Sunday, July 26, 2015

A Better Saying

I have often been hard on Church signs that have sayings that don't make sense, are overly cute, or just plain inane. Once in a while I do come across one that manages to say something that is a good reminder to me of my daily walk with my God and Higher Power. Here's the one I recently responded to in a positive way:

Is God your first thought or last resort?
My first response was easily
Great question!
As I pondered it further I naturally went to the old line that
there are no atheists in foxholes.
I'm not sure that is explicitly true, but it does clearly say that when our backs are up against a wall and there's no other way, people are more likely to turn to something or someone for help.

God as a last resort.

There's nothing wrong with that, of course. Most of the time we don't need to be stopping and praying to God for the least little thing. Those are the things I have always referred to as "parking place prayers." You know, you are running late, need to get to a store and out quickly so you say a prayer- God help me get a parking place quickly. [Full disclosure: While I admit to believing that the Creator of the universe has more important things to do, I do say those prayers from time to time.] But if that is the way I live, it is probably not the healthiest, in the long run. It can become simply a way of doing whatever I want to do and then asking God to bail me out.

So, I continued pondering the quote. I realized that this is the basic philosophy and way-of-life of the Twelve-Step groups. It is, in fact, Step Eleven:
Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry it out.
In the Big Book of AA, Bill W. wrote,
We shouldn't be shy in this matter of prayer. Better men than we are using it constantly. It works, if we have the proper attitude and work at it.
The basic message is the challenge to make God our first thought instead of last resort. That means living my life in the presence of God, knowing God's love and grace, ever aware of my need for God's power(!) and God's daily willingness to provide we what I need, not always what I want.

In other words, God's will should be my first thought, my daily prayer, and my constant source of gratitude. As one begins to live that in more and more ways (and it is not as simple as some make it sound!!!) one  learns the truth of the admonition to
Pray without ceasing!
What a burden is lifted at that point. I don't have to know what's next. I just have to work at keeping myself in God's will or, as one hears in the Twelve-Step fellowships
just doing the next right thing
I guess that church sign did its job the other day. It didn't get me in "their" church, but it did keep me thinking about my faith and spirituality.

Must have been my Higher Power at work.

As usual.

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