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Life in Greencastle - Check-up

"If, then, we desire a simple test of the quality of our spiritual life, a consideration of the tranquility, gentleness and strength with which we deal with the circumstances of our outward life will serve us better than anything that is based on the loftiness of our religious notions, or fervor of our religious feelings. It is a test that can be applied anywhere and at any time. Tranquility, gentleness and strength, carrying us through the changes of weather, the ups and downs of the route, the varied surface of the road; the inequalities of family life, emotional and professional disappointments, the sudden intervention of bad fortune or bad health, the rising and falling of our religious temperature. This is the threefold imprint of the Spirit on the souls surrendered to his great action: Tranquility, gentleness and strength." - Evelyn Underhill, The Spiritual Life

"The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control." - Galatians 5:22,23

On Wednesday I caught up with Gary Scroggins who is the pastor of Brazil Presbyterian Church, a sister congregation not far from us. And at the end of our time he was gracious enough to give me the above quote. I read it once. I liked it ... although, truth be told, I didn't quite understand it. So, I read it again ... and again ... and again. Then finally it hit me. Evelyn Underhill was restating what Paul had once said to the believers in Galatia: if you want to know what's really going on, don't just look at what is going on in the headlines or on the nightly news; move beyond what you've been doing and what you have and take a look inside for a moment. Both Evelyn and Paul ask: what's going on inside? Are you okay? Is it well? Or, are the waters of your soul choppy like Racoon Lake during a storm?

Week to week and day to day all of us go through an incredible amount of ups and downs, a fact mirrored to us in the Hoosier weather: one moment the sun is bright and crisp, only to be followed by muted days of gray skies. Every single one of our lives is an incredible drama. They are full of fresh hopes, old wounds, ongoing family conflicts, new promises. Our lives are boring and stressed, shaken and joyful ... often in the course of one day.

As one priviliged to see into and love you, I am also astounded by all that goes on with us as a community. Take all those individual dramas and add them together and you've got a community. You've got a community where the old adage of the Teacher plays out weekly: for everything there is a season.

Why this very week we - as a community - are preparing to give thanks to God for the life of Sarah Grace Simmerman, to clothe her in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And, at the very same time, we continue to pray for Max Herriott, a beloved brother who is going through a hard patch - pressing in towards God even as he awaits the completion of his baptism.

And as we go through these many seasons individually and together, we are wise to pause every now and then and do a diagnostic. How is it going for you inside ... really? Are you calm? Do you feel like an open flower or a clinched fist? Drained or empowered?

Tranquility, gentleness and strength.

May God do more than order the dramas around you. May God still your very soul as he stilled the storm for his disciples.



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