Sunday, January 14, 2018

Duke Basketball and God's Presence


One of our family's favorite activities through the years has been watching Duke University play basketball. Mike graduated from Duke Divinity School in 1976, so we have a personal interest in the team.

We watched many years of memorable games including national championships in 1991, 1992, 2001, 2011, and 2015.

After their championship in 2015, I heard an interview with Coach Mike Krzyzewski. The reporter asked the coach to compare winning this fifth title. He replied:

     "I can't compare one title with another. All of them are great. The one you're in the moment, the most current, you can feel it best. What we've tried to do all year is live in the moment.  I told the players to live in the present and not worry about external expectations."

Live in the Moment

Coach Krzysewski taught his players the value of staying in the moment - in the present - so that nothing could distract them from the game they were playing. Schoolwork, relationships, a job, difficulties with a roommate, problems at home are a few of the circumstances that could distract a player's focus.

Stay in the game and live in the moment. It's advice that worked for his team, and it's advice that works for me.

Being Present

I believe "Coach K" has good words that can be applied to those who desire to stay focused on God. Distractions are all around us. I find distractions to prayer even if I am sitting at my desk looking out the window. My mind can wander to what I need to do for the day or to a concern about another person or what happened the day before, and the list goes on.

Although I am not playing a basketball game, I am working at being present to God.

What helps me most when I find my thoughts wandering is to take a deep breath. I can then bring my focus back to God where I can hear God's voice.

Live in the moment. Live in the present. That's what "Coach K" said. It's good advice for his players and for those who desire to deepen their walk with God.

Questions for Reflection

1. What distractions come your way when you try to pray?
2. How are you inspired to stay focused on God when your mind wanders?

Prayer: We desire, God, to stay present to you and present to others in your name. Distractions swarm around us, taking our minds in many directions. Our desire is to stay in constant awareness of your presence. Guide and direct us in ways unique to each of us, that will help us stay grounded in you - and as "Coach K" says, "Live in the moment,"  Amen.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Eight Questions for the New Year


Before you put away the ornaments from the Christmas tree, file recipes of food you only prepare for holidays and organize your presents, get a sheet of paper and a pen to record a few thoughts.

Reflect on experiences during the month of December and record what came to mind. Consider these questions.

     1. Where did I see God?
     2. How did I experience God?
     3. When did I offer God's love?

Keep a copy of what you wrote where you can reference throughout 2018, perhaps in the spring after Easter, during July, and in October as preparations for next Christmas begin.

The answers that come from the questions can reveal the fullness of God's presence as well as give form to changes you might want to implement during the year or in future holiday seasons.

Additional reflections for the new year examine your life and priorities. Respond to each for a sense of cleansing and direction in 2018.

     1. For what am I longing?
     2. What themes keep recurring in my life?
     3. Where am I struggling?
     4. What is most life-giving to me?
     5. What is least life-giving?

Jesus spent time away for prayer. Although we do not know the content of his reflections, he gave us a model of the importance of being still with God. We, too, can be still before God and ask these questions, seeking wisdom and insight from above.

Prayer: God, at the beginning of a new year, help us collect our experiences with you and others from 2017. Guide us as we use these eight questions to realize your presence with us to offer new energy and focus within and guide us in service to you. Amen.