Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained.
As this year draws to a close, if you are like me, you have that introspective self-diagnostic inventory thing going on. A state of the Onion of sorts. I tend to look back and grade my life's journey for the previous twelve months. I'm sort of linear like that - a left -to-right timeline kind of guy that sees a calendar in my head with a list of successes and failures and wins and losses along the way. Where was I when the year started? What kind of growth, if any, has taken place? What kind of dynamics have changed in my life? Am I a better person than I was when 2008 started?
Many things have changed in my life since last January. In fact, "change" has been the theme of '08 for me and it had little to do with an empty politcal slogan. One of my very best friends lost a daughter, another lost his mother, and I lost one of my favorite Aunts. I nearly lost a friend, and I just learned today that one of my uncle's had a heart cath and some stints put in. My youngest daughter turned 18 and just started driving this year. She promptly wrecked our car. No harm to her - thank God. I changed jobs within my company and am now working a different shift. My biology is still recovering to it's discombobulated sleep pattern. A close friend lost his job, found another, sold his house, and is moving soon. We started attending a different church.
So this is the time when we now look ahead to the coming year with hope and expectation and a disquieting resolve to face whatever comes our way with God's help, especially that coming diet. I have had a yearly resolution for the past few years that went something like "Purpose to thrive not just survive." I've not had much luck with it - at least as it appears on the surface if I were doing the grading. Each year seems to descend into simple survival at some point. If I can just make it through the day, or make it to the weekend, or make it to the next payday, etc. Do you ever feel like that? Just survive.
Is that really what we were created for - just survival? I have an "easy button" on my desk at work that when you push it, it says, "That was easy!" I push it every night when I leave work just to remind me that things could be so much worse so I should count my blessings. Blessed I am with good health, a great family, great friends, a good job, and a close friend in the Creator of the Universe.
I was talking with my bride about this today, and we know a number of people who are complacent survivors. For whatever reason, the fight isn't there unless thrust upon them, and even then sometimes it is AWOL. There seems to be this tendency to just take life as it comes rather than a proactive pursuit of it. Without intentionality, all that is left is the hope of the hitting the pick six lottery of happenstance. If we aren't intent on the mission then the mission fails.
One of the fruits of the Spirit is self-discipline, so why don't we more readily embrace it and appropriate it? Is it fear of failure? Is it the fear of what it will cost in emotional capital? Maybe it's the physical capital? Whatever it is, it robs us of our inheritances and blessings. So below I have listed a few of my favorite quotes, quips, and nuggets of wisdom I have learned over the years. They are not all original to me, but there is no way I could provide an accurate listing of their original sources, so my apologies in advance for that.
- You get what you tolerate.
- You can't see what's ahead while you're looking back.
- Ground gained must be maintained
- Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.
- If it were easy everyone would do it.
- "Life is hard. It's harder if you're stupid." John Wayne
- Kindness pays eternal dividends.
- Live passionately, give generously, love unconditionally.
- Stick to your guns as long as they are loaded.
- The degree to which one is offended by something will usually be directly proportional to the size of the chip on their shoulder.
- Own who you are and what you do - even when you're wrong.
- Change is inevitable. Don't fear it - Faith it (face it).
- Seek God's face.
Happy New Year.
May you thrive in the coming year as you purpose to move beyond survival.
Don't look back.