Tuesday, January 17, 2017

PERSONAL MARATHONS

I spend, no, I invest some Sunday afternoons phoning friends who are running marathons. Not literal long-distance road races of the sports kind, but nitty-gritty life and death daily endurance experiences of suffering, weakness, and pain. Nevertheless, they are “marathoners” in God's “race that is set before us” as Saint Paul described our life journey.

These friends are “running” although they may be immobile. Some are bedridden, wheelchair bound, shut in, hospitalized, confined to residential care facilities, or debilitated in a variety of ways in their bodies or minds. Theirs is not a race of competition with other runners, but one of personal endurance. “Completing the race” and “crossing the finish line” is their goal—not the speed at which they are running their course. Marathoners are not sprinters with a short, intense dash and it's over. A marathon is a race for the long haul. My marathoner friends may not feel themselves a part of a crowd of competitors as if they were running the Boston Marathon. More often than not their course is a lonely one.

These are my hale and hardy friends of our younger days, some of whom I grew up with, worked with, served the Lord with, enjoyed life with. Many of us have been blessed by God with longevity but the running course set before us is not a level one. The daily terrain for some is rougher and tougher and steeper than that of others, with many hills and valleys, speed bumps, potholes, and afflictions physically, mentally, emotionally and of course spiritually. They strain with difficulty toward the Finish Line. In God's eyes they are champion marathoners, close to His heart. I pray for each one that He will send His angelic messengers to assist them in running their difficult course. I pray for the Lord to give them strength to endure. I know He waits to welcome them as the completion of their journey.

One reason that I'm interested in Marathons is that my grandson pastor Ed and his wife Laura will be training to run the full Richmond, Virginia Marathon of 26 miles this year.“Yay! Go Ed and Laura!” They have 4 young children under age 13 who will be cheering them on. Another reason for my interest is that I consider that I too ran (actually wrote sitting down at my computer) a marathon this past year during a 6 month period (which is kind of close to 26 (not miles but weeks!) to my “personal finish line” of wanting to complete 5 of my recent books...so I think I qualified for a marathon! And I did cross that personal finish line. After all, the dictionary defines a marathon as “any long contest with endurance as a primary factor.”

I did a bit of background check: The original Marathon in 490 B.C. was not a sporting event but a specific news release run of 26 miles by a professional military messenger, Pheidippides, a Greek from the area of Marathon, a plain in S.E. Greece. He was dispatched to carry the news to Athens of the victory of the Greeks over the Persians. (Obviously, no phones, radios, TV newscasters, telegraph, email or texting—just running, probably barefoot or in sandals.) The legend goes that upon arrival he shouted “Greetings! We won! Then he fell dead! Not until 2000 years later in 1896 was the Marathon race established in its modern form and the rules and length standardized at 26 miles or 385 yards. Now there are many variants, among them a wheelchair division. Until 1972 women were not allowed to participate, the race was considered too strenuous for the “weaker sex.” The oldest man to finish was 100 and the oldest woman so far was 92. (Well, this is my 92nd year too! I had to commemorate it in some way!)

An application: The Apostle Paul often uses sports terms in his New Testament letters. We are all running a race. We should run as not to run in vain but to win. And to win means to finish our particular course and cross our finish line—but not necessarily with the most speed or to compete with one another, but to persevere in our faith with endurance until the very end. All who cross the finish line are winners!  



There is laid up for us [in store for us] an imperishable crown of righteousness, (2 Timothy 4:8) not a fading, woven flower crown. We have help from on high—we have “a great cloud of witnesses” in Heaven (Hebrews 12:1) cheering us on—angels and saints, our loved ones who have gone on ahead, those who have won their race and kept the Faith and are now rejoicing in the presence of God, praying for and encouraging us who are still running our unique races.

