The Path to Survival and Success

I sometimes parody Robert Frost’s old poem by saying, “Two paths diverged in a wood, and I, I blazed a new trail between them.” One should never let tunnel vision limit their achievements. Just because three options present themselves does not exclude the possibility of a fourth. Creatively pondering what other paths one may take may just prompt recognitions of a new trail.

Sometimes, however, our trails reach a dead end. A deep chasm looms ahead or a wall blocks our progress. What shall we do? One possibility is to turn around and go back to our starting point. We also might choose to give up. When some people reach this situation in their lives, they attempt suicide. Almost always, other options exist than surrendering. One may try to climb the wall or build a bridge across the canyon. If a wall, we may look to the right and left to see if passageways exist in those directions. We may even be able to build a door in the wall. Seriously, even when it seems that there are none, options usually exist in life. They may not be our first choice; they may require giving up a long-cherished goal. Sometimes the new path leads in a better direction.

Psalm 37 gives several insights to surviving and thriving when it seems opposition cannot be overcome or that we have run out of options. These include:

“Do not fret” (verses 1 and 8).
“Trust in the Lord and do good” (verse 2).
“Commit your way to the Lord” (includes prayer, verse 3).
“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him”(verse 7).
“Refrain from anger” (verse 8).
Keep the word of God in your heart (verse 31).
Follow good role models (verse 37)
“Take refuge” in God (verse 40).

Maintaining calm and trusting reliable counselors (to include God) greatly increase odds for survival and success. Restraining anger and panic is critical. Fear breeds failure. Having a sustained pattern of behavior, especially in scripture study, prayer, and association with other believers, helps but one also needs to learn to wait and to build flexibility. Rigidity paralyzes people when unexpected situations arise. The message of Psalm 37 is that even when situations seem to require new solutions, some basic truths and practices will sustain us. When multiple options exist in life, God’s word will help us navigate the best trail to our destination.

#anger, #church-of-christ, #faith, #fear, #god, #hope, #poetry, #prayer, #robert-frost, #role-models, #scripture-study, #suicidal-ideation, #trust, #tunnel-vision

One of the people I want to be like

Over on the Gospel Progress site, I honor a college professor and friend born on this day, who passed away over a decade ago. It’s good to recall such spiritual influences on our lives. He’s one of the people I want to be like: calm, thoughtful, wise, even-keeled, peaceful.

• G. Campbell Morgan once preached on John 12.36. (See his The Westminster Pulpit, vol. IX, chap. XXII.) His approach prompted this little short outline—the key words are mine—that might just serve for a class or sermon:

  1. Opportunity: “While you have the light.”
  2. Invitation: “believe in the light.”
  3. Outcome: “that you may become sons of light.”

Reckon that’ll preach?

• Campbell cites part of a poem by Thomas Whytehead. I retouched just a part of what he cited.

The world as a whole,
Like a parched, ancient scroll,
Shall before my amazed sight uproll,
Without smoke or screen,
At one burst will be seen,
The Presence wherein I have been.

• Don’t miss Mac Deaver’s somewhat lengthy, but deserving, article, “Flawed from the Beginning,” published today on Biblical Notes. Excellent material that deserves careful study. His thesis:

… early on there were flaws in the thinking of some who were most engaged in the effort at “restoration.” There was a (1) hermeneutical flaw regarding the place of deduction in discerning the pattern of authority, (2) an epistemological flaw, therefore, that did not allow for clear distinction between matters of faith and matters of opinion, and (3) there was the willingness of some involved in the formative period of “restoration” thought to spiritually fellowship other religious people who had never obeyed the gospel, which rendered the whole effort at restoration suspicious.

• Barbara Anne has been in Costa Rica for a week or so now, is getting herself set up for several months of work there. She says she’s not seen any of the Jurassic Park dinosaurs popping up. I’m sure she’d appreciate a prayer or two. Among other things, she’ll teach English as an evangelistic outreach, and already has two requests.

• The Jurassic conversation came up because I recently reread the book. It was set in or off the coast of Costa Rica. What prompted me was news of the rerelease of the film in HD or 3D or DVD or something, I don’t remember. Ah, you’re in luck, I found it: here’s the review I read.

• We talked last night to our son The Middleman, who said that, after some 8 years, he has adapted to the US. Some hankerings, however, overcome him at times, like a desire to eat a little French loaf from off the grill, slathered in butter. The Missus said this morning she’d been tempted to go buy and fix some, then send a photo to him. Is that cruel or what? Disclaimer: I thought of doing the same.

• Do have books around your house or office that have become pretty much passé now with the Internet? I have several, like a rhyming dictionary, which I never use any more. Others may be available online, like Bible versions or English and Portuguese dictionaries (I have half a dozen of the latter), but preferable at times to use the hard copy. But maybe I should give up Phillips’s paraphrase paperback? (I need to start culling.)

• After a while on Facebook and Twitter, as well as other corners and spaces on the Internet—even news sites, I want to shout: “If you’re going to write, learn how to spell.” I don’t mind abbreviations and other artifices for texting. I do mind butchering the language. But I don’t shout or even mutter. It would be a finger-in-the-dike exercise. There are other fights I’d rather save my breath for.

• BrotherhoodNews.com is lately a bit hit and miss, not as frequent as we’d like to see it. Prayers are called for. Suggestions, volunteers, and write-ups would also be welcome. News doesn’t fall from the sky into our lap.

• One writer for The Economist says that if you’re going to learn a second language, you should learn Brazilian Portuguese. I like that, but maybe not for all the reasons she gives. Some of them, not all. It’s a beautiful language spoken by millions, one of the major ones in the world, and one that communicates marvelously the gospel of Christ. Brazil needs to hear it. Why not learn the language?

#brazilian-portuguese, #corollaries, #gospel-of-john, #restoration-movement, #role-models