Steve Macchia Blog

The Gift of Laryngitis

sunrise 1

 

Today was my first experience of laryngitis. It was odd trying to have a meeting on the phone this morning with my board chairman…he did all the talking and I did all the listening; the meeting didn’t last very long without my input on our most important topics. It was especially uncomfortable attending a significant lunch meeting downtown with some key supporters of our ministry and I had to rely on my colleagues to speak for me. Later in the day I was on skype with our senior vice president and whispered each of my contributions to the discussions. Dinner with my wife was enjoyable, mostly because our love was shared by making the meal together and enjoying one another’s companionship even with our limited verbal interactions.

 

I can only imagine what it was like when God allowed Zechariah to wait for the birth of his son John in silence. He questioned with disbelief the angel Gabriel’s birth announcement, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” For the next nine months he would serve his priestly role without words, using sign language and writing out his words. When the child was born and prepared for his circumcision both Elizabeth and Zechariah declared his name would be John. Then Zechariah’s voice returned. And he praised God. His soul must have been bursting with anticipation of the day he could voice his devotion once more.

 

What followed was the song of his heart, as he declared his praise to God as one filled up with the Holy Spirit. “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people…he has raised up a horn of salvation…to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant…in holiness and righteousness…because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.” (Luke 1: 67-79).  Out from his months of silence, his words were laced with praise.

 

Did Zechariah experience community, prayerfulness and worship amidst his muted months without words? I’m convinced the answer is a resounding “Yes!” Why? Because it’s absolutely amazing how much community and depth of soul can be experienced without saying many words. Try going for a full day without verbally expressing yourself and instead devote the day to pondering, reflecting, wondering, and noticing. It’s amazing what you’ll see, hear, taste, smell and touch as if for the very first time.  Let your senses come alive in God and then give him all the glory, honor and praise.

 

Behold the abundant life of God, but today do so without words. Believe that the spiritual life is something far deeper than the noisy world around you. Belong to those who’ve been silenced for a while in order to contemplate God more deeply. Become a person who experiences the Triune God in all the richness of fellowship and with all your senses coming alive from the inside out. Wait upon the Lord, even if it means a lot more silence along the way. Praise be to the Lord, who has come so that we can have fullness of life now and for all eternity.



The Deeper Life

Hands Holding a Seedling and Soil

 

The winter of 2015 was Boston’s snowiest on record. From late January until early March, we had 108.6 inches of the white stuff fall from the sky and blanket all corners of our landscape. The snow was incredibly deep everywhere…roadways, walkways, driveways, and pathways, curtailing most (sometimes all) forms of transportation. It also consumed our lives, which came to a near standstill for those debilitating 6 weeks as the snow became our daily focus of attention…and obsession.

 

When I finally got someone to help me shovel about 4-6 feet that had accumulated on our roof, it took a strapping young 25 year old (and me!) the better part of a day to clear just the back of the house. We struggled to make our way from the driveway to the side of the house where we could place the ladder, inching our way through waist high snow one laborious step at a time. We chopped ice dams, raked high points, and hand shoveled the rest. The piles below were ginormous, and we worried further about the net negative impact on our home. With little sunshine and very few above freezing temperatures, it took forever to melt. Today we’re getting insurance estimates and contractors to repair the damages inside and out…it’s been quite the ordeal.

 

What’s interesting about the depth of this year’s snow is that it became deeper and deeper because of accumulation. And, the more it piled up the deeper it became and the greater the distraction it created for most aspects of our lives.

 

So it is in our world today: depth is encouraged by the pursuit of accumulation of “more, more, more” as the ongoing goal. It’s also become true in the church world. We’ve succumbed to the belief that the more people we serve, the more programs we sponsor, the more dollars we raise, the more hours we labor, and the more buildings we erect, the greater our chances of success. Deeper pockets occur by accumulation; and accumulation of wealth (in any form) is what tends to create the most distraction. The end result: the more the distractions, the greater the distance we experience with God.