My Sunday afternoon phone call friends are still running their own races and need our prayers. Suffering people are all around us silently bearing their lonely burdens as they take up their crosses daily. Let's be mindful of them and help them bear their burdens and crosses and “so fulfill the law of Christ,” the law of love. Jesus said that inasmuch as we do anything for the least of these we do it unto Him. *Selah! Let us “Push the PAUSE button” and reflect on that—be quiet and meditate on His words. There are depths of understanding in that promise that Jesus would have us put into action.

*That's the title of one of my 5 new books. The cases with those books have arrived and are ready to be ordered by you! Email Leona at leonachoy@gmail.com


Monday, January 16, 2017

NEVER TOO LATE?

Here's a confession: I recently ran (wrote) this mega-creative marathon of bringing to completion 5 of my unfinished manuscripts in a condensed time period (the last 6 months of this past year). 

I believed it was in response to God's nudge to do so at this time—as a “harvest project,” a thank-offering to God for His multiplied blessings on my writing in the hearts of my readers through their feedback. 

I didn't ask God why or how I should or could accomplish this, but simply went step by step as He gave me so generously the strength, continued mental and spiritual stamina, discipline, and resources to actually succeed to the point that those books have already rolled off the press. And further than my expectations—to reprint 3 more of my books which were sold out but still in demand during the same time period.

However, while accomplishing this feat, I confess that I really did push myself beyond my calendar age and current naturally diminishing strength. I came to realize that while I was running this almost impossible race in my 91st year, I was neglecting myself physically, especially in the area of bodily exercise while succeeding mentally and creatively. My pulmonologist and my other -ologists and medically wise persons have continually reminded me, “if you don't use it, you WILL lose it”—referring to both my mental and physical abilities—and that it might be irretrievable. Nevertheless, I did so willingly knowing that I was paying a price that might cost me dearly in whatever time I had left to serve the Lord in my “earth suit,” my mortal body. I decided to leave that up to God and just do what He impressed me to do.

The harvest was accomplished! All those manuscripts have been brought to completion and I have the cases of books stacked in my home studio and dedicated to the glory of God, waiting to be read. And I have experienced the consequences—fatigue, weakness, and loss of physical stamina after that big push. But I know God wouldn't let me down. At my pulmonology semi-annual appointment (I'm monitored because many years ago my lung cancer surgery left me with diminished lung capacity through the loss of a third of my lung) he gave me hope that IT'S NEVER TOO LATE if one makes a sincere U-turn, repents, and returns to a sensible regimen of exercise—yes, even as a nonagenarian, I can be restored!

I accepted that challenge as a directive from the Lord from one of His medically savvy “wise men.” Moreover, my thoughtful, caring four adult sons, always supportive, surprised me on Christmas eve with their over-the-top Christmas gift—the delivery of a humongous box full of hardware which they, along with one of my capable teenage grandsons, proceeded to assemble into a Model 270 Schwinn Recumbent Exercise Bike! (I had to look up the word “recumbent” and found that it's because it has a super comfortable molded plastic seat like a tractor and a large back rest so I can sit upright, slightly leaning back but able to remain in good posture—not a typical tiny bicycle seat!) The instrument panel looks like the dashboard in an airplane! It measures my heartbeat, pulse, oxygen level, mileage covered, calories, incline, time, goals, resistance, terrain encountered, cool down time, workout schedule—you name it! Weather is no longer an excuse for not exercising daily!

I've named this stationery vehicle my “Harley” even if it goes nowhere. It's the thought behind it! This beautiful, black, user-friendly monster's domain is in the wrap-around-windowed area of my kitchen/dining room where it is never out of my sight even from where I sit in my writing studio. I can bird watch, enjoy the view of the ever-changing seasonal forested area over the valley where I live in my home which I call “Eagle Summit.” My CD player is at hand and I ride to the cadence of classical and sacred music during my workouts. At this point I'm cycling at the kindergarten “tricycle” level because my doctor insists that retrieving my strength through exercise again must be very slow, steady, regular, and extremely mindful not to overdo.

