I was up early this morning to spend time with the Lord, abiding in Him and allowing Him to teach, lead, comfort and direct me. God is so good. He always does what is best for us…and that, sometimes, doesn’t feel good. I mentioned in a previous post about how crazy-fast this past year has gone. In fact, time seems to fly like never before. On this day there are only 188 days until Christmas. I’m not trying to be morbid, but If I do the “math of average” and I live to be the average age of a person who dies in the U.S. 87.7 years…then that means I have 45 Christmas’s left before I join the Lord. At first that seems like a lot, but when I begin to think about my kids and grandkids and how many of those future Christmas’s I might or might not spend with them…45 doesn’t seem like very many. I would think that I would be sad about this…I’m not sad, but it does cause me to mourn. God never intended for life to be like it is today. Life can be so very harsh. There is a lot of anger in people. There is a lot of craziness going on in the world. There seems to be a great panic in our culture for something we can’t fully describe or attain. A fight for being on the right team. A fight for the “top.” A fight for self gratification. I don’t want to be all bad news. My goodness, there is a lot of good going on right now too. So many people serving others, opening doors, standing for good, sacrificing so others may be blessed. We live in a world of polar opposites. Good versus evil. It’s all simply called life.
I read a verse this morning in my time with God. The verse is found in the Bible at 1 Kings 20:11. I have read the Bible many times and yet I do not ever remember reading this verse in those past journey’s through the Bible. The verse reads, “A warrior putting on his sword for battle should not boast like a warrior who has already won.”
This verse caused me to contemplate many things. The ancient wisdom in that verse is deep and wide. Reading the verse made me feel very young. Then, the creative side of my brain made me think of myself as an old man sitting with a young lad, telling him about how to live his life. I imagined myself sitting and talking about my life’s experience. I imagined myself hoping this young man would listen to what I was saying and hopefully take some of my personal experience and learn from it. The good and the bad. Here are some things I think I would tell him.
Young man…(obviously, ladies, you will have to read this as if it were speaking to you in the feminine.) What I’m about to tell you is what I’ve learned over my life…It’s not everything I’ve learned in life, but what I’m about to share is deeply important. I hope you will listen to it and learn from it. I hope we can meet regularly and that you will allow me to speak with you often about other things I’ve learned that I’m not going to remember today. What I tell you is my experience…it may not be the same for you. The road I paved is not the same road you will travel. But, learn from this old man and then pave your own road.
I heard a really good man say, “Heaven is real, the Bible is true and God loves you more than you’ll ever know.” I love that phrase and it is as true as truth gets. Build your whole life around that phrase.
I know you are hoping that life is going to serve you well, fill you up, and give you great success. It might, but I have found that life won’t think about you, only God can fill you to full, and success must be earned and is never guaranteed.
If you do earn success, it can be gone tomorrow. Don’t count on it to make you happy.
Happiness, by the way, is something you are never entitled to or deserve.
Finding the right woman to marry will make you or break you. When you find her and marry her, her whole family is included in the marriage. Your whole family too.
Sex is great, have it only with your wife.
Every year you live, it will go by faster.
Stuff will never make you happy, but you will be tempted your whole life to think so.
You will never be free from temptation, so don’t pray for protection from it more than you pray for strength to resist it.
Most people in your life will betray/hurt you in some form or another. Be very grateful for the few who do not. And no matter what happens, don’t let bitterness and un-forgiveness reside very long in your heart.
Live your life working very hard to not hurt or betray the people in your life. You will not be perfect in this endeavor.
Resist taking anything for granted. Your family, your church, your job, your success, your money…anything. There is no guarantee that it will be there for you tomorrow. The only person/thing that is guaranteed to be there for you is Jesus Christ.
Do not let fear hold you back from anything.
Every job situation will look great from the interview…you will know the truth once you accept the job and get into the job’s reality.
When you swim in a cesspool long enough you will get used to the smell. So…if you ever notice you are in a cesspool, get out immediately.
