Category Archives: Courage

Dealing With Life’s Most Persistent Question: Part 8

Sunset rolling farm fields Portrait along Hwy 90 near Ritzville WA 4-29-15On the Emmaus Road, late afternoon shadows lengthened as Cleopas and his buddy were walking along and asking questions—probably rhetorical questions. They may or may not have expected answers, but they needed to ask the questions. Their questions represent the dilemmas many of us face in the journey of life:

  •  “What are we going to do now? What is going to happen to us?”
  • “If He did rise from the dead, how did he do it?”
  •  “Why did this happen to a good guy like Jesus? He didn’t deserve to suffer like that.”

The Bible says “they communed together and reasoned…” (Luke 24:15, kjv). The Greek word for “reasoned” is suzeteo and means “make a thorough investigation.” These guys wanted to know what was going on. They were posing the questions of suffering that everybody asks at one time or another.

First, we want to know “What happened?” or “How did this happen?” This is the quest for details. We want to understand fully the whole story. Like hearing the news of a friend’s sudden death, we want to understand how it happened. Was it an accident or a sudden illness? We want to know who, what, when, and where. Details of information will be passed back and forth to satisfy our need to know.

Second, “Why did this happen?” This is a more profound question, and one that consistently persists. Once we know how, we want to know why. The “why” questions are always the most difficult, indeed they are life’s most persistent questions. They often defy solution. We search for reasons. Like Cleopas and his buddy, we investigate and seek answers, even though they often can’t be found in the here and now.

  • “Why did Jesus return to Jerusalem if He knew people wanted to kill him?”
  • “Why did Peter deny Jesus?”
  • “Why did Judas betray Jesus and then kill himself?”
  • “Why didn’t Jesus stop the people who were killing him?”
  •  “Why didn’t we all stick together?”

When we are troubled, it is helpful to remember that Jesus walks with us on our journey of life. He is never distant or far away. While these disciples were walking along and trying to figure things out, Jesus drew near to them. During troubled times we may think God is a million miles away. Panic sets in when we feel abandoned. We don’t usually make good decisions when we are in a state of panic or fear. And fear makes a poor lens for viewing life. It distorts reality and magnifies problems. It makes God appear to be far away while trouble appears to be next door.

Jesus is as close as the mention of his name. The Bible is full of promises about God’s nearness and comfort during our times of sorrow and grief. The journey may get rough at times, but Jesus will strengthen our faith as we recognize his presence and trust the promises of Scripture:

  • God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)
  • God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. (Acts 17:27)
  • For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5, nkjv)
  • … surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:20)
  • Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9, nkjv)

Never forget:  Jesus is bigger than your questions, and as close as the mention of his name.

Dealing With Life’s Most Persistent Question – Part 3

Eagle soaring closeup Skagit County 3-26-15“Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”       -Isaiah 40:31

Wait. How we hate to wait! The word may spark anxiety in your heart, but the grieving process takes time. And that flies in the face of our “why wait?” culture and personal orientation when it comes to relief from pressure, anxiety, or desire of any kind.

Whenever you suffer a significant loss, you grieve. And the loss may seem insignificant to others or inconsequential in the big scheme of things. But if it was a big deal to you, if it made your heart feel pain, if it left you anxious and afraid, then you are facing grief. And working through the stages of grief takes time. You will get better. I know, you’ve heard it before. But you will get better. YOU WILL GET BETTER!

Denial. Anger. Bargaining.  Depression. Acceptance. How this process of grief plays out, and the length of each stage differs from person to person. It takes time–you just don’t know how much time. But you will get better. YOU WILL GET BETTER!

If you have read this far, you might think I am over-simplifying things, and if you are grieving your mind may have already circled back to the “Why?” question again. Well, you’ve come this far.  Why stop now? There, I did it–found another use for that most persistent question. And how about another?  Why not? Why not, indeed?