Currently, I'm riding it 2-3 times a day for about 15 minutes each workout and my son, Rick, knowledgeable in this area, is my “personal trainer” and insists that I write down my workout totals. Let's see if the “Never Too Late” adage is reasonable or not to accomplish for one is in her nineties. I plan to give it my best shot!

It would seem that all the above would also apply to our often lax spiritual condition which we have sometimes brought on ourselves by drifting, or “backsliding” as some call it, or by our too busy and overactive but perhaps not spiritually fruitful activity, or from the attachments to sin in our lives, until we realize that somewhere we have lost our taste for a close walk with God and spiritual matters. We might have “lost the fervency of our first love for Jesus.” We can be drawn back into His loving embrace as we pray with David the Psalmist, “Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation.” Like the exercise example, our U-turn is possible and even more imperative because it is an eternal decision. Our “personal trainer” is the Holy Spirit and His indwelling presence enables our return and the new creation rejuvenation and renewal that the eagle analogy alerted us to in my verse for the year Psalm 103:5.

My Harley doesn't move. But the Lord wants us to press on and make progress spiritually, irrespective of age to keep bearing abundant fruit, to “remain very green and filled with sap” as we continue on the incline of the Upward Way. Shouldn't it be our priority for a daily spiritual workout at a steady pace with the enabling provided from Him? 

First we must return at His invitation to “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” and thus to repair the broken connections that caused the aridity of our spirit in the first place. NO, IT IS NEVER TOO LATE in God's eyes to recoup and recapture the precious intimacy with the Lord that we might have lost!

Friday, January 13, 2017

PETS OR PESTS?


A few more thoughts about those noisy, nuisance grasshoppers. Primarily they destroy by eating. I can't seem to find a single redeeming quality about them. God used them to get the attention of His people in Old Testament times and then left them, and us, with a positive promise of restoration in the face of impossibility.

In our day and in our lives we also encounter grasshoppers of a personal nature. They come to us in the form of habits that eat up our time, consume our energy, and cause us to squander our opportunities. We may think we can domesticate them and make them pets. At least my best friend Dot and I in our childhood days, probably as kindergartners, tried to do that. We would capture a few large specimens and put them into what used to be cigar boxes back in the Depression era, the late thirties of the past century.


In those days it was common for men to freely smoke cigars, probably imported from Cuba, and they would buy cigars by the wooden box. When emptied, they were great for all kinds of things like holding our crayons, our favorite rocks, baby frogs, and other kid-collectibles. Some people even used the boxes to make homemade guitars.


Dot and I used the boxes for houses for our personal grasshoppers. To this day I remember that I called my hopper King Edward and Dot called hers Habana. My guess is that those were brands of cigars back then! We punched holes in the lids for air and played out our own dramas with the hoppers. We fed them greens, laughed to see their almost human looking faces and watched them “spit” like tobacco. We got emotionally attached to our pets and were reluctant to let them go, although most often they hopped right out of the boxes when we peeked at them.


We can't domesticate grasshoppers. They persist in doing what they do—devour and destroy what is not theirs. We can't make pets out of our wasteful habits however attached we have become to them or to our time consuming, trivial pursuits. Each of us knows what they are in our own lives—the useless things that occupy our days and months and years that we wish could be redeemed. If we believe God's lavish promise, in His love and mercy they can be redeemed!
In my most recent book that has just rolled off the press,
 Psalms of My Harvest, is my poem below: 
Hungry Grasshoppers.”

It wasn't a ferocious monster
of insatiable appetite
that wantonly gobbled up
the best years of my life
and caused me tears of regret
and fears of wasted years,
it was grasshoppers—
insignificant time consumers:
grasshoppers of trivial activity
devourers of hours
chewing up my worthwhile pursuits.

They nibbled noiselessly
squandering my days
posing no early threat and yet
they swarmed and stripped
and crunched and munched
gnawing into my precious time
destroying in their wake
all that they could chew
leaving me in a desolate daze
surveying the havoc
with stupefied gaze.

