“The temptation for anyone who is much occupied with the hope of some great change and betterment in the near future is to be restless and unable to settle down to his work, and to yield to distaste of the humdrum duties of every day.” – Alexander Maclaren (1826-1910)
I need to preach this to the choir of myself. Everyday. I need to remind myself that even though I have a desire for the future, I am living in the here and now. I have everyday work to do and I need to do it well.
“Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.” – Philippians 2:14-16
“When something happens to you in Germany, when you miss a train, break a leg, go bankrupt, we say: It couldn’t have been any worse; whatever happens is always the worst. With the Irish it is almost the opposite: it you break a leg, miss a train, go bankrupt, they say:It could be worse: instead of a leg you might have broken your neck, instead of a train you might have missed Heaven, and instead of going bankrupt you might have lost your peace of mind, and going bankrupt is no reason at all for that.” – Irish Journal by Heinrich Boll
I have not learned fully, but am drawing nearer to the Irish frame of mind and to the words of Paul, though I will forever relapse on occasion. To look at the bad side, to see the worst, to be discontent, it is all for nothing. I am instructed, Paul says, to be content. Therefore, I strive towards this.
… I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ[a] who strengthens me.
In a book by Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art, she quotes from Chekov’s letters: “You must once and for all give up being worried about successes and failures….It’s your duty to go on working steadily day by day, quite quietly, to be prepared …for failures.”
I needed this advice last year when I received a rejection via email. I had submitted three poems to a new literary magazine. I was really hoping that at least ONE might make it. I had two people look over 6-7poems and tell me which ones they thought were best. Evidently the judges weren’t in agreement.
I have since experienced several other “failures”. Is failure to be expected? Yes. Does it hurt? Sure. Is it easy to “…go on working steadily day by day, quite quietly…”? No, unless we stop and realize that this is what we are supposed to do. Life isn’t all about limelights and successes. Contrary to popular belief, spouted by coaches and educators, we can’t all be whatever we want to be. But, we can all labor to shine as lights in the world.
Do all things without complaining and disputing, 1 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.
Nota Bene is a Latin phrase meaning “note well”. I first learned this when I was teaching sixth graders using a wonderful vocabulary program. Later, when reading a lovely book by Sharon Creech titled Granny Torrelli Makes Soup, I came across the expression “Tutto va bene” which means “all is well”.
Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on all that is well. I know I’ve read several articles lately about how all we were taught in school about the first Thanksgiving and pilgrims and Columbus and a lot of other things were skewed. That may well be. And there is a lot, a whole lot, wrong in our world today. But, that should have no bearing on our being thankful. Please know that I am talking to myself here as much as to anyone else. I am thankful that God has not abandoned me to my self-centered moanings.
Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. Psalm 95:2
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; Philippians 4:6
A relative of mine posted an article this past year about why Christians should not drink. I didn’t agree with most of it and want to add my thoughts to some of the points.
Drinking leads to drunkenness. Well, it COULD, but it doesn’t always. That’s like saying eating leads to obesity. It COULD, but it does not always.
It will cause others to stumble. Well, it can, so that is why we as Christians are told to look out for our weaker brother. If your drinking might cause another Christian to stumble, then you should not drink around them. Do not flaunt the freedom you have if it in any way will harm another believer.
It harms our bodies which are the Lord’s. It can if we drink excessively. But, we could say eating harms our bodies if we use that same mentality. Wine actually has many healthy benefits. It’s the excessiveness that is harmful, whether food or drink.
Alcohol is addictive. So are sweets. Actually, almost anything has the potential to become addictive and thus harmful.
Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.– Philippians 4:5
And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit. Ephesians 5:18