2 Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. 3 What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun? Eccl 1:2-3 (KJV)
King Solomon was the wisest king to rule over Israel, yet he remained unsatisfied with all that he did He was unhappy with all his accomplishments Wealth flowed into his kingdom’s coffers as freely as water fell from the sky, and yet he remained unhappy, seeing nothing worthy in anything he did. When money didn’t suffice, he turned to drink. When that didn’t work, he turned to pleasures of the flesh. When that didn’t work, he threw himself into his labors, and still nothing helped. Nothing made him happy. I find myself in that same rut sometimes. What’s the point? Nobody is seeing these words. Why bother writing them down? What do you gain by doing this? DING! There is where we go wrong. Happiness is not something you can gain for yourself. Happiness is given to you by God as a reward for faithful service. If you start into a venture wondering what you will gain from it, you probably won’t be gaining happiness out of it. Satisfaction, maybe. Maybe even pleasure, but not true happiness. Solomon realized this by the end of the book, but the first section makes you wonder if he is going to live long enough to learn. Gloom and doom rides him like a tangible cloud. The things that give you true happiness can’t be bought and they are treasures you will only find by giving of yourself.
With all my running around, and prepping for the convention Friday, I forgot it was Monday (until it was Tuesday). So I’m afraid it will be a retro post this week. Here is one of my favorites that was originally published in 2012 (wow has it been that long?);
I recently went to the eye doctor. Since I have worn glasses most of my life, I decided I was ready for a change. I tried contacts when I was younger, but they were the hard lenses and were a lot of trouble. With all the advances in the field of optometry, I thought I would give them another chance. I tried them today, and was amazed at how much clearer my vision was. I was also how much less of a hassle they have become. I started thinking about how much trouble I’ve had with my eyes and then realized that God was showing me things from another angle, yet again. I’ve always had eye trouble, and I’ve always had Itrouble. “I” tends to get in the way of so much that God wants for us. We think we know what “I” needs. We think we know what “I” wants, but when we get it, we are only happy long enough for the new to wear off of it. When God gives us things, they are things that keep on making us happy. The new never wears off of them and it fulfills us. I’ve been facing these “I” problems for the past couple of months without realizing it. “I” was focused too much on what “I” thought God wanted for me. “I” kept thinking “Why would God lead me this way?” when it seemed so contrary to the way “I” thought He would take me. “I” forgot that He knows better than “I”. “I” forgot that He can see farther than my “I” will ever be able to. I’ve finally decided I need to stop trying to see things through my “I’s” and just let Him lead the way. Amazing how a trip to the Eye Doctor can bring things into focus for you, isn’t it?
I have watched my wife struggle through different hardships. I have watched her triumph and I have watched her fail. I have seen the love she has in her heart for everyone, and I cannot help but stand in awe of her. She tirelessly helps her aunt, mother and father setting up doctor appointments, getting meds refilled, and making sure they get what they need when they need it. During all that she homeschools the boys, and takes care of the day to day stuff that is required to run a household, and all the while she maintains a positive attitude. She always has a smile for a friend or a hanky if one is needed, and she rarely meets a stranger. She gives so much of herself, and all I do is bring home the paycheck. This post is to say thank you to my wife for all that she does, and to say Happy Mother’s Day to all of you mothers out there who do these things with no expectations of repayment or thanks. Your work does not go unnoticed, and it has its own rewards I am sure. I just wanted to point the spotlight on you all for a bit.
The message yesterday was on Acts3. While I sat and listened to the preacher talk, the scene began to play out before my eyes. Those of you that have read and are familiar with the New Testament know the story I am talking about. The story of Peter and John as they came upon the lame man begging for money outside the temple gate, where Peter spoke those famous words; “Silver and gold have I none, but what I have I give to you also. In the name of Jesus Christ stand and walk.” Immediately the beggar’s legs were healed and he ran shouting the praises of God. As the story was played out on the screen in my head, I began to empathize with one of the players. This is one of the many ways God has spoken to me through the scriptures, so I waited with eager ears to hear what He was about to say. I wasn’t disappointed. I was surprised, and astounded by the vastness of my ignorance, tho. I expected to see something of me in Peter, or for something to resonate between me and John. I did NOT expect to empathize with the lame beggar. You see when Peter spoke to him, the beggar paid attention. He turned to Peter and John expecting money, something to live on for the next day, or if he was lucky, the next two or three days. These men of God had taken pity on him, and were going to give him something. This is the way I feel when God speaks to me. He has had pity on me and is going to give me something to help me through the trying times of this life. So when Peter said his famous words, it confused the beggar for a moment, and then he reached and took him by the hand. That is when God worked through Peter. Not just giving the beggar money, but giving him something worth sooo much more! The ability to walk! No more did he have to rely on the generousness of others to live. No more sitting and hoping that some man would take pity and help him. He turned to Peter expecting money, and received his Life instead. If we count on men, at best we can only get enough to get by for a few days. If we count on God, we need never worry about it again. After the service I was in awe of how I could miss such a message in all the times I had heard and read that story. Then I had to laugh. I realized that I was going to have to go home and tell my wife that God told me I was lame.
Someone once told me that there are three ways to tell if what you are doing is what you are supposed to be doing with your life. The first one was that it was something that made you happy. In other words it was something you couldn’t dream of ever NOT doing it. The second one was by an unmistakable stroke of providence the opportunity just fell into your lap, greatly improving your quality of life. And the third way was the one that I have focused on to help me grind through the years of doing things that I did not want to do in order to provide for my family. The third way was simply a lack of options. You see sometimes we have to travel the rough path in order to learn something that God wants us to know. Sometimes it is those thorns we have to wade through to continue on that whittles away the rough edges and prepares us for greater events a few more turns down the path. It is never a pleasant thing to realize, and if we had been given the choice (knowing what it was going to be like) I doubt that any of us would choose to go down that path. So if you are experiencing the thorns, or stumbling along the road think about the reason you are there. If it is because of one of your own choices, perhaps you need to rethink that decision. If it is because of a lack of options, this too shall pass. Endure and learn. It will prove useful a little farther down the road.