Can those expired years
be irretrievably consumed?
Are they long gone
through the digestive systems
or irksome insects?

Oh Hallelujah!
The God of the impossible
can reverse the ravages of time!
He Who created can recreate!
He Who made the new can renew
and regenerate! God Who breathed
upon primeval emptiness
and brought forth life can “restore
the years the locust hath eaten”
and MORE!





Tuesday, January 10, 2017

WHAT ABOUT THOSE GRASSHOPPERS?


There seems to be much focus on those insects in the Bible, both literally as locusts (grasshoppers) and metaphorically for the enemies of God's chosen people or for swarms of catastrophes that befell them. It is recorded that God admits they came from Him—He sent them on His people! 

What was His point? It doesn't sound very loving, but God said He was using such things as grasshopper-encounters to bring His people to repentance. God wants us to return to Him—for good and not evil, for a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11 “[Heavenly] Father knows best” but we seem to persist in going our own way until some calamity befalls us. Then we start to think seriously.



 Locusts are referred to in a negative way from Genesis and Exodus through First Kings, Judges, Joel, Amos, Nahum, Jeremiah, Proverbs, Psalms, and Second Chronicles with their culmination in Revelation chapter nine. Why grasshoppers? I really don't know. Perhaps to show us that such small things, cumulatively, can cause such devastation?


In the midst of stories about grasshoppers, one shining promise of hope stands out in Joel 2:25 26. “Then I [the Lord God] will make up to you for the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the creeping locust, the stripping locust, and the gnawing locust, My great army which I sent among you, and you shall have plenty to eat and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you; then My people will never be put to shame.” How can something that was literally consumed, eaten up, and digested in a grasshopper's stomach still be given back to us? Let's leave those details up to God who is in the miracle business. If He says He can do it, I believe Him.


Other versions of the Bible translate “make up to you the years the locusts have eaten” as “restore to you, repay to you, give you back what you lost, recompense you, and make up for.” Who of us doesn't have some past actions or thoughts that we regret? In some cases literal years have been wasted, years squandered, time and opportunities lost that seem irretrievable, unrecoverable. They are eaten up and consumed. Period. End of story? Not so, according to God!


I'm reminded of Jesus' story of the two brothers and their Dad. In accord with the Eastern custom in biblical times, just as in the present, inheritance didn't get divided until the parent died. The younger son went totally against normal protocol by saying, in effect, “Dad, I wish you were dead! Give me my share now.” Actually, according to Eastern custom, as the younger son he got only a third of Dad's inheritance. Two thirds was always given to an eldest son. Dad must have given him his share promptly too. Dad ended up with nothing. That's why Dad said to the older son, “All that I have is yours.” If they had such taxes in those days, big bro could have taken Dad as his dependent. Big bro could have been having all the parties he wanted. He was pretty rich since his younger brother left; it was his choice to keep diligently working in the field with the hired help. Okay, we admire that, but his attitude stinks. He was jealous and sullen and vengeful. I just hope he treated his Dad respectfully—and his Mom, if there was one living.


The younger son had his own confrontation with grasshoppers. His fair-weather friends off in some non-Jewish country consumed all his inheritance like grasshoppers and then spit him out. God let it happen in order to draw him back to his father's house. He came to his senses, reflected on his sorry condition, and followed a good re-plan: Regret, repent, return. He was received by his merciful, loving Dad unconditionally, reconciled and restored to his family, and it was time to rejoice. Just like the Joel chapter two promise in action and fulfillment.


I'd love to know a sequel to this dysfunctional family story. Or at least an epilogue. Did older bro repent of his sour attitude? Did he let bygones be bygones and shared his inheritance with the younger bro? Did they all live happily ever after? Maybe yes, maybe no. Jesus didn't tell us.


