What It's About

TRIBEWORK is about consuming the process of life, the journey, together.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Greatest Thing About Pain

Pain there is in myriad amount and variety.  We cannot escape the fact that there is pain in this world, in each of our lives, circumstantially and existentially.  Pain is so inlaid within life it causes us to ask a question as to its role.
If pain is taken as a given — again, there are so many variations of pain, all of which are valid, even if some versions of pain are more compellingly valid than others — we have an option.  Wrestle with it or give into it?  But notice that it’s only by making the right choice (to wrestle) that we access the only compensation for pain — the greatest thing about pain is what’s coming.  Whatever is coming that instils joy is hope.
The greatest thing about pain is the hope that says, “this will soon be over.”  That hope inspires us to persevere.  And persevere we must.  No other viable option remains.  So, we are challenged to rest up, and not give up.  A great many decisions to persist were made out of a resolve that came out of a peace-lit reflection — where we took all the ligatures off ourselves, thought with clarity, and realised with boldness that our challenge is doable.
This is where the Christian hope sets free those in pain, to a future that transcends the pain.  Heaven, in a word; where there will be no more tears and pain (read Revelation 21-22).
This will soon be over, when God wills it over.  And compared with eternity, our lives are so correspondingly short.
Yet, there are many types of pain that are temporary, where the hope we may hold has viability in this life.  Whether it’s fatigue or physical pain or depression or grief or loneliness; there is hope in this life that such pain has an end in this life.  These are the foretastes of heaven in the manner of our very lives.
Such a hope has to captivate our attention, because it causes us to hope in the majestic lived reality of faith; the only logical way to live, which, paradoxically, would seem illogical.
Pain forces us to hope or it drives us into oblivion.  See how there’s only the one option?
© 2016 Steve Wickham.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

When Tears Flow for Another’s Success

OVERCOME with emotion right now, difficult as it is to see these letters typed onto the screen of my Surface Pro.  I’m so very thankful.
Having just returned from taking a very special friend, basically an extension of my family, someone I’ve been a pastor to, and a person we’ve become connected with; his family and our own family — a kinship.  We’ve very much travelled a unique journey together over the past nearly two years.  We’ve had such significant losses to deal with; the centrepiece of such losses occurred on the same date — no coincidence; a God-incidence.  We’ve faced the worst together, and met the best side by side.
This very special young man goes to England, boarding his aircraft even as I type these words, to play professional basketball in the British Basketball League.  And yet to know his journey and the setbacks that he’s dealt with, he is a walking miracle of God’s grace — a fine young man in any guileless person’s standard.  A man of faith and character.
So, as I prayed in departures before we said goodbye I thought nothing of emotion, until I was walking away.  Then God showed me a vision!  Back to a time two months earlier when his doubts were more certain that this dream-come-true was actually happening.  And still, in the present moment, so thankful to God were we both, with his mother and father and all his dear friends, for the fact that this moment had finally arrived.
When you invest yourself in another person’s life it’s a labour of love and you never expect anything in return.  Serving is its own reward.  But then when they do succeed in ways you or they couldn’t anticipate you’re blessed in being overcome with gratitude for what you feel for the fact of their success.
Thank you, Lord!
© 2016 Steve Wickham.

Why When Everything Matters, Nothing Matters

Everything matters in life when we care, but there comes a point where that sort of modus operandi no longer works.  It involves too many risks, it takes too much energy, and burns too many bridges.  And, like with busyness, caring too much about too many things runs us ragged, not just spiritually, but behaviourally, and in our compassion fatigue, we find ourselves on a slippery slope to emotional despair.
The encouragement in this is the opposite is also true.
The fewer things we actually care about, the more we can authentically care.  So in today’s world where there are so many things we can and should care about, we may feel guilty for not caring.  But wisdom decrees a choice still needs to be made.
Some things are worthy of our care,
other things we choose to care about are not.
I’ve found personally, a great awakening in this fact, that the more I don’t care, the better off I am for caring most about the things that really count.  The less scattered I am, the more solidified I’m able to be to care for the things that truly matter.  The less I’m bothered, the more I’m safe within myself for others.
This is about moving from caring about what people think of me to caring more attentively about what people think; from stressing too much about my anxieties and insecurities to trusting these, through acceptance, to God’s care; from worrying about the future to knowing God cares and, in letting go, trusting His plan, because I can do no other wiser thing than to accept His plan; from grieving about my circumstances to mourning for those suffering much more than I presently am.
This is not about caring less, per se, rather than it’s about caring about the right things in the right way, for the right reasons.
When care is undiluted,
attention is focused,
so care has good effect,
and intimacy is experienced.
The truth is when everything matters, nothing matters.  But when we can surrender that all-encompassing passion, honing it in the acceptance that says “I can’t control everything, nor even more than a few small but important things,” all that passion comes to be funnelled into something useful — a tempered passion enshrined in humility that knows there are always limits.  Limits for our good.
Those small yet important things that we have control over are our expectations and attitudes.  And although they’re small, they’re crucially important, for our attitudes and expectations will either reconcile or ruin us.
© 2016 Steve Wickham.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Turning Frustration Into Fun

