Less and Less

The vocabulary of the business world often helps us understand not just business, but life. One of its newer phrases is "managing the decline," which Wikipedia defines as "the management of the decline (or 'sunset') phase at the end of a lifecycle, with the goal of minimizing costs or other forms of losses and harm." In other words, decline is a given. What are you going too do about it?

In two weeks, I turn 51. Physically, I am very active - push-ups, squats, stretching, running, walking biking, a little weight lifting - but if I am honest with myself, I know my peak is past. I will never run a better mile time, I will never be as flexible as I once was. Physically, I am "managing the decline."

And hope? I don't want to say my hope is declining, but I do have to say I am working with less and less  evidence that the changes we all long for (peace, safety, justice, faith in God among all peoples) will be established any time soon. Like the disciples in the boat with Jesus in Luke 8, I see storms: war around the world, tensions within our nation, difficulties at work, the constant challenge to communicate better within my own growing family. Whether these things can be said to be in "decline" is open to debate. What is not a debate is that they are significant challenges and that my ability to "wish them away" is declining.

It is much easier to have faith when you are an optimist. "Yea, things are bad, but they are going to get a lot better! Soon!" It is much harder to have faith when you must begin to say, yes, the Kingdom is coming, but it may not be in my lifetime.

The choice then, is whether we panic, as the disciples did, screaming, "Master, Master, we are sinking!" (v. 24), or whether we face our fears, accept the challenges and  respond, as Jesus did, with a faith that the God of the universe is with us, even in the midst of real storms, real pain, real heartache and persistent trouble. Storms and pain, at least for now, are a given. Our work is to find the faith to weather them.

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