To Soar or not to Soar, That is the Question

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Life offers two choices.

We can live scurrying for survival or soaring to the unlimited heights. The choices are modeled by two these two creatures.

A few months back while sitting in a boat fishing with a couple of friends, I noticed a field mouse on the river bank. He emerged out of his hole, darted in a couple of directions, and then scurried back. I thought of the existence of this little creature. His life is spent running around, frightened and frantic, following his nose. He darts here, scurries there, turns in circles, but never really sees much beyond his nose. He is trying to sniff his way to successful living, which defined, by a mouse’s existence, is finding some daily morsel to consume, to sustain him, so that he can carry on for the rest of his life, frightened and frantic. Sound familiar.

A few minutes later I glanced up and noticed soaring high above was an Osprey.

Rather than a picture of a frightened and frantic existence, I saw a wide winged creature using the air currents to maneuver majestically in the unlimited heights. Rather than sniffing out a meager existence, this keen eyed hunter with a panoramic view of the river and lake beneath, was simply waiting for the appropriate time to swoop and capture his prey. The amazing creature, rather than return to some tiny hole in the river bank, glides toward a nest fashioned at the top of the tallest of trees.

The strength in his wings, the power in his talons, the amazing capacity of his vision, the effortless capacity to soar, It is the osprey, not the field mouse that models our human potential.

I don’t know about you, but it is easy for me to decide which creature I want to exemplify my life. I want to soar. I want to explore. I want to see the big picture. I want to conquer. I want to climb higher, go farther, dive deeper, and experience more. I want my soul enlarged, my mind expanded, my heart enlivened and my spirit energized. I want the scurrying to stop. I want the frantic darting about following my nose, to end. I want new strength, fresh thinking, clear vision and resolved courage.

I want to be more and more like the osprey and less like the field mouse, for to live like this field mouse is to insult the Creator and deny my true destiny.

Mt 6:33Β “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Perfection

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The way to achieve excellence and perfection is through experience. And experience is filled with mistakes. If it were not, we would not learn very much from it.

It is admirable to aspire to perfection, but foolish indeed to expect that it will come quickly or without mistakes. It certainly pays to expect the best of yourself. It also pays to be realistic and patient. Keep in mind that it’s not you that should steer you, but if you have God’s Spirit in you and if trusted will direct your steps.

Perfection in any endeavor is an aiming point, not a starting point. Let the desire for it push you, but don’t let the absence of it stop you. If you’re ever going to get anything done, you must start somewhere. More specifically, you must start where you are.

Even in our world of instant fortunes, instant communication and instant gratification, it is still true that anything of true and lasting value takes time and effort. Aim for perfection, and follow the less-than-perfect road that will get you there.

A Great Street Sweeper

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A True Story…..

I had been working much too long on this job. I guess things could have been worse. I certainly wasn’t doing hard labor. But going door to door asking questions as a representative of the federal government wasn’t the most satisfying position either. It was August. It was hot. I had to wear a tie.

‘Hello. My name is Bob Perks and we are doing a survey in this neighborhood.’

‘I’m not interested! Good bye!’

You can’t imagine how many times I heard that. I finally caught on and began with

‘Before you slam the door, I am not selling anything and I just need to ask a few questions about yourself and the community.’ The young woman inside the doorway, paused for a moment, raised her eyebrows as she shrugged her shoulders confused by my rude introduction.

‘Sure. Come on in. Don’t mind the mess. It’s tough keeping up with my kids.’

It was an older home in a section of the valley where people with meager income found affordable shelter. With the little they had, the home looked comfortable and welcoming.

‘I just need to ask a few questions about yourself and family. Although this may sound personal I won’t need to use your names. This information will be used’

She interrupted me. ‘Would you like a glass of cold water? You look like you’ve had a rough day.’

‘Why yes!’ I said eagerly. Just as she returned with the water, a man came walking in the front door. It was her husband.

