The Deeper Do
Divisive school board meetings, inflation, war in Ukraine, COVID, systemic racism, politics, climate change, red tide, hurricanes, growing old, poverty and the list goes on and on. All realities that each of us face every single day, whether directly or indirectly. Life is fraught with pitfalls, disappointments and struggles. Most of which we are utterly powerless to change. We are all simply victims of life, as we know it.
True, as individuals, we are powerless to stop wars, inflation, pandemics and the like. Yet, as individuals, we have to figure out a way to live in spite of wars, inflation, pandemics and the like. We have to find a way to live in this world. Not simply to be alive in this world. Embracing, as Reinhold Niebuhr once prayed:
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things that I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that you will make all things right if I surrender to your will; so that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with you forever in the next. Amen.”
In today’s context, Niebuhr’s prayer has been relegated to the world of the addicted. Yet, there is a peace in this prayer that is applicable in all of our lives. This prayer has been dubbed “The Serenity Prayer”. For it leans into the peace that we can all find, in God. A peace that we can all find in the midst of a life that we are largely powerless to change.
So, let’s say you are now living into accepting the things that you cannot change, changing the things you can and basking in the wisdom to know the difference. You are being “The Serenity Prayer”. For this is who you are. Yet, you still face a very important question. A question that daily must be asked and answered. “What do I do?”
Understand that your answer to this question goes well beyond getting up, brushing your teeth, taking a shower, going to work, going to school, going to church, volunteering at the hospital, playing golf, etc. Yes, all of these activities are a part of the answer. Yet, deeper down, below all of these daily, necessary activities, there is a deeper do.
A deeper do that reflects the fact that you are being The Serenity Prayer. A deeper do that reflects the peace that you have, in Jesus, in the midst of this life. A deeper do that embraces the love of God, that you have experienced through the saving grace of Jesus. This deeper do is hospitality.
In the midst of the stuff of life that you can change. And the stuff of life that you can’t change. The deeper do of hospitality is your mission. Hospitality meaning that you do what you can to combat the view that anyone is in this life alone.
Relationship is the key. The key to peace. The key to serenity. The key that unlocks the door to living in a world where there is so much that you can’t change.
Did you know that, according to several different studies on this topic, the mortality rate associated with loneliness, or the feeling that you are in this life alone, is higher than that of obesity and equivalent to smoking fifteen cigarettes a day? This is disturbing. But it’s also something that you can control. Or at least control in your corner of the world. It’s something you can do, in the midst of a life filled with things about which you can’t control. You can practice hospitality. You can help someone else know that they aren’t in this life alone.
Hospitality is your deeper do. Walking with others, who like you, are struggling to live into Niebuhr’s prayer. Walking with others, who like you, want to live in this world. Not simply to be alive in this world.