There is a secret that most anthropologists use in their study of different customs and cultures. That secret is the fact that regardless of how much you try to lessen the impact of your presence on your environment, you still change things just by being there. People will react differently around you. Animals will behave different than they normally would because you are there. Even if you try to hide your presence you are still affecting things around you. Wind has to change course because you are there displacing air. Even light reflects differently because you are there. You can’t change that. What you CAN change is HOW you affect things. You have two options. You can either make a positive or a negative impact. Just by keeping a positive attitude or making an improvement in the surroundings generate waves of the same type of energy all around you. Being negative will do the same, just with the opposite effect. Now some people do not care how their actions change their surroundings, because they make their changes and move on, never having to deal with the results. Some people do not realize they are changing things, and some wear blinders to how much change they cause (and a lot of times it does no good to try to explain it). I figure if I am going to make an impact on my surroundings, I want it to be a positive one. As long as we do that, life can get better for everyone. This is what Jesus was teaching with the Golden Rule. Do unto others as you would have done unto you. When you do this, you improve not only your life, but everyone and everything around you. So why not make a positive impact?
I don’t understand the ‘competitive’ nature of people. I have never been very competitive minded. I know that sounds odd coming from someone born and raised in the South, where everyone takes their team spirit to the extremes, but it is true none-the-less. Why? For the simple fact that ‘competitiveness’ is just another way of saying you are trying to be better than someone else, and I have never had that goal in mind. I am not trying to be better than anyone. I want very much to see my friends and family succeed in all of their endeavors (adding the qualifier that they are good and moral endeavors that will help them to better themselves). So when I hear the whispers (shouts in Alabama) of my team is better than yours or other such chants, my eyes usually glaze over and I lose interest very quickly. I have the same problem with video games that only offer deathmatch in the multiplayer side. I really don’t see the enjoyment of pounding your friend over and over again until it causes them to get mad. Where is the fun in that? I enjoy working together with people to solve problems and overcome situations for the betterment of ourselves, but I have found out over the years that I am kind of unique in my mindset, and that most people do not think that way. The way I see it, I have my accomplishments and you have yours. I do not judge my success by comparing the two. I am not writing this to bash anyone, just pondering things at my keyboard. Perhaps competitiveness is a good thing for some people because it motivates them to better themselves, but I choose to find motivation elsewhere.
Has anybody ever seen the movie “The Langoliers”? It was based off of Stephen King’s story. It was about these people in an airplane that slip sideways in time to yesterday, only to find out that yesterday was being ‘erased’ by these creatures. The premise of the story was that there is no yesterday, no tomorrow, there is only today. Time was just ‘now’ and all that happened in the past and all that was yet to happen didn’t exist. I don’t agree with the story on that point, but I do try to live like that. The Bible clearly states that we are not promised tomorrow (Proverbs 27-and to clarify the verse refers to tomorrow in these earthly mortal frames that we inhabit). Life is a fleeting thing, and we need to do all the good that we can while we are here. There is more than enough evil and sorrow in this fallen world, we need to stand fast and be bold in helping our neighbors. Tomorrow we may be gone and it may be our neighbors who are left to save those of our loved ones that come along after us. Just one act of kindness could mean the difference between a strong, joyful life and one lived in darkness and despair. It is never a bad thing to do good.
I remember back when I was growing up how I used to sing with the radio a lot. For a long time I never realized I had a decent singing voice. I would sing while I was driving, and while I was working, but I was usually by myself when I did it. Well, by myself or with people who would rather take a beating than give someone a compliment. Wouldn’t want to give them the big head now would we? Anyway, it was a long time before I realized it. Then I had to sing with a bunch of my classmates for Class Night. I remember the song was one of Journey’s, and I knew it pretty well. I used to sing along with it every time it came on. So while we were at rehearsal, I noticed one of my classmates staring at me with her mouth hanging open. It took me some time after the rehearsal was over before I realized why. Apparently I had been singing loud enough she could separate my voice from the others and she was amazed by what she heard. My point in relaying this story isn’t to brag, but to encourage. You see I didn’t know I could sing at the time and nobody told me. If you see someone doing something amazing, tell them about it. Who knows, they may not realize it either, and you just might make someone’s day.
I’ve always been a little forgetful. It’s usually because my mind is going in twenty different directions at once. No lie, I’ve got five different projects in the works right now. And that’s not counting my paying job. Anyway I proved to myself once again just how forgetful I can be this weekend. I was mad. I usually try to hook up on the net with my son who is out of state. We try to play a game together and just be part of one another’s lives over the great distances between us, but this particular weekend my router was determined not to cooperate. Apparently some of the settings had gotten scrambled (not exactly accurate, but close enough to give you the idea) and it was preventing us from playing. It was the first time me and my son would have been able to play in several weeks, so I was really disappointed. And I said so in no uncertain terms and with a few words I shouldn’t have towards my router. What I had forgotten was the fact that I was lucky to have that router. Late last year a thunderstorm came through and fried my old router, and I didn’t have the money to replace it. My mom just happened to have an old one she wasn’t using. That little fact had slipped my mind as I searched, poked and prodded, changing settings and fuming because it wasn’t working like I wanted it to, when I wanted it to. Forgetting to be thankful for even having it. I finally got it working right (after many a headache), but I still feel bad about having forgotten to be thankful.