‘Joe, this man is here to do a survey.’ I stood and politely introduced myself.

Joe was tall and lean. His face was rough and aged looking although I figured he was in his early twenties. His hands were like leather. The kind of hands you get from working hard, not pushing pencils. She leaned toward him and kissed him gently on the cheek. As they looked at each other you could see the love that held them together. She smiled and titled her head, laying it on his shoulder. He touched her face with his hands and softly said ‘I love you!’

They may not have had material wealth, but these two were richer than most people I know. They had a powerful love. The kind of love that keeps your head up when things are looking down.

‘Joe works for the borough.’ she said.

‘What do you do?’ I asked. She jumped right in not letting him answer.

‘Joe collects garbage. You know I’m so proud of him.’

‘Honey, I’m sure the man doesn’t want to hear this.’ said Joe.

‘No, really I do.’ I said.

‘You see Bob, Joe is the best garbage man in the borough. He can stack more garbage on the truck than anyone else. He gets so much in one truck that they don’t have to make as many runs’, she said with such passion.

‘In the long run,’ Joe continues, ‘I save the borough money. Man hours are down and the cost per truck is less.’

There was silence. I didn’t know what to say. I shook my head searching for the right words. ‘That’s incredible! Most people would gripe about a job like that. It certainly is a difficult one. But your attitude about it is amazing.’ I said. She walked over to the shelf next to the couch. As she turned she held in her hand a small-framed paper.

‘When we had our third child Joe lost his job. We were on unemployment for a time and then eventually welfare. He couldn’t find work anywhere. Then one day he was sent on an interview here in this community. They offered him the job he now holds. He came home depressed and ashamed. Telling me this was the best he could do. It actually paid less than we got on welfare.’

She paused for a moment and walked toward Joe. ‘I have always been proud of him and always will be. You see I don’t think the job makes the man. I believe the man makes the job!’

‘We needed to live in the borough in order to work here. So we rented this home.’ Joe said.

‘When we moved in, this quote was hanging on the wall just inside the front door. It has made all the difference to us, Bob. I knew that Joe was doing the right thing.’ she said as she handed me the frame.

It said: “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep the streets even as Michelangelo painted or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.” -Martin Luther King

 

Acres of Diamonds

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One of the most interesting Americans who lived in the 19th century was a man by the name of Russell Herman Conwell. He was born in 1843 and lived until 1925 (That was almost 175 years ago). He was a lawyer for about fifteen years until he became a clergyman (living to a ripe age of 85).

One day, a young man went to him and told him he wanted a college education but couldn’t swing it financially. Dr. Conwell decided, at that moment, what his aim in life was, besides being a man of cloth – that is. He decided to build a university for unfortunate, but deserving, students. He did have a challenge, however. He would need a few million dollars to build the university. For Dr. Conwell, and anyone with real purpose in life, nothing could stand in the way of his goal.

Several years before this incident, Dr. Conwell was tremendously intrigued by a true story – with its ageless moral. The story was about a farmer who lived in Africa and through a visitor became tremendously excited about looking for diamonds. Diamonds were already discovered in abundance on the African continent and this farmer got so excited about the idea of millions of dollars worth of diamonds that he sold his farm to head out to the diamond line. He wandered all over the continent, as the years slipped by, constantly searching for diamonds, wealth, which he never found. Eventually he went completely broke and threw himself into a river and drowned.

Meanwhile, the new owner of his farm picked up an unusual looking rock about the size of a country egg and put it on his mantle as a sort of curiosity. A visitor stopped by and in viewing the rock practically went into terminal convulsions. He told the new owner of the farm that the funny looking rock on his mantle was about the biggest diamond that had ever been found. The new owner of the farm said, ‘Heck, the whole farm is covered with them’ – and sure enough it was.

The farm turned out to be the Kimberly Diamond Mine . . . the richest the world has ever known. The original farmer was literally standing on ‘Acres of Diamonds’ until he sold his farm.

