Thursday, November 15, 2012

Leona a.k.a. "SAL"

It's short for SALmon!

I don't remember how it started, but among friends for the past year I have been signing “Sal” as my informal signature.  I refer to myself as “God's SALmon still swimming/leaping upstream in life, only somewhat more slowly due to chronological factors.” The main factor being my current age of 87.
A little background on the salmon analogy first.

Alaska salmon have a most interesting life. One that takes them from the rivers and streams of Alaska's wild frontier an incredibly long distance to the high seas of the Pacific Ocean—and back again. In fact, right back to the very place they were born. They find their way from the immensity of the ocean by their amazing created instinct from God. Salmon swim from fresh water to salt water and back again!

Hatched from small eggs in a stream bed, their journey downstream towards the ocean takes a couple of years. After that, they head out to the salty ocean for up to 4 more years. They swim and feed more than 2000 miles throughout the northern Pacific Ocean. Their journey is hazardous at every point as they are constantly hunted by seals, whales, and fishermen. 

When fully mature, the adult salmon will swim back to their original stream or river re-adapting to fresh water. Downstream was relatively easy; returning upstream dangerous and requiring great strength and risk. They swim against the strong current through rugged rivers to leap up miles of rapids and rocky waterfalls, traversing fish ladders, avoiding nets and hooks of fishermen, and staying clear of fierce and hungry bears. 

Those that survive and finally reach their natal stream breed and lay their eggs. Their life cycle is complete. After spawning they generally die within a week or two, fertilizing the stream and creating a nutrient-rich environment for the new infant salmon that are about to hatch.

An analogy to myself?

I too have been on a long adventurous life journey of many decades in various geographical scenarios and under challenging conditions both physical and spiritual. 

Obstacles and hazards and adversities have been overcome or have passed
 or I am accepting and managing them with the help and strength of our loving
 God. I hope I have matured in wisdom while I have been weathered by the
 different seasons of life and shifting circumstances. At times I felt that the 
change from life's fresh waters to salty waters was impossible. But one adapts.
 And God brings me back to refresh me with abundant fresh water blessings 

Violent bear and whale attacks both material and spiritual have been frequent
 of my life. The hooks of the enemy often came too close. The battles have been
 fierce but not terminal—some wounds and scars remain. It seems that I've often
 had to swim against the current; at times also in deep waters and stormy seas. 
The distances to accomplish the goals of my life which I've felt the Lord gave me 
often seemed daunting. Sometimes I have lost direction in the vast ocean of life. 
Time and again God helped me readjust my compass to align with His will and I
 was on my way once more to the destination He planned.

At times I've been exhausted, worn and weary by the length of the life's lonely
 journey. Retirement beckoned invitingly. Why not stay in the perceived shelter
 of the ocean and drift with the tide to some easier Finish Line? Swimming 
upstream and leaping rapids is just too difficult anymore. That's meant for the
 young. Been there, done that.

Nevertheless, the vision and destiny which God planted in my heart from my
 youth, like the inborn instinct of the tiny salmon hatchlings, impelled me to 
first head downstream into the thick of ocean life in my prime years, and then
 in maturity to struggle upstream again. “I press on [keep leaping upstream] in
 order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ 
Jesus.” And I press on [keep leaping upstream] toward the goal for the prize of
 the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4: 12,14).

As long as God generously provides for me His life and breath and strength 
and opportunities through my spoken or written or published words, I will
keep leaping the rapids. In these days of my maturity I want to be faithful 
wherever and however and whenever I can to reproduce the Christ-life in others.
That is my calling. And God's calling has no expiration date—it is for a lifetime.
 There is no retirement program if one's focus is to do the will of God “on earth
 as it is in heaven.” It's a joyous upstream adventure all the way!

By signing “Sal” I guess I remind myself of the Lord's continuous upward call on my life without respect to chronological age.

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