Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
October 2, 2011
Good ideas revive your soul and make your heart sing
Life is difficult. With those three words Scott Peck began his splendid book, The Road Less Traveled. And with those three words no one would argue. Peck was stating the obvious. Life really is difficult – from the cradle to the cemetery.
Evidently God means for life to be difficult. That is his plan. And it is a good plan. It works. Life begins with kicking and screaming as a baby escapes the womb. The baby struggles to navigate in its new world. The growing child strives to survive the perils of dysfunctional families. Youth wrestle to find themselves. Adults sacrifice blood, sweat and tears to eke out a living.
Old folks, exasperated by the insufferable return to diapers, use every weapon available to fight the deterioration of the body. But the inevitable happens. Hearing and eyesight fail. Hair disappears. Teeth rot. Weakness replaces strength. Memory fades. In the evening you hear the faint sound of the chariot coming to carry you home.
If life were easy, few of us would progress beyond diapers and pablum. Difficulty becomes the springboard to success. Trouble pushes us out of the nest and we either die or learn to fly. Eventually we learn to be thankful for the problems that propelled us forward. The arduous pressures of life save us from lethargy. Dealing with our difficulties helps us escape the lethal grasp of apathy. Laziness gives way to energy, ambition and passion. It is in our struggle with the difficult that we suddenly experience the joy of being fully alive.
Whatever our age, good ideas help us find the courage to face the difficulties of life. Inspiring thoughts help us make it through dark nights. Inspiration can make the sad heart sing again. It is like B-12 for the spirit.
I collect good ideas from friends and from reading. Here is an example shared with me by a close friend, from a poem by Emily Dickinson:
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all.
The same friend gave me this good thought: “Life may not be the party we hoped for but while we are here we might as well dance.“
Another friend provided this quote from Glenn Clark: “If you wish to travel far and fast, travel light. Take off all your envies, jealousies, unforgiveness, selfishness, and fears.”
Good friend Ed Williams shared this bit of inspiration:
“Through the years I have learned to lessen my worrying by following four steps:
1. I stop and give thanks for whatever is happening and remind myself that God is in control.
2. I empty out all my fears and anxieties at the end of each day.
3. I fill my mind with the promises of God, which will never fail, by studying the Bible regularly.
4. As I go about my daily work, I visualize Jesus walking beside me, guiding me in my decisions, giving me strength when I am weary, and helping me handle one step at a time.”
Bruce Epperly gave me this good thought: “Forgiveness is a form of divine healing. As we embrace divine forgiveness in our lives, our memories and our actions — our lives — are transformed and made whole. To forgive is not only to affirm our value as God’s beloved children but also to recognize that same holiness in those whose actions temporarily disguise God’s presence.”
Three more stimulating thoughts will be enough for today:
“Service is the rent we pay for being. It is the very purpose of life, and not something you do in your spare time.”
“There comes a time in your life, when you walk away from all the drama and people who create it. You surround yourself with people who make you laugh. Forget the bad, and focus on the good. Love the people who treat you right, pray for the ones who don't.”
This one puts a smile on my face every time I remember the wise farmer who once said: “Life is simpler when you plow around the stumps.” It is simpler but those stumps help bring out the best in us – and we find ourselves thanking God for the stumps! + + +