Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Life Explained

As I sit here, all warm and cozy, at my desk computer I’m thinking about the time of year. People all around me are hustling about trying to still get the perfect gift and make all those fattening, but delicious, homemade cookies since Christmas will be here next week. A week from now I’ll have some extra time to spend with extended family and time to count our many blessings (something we should all do more often). Usually when I think about writing a January article, my mind turns to topics of new beginnings, New Year’s resolutions and plans for the upcoming year. I took a few minutes to review an article I wrote just 12 months ago called ‘A Season for Envisioning’. At that time, I suggested not making any new resolutions, but rather only promising that I would try harder to be true to myself. I would try to make quiet times for reflection and give myself more grace. I wrote of all seasons bringing questions and uncertainty. I still feel that we need to embrace the lessons and opportunities that every season proposes to us and know in our hearts that ‘God is our refuge and strength’ (Psalm 46:1). I don’t think any of us would say that we don’t know of someone who has had a rough time of it in 2009 (ourselves included).

For me, 2009 has been a year of good health, a job that I thoroughly enjoy, the experience of my first small group, and a lot of personal choices and decisions. Tomorrow night my husband and I will attend our last small group meeting for the current bible study we are participating in, ‘No Experience Necessary’. The study focused on mission and what is our role for carrying out God’s work. I’m thankful to each of my small group members for pushing me to participate more and for the group discussions that we shared. The study has left me with many questions to carry with me in to the upcoming year like ‘How would you describe the purpose of your life?’, ‘As the Spirit stirs in your heart, who are you being called to reach out to in love?’, and ‘Where [in what place, situation, or relationship] do you think God might be calling you to make a difference this week?’. One particular lesson asked the following:

Think for a minute about some “new beginning” God has given to you.
How has your response honored God?
How have you used “your” blessing to be a blessing to others?
Wow, talk about perspective. I guess it really isn’t all about us, is it? Let’s take a minute and look back on 2009 and remember all of the good things that happened … the good report from the doctor … the prospect of the new job that if it hasn’t already come, could come in 2010 … the birth of a new child … the mending of a relationship … or the crack in your heart that healed a bit more. I’ve always been a big advocate of positive attitude and optimism being choices and more productive than the alternative.

Following is a story that a church member shared with me. I think it makes a wonderful point.
A boat docked in a tiny Mexican fishing village. A tourist complimented the local fisherman on the quality of their fish and asked how long it took him to catch them.
“Not very long,” they answered in unison.
“Why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more?”
The fisherman explained that their small catches were sufficient to meet their needs and those of their families.
“But what do you do with the rest of your time?”
“We sleep late, fish a little, play with our children, and take siestas with our wives. In the evenings, we go to the village to see our friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs. We have a full life.”
The tourist interrupted, “I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you! You should start by fishing longer every day. You can sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat.”
“And after that?”
“With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers. Instead of selling your fish to a middle man, you can then negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant. You can then leave this little village and move to Mexico City, Los Angeles, or even New York City! From there you can direct your huge new enterprise.”
“How long will that take?”
“Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years,” replied the tourist.
“And after that?”
“Afterwards? Well my friend, that’s when it gets really interesting”, answered the tourist laughing. “When your business gets really big, you can start buying and selling stocks and make millions!”
“Millions? Really? And after that?” asked the fisherman.
“After that you’ll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take a siesta with your wife and spend your evenings visiting and enjoying your friends.”
The moral of the story is to have your priorities in line and know where you’re going in life … you may already be there.

Let’s challenge ourselves for 2010 to perhaps reprioritize our lives, to all be a bit less judgmental, less critical, more giving, more active, and more positive. Let’s work on carrying out God’s mission in ways that would make Him proud.

1 comment:

  1. Very insightful. We need to focus on what is really important in life.