 

Therefore, we need to look carefully at the term “the deeper life” and define it biblically. Depth of soul, or the deeper life, has nothing to do with accumulation of the tangible. Instead, it has everything to do with simplifying our lives down to the “one thing” that matters most, which is the intangible affection we have for God and God alone.  If you continue to pursue more and more accolades, accomplishments, achievements and the accumulation that follows, you will not experience the deeper life. If God chooses to encourage you with any form of tangible blessing, that’s his choice and not of your making.

 

When Jesus walked planet earth he had his followers and his detractors. Those who chose to listen, obey and submit to his love and leadership entered the inner circle of intimacy with Christ. In that inner circle they were taught to love with their whole heart, die to their false selves, and release the ways of this world that hinder complete access to the love of God. In other words, they were wholeheartedly urged to walk away from worldly aspirations for accumulation and embrace instead a Kingdom mindset focused on sweet surrender to the extravagant love of God.

 

The deeper life is what we’re asked to consider each time Jesus teaches about the Kingdom of God. And the deeper we go with God the deeper we enter into the geography of the soul via hiddenness, humility, submission and wholeness. These places are activated by a longing for more of God’s empowering presence, more of the spiritual practices that lead us into a life of prayer, more of the Sabbath rest he commands, and more of the fulfillment of our God-ordained purpose for which we’ve been placed on this earth to fulfill. What is your response today? Will you reconsider a life of accumulation and distraction, and instead pursue a life of intimacy, love, and the delightful inheritance that awaits you now and forever?

 

Behold the deeper life Jesus lived with every breath he took and every word he spoke, and believe once more that what he asked of his disciples then he requires of us today. Belong to the inner circle community of the faithful ones and become a Christ-follower who is willing to abandon the pursuit of accumulation and embrace instead the one thing that matters most to your soul and the Kingdom of God.

 

 



Remembering Dad

your-dad-did

 

Today (4.14.15) my father would have turned 100 years old. Instead, he’s enjoying eternity with Jesus. His name was Italo Macchia…no middle name. Italo means “son of Italy” – it doesn’t get much more Italian than that!  When I was born, he wanted me named “Italo Oscar Macchia” (Oscar was my much beloved maternal grandfather). Thankfully, Mom said no to that idea. I’m profoundly grateful. I can’t imagine how different my life would have been if I wasn’t Stephen Anthony.

 

Our names mean so much to us. They are indeed a big part of our identity. Try renaming yourself just for fun and you’ll see what I mean. Imagine yourself as a Julia or a Joseph, a Rachel or a Rueben. Something about being called a wrong name simply makes you twitch! Instead, let’s be glad we have the names we have. They fit us well…or, we fit them well.

 

When I reflect on the Bible, and recount my favorite stories, I think of the names of people I revere. Adam. Noah. Joseph. Moses. Ruth. David. Isaiah. Nehemiah. Habakkuk. John. Peter. Barnabas. Paul. Mary. Each name brings up storylines and character traits, failures and accomplishments. And I thank God for each of them, windows into my own life story.

 

What about you? What is it about your name that defines who you are as a uniquely created child of God? Who in the Bible do you most appreciate, and why? What does the name Christian mean to you in this ever growing religiously pluralistic world we inhabit?

 

Behold the One who knows you by name and loves you with an infinite, matchless love. Believe once more that He holds your life safely in the palms of His loving hands. Belong to the lineage of generations who love their adopted name Christian. Become the fullness of your own name, as well as the meaning and purpose your life is designed to fulfill.



Requesting your feedback!

Dear Friend,

 

Thanks for joining me on this 42-day Lenten blog journey. I truly hope you enjoyed receiving these short devotionals each day.

 

And now, I’d be grateful for your feedback…

 

If you could take a few minutes to send me an email at Macchia@leadershiptransformations.org please answer:

 

  1. Approximately how many of the 42 blogs did you get to read?
  2. How did these devotionals impact your walk with God during Lent?
  3. Would you recommend my blogs to your friends and family?

 

New postings are forthcoming, but I’m taking a break from “daily” reflections.  Look for new entries “as inspiration strikes” or at least weekly!

 

Your grateful brother in Christ,

 

Steve Macchia

Founder and President

Leadership Transformations