Monday, March 26, 2012

I want....................

"You ask and do not receive
because you ask amiss,
that you may spend it on your pleasures."

James 4:3

I was sitting in a doctors office the other day and chanced to pick up a small devotional book that caught my attention.leafing through it I saw a devotional entitled : "Me First". It .set me to thinking of how much I may have fit the mold.

A lot of us, who grew up in the Great Depression, did not enjoy the little frills of life. Perhaps some were able to get anything they wanted, but in my case nothing really came without effort. I was fortunate that my father was able to work, and we had food and necessities. Christmas was always good but in many cases gifts were home-made. I remember that I could say "I want that..." when we were in a store but more often than not, my father or mother would say, "I know you WOULD LIKE that, but we can't afford it right now." Fact of the matter is, there wasn't that much extra that we could afford bargain -price Saturday afternoon movies

Fortunately, I wasn't afraid to work doing things like pitching hay, shoveling manure, stacking a woodpile, or mowing lawns throughout our community. I didn't earn much but it was enough for a candy bar or two, a nickel soda, nails for my "cabin" upstream from our house, and cheap doo-dads from the local dime store.

When I reached adulthood I was convinced that our children would not suffer the privation I had experienced in childhood. But in honesty, I wanted to make up for lost time getting 'stuff" I wanted. .Christmas would roll around and we'd spend money we really couldn't afford. .I remember pawning a bowling ball one time so we would have hot dogs and beans for Thanksgiving. I wanted the latest hi-fi, stereo, color television, or car, even if it was at the expense of important things.

All those memories came back to haunt me when I saw that little devotional. I realized that there was a big difference between "I want" and "I need." I don't think I heard God very clearly when God was warning me about the hazards of the "I wants..".More likely I wasn't paying attention when His message was to live life according to his guidance - I was simply trying to do things MY way.

I hear Him more clearly today. There are still a thing or two I'd like but now there is a voice in my soul reminding me that other priorities are more important. I've come to the conclusion that needs are far more important than wants. I only wish I had heeded my conscience - God's voice - a whole lot sooner.

Father in heaven:
Even with our transgressions,
our selfish desires  and  preoccupations,
you still watch over us
and love us
in spite of ourselves.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Frailty of Life

"You do not even know what tomorrow will
bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that
appear for a little while and then vanishes."

James 4:14

Somewhere, far back in my life, somebody came up to me one day and asked me a strange question: "Why is a duck?"  Weird question, I thought. I tried to think of some logical answer and there just seemed to be no answer. So, I looked back at my friend, a quizzical look on my face, and said, "Well, why IS a duck? His answer, "Because."

Well, if you think that is a strange question, think of all those you've asked yourself and couldn't come up with an answer.Especially when it is a question why things happen to some people - or, for that matter why things happen to you.  Especially when the questions relate to life. Why do some people go through life enduring pain? Why do bad things happen to good people and sometimes bad people seem to get off Scott free? Why do some people die too young?

I'm reminded of a very good friend of mine from sixty years ago. He was tall and gangly, a really fun guy to be around. We bowled candle pins together in a Massachusetts bowling lead. It's a tricky game - ten skinny pins and three shots with small bowling balls and pins that are knocked down are left to be played with standing pins. Very tricky - and you are lucky to have an average of 110 or so. I made a lot of misses and so did my friend. And when he made a miss he wrinkled up his face in a wry grin and say, "No luck"  It was that way one Tuesday night - and on Wednesday morning at work he didn't come in. He had died in the middle of the night. Why him - a young active guy in good health?  Why?

Life is filled with whys that seem to have no answers. Why does something bad seem to happen to a good person? Why did I have colon cancer and survive 30 years when a guy down the hall not make it? Was I better than him? I doubt it. Why did so many innocent people die on 9/11? Was it their fault they were where they were, or was it intended for them to die? There have been fatalists (I think of men in wars past) who have said "I'm not going to think about it - there's likely a bullet meant just for me - when my time comes, my time comes."

 I'd rather think of life in terms of living life to the fullest. Not thinking about death, and not worrying that much about tomorrow. Worry is like a cancer - it eats at you from the inside out. On the other hand, at my ripe age in the eighties, I'm just glad to be able to get out of bed in the morning and realize that God has given me at least one more day to do something that makes life better. I pray that God will open some kind of a door for me to move a few more inches in life and thank Him for all the doors he's opened over the years.

That's not to say that there haven't been life challenges. Family. Work. Health. But a simple faith has always seen response. God has answered prayers. Not necessarily the way I expected but always offering strength for the next day. Sometimes with opportunities. Sometimes with joy. Sometimes with peace during pain. Certainly with assurance when I felt it impossible to cope with frustrations and doubts. No matter what, God is.

Lord, God:
remind me that I am loved
and that you are my strength and
support in all my days.