When was the last time you went for it and all you had to say when it was over was, “Ouch…that’s not what I had in mind.” Did you notice that I didn’t ask IF it has ever happened? Its happened to every one of us. The picture above is a perfect representation on what I’m stating here. Just minutes before the moment this picture was taken, this player stepped out of the dugout. He envisioned hitting the ball. Let’s just say he envisioned stepping up and hitting a simple base hit to bring in the winning run to end the game. As you can tell by the picture, he ended his at bat with, “Ouch, that’s not what I had in mind.” He ended the game lying on the ground groaning and in the world’s eyes, a loser. And this happens to every one of us. Every one. Some of you might try to argue with me and push back and say that some people just seem to have a silver spoon in their mouth all their lives and everything just seems to go there way. I would like to believe that, but I know, without a single doubt, that is just not the case. Some seem to just be lucky…but really…all the time? Some just always land on their feet all the time, right? The answer again is no. That’s not the case. That seems to only work with cats. They always land on their feet. I grew up on the farm and actually tested if cats always land on their feet. I have done a “clinical trial” on this and its not a myth! LOL. Sorry…back to point.
Here’s the deal. NOBODY! Is the answer to the question of, “Who does life always go well for?”
The wisest man in the world was Solomon of the Old Testament. In the early part of Solomon’s reign as King, he lived such a pleasing life to God that God told Solomon He would give him anything he asked for. What would you ask for? That is the only time in the Bible where we see God playing a role that we’ve all wished would happen to us. The Genie in a bottle wish!!! But this is not a blue Genie…this is God. What a moment for Solomon. I don’t know what you would ask for, but Solomon asked for Wisdom to lead the people that God put him in charge of. What a humble and wise choice. God granted it and was so pleased with Solomon’s request He went ahead and gave him riches and long life to go with it! I tell this story to illustrate that even such a pleasing and wise man like Solomon had a rough life ahead of him. The Old Testament is loaded with stories where things started going really bad for Solomon. Life has bad moments for EVERYBODY.
Why am I writing about this right now? Simply because I have had the most “hellashish” year of my life of the 41 years so far. You know what is really scary? There is never a guarantee that it will get better. I’m not writing this desiring to seek your sympathy. Writing is how I vent. I hope that by writing this, some of you might actually be encouraged by my venting. Sick isn’t it? Some people, in their effort to make you feel better when things are going bad for you, will throw out the cliche of, “hang in there…it always gets better.” or “When God gives you lemons, make lemonade.” or they share the Bible verse Romans 8:28, “And God causes everything to work for good.” or 1 Corinthians 10:13, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” If you are like me, you just want to say to them, thanks, but shut up!” Okay…maybe I’m the only one that wants to say that. I’ll try to only speak for myself. But really…there is a time for those phrases to be thought of, brought up, spoken and studied. But none of them help on the spot or make you feel better when you’ve just been hit in the nuts by a curve ball from life itself. If you are women reading this, I’m not sure what body part is comparable to the pain I refer to for men when we get hit “there.” I think I can speak for all men by asking you ladies to let us know. Don’t play around with us on this one. We really mean it when we say it hurts. I’m not sure you have anything comparable.
Today I got a call that rocked my world…yep…I feel like the picture above. Hence the “hint” of cynicism in this blog post. The call didn’t go the way I planned. The call didn’t go the way I prepared. Maybe it hurts so bad because I literally felt “clarity” from God as to what His will was. So I committed. I went all in. I stepped up to the plate and intended to hit a grand slam. I was so confident that I put all my eggs in one basket. Then came the call. Weird…I had a gut feeling the call was coming today. It did. But when the call was over, my wife left the room because she knew I was going to weep. And I did. The eggs, all in one basket, were mine and this curve ball hit me right in the eggs! When I hung up, all I could do was bend over and cry.
It sucks. I’m writing this blog now, exactly 8 hours after the call that knocked the wind out of me. Its kind of strange. I’m okay. I think this past year and the curve balls that have been thrown at me and I swung and missed….swung and missed…but the ball kept hitting me. Over and over…it has actually toughened me up. I am better from it all. I am wiser. I am smarter. I am more experienced. I am more mature. I am more aware. I am less naive. I am a bit hardened. The hits seem to hurt less and less. I am a bit more sly. I will not let it make me bitter! I actually have landed on my feet!
You see, I am convinced that the world’s perspective says that I failed because the phone call didn’t go my way. I failed because I struck out. I failed because my plans didn’t go the way I dreamed they would. So, the world says that everybody fails. But here is the deal. God does work everything out for good. God does turn things that were intended to harm and He uses them for good. You can make lemonade from lemons. Those phrases have a lot of truth. I still wish people would time the speaking of the phrases with more common sense.
I suppose all of this is about attitude. My identity is not founded in my daily circumstances. The phone call that didn’t go the way I dreamed it would does not define me. That person who betrayed you and you never saw it coming, does not define who you are. Day after day and year after year, the struggles you face do not define you. You are not lucky or unlucky. You are living life. I am living life. And life is daily.
God never intended it all…life…to go this way.
There is some real depth in what Jesus says in Matthew 5 verse 1 and following.
Blessed are the poor.
Blessed are those who mourn.
Blessed are the humble.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice.
Blessed are the merciful.
Blessed are the pure.
Blessed are the peacemakers.
Blessed are the persecuted.
Verse 12 says…Be happy about those things.
I say…WHAT? Are you out of your mind God?! Happy about the curve ball that landed where I never dreamed it would? Are you crazy!?
This year has been a year of getting hit…over and over. Yet, above, I just listed a lot of positive traits that have been formed in me. The reality is this. They would not have formed in me had I not gone through some very trying and hard circumstances.
Back to the Bible list above. If I don’t need God then I think I have it all and thus am not POOR. But I recognize that I deeply need God. I am so poor in so many ways without him. In life, poor is rarely about money. I am simply not able without God. The world would see that as poor. God says I am blessed because I know I am poor and need Him. The list says, MOURN. How could I mourn if I didn’t have bad things happen to me or go through tough times? Dreams broken, relationships fractured, plans destroyed. God never intended for the world to be like this. God planned a perfect world. I recognize this now with more clarity than ever. I long for the Heaven that God describes because it will be like God planned in the Garden when He first created it all. Because I know that life will never be perfect until Jesus comes back…it causes me to mourn the loss of what was supposed to be. “Blessed are those who mourn.”
HUMBLE. How could I ever be humble if I have never been humbled. Humility doesn’t come when things always go well. Humility is formed through pain and brokenness. No…the ones that should worry are the ones who are so proud and confident in themselves that they are never humble. Blessed are the humble. HUNGER & THIRST FOR JUSTICE How could you ever desire justice if nothing ever went wrong? MERCIFULOnly those who have been through hardship and experienced pain can have true mercy for others going through what they have experienced. PURE Purity comes through fire. Think of diamonds, gold, sharpening swords. The purity they contain comes from heat, grinding and friction.
You get the point?
Why do bad things happen to good people? That’s such a dumb question! With the fallen world we live in…the real question is…How does anything good ever happen?
So…when we feel like the guy in the picture. The only thing we can do is crawl to God grasping our groin and trying to catch our breath. I want to ask why the bad happened…but it never helps. All I can do is cling to God who loves me. All I can do is think about the good that I have in my life. Dwell on those things that are beautiful. Think about the things that make me smile. Focus on the joy that is around me if I look for it.
Go ahead….Throw me another curve ball. I will never stop swinging. No matter what.
I am blessed.
You are too!
Keep stepping up to the plate and dreaming that you’re gonna connect. The odds are that you will sooner or later connect.
What is your other option?