Why not learn from a fellow traveler on the road of suffering who had his share of disappointment–both giving it and receiving it. His name was Peter – and yes he is the one who cursed and denied that he had ever heard of Jesus (after promising that he would never do such a thing) at the moment Jesus needed him the most. Ouch!  Like I said, he understood disappointment. The Bible tells us that following that stellar performance, Peter went out and “wept bitterly.” This was such a big deal that both Matthew and Luke reported his bitter tears in their Gospels (Matthew 26:75; Luke 22:62).

When Peter speaks about suffering and disappointment, perhaps we should listen. Many years past that painful event, Peter, who had been transformed by Pentecost and the working of the Spirit in his life over time, shares some advice for fellow pilgrims who wonder, “Why me?”

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.  If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.  (1 Peter 4:12-19 NIV)

So did you catch what Peter said? I understand that he was writing to first century Christians who may have been facing persecution and even martyrdom for their faith–unlike anything most westerners are likely to face today. However his words provide meaning to all people in all places for all time.

  • Don’t be surprised by suffering.
  • Rejoice in your relationship with Christ.
  • Don’t think you are suffering for Christ if you are just being a jerk.
  • You may be suffering, “according to God’s will” despite those who theorize that God always wants you to be happy.
  • Commit yourself to our Faithful God.
  • Continue to do good.

This begs the question, “Why is it so difficult to apply this to my life?” Let’s begin with baby steps:

  1. What surprises you about your situation? The word “incredulity” means, “I can’t believe this happened to me!” What would it take for you to get over your shock that it did happen?
  2. What blessing can you discover to rejoice about today?
  3. What can you do to commit your ways to God? I like to pray and personalize these verses from Psalm 37:3-5 “Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this.” (NIV)
  4. What is one good thing that you can do right now as a next step toward “continuing to do good”? Go for it. You can do this!

And always remember:  When you think you won’t, YOU WILL GET BETTER! Have a great weekend. After all, why not? More about life’s persistent question and another relevant story about Peter next week.

Dealing With Life’s Most Persistent Question – Part 2

Snoqualmie Trail along Snoqualmie River Mt Si Background 3-20-15For most of us, the quest for answers continues long after the storm has passed. And that lingering, most persistent question consistently nags at your heart and soul. At a time when your troubled soul pines for consistency and order, you instead experience a chaos of emotions and the only consistent thing seems to be a flashback to traumatic events accompanied by the search for a cause: “Why?”

Long after you have organized the pertinent details (the who, what, where, when, and how) into a tidy corner of your mind, you just cannot seem to find an adequate compartment to fit the enormous tension contained in that tiny three-lettered word, “Why?”

  • Why did this happen?
  • Why did this happen to me?
  • Why didn’t God prevent it?
  • Why couldn’t I have seen it coming?
  • Why was I so careless?
  • Why didn’t someone warn me?
  • Why can’t I get over this?

Don’t get me wrong. Why is an important question. Maybe life’s most important question when asked in the context of, “Why am I here?” Defining the answer to that question helps provide purpose in life–an essential ingredient for a fulfilling existence. And as Simon Sinek reminds us in his best-selling business book, Start With Why, if you don’t know why you won’t know how, and may not fully understand what, either.  This truth pertains to individuals as well as businesses and organizations.

Why explores the reasons behind what we do. Why searches for intent and motivation. But why can also indicate a quest for placing blame or shame. And that is frequently the application when it comes to dealing with the grief of disappointment, catastrophe, or loss. We want a reasonable explanation for the chaos in our hearts and lives. We want to know who is responsible, to resolve our own angst. Once that is settled, we are on the path toward acceptance. This is where we can place the answer to “Why?” in its proper compartment and move on, and eventually the sharp edges of that memory will no longer cause the same kind of prickly pain we initially experienced.

So, what are the persistent questions you are dealing with in your life? How are you dealing with them? Why are you still stuck? Who can you confide in? What are you afraid of? What will it take for you to move on? What is God asking you to do?  And above all, remember this:  YOU WILL GET BETTER. THINGS WILL CHANGE. We’ll explore this further in the next post.

