Yesterday, a physician challenged the Christian Medical Society (CMS)/CMDA at Penn State College of Medicine to intentionally engage family during the selfish time of Medical School. Although not currently a full time student, I too can become easily entangled in and distracted by perfecting must finish tasks, thereby taking away quality and quantity time with family and friends. Father forgive me.
During the physician’s presentation, I was reminded how I often vie for the driver seat of my life and ministry instead of remaining in constant conversation with God. Father forgive me. Let me never forget to turn to you for my first and last thought of the day. As the physician reminded CMS, it takes intentionality to offer one’s whole life to the kingdom of God and to love/serve those He’s blessed us with the opportunity to be close to in family, local congregation, neighborhood, and vocation. Father, may it be so for Emerging Scholars.
So as another year end approaches, join me in taking Thanksgiving to rejoice in God’s blessings. And offer up distractions/difficult circumstances to God’s care instead of holding them close, potentially leading to waywardness and/or bitterness in 2010. I’d encourage you to take these next steps with me. . . .
- Find a place of silence to pray through the deluge of concerns which so easily entangle and distract us in worship and time with family/friends. Maybe this can occur for you during travel, shortly after you arrive to your destination, or near campus (if you’re not traveling).
- Seek opportunities with family or friends over a Thanksgiving meal/conversation, a tea/meal during Thanksgiving break, and the Sunday meal before the term starts up again to share joys, distractions, and struggles. Have a family member or a friend hold you accountable to #3.
- Dedicate the remainder of the year to God first and return to campus prepared to walk through the busy-ness of academic, cultural, familial, and social year end with a focus upon the Light of Christ as part of the Body of Christ (visit Bobby Gross: Living the Christian Year).
Looking for material to provide some direction for Thanksgiving? This year I’ve found two selections from Christianity Today’s Holiday section particularly helpful, may they be a blessing to you. Note: If you have resources/testimonies to share, please do such.
1. Reflections: Thanksgiving, Classic and contemporary excerpts (one below):
Gratitude is the praise we offer
God: for teachers kind,
benefactors never to be forgotten,
for all who have advantaged me,
by writings, sermons, converse,
prayers, examples, for all these
and all others
which I know, which I know
not, open, hidden, remembered, and forgotten.
—Lancelot Andrewes in Heirlooms
2. Thanksgiving in the Midst of Fear: Seriously ill in the days of the Black Plague, poet John Donne still celebrated God’s goodness (Updated by Philip Yancey and introduced by Chris Armstrong | posted 8/08/2008 12:33PM). Excerpt below. . . .
O most gracious God, on this sickbed I feel under your correction, and I taste of humiliation, but let me taste of consolation, too. Once this scourge has persuaded us that we are nothing of ourselves, may it also persuade us that you are all things unto us.
In a brief few hours you have shown me I am thrown beyond the help of man, so much so that the physician himself had to send for assistants. By that same light, let me see that no vehemence of sickness, no temptation of Satan, no guiltiness of sin, no prison of death—not this first, this sickbed, nor the other prison, the close and dark grave—can remove me from the determined and good purpose that you have sealed concerning me.
Tom enjoys daily conversations regarding living out the Biblical Story with his wife Theresa and their four girls, around the block, at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church (where he teaches adult electives and co-leads a small group), among healthcare professionals as the South Central PA Area Director for the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA), and in higher ed as a volunteer with the Emerging Scholars Network (ESN). The Christian Medical Society / CMDA at Penn State College of Medicine is the hub of his ministry with CMDA. Note: Tom served with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship / USA for 20+ years, including 6+ years as the Associate Director of ESN. He has written for the ESN blog from its launch in August 2008. He has studied Biology (B.S.), Higher Education (M.A.), Spiritual Direction (Certificate), Spiritual Formation (M.A.R.), Ministry to Emerging Generations (D.Min.). To God be the glory!