What did Jesus want us to learn? Restoration after repentance is possible and available even after grasshoppers, whatever their true identity, have gobbled up years of our lives. I have experienced such grasshopper-eaten years. God promised to repay, to give back what was lost, to make up to us if we repent. The returns we receive might not be exactly in the same kind. In fact, they will more than likely be better and in greater generosity than what those insects ate and which went through their digestive system.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

REturns on God's investment


“Here you are at nearly 92 still writing and publishing your Christian books. Why would you have written five more new books recently? Why not just REtire?”

I often get that question. I have given a lot of thought to that through the years and I do have an answer. It's because God obviously likes fruit. My books have been a part of my fruit that I offer God. I write to please Him irrespective of whether anyone buys or reads them--although I hope they do!

In fact, God insists that we produce fruit all the seasons of our lives, in season and out of season (Psalm 92:14). Advanced age is not an excuse. He has given us life and gifts and opportunities to bear fruit for His glory. He has lovingly invested these in us and expects a return on His investment. Just as in Jesus' parable of the landowner who planted and prepared a vineyard and then committed its care to vinegrowers. (Matthew 21:33, 34) At harvest he had every right to expect fruit from the vineyard. At harvest God fully expects fruit from us, from me.

Fruit bearing is not optional. If we don't bear the fruits of the Spirit in our personal lives and character (Galatians chapter 5), He cannot use us to do His works. If we produce just a little, He prunes us so we will bear more. (John chapter 15) He is after an abundance: we older Christians are to be “full of sap and very green” (Psalm 92:14) not wilted or dried up. He is after a harvest of thirtyfold, sixtyfold, and a hundredfold especially from those to whom He has given long life and the most investment. We are the most accountable.

The Christian life is not a matter of works for salvation. We receive that by God's grace alone not by our own efforts. Nevertheless, throughout Scripture we are reminded that God will judge us by our works. Our work is bearing fruit. God, who knows our inner spirit, will sort out our works at judgment time whether they have been combustible or indestructible as gold and silver and precious stones. (I Corinthians 3:11-13)


There are many kinds of spiritual fruit just as there is a variety of fruit and vegetables.  God certainly doesn't expect everyone to write books. We are not expected to bear the same kind or quantity of fruit as someone else. Being busy is not the same as bearing fruit nor is it a substitute. It is like the wax or plastic fruit that is displayed on some tables—neither palatable nor nourishing. It doesn't count with God. Neither is quantity the same as abundance. It is irrelevant how many books I've written. We are not to be in competition with other fruit bearers.  

As in Jesus' parable, God has committed one talent to some, two to others, and five to some. (Matthew 25:14) The one talent person is not held responsible for God's investment of five, but only for the one. The five talented is accountable for bearing five times as much. “To whom much is given, of him shall much be required.” By “talent” in the context of the parable, Jesus was referring to money and not a gifting or talent as in a natural ability.

I'm accountable only for myself and what God has invested in me. I want to be a responsible steward. Yes, I'm keen on giving Him a good return. I welcome each new day as one more opportunity to put more spiritual fruit into a “basket” to present to Him. I certainly have nothing against REtirement or REst. Both are good re-words. Both have their place and time. But while God gives me the mind and creative ability and strength and earth-time, I want to work on filling my “fruit basket” to overflowing.

That imaginary and invisible “basket” is an indestructible one because it contains fruit that God “preserves.” Jesus talked about “fruit that remains.” I have sent it on ahead. My spiritual fruit, and your genuine fruit is the only kind that reaches heaven as its destination without rotting or spoiling. It can't be burned up or stolen en route. Here on earth we now have a freeze-drying process but that still has its limitations. The fruit in my basket offered to God reaches heaven immediately and waits in God's storehouse or big freezer or however the angels preserve spiritual things that remain until the judgment.

So—am I still writing now that I've finished these recent books? Of course! My other baskets of fruit have already reached heaven's storehouse. I've taken a new basket and have started filling that up with more fruit. What you are reading here today might be part of a new book!



