I love the extravagant splash of Fall colours. The sun rises or sets and the field narrows, it becomes targeted by cloud cover and the brilliance becomes breathtaking; oranges, yellows myriads of green all exploding on the nearby hills.
But then, there is also the bland and the barren in copious amounts. The scorched black and grey, brownish and overcoming, all-encompassing reminders of a terrifying day; The ‘Beast’ took its toll. So we are left with a painful reality that both exist, beauty and the ‘Beast.’
Where will you look? What will capture your focus?
It is impossible but that you will see. It is totally a choice as to where you look
Go for the colour. Go for the splash!
Life can get extremely stressful. We can struggle with agendas, time restraints, expectations, shortfalls, and so much more.
It is so easy to get caught in the swirl of the immediate, the tyranny of the urgent, and the ‘have to’ of the moment. After all, everyone expects it now.
It’s true; things have to get done, budgets need to balance, deadlines have to be met, commitments need to be kept. Stack onto this loss, failure and missed moments and you have a volcano ready to blow! And that is just the workplace.
Now come home to what feels like a litany of expectations and family commitment. At times, it can be just overwhelming. It can be hard to hold or regain equilibrium.
This locomotion of this multi-car freight train seems impossible to control.
How do you stop this menace?
Years ago now, I managed to locate my house from a flight as we flew over our city. I measured it with my thumb as I looked out the window. My thumb covered my entire property. I said to myself, “I am spending my whole life working for something that I can cover with my thumb?”
How do I wrestle my life back into perspective? How do I regain balance and margin?
I guess I have to ask myself the hard, revealing and penetrating questions.
What am I really working for?
What, rather who, matters?
I want to spend my life for who and for what is most important.
I tried to bring tomorrow’s worries onto today’s grid. That can even work sometimes, but not when you have a full load today; all that does is overload, blow circuits and cause the angst to skyrocket.
I know better.
I would coach you differently.
Without even thinking; actually that is the problem, I was not thinking.
Possibly like you I was just going along ‘handling’ my day. As more things presented, I just added them to the ‘handling’ stack. No thought, no challenge, just piling them higher, deeper, thicker.
All at once they hit, and I was feeling overwhelmed. I’m glad that I’m the only one who has ever done that. But then I started to think and filter but first I prayed, “Lord I am feeling overwhelmed right now.”
As I filtered, I thought:
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34, NIV)
“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16, NIV) That grace to help interprets to me, “God’s enablement” to help in our time of need.
This one I kind of stole from Moses’ blessing to Asher, “The bolts of your gates will be iron and bronze, and your strength will equal your days.” (Deuteronomy 33:25)
These filters allowed me to equalize my tanks and recalibrate my pressure. Now you can do the same.
We have everything we need to cope and manage for today. We, however, overload the day when we borrow worry from tomorrow.
Come back to the moment. As often as you need to, come back to the present. Actually, come back to His Presence. He has Grace, Enablement, more than sufficient to meet you and to help you.
So much of my life has had to do with the retrofit, examining and reflecting. This pondering and taking stalk has proven to be invaluable; but, once you have figured out how you ‘roll’ then you have to begin the action of rolling.
What is the plan? What are the steps? How do I break it down into the bite-size pieces? Who do I need to partner with to make it happen? What do I need to avoid? When am I going to start? When will I accomplish my goals? What will the accomplishment of these goals look like?
This ‘getting it done’ is where I need to live. These are the next steps for me.
Not just a vision, though imperative; not just a dream, though essential, just a well laid-out, step-by-step, growing plan that has been initiated and is what I follow.
There is ample opportunity to cut corners, to cheat, to ‘score,’ to sell the flawed dressed up as the perfect, after all, everyone else is doing it, or are they?
I can hear my dad in my ears, “Well if everyone else was jumping off a bridge would you do it?”
The answer is supposed to be ‘no,’ but I’ve grown up in a culture that actually jumps off bridges and pays someone for the opportunity. So the point gets clouded and indistinct. I see a culture today where there is a lot of ‘fuzz’ and not enough clarity.
Where are the Daniel’s of our day, the three Hebrew children? Where are the uncompromising, the integral, the honest if you will?
When it seems not to matter when no one appears to be looking, where are the men and women who play it straight?
As soon as I catch a hint of vision, of something great, I want to be there sooner than later.
Raised around the push-button culture, I have been affected. If it takes more than a second for a screen to pop up on the internet, I start double clicking buttons and seeing if I can speed it up a bit. Oh yes, we expect instant, immediate, and we can even marshal a Broadband Speed Test to verify our angst.
We are the result of our past culture and have continued to perpetuate impatience in our present.
Even though the foot tapping and fingernail clicking pass the time as we wait, it is counterproductive for what is important.
There probably isn’t a person who doesn’t want to change in some regard in their life. This desire makes itself evident from marketing in our culture and purchase financing that accompanies it; we are looking for the missing ingredient to change and make our lives better, faster, more comfortable, efficient, and more desirable.
The fact is the part isn’t missing. The component is age-old, and it works at the speed of change as it has for many millennia.
It works through a chain of events that are intrinsically linked. These work with precision and accuracy and may well be one of the only ways that lasting change can happen.
The chain is this: suffering, trials, and faith testing -> perseverance, maturity, character, and completeness -> hope, not lacking anything. (James 1:4, Romans 5:3-5, NIV)
I would rather push a button as I would bet you would as well; this is why many swear off on our generation and say that once you become an adult, you don’t or can’t change.
