The first cup has been poured from the French press and I have made my way upstairs to begin to write.
The new year has dawned and with it all the hopes and dreams that have piled up, waiting for this day. What the year holds will only be discovered in the the course of time. The hope is that it begins well, then perhaps it will end well. At the very least, having looked ahead, we have increased the odds for happy endings. The glorious reality though is that it is all in God’s hands. It is as it says in Proverbs 16:9, “The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.”
And so it is with me this new year.
In this morning’s local paper appeared an article written by Professor Edward Fischer, an anthropologist at Vanderbilt University. In the article titled “Resolve to have experiences, not Rolexes,” he encourages the reader to:
Place a higher value on a sense of purpose in life;
Put aside the dream of things in setting priorities, and focus on improving relationships and experiences; and
Do not be defined by things.
These are not new ideals. Like myself, many people now look at life as more than a collection of things. We look at life asking, what can we do to live as full a life as possible, not how full we can make the home in which we live. We search for ways to spend our money so that it leaves us with a sense of accomplishment and a wonderful memory, and not with something else to gather dust on a shelf. We wish to discover that thing, or things in our life that defines who we are and answers the question, “this is why I lived.”
As a spiritual person, as a Christian, I know that the greatest task I can undertake is to live my life for God! Submitting myself to His will, to have it revealed to me day-by-day as I walk in relationship with Him, is the greatest purpose for my life. Through this, all other aspects of my life are defined, refined, and given meaning.
Will I continue to make my plans? Certainly. I have goals: books to read, words to write, places to travel to, parts to play and songs to sing. More importantly, I have people to love! These things are the color of life. The purpose of life, “my determined purpose is to be my utmost for His highest - my best for His glory.*”
In the new year, amid all the plans, all the hopes, dreams and desires is this - live my life for and closer to my Lord!
May the Lord bless you in this New Year and through all of your days!
* My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers, 1 January
Yesterday morning I was sitting in my truck waiting for the rain to let up. It was a heavy rain. The kind of rain that makes rivers on the streets and small ponds in low areas. As I watched the rivers run and ponds fill, I was reminded of a time long ago at my grandparent's house.
Their house was a small house on Matthews Avenue in Sikeston, Missouri. As a child there would be two to three (perhaps more) weekends a year that our family would visit there. On the street outside the front of their house, the road dipped. In this lower area was a storm drain that seemed to always be clogged. When it rained, the water would flow from the east and west into this recess in the street, forming a sizable pond.
Once the rain stopped, I would run outside to stomp and splash in the water. I'd find twigs and float them, as though they were boats. Seven or eight twigs and I'd have an armada. As I grew older and could ride a bike, I'd run a bike through the pond. The faster you hit the water the higher the spray would fly. That was the goal; high and far-reaching spray.
I suppose I am willing become a bit more transparent at times with this space. It is easy to do, knowing that not many people read it. That makes it safe.
One of the few things that I set my mind and spirit to this year, that I have actually fulfilled, it to write in my journal every day. And while I have not intention of sharing all that I write there, far far from it, I do find that occasionally there is something there that I may use here. They are not stories or dreams, but reflect on life and how I am feeling at specific times.
As I have noted in the past, I have a deep sense of wanderlust. As I once told my daughter, "wanderlust can be a cruel trait to live with." It creates an ongoing sense of unsettledness. For me it means an almost constant desire to be somewhere else doing something else instead of being content where I am at with what I am doing. I truly wish I knew what causes this feeling. Why must I seemingly always be in search of something other than what I have, when what I have is pretty good?
The other day I wrote:
"It seems I am having a day of bemoaning my life; the same old where I am and what I am doing versus where I wish to be and what I wish to do. I won't bother with the details; we've been here many times before. But as I am I writing about this the thought occurred to me, I dream about it but I don't do anything about it. I am not taking specific actions to make any of my dreams into my reality. Yes, I save money to take trips, and in part, that is a specific action I suppose. Though, it is difficult to get excited about it at times.
"In the broad sense, I suppose I am not much different that most everyone else; in that, we live our lives day in and day out and there really isn't that much remarkable about it. At least I think that is how most people live. And I suppose I just get used to the reality that that this pretty much the way life is supposed to be. We're not meant to be on adventures, or living a life full of excitement twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. We probably couldn't handle it and, in time, that too would become boring. Though, being back in missions and being back in England would fit the bill for adventure and excitement in some respects.
"I guess I am just in that thoughtful place where I don't want to live many more days, or reach the end of my days and find that the words I use to describe my life are 'if only.' I want my days, however many more God intends for me to have, to be something more. I am not searching for the profound, but for something that will occasionally bookend the stream of days in and days out with a 'Wow! Now that was something.'"
I woke up too early this morning with my thoughts on _______ and his _______.
_______ is the second friend I have lost to cancer within a year. First there was ______. Now _______. Then yesterday I learned that my friend _______ _______, who has been fighting stomach cancer for over a year, has been admitted to hospital so that he can fed intravenously. These past two weeks he has been in intense pain and has been unable to eat much at all.
_______ is another who we can take encouragement from. He has a thirst for life and refuses to give up or give in.
When I consider these things, I do not have any desire to shout and wave my fist at God demanding an answer to why things like this happen. I don't. We are but temporary residents in a fallen world, and in this world tragic things will come to good people. Our duty, our course, our race, is to live a life that points others to Christ -- to inspire others to live life in such a way that inspires.
When I consider my friends, the two who have run their races and the one who is still running, I am inspired! I have learned something, many things, from all three of these gentlemen that I wish to carry forward as I continue to live out my days. If I can do that, the quality and richness of my days will be increased.
Lord, I thank You and praise You for absent friends and those friends whose company I am blessed to still cherish.