Dear Hyde Park Family,
There are few things more frustrating than being unable to take in a full breath of air.
While living in Iowa, I took on the overly ambitious task of building a large deck around my house. Admittedly, when it comes to home improvement projects, I’m more like SpongeBob SquarePants than Bob the Builder. But I had dreams of adding more than 1,000 square feet of outdoor living space to our home.
I drew up the designs, gathered all the materials, marked up the property and began digging the first of several post holes that would comprise the foundation of the deck.
Then I dug. And dug. And dug some more.
After about an hour of manual digging, I managed to get down only 20 inches of the required 36 to get below the area’s frost line. That’s when I hit what felt like solid bedrock. And I still had 17 more holes to go. (I told you this was an overly ambitious project.)
At the end of that first day, I plunged my post-hole digger into the ground, flopped spread-eagle onto the grass and laid still in exhaustion. That’s when I heard the neighbor walk by with her kids.
“Oh, my God!” she shrieked. “I think the preacher’s dead!”
After weeks of back-breaking work, I finally finished the deck, eager to enjoy the fruit of my labors. That’s when I couldn’t breathe. Every time I took a breath, I couldn’t get my lungs to fill completely with air. I tried stretches, I took anti-inflammatory pills, and I went to my doctor. Nothing I did could get a single full breath into my lungs. It was scary and frustrating.
A friend suggested I visit a chiropractor. I’d never been to one before, but I was pretty desperate. “Go see Dr. Irwin,” my friend told me. “He grew up on a cattle farm. He likes to work with the big patients.”
So, there I was, lying on my stomach listening to the chiropractor. “Your back is out of alignment, pastor. But don’t worry, let me do something.” Then I heard him crack his knuckles and rub his hands, like he was eager to work a kink out of Ol’ Bessie.
He pressed down onto my vertebrae, and I felt a pop in the middle of my back. Then, it felt like a flood gate of pressure was released from my chest. My ribs burst into full expansion, and my lungs swelled to take in the first glorious full breath I had taken in a long, long time.
THE LIFE GOD INTENDS FOR YOU
The first thing we learn about human beings is that God intends for us to breathe. Though we are made of lifeless dust, God’s own Spirit was breathed into us at the moment of our creation, and our lives came into being. And ever since then, we are created to fully inhale and exhale our love for God and others.
But life is strenuous, even backbreaking. The pressures of daily labor take their toll on us over time. They restrict our hope, tense up our joy and freeze our ability to love God and others. Instead of taking in the fullness of God’s Spirit, we feel suffocated by worry, fear, anger and grief.
This is not life as God intends it. So, we need to surrender ourselves to a specialist.
GET A GRIP
In this church, we believe that the way to fully surrender your tense, constricted life over to God is through the seven spiritual disciplines of our Discipleship Pathway. It begins with faithfulness in the three corporate practices of worship, small groups and service.
But it doesn’t stop there.
To really allow the full breath of the Spirit to fill you, pay attention to the four personal spiritual practices you should do every day, even in between Sundays, and “Get a GRIP.”
Give in a way that is joyful and generous.
Read the Bible without fear or frustration.
Invite others to Jesus in a way that is natural and not intimidating.
Pray regularly with confidence and conviction.
As I shared last Sunday, these four spiritual practices comprise not only our current worship series; they are the crucial part you can play in helping Hyde Park United Methodist realize the vision we adopted last fall and claim the future God has for this congregation.
But most importantly, practicing all four is the way God can help crack open your restricted airways, and help you live life exactly as God intends.
SO, DON’T MISS THIS SUNDAY: READING SCRIPTURE
I hope you will join me this Sunday as we talk about the second spiritual practice, “Reading Scripture.” And I am very excited to share with you the way that we, as a congregation, will join together next year in reading the Bible, to overcome the fear and frustration we often have with it. And if you’re not able to join us in person, be sure to watch us online at hydeparkumc.org/live.
Grace and Peace,
The Rev. Magrey deVega
Senior Pastor, Hyde Park United Methodist
HURRICANE DORIAN RELIEF
For the latest on our efforts to help people suffering in the wake of Hurricane Dorian, including donating to the United Methodist Committee on Relief and viewing a word from our own Bishop Carter, visit our website.