Some Thoughts on Passion Week: Disappointment, Detours, and Destiny – Part 4

 

Mt Si Meadowbrook Farm Path Double Rainbow Clouds 3-31-15What if God is using your disappointments and detours to help you discover your destiny? Like seeing a rainbow suddenly appear after being pelted by driving rain, we may discover our destiny after enduring a cloudburst or a seemingly endless season of life’s stormy weather. The rainbow was God’s symbol of hope to Noah following the storm to end all storms. Jesus and the cross become our symbols of hope during seasons of suffering.

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).

Where are you looking for help? What symbolizes hope for you? Does your mind have a vision of hope to keep you secure when facing the tormenting passion of fear?  How do you deal with the fearful dread in your heart when the thunder roars, the rain pours, and your roof leaks?  What do you do when the worst-case scenario interrupts your plans with unemployment, cancer or broken relationships?  Do you start looking for people to blame, or do you start looking for hidden blessings, opportunities to receive God’s grace and opportunities for you to grow? What gives you hope and encouragement? The hopeful heart looks to Jesus. And the hopeful heart is not a trembling heart.

Think about how Jesus felt on Palm Sunday–His trust and obedience to His Father’s will was a stronghold for His mind and gave Him courage to act appropriately instead of jumping off the donkey and running to hide in some remote cave.  Facing the worst-case scenario of all time – agonizing death, cut off from His Father, bearing every horrible, disgusting sin the world has ever known – Jesus pressed on.  He rode into the city with a quiet confidence and dignity because He had knew that His destiny and hope for suffering mankind came by way of His suffering on the cross.  And the cross of Christ made all the difference for you and me:

The cross is where history and life, legend and reality, time and eternity, intersect. There, Jesus is nailed forever to show us how God could become a man and a man could come to God.[1]  ~   Malcolm Muggeridge

Remember, as long as we live, the road to our destiny is always under construction. We should not be surprised when there are detours and delays along with disappointments. The key is staying with Jesus through those dark nights of the soul. It is easy to fall away and lose hope. It requires faith to hope for and receive what we do not see.

What have you hoped for? Have disappointment or discouragement kept you stuck in the waiting room of disappointment? What is the next step Jesus is leading you to take? That step may be marked, “Detour,” but it could you to from that waiting room to your destiny.

[1]Malcolm Muggeridge (1903–1990) Edythe Draper, Draper’s Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992).

Some Thoughts on Passion Week: Disappointment, Detours, and Destiny – Part 3

DonD I-90_Gridlock_near_milepost_63_on_8-21-11_BWLife’s darkest corridors are detours–places of waiting and wandering along an unfamiliar path where negatives often develop.  Yet those dark rooms are also often God’s appointments for building His character in our lives, accomplishing His purposes, and leading us into the bright light where we can clearly see the path ahead.

Disappointment and discouragement become opportunities for grace and growth if we look for them during those dark hours and days of waiting or wandering. These detours become the hidden pathways on our journey where we discover things about ourselves and also about God that we would never discover in the full light of day. We should be grateful, because God uses detours to direct us and also to protect us.

When I took the above photo on Interstate 90 about an hour east of Seattle it was a warm summer afternoon and I was anxious to return home after speaking that weekend in a church on the east side of the state. It was not to be as I anticipated because we spent hours just waiting on the freeway. And those other drivers and I never knew the reason for the delay. But I know for certain that whatever the cause, the delay and detour of my schedule was for the good and protection of someone. Hopefully our delay prevented disaster for someone else, and perhaps for us.

After the death of Christ, but before the resurrection, there was a process of waiting—another detour.  Someone has written,  “Disappointments, His appointments, change one letter and I see, that the thwarting of my purpose, was God’s better choice for me.”  Each day, countless numbers of people, among whom are committed Christians, experience disaster, disease, or death in their lives or in the lives of their loved ones.  Their initial response is often denial or unbelief.  Healthy people work through this process to arrive at a place of acceptance, hope and healing.

