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Archive for the ‘Thought for the Day / Quotes’ Category

It’s popularly held that a person ought to use their “platform” to speak to the issues of the day. But that has created an atmosphere of nearly constant conflict, where our opinions are elevated above sustaining meaningful relationships within our communities. Now even tragic events are seen as an opportunity to advance our particular agenda. We’ve become a society that is more passionate about its ideas than compassionate for its neighbors. Unless we reverse that trend, the quality of our existence will continue to erode.

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I believe that if we ever hope to live up to the potential of Philippians 4:13 (I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me), we must first succumb to the reality of John 15:5 (apart from me, you can do nothing). Human nature is such that as long as we think there is some alternate route to reach our destination, we’ll take it.

 

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Our son Patrick has a big heart, and when he was younger, his response to seeing a hurting child (e.g. starving, abused, poor..) was always the same, “We could adopt them, and they can stay in my room”. I always loved that impulse in him; not only the desire to reach out to those in need, but also a willingness to sacrifice something of his own to make it happen.  I’d like to think we cultivated that in him, as we’ve tried to be a family that consistently extends ourselves for the people we encounter.  Throughout his formative years, my wife’s mother, who was legally blind and unable to walk, lived with us.  After my dad passed away, my mother came to live with us for some years as well.  At other times, we’ve housed folks who were homeless, addicted, and/or otherwise at risk.  Like Patrick, we had a hard time walking by someone who was hurting, and not wanting to help.  But in those years, when the kids were really young, there was a practical reality that also set in.  With so many people depending on us for physical, financial, spiritual, and emotional support, our resources (e.g. time, energy, patience, money..) became taxed way beyond our capacity to replenish them.  After a period of years, we found ourselves exhausted, deeply in debt and becoming somewhat cynical about our fellow man.

 

At that point, there were many people who stepped up to share their wisdom with me, which essentially said that I was foolish to have poured so much into other people’s lives, and that I should have been more focused on taking care of my own. Some pointed out that I had ultimately compromised my family’s security because I’d not been more protective of our assets.  As much as I wanted to argue with them, there was ample evidence that we needed to make some changes.  Even so, I never wanted to become the kind of person who was oblivious to other people’s struggles, and I definitely didn’t want to be the kind of neighbor feasting on prime rib, while my neighbors are rummaging for scraps.  So I began to look for the middle ground between my son’s eagerness to take in every orphan, and the pragmatists, who were urging me to be more cognizant of our limited resources.  It’s a balance that we’re still working on all these years later.

 

My reason for sharing this little narrative is that I think it is representative of where the United States of America finds itself today. There are those idealists who are constantly identifying new groups of people who are in need, and who they believe the U.S. has a moral obligation to care for.  Like my son, I can relate to their passionate urge to reach out to these people.  And then there are the realists, who rightfully point out that even a country as grand as this has a finite capacity to meet all those needs, and that our national credit cards are already maxed out.  As much as I don’t love their message, they are not wrong that something needs to change.

 

Even though the two ends of this philosophical spectrum are speaking the loudest, I believe that most people find themselves somewhere in the middle. Though we can’t do everything we’d like for everyone who’s in need, it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do anything for anyone other than ourselves.  We need to pick our spots, and to find ways to reach out within the bounds of our resources; both as a nation, and maybe more importantly, on an individual basis.  We need to quit expecting the government to do something on a national scale, that we ourselves are unwilling to do on a local scale.  I believe that the response to the recent natural disasters is a beautiful example of what is possible.  No one needed the government to tell them what had to be done.  We didn’t need to wait for legislation to be passed before taking action.  “We the People” saw what was needed and got busy.  The government has their part too, but it was just regular people who made the immediate difference.  That is the country I still love, and I still believe in.  If we could take all the energy that is currently being spent on protesting what we don’t like, and invest it into tangibly practicing what we say we believe in, there is no end to what we could accomplish.

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When we allow things to eclipse the Son, darkness ensues.

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There is no painless path to growth.

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I believe that we often struggle to hear what God is saying because we’re trying to figure out “what to do”, when He’s speaking about “who we are”. His destiny for us isn’t a place, or a vocation, it is a person we were created to be.

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Sometimes along the path to discovering who you were created to be, you find who you weren’t made to be. Though such moments can be difficult, they ultimately bring you closer to your destiny.

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