There is a lot to think about in the wisdom line I just shared above.
Do not let concern for what people think influence your decisions.
God will ask you to do things that will make no sense at all…do them anyway.
Do not believe for one second that God is interested in your comfort more than your character. God uses pain to refine character. If you don’t like that fact, it won’t do you any good to get mad at God about it.
You are going to hurt people. Do not do it on purpose, ever. When you do hurt people, say you are sorry and mean it.
The phrase, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Is true and it’s a choice. They really are just words.
Hurt people….hurt people. So…when someone hurts you, think about what has hurt them that causes them to now hurt you. It will help you forgive them.
If you promote the progress and purpose of others, you will look back over your life grateful and fulfilled and spent.
When you promote the progress and purpose of someone else, don’t expect them to do the same for you.
The size of the dream you have in life and whether or not you accomplish it, is directly correlated to how much pain and suffering you are willing to endure.
A majority of people will never win the lottery, or have even 15 minutes of fame. Don’t live for that hack dream. Remember, that anything worth having will never comes easy.
If something is worth doing, it is worth doing…even poorly.
If you are not good at something you really should do, keep practicing. You’ll get better. Someday you’ll be an expert at it.
If you have children, they will bring great joy into your heart.
If you have children, they will squeeze your heart with worry and fear.
If you have children, do everything in your power to make them successful. They will be here long after you are gone.
Try to have children. If you cannot, then adopt or foster.
Travel to a 3rd world country as soon as you can and spend no less than 4 days serving those who live there.
Never forget the people who live every day in 3rd world countries where you only visited.
If you become successful, do not let other people write what you should say.
If you become successful, do not purposefully have a public relations spokesman speak on your behalf.
If you become successful, do not prevent all bad news from getting to you…If you only let good news reach you, you will live a life starved of the truth about yourself.
Your wife knows you better than everybody except God. Listen to her unless she tells you different than God.
Do not keep news from your wife. You and your wife are one. You will not be really protecting her when you leave her in the dark about anything.
Do not keep secrets of any kind.
Live your life in such a way that you are not even tempted to keep secrets.
Speak the truth even if it makes your voice shake.
You can raise your voice and get angry without sinning.
Don’t forget the side of love that is loud, hard to give, and delivers pain.
Freedom is always living for and with others. When you only live for yourself, you are not actually free…you are slave to self.
You will never feel like forgiving, but forgive anyway and often if necessary.
Forgiveness does not mean the offender doesn’t face consequences.
You should love everybody. That does not mean you will like everybody.
How you live your life on this earth is your choice to enter Heaven or Hell. Choose wisely because God will honor your choice.
Read the Bible as often as possible. Do what it says, no matter the consequences.
Jesus is the truth and the only way to Heaven. Don’t ever let your doubt about that fact, convince you otherwise.
No matter how unpopular it makes you, never ever disagree in word or action with what Jesus of Nazareth says.
Try to have a sense of humor about yourself. It will be harder on some days than others.
The more you laugh at yourself, the lighter life will be.
You can’t control anything. That’s God’s job.
Who you are is more important than what you do or what you have.
Don’t ever forget how much God loves you.
Life is short. Live in faith, but take risks.
Do not mistake risk with faith. They are very different. Faith is confident assurance. Risk is not.
Always be a learner. The best teachers are those who are always trying to learn something.
The best way to learn is to ask questions and listen.
The next best way to learn is simply by experience.
Learning by experience can be very painful.
The most painful learning experiences may be expensive, but they are still a great education.
When an old man sits and shares with you, it’s always a good idea to have a pen and paper. That’s why I wrote these down for you. Next time, bring your own paper and pen.
When I die…I will be waiting for you in Heaven. Make sure you get there. I’d like to sit with you and have more of these chats.
The next time we sit and chat…I’d like to listen to you tell me about what your life experience has taught you.
See you soon.