The unhealthy alternative is to allow disappointment to turn into cynicism and negativity.  The natural thing is for disappointment to lead to discouragement.  Discouragement leads to despair.  Despair leads to depression.  Depression leads to disillusionment.  And disillusionment ultimately leads to disengagement – isolation from everyone and everything that has the potential to hurt you.  This is a vicious cycle that can be interrupted by the loving intervention of friends or by simply learning to watch for God’s grace to appear and for ways to grow during that dark season of our soul.

Every seed must be buried in a dark place in order to sprout and grow. And it often is so with our hopes and dreams. The detour in your life may be the place of waiting or wandering where the seeds of endurance  germinate and you establish strong roots to sustain you for what lies ahead.

“Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.”   (Psalm 27:14)  I think about those words, first written by David more than 3000 years ago.  How many people have clung to that verse over the past 30 centuries? For most of them, the wait is over.  For us, the wait goes on and we are uncertain about when the detour on our journey will be over.  But we can be certain about the one thing that makes waiting and wandering endurable:  grace and growth – and the hope that God is using these circumstances to fulfill His purposes and our destiny.

On the Verge: Finding Your Tipping Point – Part 4 “Suspense”

cliff-hangerCliffhanger—the word immediately conjures up an image of some sort in your mind, doesn’t it? When reading a good mystery, you can always skip ahead if the suspense is so great you can’t stand it. If you are watching a DVD, you can also run it forward. When it comes to your own life, you have to just live it out. You can’t fast forward time, regardless of the tension or pain of the moment.

Suspense and mystery are part of what makes a good story. Those elements of drama combine to draw in the reader or viewer, until you feel a part of the action. For a few moments, their story becomes your story. “This is killing me!” you exclaim as you virtually hang by your bleeding fingertips on the cliff of suspense.

If you were a Seattle Seahawks fan watching your team during Super Bowl XLIX it meant a roller coaster of emotions. Full of cliffhangers, the game was the most watched program in television history. Once again gaining and then losing the lead with two minutes to go, the Hawks gain possession again and a glimmer of hope emerges. Moving the ball down the field, with 26 seconds left on the clock, every Seahawks fan anticipated this would be the final play, only inches away from victory. The tension mounts as the ball is snapped when, surprise! Russell Wilson throws an unexpected pass that gets snatched away and with it our hopes are dashed. Game over, and not as we anticipated.

Not what we anticipated. Opportunity snatched away. Tension gives way to disappointment or disaster. The crash when we lose our grip on the cliff can paralyze us from making another attempt. “Never again” we may proclaim, robbing ourselves of even attempting to making it to the verge of success again.

But we don’t enjoy wallowing in self-pity or just playing it safe forever. Hope springs forth and we may find ourselves asking, “What if? Maybe it is possible to get up and try again.” Once more the suspense builds until we find a way to move on.

Clock Pendulum suspension spring diagramPendulum clocks generally attach the pendulum using a flexible piece of forged steel, called a suspension spring. It works along with the main time spring to create tension and keep the clock ticking through the back and forth motion of the pendulum. While the mainspring provides continuous power, the suspension spring does its job by simply being flexible enough to bend back and forth, time after time for days, weeks, months, and years at a time. Remember, the suspension spring is made of forged steel = it has been through the fire.

Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be broken. So what is the catalyst in your life to spring you forward? How has the forge and fire of failure made you more flexible? How can you increase that flexibility and use the tension in your circumstances to bounce back?  How can you leverage the resources you do possess to your advantage? How long will you remain in suspension before you take action? Who could you talk to and explore these questions? Next post we’ll discover some options for the power to move forward.

On the Verge: Finding Your Tipping Point – Part 3 “Perspective”

Clock magnifying glass Face value. That has to do with perspective. At first glance, all we see is what is visible at the moment, and from that particular point of view. We may assume or make a value judgment from that perspective, concluding that what we just observed tells the whole story—all there is to it. That can be a big mistake. In fact it can be a blind spot to us, because if we took the time to discover a different point of view, it might make all the difference.

