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 a not-so-well-kept secret. At times my mood tends to turn dark and everything I look at is pointless. For a while I thought I might be bipolar, but eventually I came to realize that I was just one of many people that feel that way I think they call themselves writers). I’m never really sure what triggers it. Everything is going along fine, and suddenly the good ship lollipop begins to sink into the mire and the rainclouds of doom and gloom move in. Over the years I have learned to recognize when I am descending into the ‘valley’ between the waves. If I actively look at all the positive things going on , I may not be able to stop it, but I can at least lessen the grip of despair that use to envelope me. I don’t always succeed, and I would like to give each one of my family a medal for putting up with me during those times. Times when they stand in front of the waves of despair bracing themselves behind shields of positive comments, and generous actions forcing a way through those storms to keep me from drowning. They really have no idea how much they bolster my confidence, how much they help me through the darkness. They are my best defense against the depressions of life. They are invaluable to me. If you know somebody that suffers these bouts, maybe you can remember this post and it will help you understand. Maybe you can be their invaluable friend or family member. Maybe you can be their best defense
When I was little I had a favorite jacket. It was a blue jean jacket and I wore it all the time. Looking back now I really couldn’t tell you why, but at the time it was very valuable to me. I wore it until it became too small, and then I cut the sleeves out of it and made a vest, which I wore a long time. I wore it until the collar began to fray and come apart. Mom had often told me to get rid of that jacket. She told me it wasn’t worth anything, but I wouldn’t listen. It was my favorite jacket, and it was worth something to me. Human beings are funny like that. We place value on things and refuse to listen to anyone that says there is no value there. Yet at the same time we allow others to place value on us as individuals. We listen to them say how worthless we are, or we believe them when they say we are stupid or lazy. All the while we forget that what is of value in is will not be judged by other people, but by God alone. So if we won’t listen to people about how valuable an item is, why do we listen when they place a value on us?
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.
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?