Dr. Conwell learned from the story of the farmer and continued to teach it’s moral. Each of us is right in the middle of our own ‘Acre of Diamonds’, if only we would realize it and develop the ground we are standing on before charging off in search of greener pastures. Dr. Conwell told this story many times and attracted enormous audiences. He told the story long enough to have raised the money to start the college for underprivileged deserving students. In fact, he raised nearly six million dollars and the university he founded, Temple University in Philadelphia, has at least ten degree-granting colleges and six other schools.

When Doctor Russell H. Conwell talked about each of us being right on our own ‘Acre of Diamonds’, he meant it. This story does not get old . . . it will be true forever . . .

Opportunity does not just come along, it is there all the time – we just have to see it.

Hidden in Difficulty

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Albert Einstein once said, ‘In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.’ Once discovered, such opportunities are like valuable diamonds hidden in the sand.

Several years ago I spoke at church about how we are surrounded by ‘diamonds,’ if we could only recognize them. A man stopped by to see me. I remembered him as somebody who had suffered through a painful divorce and was examining his life’s priorities. His outstretched hand contained a small, plastic gem stone.

‘I stepped on this gem stone when I was leaving church last Sunday,’ he explained.

‘It became lodged in the sole of my shoe. You had spoken about recognizing opportunities – diamonds. I put the plastic stone in my pocket to remind me to look for those diamonds that I need.’

‘I have been trying to sell my business,’ he continued. ‘On Monday morning, a man stopped by who seemed interested in purchasing some of my stock. I thought, here’s my diamond – don’t let it get away! I sold the entire stock to him by noon.’

‘Now,’ he said through a broad smile, ‘my next diamond is to find a new job!’

Not long afterward, he did find a new – and better – job. He resolved to keep his gem stone with him from then on as a reminder to look for diamonds as he digs through the difficulties of life.

Richard DeVos is accurate when he points out, ‘This is an exciting world. It is cram-packed with opportunity. Great moments wait around every corner.’

Those moments are diamonds that, if left unrecognized, will be forever lost.

Are you looking for diamonds every day? If not, you may easily pass them by! Perhaps there is a diamond of opportunity hidden in that difficulty you’re experiencing now.

Credit: Steve G.

Cup Of Bitterness (Poem)

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So many people are missing out on the abundance of life because they can’t give up the bitterness of some past misgiving. Oh, what a tragedy! Bitterness will eat one up inside to the place where they cannot function in the life given them.

The poem below is my own work, which I was inspired to write in about 1999, when a loved one literally came to a standstill in their life because of the bitterness in their heart.” -Ruth H. U.

 

***Thanks Ruth. πŸ™‚

 
I grasped the cup of bitterness
And proudly held it high.
I thought I’d teach a lesson
To the one who made me cry.

So disappointing was my plight,
So weak, my hurting soul;
But I held tight to bitterness
I would not let it go!

I’ll hold on to this bitterness
And let it fill my mind.
My friend must know that I am hurt
So why should I be kind?

As long as I keep grasping
This bitter cup of gall,
My friend will feel so badly
And soon he’ll trip and fall.

And then, in all my pittiness
I turned to God alone.
And, lo, I found that only “I”
E’er knew about my bitter stone.

My friend, he didn’t feel the hurt
That left me in despair,
For he was going on in life
While I was left, just standing there.

God gently took my feeble hand
And whispered, “Just forgive…
Then pray for he who’s wronged you
So you can truly live!”

I fell on knees before my God.
He washed away the bitter tears.
I felt His arms around me.
Quieting all my angry fears.

I bowed my head, and called on God
To give me sweet release.
Then handed Him my bitter cup
He handed me HIS perfect peace!

Credit: Ruth H. U.

…..God is good.” -Ruth H. U.

*Thanks again Ruth
John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

Matthew 5:4 “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.”

Mark 11:25 “And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.