I have more than a hundred old clocks, all more than a century old, and of all shapes and sizes. All have mechanical movements of some kind. Some are weight driven, some are spring driven. Some use a pendulum, and some use a balance wheel to maintain momentum. The mechanics are different in each, but the dynamic part is similar – they keep the clockworks moving.

What is the purpose in all this mumbo jumbo about clocks?  Regardless of how they operate, all clocks have the same major purpose:  to tell the accurate time of day. When you look at the face of the clock, you expect to see the correct time. Clocks line the tops of the bookshelves in my office. I seldom keep them all running—they are just for decoration and display. So they all register a different time of day. I often tell people when they look at the clocks and ask which clocksone is telling the correct time, “They are all correct, twice a day!”

To go beyond the face value, you have to take a second glance. Beyond the face, there may reside a complex system of machinery. This is true not only for clocks, but for people, and organizations, and families, and neighbors, and even cultures. To rightly understand anything requires closer examination beyond a casual glance and quick summation.

When a clock stops keeping accurate time, the problem seldom lies within the face. Something deeper is causing the problem, and requires more careful inspection. It may be something as difficult to detect as a speck of dust in the wrong place or as obvious as a broken spring. It may be the result of an overzealous owner drowning the works with a well-intentioned baptism of WD-40 that has gummed up the works. Whatever the cause, the clock is stopped and as Newton reminds us, an object at rest tends to stay at rest. Until some outside force repairs the problem, the clock will not start ticking again on its own.

What is keeping you from getting off the verge and moving ahead? Have you just accepted at face value your own analysis? Self-examination is generally a good thing, as is self-awareness. But self-diagnosis is often a tricky business, and may lead to disastrous conclusions. Some things are better done with assistance to help us see ourselves as others do, and examine our blind spots. While you might attempt to brush your hair without a mirror, shaving without one could result in some nasty nicks on your face. It may be time to get a second opinion, to let someone else take a closer look.

Whether you choose collaboration, consultation, counseling or coaching, soliciting another opinion can help you gain perspective, and get you off the verge. How difficult is it to admit and say, “I am stuck”? What is keeping you from doing so? Whatever it is, your answer to the previous question may be the one thing keeping you from moving forward or the catalyst for your healing.

James instructs us, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” (James 5:16 NLT) If confession of sin is a key to healing, perhaps confession of our other failures or frustrations may do the same by providing a different point of view as we open up and become vulnerable to another person. Their perspective could be just the thing to get you off the verge and start ticking away into your preferred future.

On the Verge: Finding Your Tipping Point – Part 2 “The Verge”

Grandpa Detrick's ca 1890 Seth Thomas Clock

Grandpa Detrick’s ca 1890 Seth Thomas Clock

We often live our lives on the verge. On the verge of success. On the verge of getting out of debt. On the verge of finding a rewarding relationship. On the verge of achieving that sought after promotion at work. On the verge of obtaining the scholarship. On the verge of finishing that degree. On the verge of fulfilling our dream.

The verge is a nice stop on the way to our destination. It is a terrible place to live permanently. If we camp there long enough, it becomes difficult to move on. While camped there we may analyze a million and one reasons why we got stuck in the first place, and another million and one reasons how we might move on, but we tend to be weighted down by the analysis to the point of paralysis, convincing ourselves that it is safer to just stay where we are at. Like I said earlier, passivity is the opposite of courage.

Wait a minute!  Stop the clock! Do not lose courage. Passivity is the inactive response to lost hopes and dreams. It is time for a change. You don’t have to live your life always “on the verge.” You can move past the verge.

Unlike the Apple Watch which I plan to never buy, I do have an affinity for old clocks. Not old clocks from the 1980’s with digital readouts, but really old clocks. Most in my collection are well over a century old, American made, and still working. And I work on them—have for years, both as a hobby and in a practical way to keep my collection running. Working on old clocks has taught me some lessons about systems, and mechanics, and maintenance, and life. They have also taught me about time, and how I use it, how I respond to it, how I measure it. After all, they have a lot to tell by listening to the tick-tock of the pendulum.