Through one ten-hour day on the road delivering meals all over the metropolitan area I counted up about seventy-three frustrations — from being cognitively overwhelmed, to fleeting confusion about my routes, to delays in traffic, to non-obliging customers, to responses from other road users, to shifting loads and other surprises, to the excessive noise distracting concentration in packing those parcels in an industrial kitchen, even to my own responses to my own fallible decisions on the road, etc.  A litany of hindrance.  In one working day.
It was as if I was being exposed to every possible frustration within the myriad array.
But the frustrations, themselves, it became apparent, weren’t the central point.
Quickly, God was revealing something deeper in the fabric of possibility.
Frustrations reveal the hidden dimension, behind which is manifest the spiritual realm of character testing.
Within testing, frustrations have their unique and God-appointed-and-shaped purpose.
Only as I let each of these seventy-odd frustrations wash up hard against me did they erode my anger from within me.  Even as I tensed up, as if to give way to the anger, I felt a Presence within me reminding me, “It’s a test, so just give your tension to Me.”  God showed me, with every ascending temptation to frustration, that each one was a test; and that each one I was able to easily overcome if only I was aware it was a test!
If we go the opposite way, letting frustration mount up on the wings of anger, stock-piling it, then rage threatens with unparalleled and frightening immediacy.
Rage catches up with everyone who must hide their honesty.  Frustration is quickly turned to anger in the form of rage for the person who cannot live the sort of reality for which their deepest soul craves.
The task is clear.  Let us ensure frustration becomes something useful, not something violent.  If only we could turn the frustration into something useful, and we can.  If only we could turn it into something akin to its polar opposite: fun.
When frustrations are taken mindfully, and that mindfulness of Christ, through the Holy Spirit, makes us aware of the testing, we’re able to see it, overcome the frustration, then to enjoy a spiritual strength we perhaps had never before seen.  That joy makes us laugh; for spiritual capacities in torment, for potentialities of distance in tumult, for perspective in the trial.
Suddenly we’re having fun in our frustration, and we might say in our response to the frustration, as Jesus did, “Get behind me, Satan.”
With every frustration won over, and not a temptation lost to rage, we’ve endured patiently, through surrender.
The awareness that sees frustration as temptation to anger is the same awareness empowering us to endure patiently.
When we know how to deal with frustrations in the moment, we’re then able to find the fun in what comes next.
The feeling of victory when we overcome our frustration is tantamount to joy.  And that’s the best sort of fun!
What is the use of frustration other than as impetus to overcome it?
As I reflected over the day that could’ve been from hell, both in those very moments, and especially later, I was given cause to thank God for the situational awareness only He could give me.  To manage those moments, with courage, patience, and the wisdom to know, “This, too, shall pass.”  And, to experience victory over those frustrations.
It’s in these times of shrieking defeat that we still have the choice, smile, breathe, be still, and start all over again.
© 2016 Steve Wickham.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

A Wise Maxim for Marriage, Ministry, Life

Talking the important issues of life about five minutes before bed one night, and my wife says, “It’s a tension.  A Master of Divinity taught me it’s all about the tension — work your heart out whilst learning to relax.”
My wife has uttered some gems in her time in my life, but none better are they than this.
It applies just as much to marriage as it does to ministry as it does to life.
Work hard, resisting resenting anything along the way, and let go of everything that would hold you back.
Acknowledge that everything worthwhile is worthy of hardship while we work: marriage, ministry, life.  All of what we’d call worthy is cheapened when we expect it to be easier than the hardest thing we’d ever do.  And at the very same time, everything that we experience is either to be inculcated within or cast aside.
In marriage we’ve learned that married life is hard work.  It was never meant to be anything else.  Only when we approach marriage with a hard work ethic, then do we experience the joys that only God, in our diligence, could give us.
Joys come as a consequence of knowing expectation is the temptress of the foolish.
I’m sure it’s the unromantic couples that have the happiest of marriages.  They don’t allow the folly of fairy tales to script their relationship.  Instead, they take control of the manageable things, leaving the unmanageable things to a trustworthy God.
It’s the same with ministry.  It’s about service, humility, other people, and discipline.  Only when we enjoy doing the work of ministry, for what that work is alone, are we treated to the joys replete with the Holy Spirit’s Presence.
Why do we allow ourselves to get deluded in the romanticism of the world, when, in terms of ministry, our Bibles are full of the only applicable guidance?
Life holds us to the same measure of wisdom.  Work hard.  Enjoy the work.  Let go of anything unworthy.  Enjoy the joys that come as a result.
© 2016 Steve Wickham.

Monday, August 8, 2016

A Day Like None Other, Ever

Wind rushing through leaves,
exciting sensory perception,
soothing waves in the distance,
definitely no resistance,
fresh cast each one as if a new idea,
clouds on the horizon —
a soul-bracing landscape.
Nothing else piercing my consciousness,
the land and the air barren for nothing,
beauty in everything God made,
antipathy for everything man made,
oh Lord, why don’t I get out more?
you replenish my spirit and satisfy my soul,
and all the artificial world can do is cuss at me.
Even as I gaze across the water and view such splendour, for me God’s grace manifest and manifold in the witness of Himself, and of His Presence — everywhere, in every creature, in every facet of nature, and at all times — I am awestruck, that His creation continues to move and have its being and have dominion over the whole earth notwithstanding human interaction and interruption.
God’s grace hovers over the earth, empowering even His smallest creature, and we are but witnesses if we will only slow down enough to see what is patent before our eyes.

Why do we rush and hurry and concern ourselves with such busyness, and, for what seems to us to be the contempt of humanity against us, when we could otherwise see what is eternally there?
The ghost of all creation is in this mirage that we are blind to otherwise see.
Nature goes absolutely ignored if we’re too busy to see God’s glory manifest in it.
Why do we miss what is eternally there, through all our days, to be seen?  We’re fools to miss what we’d otherwise never fail to see, if only we slowed down and opened agape our eyes.
Stop the chaos.  Watch what can be missed.  Feed upon the richness of His variegated creation.
© 2016 Steve Wickham.