Monday, December 9, 2013

Monday Morning Meditation #31: Do Not Cause My People to Sin

This Monday is beginning a bit ineptly. I wanted to get up early; I overslept a little -- not enough to miss out on my prater time but enough perhaps to run out of time to share it with you. I had two loads of laundry to run through before going to work; only one load will make it. (So, do I wear clean underwear and inappropriate clothes, or the other unthinkable combination? I chose the clean underwear -- even though no one sees it!) Fortunately, no need to think about breakfast; my current diet allows only cereal and milk, quick enough to gulp down in five minutes. Donnie casually asked what time I am leaving for Hawaii tomorrow; dunno. I also don't know yet which airline or airport. Will figure that out today. And, the thought is nagging at the back of my mind that my friend, whom my boss forced me to take as a junior manager and who failed as such, never got fully fired on Friday because she ran off on sick leave, then appeared at my boss's office on another issue. I have not been able to reach him to find out if he told her she is being fired by her current supervisor, a senior manager who works for me and with whose decision I concur, from her current position in my organization (he has to help find another position for her -- I looked for something as well).

In any event, I did not have to read far to find something that really struck me today. In the very next chapter, in the very next verse, actually, I came across the story of Baasa, who caused Israel to sin and ignited the ire of God, who smote him, wiping out him, his whole family, any progeny, and all his potential glory as a ruler. Goodness gracious, these Old Testament stories hit home for me!

Reading: I Kings 16: 1-20

Meditation: The story of Baasa opened old sorrows for me. When I first came to faith (at a very late date, I might add), one of the things that I realized with a good deal of sadness was the number of people I had led away from God. Had it been only my family that would have been sad enough, but I had always held leadership positions and had always been outspoken in my atheism. Never pushy, but open about my opinions on just about anything, including what I considered to be an accurate understanding of the non-existence of God. This really confused Americans I had brought to Jordan to teach at a university there. Overwhelmed by the great differences between American and Jordanian life styles, the bridge between which I tried to be for them, they would turn to me for all kinds of physical and emotional help. I earned the title, "God's agent in Jordan." When they found out I was an atheist, they were lost as to what was going on. Only one persevered in not accepting my atheism. He called me "a believer in waiting." Still, as a senior leader in several different positions, working literally on a global scale, I had the opportunity to influence the thinking of many people. Especially younger ones took me on as a role model in far too many cases, a role model that included giving up their faith and accepting my atheist ways. (I was not immoral or unethical -- Donnie says I was "brutally ethical" -- but all decisions were made based on secular ethical systems, not on any thought of God or God's will.)

After coming to faith, I was immensely remorseful for "stealing" people's faith from them. I know God has forgiven me. I know that strong faith won't bend to atheism. I know that God will make right what I put wrong. Still, the remorse is there. Most days now I don't think about it because it is in the past, and it is in God's hands. However, when I read stories like these from the Old Testament, I cannot feel good about who I was. I can only feel grateful for God's grace in the matter.

And that is far as I can go with you this Monday morning. I must run to work, already having finished my prayers for this morning, which I did before retiring, instead of after, today because of the limited time available (and look h ow good God is -- I did finish writing before having to leave for work!). A brief description of the non-private contents of those prayers: I asked, no begged, God to let me help Him put right what I put wrong, something I often do; repented -- oh, how often and sincerely I do! -- for those times in the past that I cannot go back and re-live and did so much harm to so many people; thanked God for those times in which I have been allowed to meet individuals who have re-found their faith after my devastating earlier negative influences on them; and gave praise for the wonderful grace that forgives and forgives and loves and loves. After that, I spent an all-too-brief time in contemplation, my favorite part of the day, letting God take over the direction in which my relationship with Him moves.

I will now leave you to your prayer and contemplation, but first, I would like to bring to your attention a Monday morning prayer post that you might enjoy:

Fr. Austin Fleming, priest of the Archdiocese of Boston and pastor in Concord, Massachusetts, posts a prayer each Monday morning that he calls "Monday Morning Offering." I enjoy his prayers very much. I hope you also will find them inspirational. He has graciously given me permission to include a link to his blog on my Monday Morning Meditation posts.

For additional inspiration throughout the week, I would point out two sets of blogs: (1) the list of devotional blogs that follow the enumeration of Monday Morning Meditations on the sidebar of this blog and (2) my blogroll, where I am following a number of inspirational priests and writers about spiritual matters. I learn so very much from all these people. I highly recommend them to you.

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