Verge - clockworksHow many mechanical items from a century ago are still functioning with their original purpose today? Not many! You probably don’t know that the term verge is a clock word. The verge is that part of a mechanical clock that keeps the pendulum moving back and forth – and keeps the rest of the clock ticking. The actual tick-tock is sound of the verge rocking back and forth, connecting with a toothed wheel that connects to other gears and wheels that eventually move the hour and minute hands, ever so slowly. When it is all synchronized, it is a beautiful thing. It keeps on moving, and keeping perfect time.

A verge is a lot like a tipping point. Malcom Gladwell states in his book, The Tipping Point:   “The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.”

What if you could find the tipping point that would move you past the verge? What if you could stop listening to the melancholy melody that keeps you stuck? What if you could re-discover your courage? You can. Listen to another melody—a happier tune that will actually help you redeem the time:

“Wake up from your sleep, Climb out of your coffins; Christ will show you the light! So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times!”   Ephesians 5:14-16 The Message

“Make the most of every chance you get.”  The old King James Version actually instructs us, “redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” What if you struggled with financial problems, but had forgotten about an old savings bond your uncle gave you years ago? It may be worth $50,000 but if you never redeemed it, you would just be holding on to an old piece of paper while continuing to struggle with finances. Time is as old as “in the beginning.” To fully take advantage of it, we must redeem it.  My old clocks may be more than a century old, but they have taught me some redeeming contemporary lessons, and I look forward to sharing some of them with you.

On the Verge: Finding Your Tipping Point

Grandpa Detrick's ca 1890 Seth Thomas Clock

Grandpa Detrick’s ca 1890 Seth Thomas Clock

 

Today Apple announced the new Apple Watch. For somewhere between $300 and $10K you can own one yourself. I understand the $10K version is 18 karat gold. If you want to use it to tell time, you better have good eyes or good glasses, because the time display is small—or so I am told.

For most of my life, I have enjoyed a love/hate relationship with time. It is my greatest asset. And when I have plenty of it, time is my friend. But when I am facing a deadline and running short, frustration and anxiety turn up the pressure and seem to accelerate the clock. I try to quicken my own pace to catch up, but the minutes fly by and missed deadlines turn to missed opportunities. This results in–you guessed it–more frustration and anxiety. Only now they are joined by their close comrade, regret. This trio sings a melancholy melody in three parts:

  • If only. . ..
  • Life’s not fair!
  • Why me?

If you listen to this trio for long, you will get stuck for sure, especially when the trio is joined by their bully of an ally, self-pity. He gladly lends his voice to the newly formed quartet, singing bass. He especially enjoys the refrain, “What’s the use?”

Sound familiar? Listen to this quartet for long and you will start humming along with them. And they will steal your life, your soul, your courage. We all have to learn to listen in to a different station. I know. Been there. Done that.

Today I asked a friend, “What is the opposite of courage?” We had a good conversation about it and agreed that most people would say the opposite of courage is fear. Yet, the more I think about it, the more I believe something else. The opposite of courage is passivity. We’ve failed before. We failed again. And we will probably fail if we make another attempt. So, “what’s the use?” Passivity.

And that is a shame, because we are often on the verge of greatness. Remember the times when you said, “I can just feel it. I’m on the verge of something fantastic.” Especially when backed up by careful planning, disciplined focus, prayer, and hard work. You were launching into the confident expectation of certain achievement but landed in the bone-crushing agony of defeat. Shocked by the incredulity of the situation, you keep asking, ‘What happened? I knew I was just on the verge. . ..”

Nursing your wounds, you faintly hear that familiar old sad song. Before long you are singing along – you know all the words:

  • If only. . ..
  • Life’s not fair!
  • Why me?
  • What’s the use?