Thursday, January 5, 2017

Looking for a “makeover”?

I do want a makeover, yes, imagine, even at my advanced age. No, not the kind pictured here, nor the cosmetic kind, nor the fashionable dressing kind. Not even the physical appearance kind although health does relate to it. Primarily the kind of makeover you can't see, the inner person kind. 

It's never too late for that. Most of us are looking for a renewal of some sort which is behind all the flurry of resolutions that are made at New Years. We want to change from "the same old-same old" to some newness and we think we can do it ourselves. More often than not, we fail in the first week of the year. Voila! God is in the makeover business and I want to take advantage of His super-special offer! It's not a limited time offer, however. It is eternal.

I've made it a habit to focus on one concept or “word” each year which will give the rocket-thrust to my life at present. I have discussed that habit often in my blog posts. So I think I discern my “word” on which to focus my thoughts and life for this coming new year. I've been trying to listen to what God is nudging or whispering as His will for my current state and season in life in my 92nd year. 

The idea for my word lies in my blog post for December 30, 2016, An Eagle Tale: Rejuvenation God's Way. Therefore I have chosen as my “word” for the year, RENEW, including all the ways that I can unpack it to express how to live it out in my life. Reflect on that with me in light of the eagle story and my verse for the year 2017, Psalm 103:5 “It is [God] who satisfies your life with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle.” Eagles knows all about senior-bird makeovers and we can learn from them.

The word renew carries with it many closely related definitions which will expand its meaning for me. Renew is an “again” word. The re- prefix seems endless when the dictionary is consulted. In the eagle story rejuvenation is the main point.

First I want to explore the meaning of the word renew: “to begin or take up again, resume, restore, replenish, reestablish to a former state, to make as if new again, to repair, to bring back to the original condition of freshness and vigor, make good any dilapidation, put into good or sound condition as from an injury, damage, wear and tear, decay, to mend, to restore what has faded or been lost.” YES! That's what I am asking the Lord for. From Scripture I understand that is what He promises to do for us and what He expects of us in our summit years—to be “full of sap and very green” (Psalm 92:12-15).

By the time we've lived a few scores of earth years, don't all of us feel kind of like we've experienced the paragraph above and, like the frumpy, worn out eagle in its later years, in dire need of a makeover?
That's what I plan to be working on for however long the Lord gives, trying to cooperate with Him in every area of my life. Not for my vanity or pride or by my strength or achievement, but by His grace and enabling and for His glory.

This is only an appetizer to give my friends a heads-up for what I plan to be about in the days and weeks and months of this year, or as long as He gives me breath and life. Also to invite and welcome you to join me on this makeover journey in whatever way it might fit your season of life and circumstances and needs in Christ.

I want to jump-start us by looking at my year verse in Psalm 103 in the paraphrased/amplified Bible which brings out additional meanings: It is “[God] who satisfies your mouth [your necessity and desire at your personal age] with good; so that your youth, renewed, is like the eagle's [strong, overcoming, soaring]! (cross referencing Isaiah 40:30, 31): “Even youths shall faint and be weary, and the selected young men shall feebly stumble and fall exhausted; but those who wait for the Lord—who expect, look for and hope in Him—shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint or become tired.” What great starting gun verses for our journey into 2017!

I find it interesting that various versions of the Bible translate that first phrase of 103:5, “...satisfies your mouth, your days, your years, your life....” that is, bring to fulfillment and consummation whatever you and I need in order to be satisfied, complete, finished and contented.

I'm so eager to unpack other re- words and dig the gold out of them to apply to my life: refresh, refuel, rejoice, redeem, rebuild, recapture, refill, reflect, regenerate, restore, reinforce, etc. I'll certainly have to delve deeply into the verses in the book of Revelation chapter two where Jesus puts His finger on the loss of first love for Him (v.4) which unfortunately characterized the early Church at Ephesus. The folks in that Church had much that Jesus commended but were lacking in one priority respect. By inference we may apply this to ourselves personally. What “heights have we fallen from” (v.5) as the years have passed? His “word” for us is “Repent—change the inner man to meet God's will—and do the works you did previously [when first you knew the Lord]” v.5.

