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Get past the past in order to be present in the moment

Back in 1988, Bobby McFerrin released a song that rose to the number one spot in quite a short period of time. The song's lyrics: "Don't worry, be happy!" Did you realize that saying had been around since the 60's and was attributed a 'spiritual master' from India? The idea of the saying had many meanings in the 60's that depended upon when and where it was used. I'd like us to think of it this way - stop fretting so much about the stuff you cannot control and learn to control what you have been given control over - your emotions! I don't know about you, but one of the hardest things in life has been to keep my emotions under control. I get down, bounce back up, fret about stuff, and rest in peace. It is a roller-coaster of sorts, huh? Just how many times do we have to go up and down this roller-coaster of emotions before we learn to get some control over them?

I, Jude, am a slave to Jesus Christ and brother to James, writing to those loved by God the Father, called and kept safe by Jesus Christ. Relax, everything’s going to be all right; rest, everything’s coming together; open your hearts, love is on the way! (Jude 1:1-2)

Jude's condition - he is a slave. This may not have been the case in the natural sense, in his daily employment - but in the spiritual, he is very certain of this - he is in a place of service to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He has a family line - the brother to James. He is connecting the dots for the readers - not only is he the brother to one of the leaders of the New Testament churches, but he is of a new family line, as well - that of Christ. He has an audience he desires to communicate with - those loved by God, called and kept safe by Jesus. In other words, this is a letter to believers - those who have given their hearts to Christ - deciding to no longer live according to their own plans, but according to the plans Christ dictates for their lives. Relax, Rest, and Open Your Hearts! I want to focus on these three messages today.

- RELAX - everything's going to be all right. This is the opposite of emotional tension. When we are tense, we are focused so intently on some circumstance and the tension created just magnifies the circumstance, sometimes to proportions we just cannot handle ourselves. In presenting the idea of learning to RELAX in Christ, we are being reminded to focus less on the circumstance and more on the one who controls it! Trust me - it is NOT us! We are called and KEPT safe by Jesus Christ. No amount of worry (tension) on our part will bring the results of us having allowed Christ to do the very thing he delights to do in our lives! We can RELAX because we know we are KEPT. When we realize we are being "kept", we begin to see it is not the "work" we do, but the work of Christ being done on our behalf.

- REST - everything's coming together. The first step to "rest" is in learning to "relax". When we hold on to some things so tightly, increasing the tension we interpret in the circumstance, we find it hard to rest. Why do we feel tension and the need to hold so tightly? It is because we think we have the responsibility to work out the details! There are tons of moments when all I could feel was tension mounting, interfering with whatever I needed to do.  It was not until I "relaxed" my grip on those things, placing them squarely in the hands of Jesus, that I began to be able to "rest". I had done all I knew to do myself - now, the results were up to God.

- OPEN YOUR HEARTS - love is on the way. The ability to relax and rest are tied to the ability to open our hearts! If you have ever tried to be open to love - receiving from another - when you are all tensed up, emotions in a bundle of knots, it is almost impossible, isn't it? If you have been engaged from sun up to sun down, finding it difficult to shut-off even when you need to sleep, you probably know what it is like to miss the opportunities to open up to love because you are so consumed by your inability to let go. Love IS on the way. In order to not miss it, we have to be open to it. When our hearts are crowded with cares and worries, we have little room for love - in fact, we often see it as just something "extra" we have to make room for! A long time ago, a friend gave me my first journal. Know what the cover said? "Open Heart, Open Home" - and the pages were completely blank - not even lined. You know what she was telling me? I don't need all the "lines" in life to be there! If I will just learn to relax and rest in Christ, I will be able to see the beauty he wants to create in this "home" of my heart!

Not sure where you are today in this moment, but I imagine some are struggling with tension far beyond what is good for you. In fact, you probably find yourself "winding up" so tight you cannot possibly "wind down"! Just remember - tension is only good for a little while - too much stretches us beyond our capacity to recover! Others are finding it difficult to rest - minds racing with all kinds of worries and cares. Trying to hit the "off-button" on these cares is like trying to stay ahead of the dandelions in the yard when you have a toddler who loves to blow those little white puffs of seeds into the air and watch with glee as they sail away! I learned a secret - using a "pre-emergent" keeps those pesky things from blooming in the first place! Maybe some "preemptive" action on your part will allow you to rest a little easier! Being open to love is both a condition of the mind (will) and heart (emotions). We only are OPEN when we "will" ourselves to be! Hearts hurt in the past often "tense up" in the present. Tense emotions don't often welcome new opportunities to experience love. Just sayin!

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