Wait a minute!  Stop the clock! Do not lose courage. Passivity is the inactive response to lost hopes and dreams. It is time for a change. You don’t have to live your life always “on the verge.” You can move past the verge. In the next few weeks, I’ll be posting on this theme and here are a few topics having to do with old clocks of all things, that will help you get past the verge and find your own tipping point:

  • Perspective – what you see on the face of the clock only presents the facts – the time in the present. What is behind the face is what keeps the hands moving.
  • Suspense – clocks have a suspension spring. Like clocks we actually need tension and drama.
  • Power – the force that provides energy – spring or weights –wound up, wound down
  • Perseverance – takes a licking and keeps on ticking
  • Alignment – the teeth in the clock’s wheels must be in perfect alignment – the front and back plates hold it all together
  • Opportunity – taking advantage of the moment – the only way the clock can move forward to the next second, minute, or hour is to take advantage of every moment’s opportunity.
  • Gratitude – accepting help from others and being grateful for the contributions of all who help you move forward
  • Leverage – the clock’s works are designed for maximum efficiency. Each part, however small, has a part to do.
  • Synergy – alone, any part would be unable to keep time. Together, they can do far more than any of them could do alone.
  • Re-calibrating – adjustments are needed in a clock, depending upon the season of the year, air pressure, age, etc.
  • Rest – recreation, restoration, oil on the pivot points.
  • Balance – the pendulum requires balance – level keel.

 

The Rest of Your Story

 

 

 

Log balanced on large rock Snoqualmie River 2-28-15 Different AngleHolding on in a precarious spot. Sometimes barely holding on, getting a grip, standing your ground, or trying to keep your balance is all you can do—just to survive. Or so it seems at the moment. And if you remain in that position for long, it is easy to feel stuck, and wonder if assistance or a chance to move on to a better place will ever come.

Is it possible in some circumstances of life that the difference between being stuck and having an opportunity to rest is our own attitude or perspective? There are striking similarities between three dictionary definitions of rest and just being stuck, with one exception.

First, the dictionary describes rest “as cessation from action, motion, labor, or exertion.” Sounds like it could describe being stuck, right? Another definition for rest is something that is “fixed or settled.” Again, you can see the similarity to being “stuck.” The third connotation for rest is where the similarity ends, as it is likened to “freedom from that which wearies or disturbs.”

When we are stuck, we typically feel weary, worried, and disturbed. But what if we used this period in our lives as an opportunity for rest? Easier said than done. I know from experience.

Perhaps one of the greatest invitations from Jesus in the Gospels is found in Matthew 11:28, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (NLT) Weary, and carrying a heavy burden. . .sounds a lot like being stuck. Rest also sounds like being stuck—at least according to the dictionary! Perhaps the difference is a matter of our perspective and who we are trusting to bring us help and rest.

My oldest daughter Kristi sent me a powerful story this morning of a mother who discovered rest and hope in spite of the loss of a precious child. One line really caught my attention:

“Thankfulness, Hope, and Joy are not present only in good times; they are powerful reminders in the hard times that our story’s not over.”

Kristi, who has suffered a three year long battle wrestling with her own health issues while being a young wife and mother took courage from these words. Rest is a welcome relief when you feel boxed in, stuck, and helpless to resolve the circumstances that have you immobilized. I took the photo above the other day while enjoying a rare and restful hike with Kristi. Together, we pondered the forces required to place a log in such a position.

What are the chances of a log landing and lodging and staying perfectly balanced on such a rock? Especially when you consider the circumstances that brought it to rest were not restful, but the high raging floodwaters of the Snoqualmie River just below the falls. Hundreds of people, each with their own story, have passed by this very spot in the past weeks on the pathway to the lower viewing platform at Snoqualmie Falls. Perhaps they were inspired, as I hope you will be, that wherever you find yourself stuck, you will probably not be there forever. And from that place of being stuck, you may discover your next steps for your journey and be launched into the rest of your story.