I'm ready for a makeover, a rejuvenation, a renewal in every aspect of my life. Of course it might be costly and not achieved without surrendering some of the attachments of this world to which I have become accustomed. But becoming “transformed by the renewal of our minds” into the image of Jesus Christ is what it's all about, isn't it? (Romans 12:1,2)

On the lighter side, yes, there are some who are not too happy about their makeovers. But I'm not going to go there. 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

SNOOPY'S LESSON

I'm inspired by some of the dramatic commercials on TV and the posts on Facebook, but I must admit that most of the time I don't remember what they were advertising! I see analogies everywhere through them and use them as grist for my writing ideas. Even Snoopy dog has something wise to teach me as in a cartoon where he is reclining on top of his dog house with the caption, "Don't let what you can't do interfere with what you can."



Like the commercial about the man on the golf course. He admits that he is bad at golf. Nevertheless he adds, “But I'd like to keep being bad at golf as long as I can.”



Or similar ones about the lady hiking in the lowlands with a backpack and addressing the camera, “I accept that I'm not the mountain climber that I used to be, but I'm still going for my best.” It's echoed in another commercial showing a fisherman standing in shallow waters and fly fishing. “I'm not out deep sea fishing anymore, but I'm still doing what I love to do.” On it goes. I think we get the point.



The years fly rapidly by and I find myself a nonagenarian. So let me be realistic and apply it to myself. I, who have always been the one in control of myself and my circumstances and my abilities, have to seriously begin pacing myself. I need to, albeit reluctantly, cut back on my activities and especially my expectations of myself. Not regress but simply cut back.


 I express it by the fingers of both hands: On one hand I use my five fingers for five words to remind myself: “I can't do this anymore.” And on the other hand, those five fingers contradict the other hand and declare: “But I can still do this!” Like the hiker not able to scale Mount Everest anymore, and the persistent golfer and the fisherman in the commercials above —I have a list of things that both of my “speaking” hands represent. But it takes both hands together to applaud. Therein is contentment.



It's okay. “I accept that I can't do (some things) anymore. I also accept that there is much, sometimes of a different nature, that I can still do” to please God and accomplish His purpose for my life while I'm in my calendar-challenged years. That's the natural way God planned for the advancing seasons of life. We have our prime seasons when we feel invincible and the world is at our disposal, the sky is the limit, and our energy is boundless. There seems to be nothing that I can't do. When that has to be scaled down, it doesn't diminish our worth to God or affect His love for us or His pleasure in us. “To everything there is a season” and the seasons of nature are different from one another, as are the seasons of a man's and woman's life. To accept that is contentment.



I have a lot to learn yet, as did the Apostle Paul. He was always learning to live through contrasts and go with the flow of life and whatever God was taking him through. He always seemed to be hitting speed bumps to slow him down. So he learned to be content in want and also to abound; to be lauded and applauded, also to be persecuted and beaten; to be young and zealous, and to experience the weakness of aging; to be welcomed and to be rejected; to be mobbed by crowds and to suffer the loneliness of imprisonment; to doing the teaching himself and teaching others to carry the torch after him.

Shouldn't we, as God's beloved children, as we live out our lives “in Christ,” learn our lessons well in the vicissitudes of life? Let's ride the waves of our sometimes diminishing strength and encountering our seemingly narrowing opportunities. 


We have Jesus as the Pilot of our life ship and He knows where the small speed bumps and and also where the hidden icebergs are, or as the hymn writer put it, “hiding rocks and treacherous shoals.”



I'm back to learning again the lessons of the Serenity prayer: to change what I can still change; to accept what I can't change; and to pray for wisdom to sort out the difference. That is contentment! That is peace and serenity. Help, Lord!