, the joy of camaraderie and peace which was there for a moment, just because I believed it was.

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