What is this? I was always turn up the volume for Queen’s classic, “Under Pressure” when it comes on the radio, “Pressure pushing down on me, pressing down on you….It’s the terror of knowing what this world is about, watching some good friends screaming, ‘LET ME OUT!” We are all under pressure, some of it of our making, some of it just the way life rolls, and there are seasons of life where you feel like screaming, “Let me Out!” I am not at that place (yet) but this fall there is lots of stuff and lots of stress. I’ll unpack that as we go along. Jesus says, “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food or clothes”. Paul flat out says, “Don’t worry about anything”. Is it blasphemy to find the advice almost laughable? Don’t worry about anything, it is so difficult not to worry about everything. Where to begin? Things at church are not just busy, but “crazy busy” as a friend likes to say. This is, for the most part, a good busy. We are in the midst of a capital campaign, experiencing growing pains, dealing with staff turnover, and some of our seemingly immortal saints are aging fast. Plus, I am always recruiting for our Mexico Mission trip to the orphanage next spring break (we still have room for you!) and trying to pressure additional pilgrims to join our Cities of Paul trip next summer (Come on, this is THEE pilgrimage. Family and friends welcome). Watching cable news is a real stresser, too. We are so politically tribal, me too, but I do keep that to myself at church. Has our nation ever been this divided?! I find myself working hard to hand over my upset to the Lord of the nations. I am having a real hard time with the decision to pull out of Syria when the Kurds have been such faithful allies. Better not go down that rabbit hole, “terror of knowing what the world is all about…..”
What does this mean? Elizabeth’s mother died this week. Lavonne was the kindest mother-in-law one could ask for, she secured my undying affection when she purchased an extraordinary trip to Nepal for Elizabeth and I to accompany she and Jim. In true Berentson fashion, the family has been faithfully keeping vigil as she died at home, full of faith and surrounded by the people who loved her best. I am honored to preside at her service next week. With Elizabeth so consumed with helping with her mother, I’ve been trying to keep our kids clothed, fed, clean, and free of lice. Now that she has her own car, Caroline is pretty much self-sufficient, besides me filling her gas tank. I did go shopping with her for a Homecoming dress, you will love this, to Good Will (her choice) where she bought a dress for $12. I even picked up a sport coat for $10 and a matching tie for $2. As Elizabeth says, “you have to love the GW!” Mark is more work. I try to be home, because he likes to give me a play-by-play of his day, “I said good-bye to Jackson, got a Rice Crispy treat at the Hawk Shop, and refuse to give Caroline a hug”. We have started taking Taekwondo at the Y and don’t tell him, but some horseback riding will begin soon. Who knew parenting was so exhausting?! My best friend, Dave, who is the brother I never had, is having quite the time, too. He is doing an admirable job of transitioning his parents to assisted living in Chicago from his home in Portland, so we check in on each other.
What is the takeaway? Alright, enough blabbering about all that, here is the takeaway. In fairness to Paul, after he says don’t worry about anything, he adds “but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving make your requests known to God”. With all that is going on, I’ve been surprised how grounded I feel. Most of it God’s grace and I get a hefty dose of that when I spend time telling God how lost, lacking, and vulnerable I am at the moment. Mercifully, God is faithful, sufficient, and steadfast. Why does that surprise me, I have no idea. Another God-given avenue for decompressing for me has always been and especially now, good friendships. Whether it is on the phone with Dave, eating chicken wings with old friends from Poulsbo, or texting my sisters it makes all the difference to know your people are on your side. NEVER WORRY ALONE! As surely as Jesus is present in bread and wine, Jesus is present in our friends and family in an almost sacramental way. Lastly, I do find joy in the routine of my life and work. Monday is sermon day so I am home alone working on that. Never grow tired of writing. Our whole family not only goes to bed by 9 PM, but we are diligent in getting to the YMCA, so that is a matter of survival. I do like to pray in the pool, waters of baptism you know, it gives me a physical release and restores my spiritual equilibrium. Yes, there is lots of stuff and stress, but I am surprised that I am doing okay, mostly because I stay to my routine, count on my people for support, and know Christ is there as my rest and refuge. Not sure what storms and stress you have, but don’t worry alone and trust great is God’s faithfulness. Amen.