Michael Bischoff was the scheduled speaker at semi-programmed meeting for worship on January 24, 2016
Matthew 6:34 (the Message)
Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow.
About 20 years ago, in this room, I first discovered and started living into the practice of giving my entire attention to what God is doing right now. Coming here changed my life.
I have done lots of awkward fumbling in that practice since then – and I am as grateful for the discovery of that path as anything else in my life. I keep learning that even when I’m confused or distracted in that practice, God’s grace is generous.
I moved to Minneapolis 21 years ago to start working at Friends for a Non-Violent World. Before I moved to Minneapolis, I had never lived in a town that had a Quaker meeting. When I sat in unprogrammed worship in this room, it slowly started to feel like I was plugging into an energy source.
I especially remember how grounded and radiant George Watson looked as he sat in worship. I wanted what he had. What several people here seem to have. I learned that George was paying attention to what was happening right now in ways I wasn’t, and also paying attention to the opportunity for a next step that could move us closer to what was true and loving.
One thing especially stood out to me in this new practice of noticing what God was doing. There was a young woman who also went to unprogrammed worship.
Even though we hadn’t talked, it seemed like what God is doing was weaving our hearts together. Months went by. We still hadn’t talked, but I finally got up my courage, and I called her to invite her to a young adult friends event. Her roommate answered and said that she moved out of state that same week. I was confused by that because it didn’t fit with my understanding of what God was doing. But, a couple years later, I moved closer to Twin Cities Friends Meeting and started going to worship there. It turns out there was a different young woman who seemed to glimmer there, and I was sure God was weaving our hearts together. This time, with some patience and persistence, she eventually also thought God was weaving our hearts and lives together. We got married and lived happily ever after.
Even though I was confused and might’ve misinterpreted what God was doing, God’s grace was generous and forgiving.
Fast forward 18 years, I found out that I had an aggressive kind of brain cancer. After 18 years of very imperfect practice of giving my entire attention to what God is doing right now, I knew I wanted that practice to be the foundation for my healing path with cancer. The path that I discovered and began here is bearing rich fruit. And I’m still often confused and distracted on that path, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Last Wednesday, I found out that my blood counts plummeted, which meant I had to stop chemo. I was also afraid my tumor was growing, which might mean I have only a few months to live. It seemed like what God was doing with me in that moment was asking me to let go of assumptions about how long I might live, and let go of my to-do lists, and return every moment to savor God’s love and the love around me. Not that I think God made my blood counts go down, but I did experience that sacred companion with me, inviting me to pay attention to the sacred opportunity in that moment.
As the Bible verse says, “don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow.”
Then the next day, on Thursday, I got another blood test, and my key blood counts went up more than 20%, and I started taking chemo again. The day before might’ve been a lab error, but that day it seemed like God was reminding me of the abundance of grace way, beyond my imagination, and reminding me to celebrate life. I think both messages are true – let go of my assumptions about what will be, and celebrate God’s abundance.
Whatever way the path curves, I know that practice I began living into here of giving my entire attention to what God is doing, is a treasure beyond measure. I want to thank you for being a part of cultivating and passing on that treasure.