I was in the zone. Having lunch with a friend who inspires me, and we share the same kind of vision for ministry. I really felt like I was in the zone. It was one of those moments, as it is when God is at the center of something, when I really feel like I am the most productive version of myself. When you have a moment where you dream big, and you know in your heart that God’s dream is even bigger than the one you are imagining for yourself (as we learned on our retreat), you ride this wave of peaceful joy, as the Lord gives it, “Not as the world gives it” (John 14:27). And while I am in this spiritual zone, my mind gets ahead of itself and I can have a million great ideas, but none of them will be worth anything or result in anything good if I don’t remember to first check with the Boss.
Today’s readings remind us to put God first in all things. In Nehemiah Chapter 2, the writer is preparing to ask his employer, (the King) for a big favor. He wants to go to a land far away (the land of his people) and rebuild the temple as he believes he has been instructed to do by the Lord. The problem is that he doesn’t think he can “get off work”. He is a right hand man of the King in charge of something very important, the wine supply. So what King is going to let his right hand man, his Sommelier out of his sight? (oh yea baby, I looked up a fancy French term). So the King asks his employee why he looks so sad, and before answering the King, it says “I prayed to the God of heaven, and THEN answered the King.” Not only is Nehemiah able to go on this long journey, but because of the “favoring hand of God” was on him (after he prayed for God’s help and favor), he was able to go on this all-expense-paid-VIP, first-class, armed-guards trip, with plenty of provisions from the lumber park to rebuild the temple. I believe because he ask God FIRST, for the right words, before he said anything.
The responsorial psalm for today’s readings, we pray “Let my tongue be silenced if I ever forget you” (Ps 137).
“May my tongue cleave to my palate
if I remember you not,
If I place not Jerusalem
ahead of my joy.”
In Luke 9:57-42, we go step further with the yesterday’s meditation, (our home is with God); we can’t get too sidetracked by the ups and downs of this world. “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.” Rather than a request for sympathy, it’s a statement about focusing on his mission; “No one sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God.” His work is before him and the plan has been set in motion. There is no time to look back or fester about what I leave behind, I too, have work to do. If I decide to follow God, I can’t worry about what I am missing out on, or my comfort zone (ouch, this one is rough for me) but most of all to always REMEMBER the source of my joy, like the Psalmist says. I can’t get too caught up in my own flesh (earthly comforts and time-wasters) and forget what I owe to God who provided me with all that I have. Mostly, I need to turn to Him first in prayer before attempting to work out His plan, and like the King, He will make a generous way for me to complete my mission, with His favor. All I have to do then is remember where it all started, give thanks, and keeping hanging in the zone.