But, you can! Do you want to change? Do you really want to become the person you vision in your dreams?
The formula then is: suffering -> perseverance -> character -> and hope. It may not be inviting, but it doesn’t have to be negative. The label will ultimately identify the attitude you take toward the discomfort that comes with true change. That label is what you determine, either positive or negative.
Here’s the thought; keep the focus on who you want to be and process these uncomfortable requirements. You won’t have to hunt them down; they will present themselves to you soon enough. The result of this three to four step process will be a new hope and new future, but not right now. Process.
I don’t know enough. That is probably true. But, what do you know?
I don’t have enough experience. That could also be true. But, what experience do you have?
I don’t know what to say. In a moment of stress or pressure, everyone can fish for words. What can you say?
I am not qualified. If I were living from your vantage point, I would probably say the same thing. But, what are you qualified for?
Isn’t it amazing the excuses we come up with when life faces us with a challenge or an edge? The dodge, the excuse, the hiding to let someone else step up, is very human. You will find it as far back as the ancient deliverer/emancipator, Moses.
Moses gave up all the excuses. His self-worth was so non-existent that it was based on someone else’s self. He wanted God to choose someone else, anyone else, but God wouldn’t let up.
God asked him, “What do you hold in your hand?” Moses held a stick, a dead piece of wood and you thought that you didn’t have anything to offer. With that stick, God engineered one of the biggest people movements in history. It’s an amazing story, good for a reread. (Exodus).
So here we sit some thirty-two hundred-ish years later, and we have the same excuses.
The difference? We are so much more endowed with greatness and great opportunities. Our technologies put us leap years ahead of anyone from that former era. We can learn, read, and apprehend at a pace profoundly greater.
There is something else the same. We have the same God. Again, he has endowed us with greater access to him than back then. We now have an audience with the Master of the Universe with just a simple request. Phenomenal.
So really, what is your excuse?
What is it you have in your hand? Could it be that it is precisely the thing, the talent, the knowledge that God is looking for?
Any chance you are willing to lay it down, and give it to God?
Today I was made aware that there has been conversation about me. How many? How often? I’m not sure. But, one of my colleagues was relaying to me a conversation she had with another former colleague that I do not immediately remember. She was trying to describe me to him.
“Oh, the Dutch guy with the wooden shoes,” he exclaimed.
I’m not Dutch, or not mostly, but I do wear wooden shoes quite often. I had to laugh that people ‘wood’ talk about my shoes.
Just as an aside, wooden shoes are excellent for posture and foot support, and, they are very comfortable. Just saying.
But this comment got me thinking. How much of my path, my walk, my life is observed? Some of these answers may never become evident or communicated, but I would venture, most, if not all of my life is under observation or even scrutiny by someone somewhere and at various times.
Then the next question that presents itself to me is, “What am I communicating with my life?”
I think it was Chip Ingram who asked, “If I follow you will I get to Christ, or will I get somewhere else?”
That’s a great question. I’m trying to answer it with my life, not just my shoes, but also my entire walk.
My wife and I just travelled much of yesterday and through the night last night. We journeyed for nineteen hours all in, to set ourselves up for the next week, month, year and years; my wife for a major trip, myself for a major course for credentialing, and to help my two daughters for a significant shift in their locations.
The key is that we couldn’t do anything for any of that without a change of our position. The location change is temporary but vital and necessary for the accomplishment of all those goals.
I’ve heard the phrase, so you must have too, “Location, Location, Location.” From the phrase, from the emphasis, location is a huge deal, but it is.
Our place we hold in life, the place we currently are and the place we need to be is location or attitudinal particular.
What changes do you need to make to prepare your readiness, your availability, your centre of operation? What trip do you need to make in your thoughts or attitudes to be proximal for your next move or project?
Faith filled living is all about trajectory and movement towards the object of our faith, Christ.
Take a moment and check your setting. Get proximal to his purpose for your life. If necessary, make the plans and get moving.
Some people are ready to quit. Some are ready to exceed expectations. Some people are ready to leave, and others are ready to stay. A few are ready to go back to bed. Then there are those that are ripe-ready to get angry. (That would be someone else). Others are party-bursts waiting to happen.
What are you ready for?
Getting ready has an action attached even if you haven’t thought about it or don’t realize it.
If you knew that I was coming to pick you up for dinner, not just any dinner but we are going to dinner at your favorite spot with your favorite sports hero, or movie star, you would immediately start preparing.
Your preparation would start with your dreams then it would move to the order of your day and what has to happen and then it would be the practical steps to make yourself ready. Nothing has changed in your day up until this moment, just information. But you would immediately start your list in mind preparation. Immediately.
If I then showed up at your door at the appointed time with my sandals, t-shirt, and swimsuit only to inform you that we were going to the beach instead, you most likely would be angry. Why? You would be upset because you believed me and then took the appropriate time to get ready. You already were taking action for the dream that was playing in your mind.
Well, here is some enormously important information.
God has great plans for you. He wants to move you and your heart-dreams ahead. He wants you to prosper with no downside. He wants your heart to look ahead in hope to a bright future.
Jeremiah gave this promise in the middle of a prophecy to the people of Israel. They were in hard times and some of those times were going to get even harder.
Right into the middle of their pain, God speaks this promise through Jeremiah.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV)