Archive for December, 2018

Top – By Way of the Bottom

December 30, 2018

This posting is another attempt at explaining the unexplainable things we sometimes encounter in life.

I believe that most people, perhaps, not all, reach a place in life where they feel they have reached ‘bottom’.    When I say ‘bottom’, as I do many times in this post, it could mean many things to many people, and is hard to pin down as a definition.  But, let’s just say that reaching ‘bottom’ can take a variety of forms – medical, health, financial, relationships, pressure/stress, unemployment, under-employed, debt, problems with the law, etc…

To summarize reaching ‘bottom’ means a loss of hope, loss of self-esteem, sometimes loss of possessions or money, and leaves one feeling empty or in despair.

But, sometimes — just sometimes — the only only way to reach the top is by way of the ‘bottom’.  In fact in Navy Seal training if you don’t know how to reach bottom you will die during some of their endurance trials.

Take a swimming pool with about 12 feet of water in it, tie some men’s hands behind their back and throw them in the deep end for about 5 minutes.  The proper method for surviving this test is to follow a simple procedure.  You let air out so your body will drop to the bottom, once on the bottom you shove off towards the surface where in the brief moment your head is above water you take in more air.  And then you repeat that process for at least 5 minutes, bobbing up and down.  If you panic or struggle to try and reach the surface any other way, you might just drown or at minimum flunk the test.

Reaching bottom is not the end.  It may look like the end, and it may feel like the end, but if you don’t panic and use the bottom to shove yourself upwards, you just might make it.  Things, however, don’t change overnight, and sometimes patience and commitment are also required.  But, take hope, my friend, many have reached bottom and have managed to come out ok.  There are things to learn while on the bottom.  There are lessons to be applied.  There are changes we need to make.  We must find the courage to press on.

I know — a little unusual posting this time, but there is someone, somewhere who just might need this.

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Different Strokes For Different Folks

December 28, 2018

After writing over 600 blog postings I feel I have probably covered this subject before, so bear with me if this sounds like a possible repeat.  The good news to my faithful readers, is that though I may talk about the same subject multiple times, I rarely duplicate the exact same language or sub-topics, and even introduce new ones.

It occurs to me that it would be simple to apply the same rules to everyone, and to somehow think God does the same.  While there are areas where God applies the same rules there are many areas that are very specific to the individual.  What God requires of me, may not compare with what God requires of you.  Much of what God requires of me depends on what He has tasked me with doing, what resources I have at my disposal, what my capabilities are, and what ‘curve balls’ life sends my way.  These are very individual things, and cannot be placed in comparison with anyone else.

Only God knows what each individual faces, the trials they endure, the temptations they fight, the opportunities they are given, and if the final result meets His expectations.

The simple fact that I was born and raised in the United States versus Ethiopia gives me both opportunities and obligations that someone born in another part of the world may not have.  I didn’t earn this right, nor do I somehow deserve this blessing, it was part of God’s plan for me.

Let’s not get confused — with great blessings come great responsibilities.  To whom much is given, much is required.  So, it also stands to reason that to whom little is given, little is required.

So, what is my point?  Well, I have several that I would like to make in this short posting:

  1. It is not right, nor expected, that you should measure your life against someone else’s.  Whether you think you are better or worse than they are is not your call to make.  Be careful how you judge others…
  2. You don’t know what other people are facing in the their life.  They may be facing financial hardships, relationship hardships, health issues, mental or emotional distress, or a myriad of other things.
  3. In the final analysis only God, Himself, will be able to make the statement, “well done thou good and faithful servant”….  Why?  Because only He understands all the elements of our life, and what challenges we have faced, where we have failed, and where we have succeeded.  He is the only one qualified to make the call.

All that said, we must also understand we must agree to follow certain rules, and that these rules are applied to everyone.  Just because I’m facing personal hardships does not give me the right to mistreat someone else.

God gives us a code of conduct to follow, and regardless of intelligence, wealth, poverty, or health issues, He expects us to apply ourselves to this code.  When the time comes to face Him and give an account, it is doubtful that excuses will factor in.  What is clear is that it will only matter what we have done with what we have been given that will make a difference.  And from everything I can gather, burying your talent and thinking everything will be ok, is the worst thing you can do.

 

Who’s Keeping Score?

December 11, 2018

Sometimes it can feel like our best efforts are not yielding any positive results.  We do the best we can, but it often is simply not enough, or at least, not enough to make a difference.

We sometimes pray for individuals and see no visible results.  We even visit hospitals to find the patients we went to visit have either been released or have been moved.

We give to the homeless and less fortunate, but seldom see the results of our efforts.  We give words of encouragement, but are not really sure if they made any impact, or changed anything at all.

We say, “Thank you”, to the checker for giving us our receipt and change, but they’re typically too busy or distracted to take notice.

We help the little old lady to carry her groceries to her car, or open the door for her.

No one is seeking reward for these things, and we often do these things, and many more, not for the thanks, but just because it is the right thing to do.

But, on occasion, it is normal to ask, “Is anyone keeping score?”, or are my words and actions without meaning or significance?

The answer is, yes, there is a score keeper, and He keeps very fine details.  There is nothing that goes unnoticed by Him, no matter how large, or how small.  There is a small catch, though….

You are not likely to see 90% of the results of your efforts, prayers, or giving in this lifetime.  In other words, the vast majority of the results of your words, actions, and prayers will not be fully seen until the Great Accountant tallies up your final score card.

In fact, the things that are done without show or visible reward, will receive direct compensation from God Himself.  You are gathering ‘treasure’ that is stored and waiting for you in heaven.

Of course, we’d like to receive all the benefits now.  And we do receive some benefits now, but the vast majority is laid up in store to be given by God Himself at the proper time.

The scripture tells us that Abraham looked for a city, whose builder and maker was God.  However, we seldom discuss the fact Abraham never found that city while he was alive.  But, rest assured, Abraham was not disappointed, and will live forever in that city built by God.

The real question is do we believe, or is it only the things we can see with our physical eyes that we believe in?  Remember the words of Paul the Apostle – “the things which are seen are temporary, but the things that are not seen are eternal”.