Archive for July, 2010
I remember the first time I broke a wall.
It came as quite a shock. I rode my bike back and forth to elementary school each day. When I would come home, as I was putting my bicycle away, I liked to bounce the front tire off the garage wall. It was fun to do that with a bit of speed, giving me a nice satisfying jolt.
One day, however, I hit the wall with a bit too much speed. To my dismay, the sheetrock gave way, leaving a jagged hole in the wall. I had broken the wall.
As an adult, that’s not that big of a surprise. Sheetrock has a breaking point. But to a kid, that was a shocking discovery. Walls were solid. Solid things didn’t break. You could rely on walls and doors and counters to always support you.
My understanding of the world changed that day. I don’t want to be too overdramatic, but it’s true. I’m sure it wasn’t the first such discovery nor was it the last, but it’s one that stands out in my mind. Something that I thought I could depend on turned out to be more fragile than I thought.
So what are you depending on? What is solid in your world? Are you depending on yourself, on your own strength? On your health? On your ability to provide for your family?
Do you depend on the government? Is your confidence resting on military forces and police forces that protect you? Are you counting on politicians to look out for your every need?
What is solid in your world? Relationships? Money? Work? Almost all of us have learned that these things have a breaking point, like the sheetrock in our garage wall when I was a kid. Solid is relative.
Unless, of course, your life is built around God. God neither bends nor breaks. He doesn’t change. He doesn’t disappear. He doesn’t fail.
God is the only “solid” that is truly solid. All other things will let us down; the unchanging God will be there until the end of time.
Build your life on a solid foundation. Base your future on God and His promises.
She was about seven years old, in the group of Vacation Bible School kids listening to me tell the story of Joseph. Joseph was spoiled and clearly the favorite son. It made his brothers so mad that they wanted to kill him. So I asked if anyone in the class ever fought with their brothers and sisters. She held up her hand, then said that her sister was mean to her and never told her she loved her. The next words are the ones I will always remember: “…but I love her anyway because she’s still my sister.”
I wonder how long until she grows up and deals with reality. After all, we adults know better than that, don’t we? We know that people are mean, you can’t trust anyone, life’s not fair, you can’t be nice to everyone or they’ll take advantage of you. Pretty dogs sometimes bite, life’s hard, and then you die. Cynical. Unhappy. Selfish.
So when did we change? What happened to the pure, innocent hearts we had as children? Life happened. People hurt us. We made poor choices. We did things we should not have. We did not do things we should have. And sometimes we wish things could be like they were before we became so cynical. We wish we could be like the child we were: innocent, loving, pure.
Jesus said if we become like little children, we can enter the kingdom of heaven. He helps us do that. He came to make all things new, including us. He makes us pure – innocent again. He forgives the wrong choices. He teaches us to see people differently. He restores our soul. He gives us hope. He gives us life. He makes it possible to be born again.
So if you have ever wished your life could be different, if you have ever wished you could be different, if you ever wished you could be like a little child again… then Jesus is for you.
What do you think?
If we read about the first part of Howard Hughes’ life, it’s hard not to envy the man. In 1966, he was named the richest person in the world. His fortune is estimated to have been worth more than $40 billion in today’s dollars.
On a trip to Las Vegas, Hughes had a disagreement with the owner of one casino. His answer? He bought the casino and several around it. Money was his answer for everything.
Hughes was also nicknamed the world’s greatest womanizer. He dated various beautiful Hollywood actresses, including Ginger Rogers, Olivia de Havilland, and Katherine Hepburn.
In his prime, Hughes was a daring aviator and tireless tinkerer who spurred science to new heights. He was an industrialist, entrepreneur, and world record setter. His wooden plane, the Spruce Goose, was the largest amphibious plane ever built, and was taller and wider than any aircraft in history.
Surely this was a man who had it all. Despite all of that, Hughes lived his last twenty years in reclusion. He refused to appear in public or to be photographed. He became an extreme hypochondriac, with an unnatural fear of germs. He was only seen by his doctors and his personal servants. He refused to cut his hair, his beard or his nails.
It was a miserable life. When he died, he was a wretched skeleton of a man, who died outside the presence of family or friends.
Money is not the answer to everything. It can’t purchase happiness. It can’t bring us peace. It can’t even prolong our lives.
Jesus said, “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:20-21).
The apostle Paul said something similar when he wrote:
Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life (1 Timothy 6:18-19).
Howard Hughes had money, but he didn’t have what Paul calls “the life that is truly life.” He had a dismal imitation of life that no one would choose for themselves.
If your life is built around money and the things it can obtain, you’ll never know what true life is. If your treasure isn’t being stored up in heaven, it will come to be worthless to you one day. You need God and the riches he can give. You need to build your life around the things that will never lose value, that will never fail to satisfy.
You need God.
Preventative care. That’s what my dentist calls these every six month visits. They clean my teeth. Sometimes they take x-rays to look for problems. They remind me to floss. Then I write a check. I am always tempted to skip these visits. It is not like I refuse to go to the dentist. If I get a toothache, or have a problem, I would be there as soon as I could. He reminds me that if I keep doing preventative care, I won’t have to come see him because something is wrong. Take care of things now and avoid the major work later.
It makes sense and the smart thing to do is to follow his advice. In fact, you would think I don’t value my teeth if I neglected them until I had a problem. So why not apply that same principle to our relationship with God? Why neglect the everyday care of that relationship, but quickly ask God for help when life gets difficult. Maybe regular attention to what God says would prevent major problems in my life. And if I talked to God on a daily basis I would be more equipped to face life’s problems.
I wonder how God feels when I neglect to regularly put attention on my relationship with Him. God does not desire our relationship with Him to only be about crisis management. He wants us in a relationship that includes regular care and maintenance. He is certainly capable of handling the crisis in my life. He has proved that. But that is not the extent of our connection.
I like my teeth so I will keep up my daily brushing and flossing. I will continue my regular dental check-ups. I’ll be healthier and happier for it. And I am going to give daily attention to my relationship with God. I’ll be healthier and happier for it … both now and forever.