Trouble Ahead

This past week seems to have brought news about a number of good people who have been diagnosed with cancer or another life threatening illness. I’m sure many of them are thinking, “why me?” In these circumstances, I can’t help but think about all of the people that I saw on their last day here on earth during my career. Some of them were expecting to die, others we saved because it wasn’t their time and for many others, they had no idea it was their last day. The old saying, “if you knew today was your last day, what would you do?” comes to mind. Personally, I don’t want to think about it, so we will move on.

I’m left to wonder, like so many others, why do bad things happen to good people? The guy who kills an entire family, including small children, gets life in prison but the faithful Christian woman who has spent her life serving others has only weeks to live following a cancer diagnosis. It doesn’t seem fair. Daily, we see examples of where life’s circumstances don’t seem fair and rotten people appear to get off “scot-free” in comparison. I would offer that “fair” is in the eye of the beholder. The concept of “fair” is found in the human condition of “keeping up with the Jones”. Life is about being content. You have what you have and that is okay. There will always be people who have more than you but there are also people who have less than you – in everything. Be content and in that moment, I bet you will find happiness. What if today was your last, do you want to happy and content or miserable and jealous? You can choose.

“The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.” Psalm 34:19

We find in a number of places throughout the bible that God never promises a trouble free life. I’ve written about this before and can go on about God’s plan for your life. This week I want to focus on the verse – “The righteous person may have many troubles”. If you believe that the bible is the word of God, given to us by Him, then you may also see how this is God telling us – “there will be troubles in your life”. According to this verse, some of us will have more troubles than others (many troubles). There is no avoiding it; we will have troubles. To what degree is left to God; just remember Job. God does not punish us with troubles, He uses them to prepare us for future opportunities or He uses us to prepare those around us.

The second half of this verse is critical to our Christian faith; “the Lord delivers him from them all”. This is our assurance that God will not abandon us in our time of need (or any other time). No matter what we face, God will deliver us from our troubles. Our human nature however, does not understand God’s time frame. We are not assured that He will deliver us immediately or to our satisfaction but He will deliver us. If today is your last day, you can be assured that God will deliver you eternal life because of your belief in Jesus Christ as your savior. If today is just another worry filled day on earth, rejoice in the fact that you are still here and that God is going to deliver you from all your worries. Keep sharing and believing in God’s power and rest easy knowing that Jesus has prepared the way for you. You just need to be content with the life you have.

Live Life to the Fullest

Have you ever said, “What am I doing here?” or “How did I get here?” These phrases are usually uttered in frustration with either the people or circumstances around you or at yourself for not paying closer attention to what was happening in your life. Many people have said that they will “never drink again” following a wild night and yet do it again days or weeks later. So we continue to wonder what we are doing with our lives. For far too many people, this internal struggle ends in suicide. I’ve written before about God’s plan for us and that we simply can’t imagine what it is because of our own need to be in control. We often see people living their lives disconnected from purpose. There are numerous examples of positive people whose lives bring meaning to others and there are also examples of people who appear to be suffering for no reason.

We cannot understand these examples because we see them through human eyes. We apply our reasoning, our free will and our understanding to something that is being controlled by God. The sick person is an inspiration to others just as much as the MVP of a professional sport – hopefully more so. Our lives are a gift and every day is special. How do you look at the day ahead of you? I post this blog early in the morning on Monday in hopes of inspiring your week. I think it works. I have no idea how many people read this, share it or what impact it has. I do know that each week more people start following the blog, so I keep writing. How do you live and inspire others? Is inspiring others a goal in your life. Many people believe that they aren’t capable of doing that because we are programmed to think that only celebrities or people in the news can do that. We all can inspire, everyday and all of the time, through a smile; a helping hand; a kind word; not saying what you really think; serving others; you name it. We can live very satisfying lives by putting others first and then watching what we get back in return. Everything you do is important to someone, do everything to your best.

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10

No one knows what life after death is really like. What is eternal life? I have to imagine that if you are reading this blog that you are waiting to find out because you believe that you have eternal life through your faith in Jesus Christ. God Himself has promised us eternal life in both the Old and New Testaments. We have no idea what it means but we believe it. Jesus reminds us in this verse that He came to give us all life and not just life on earth. He took all of our transgressions, accepted the punishment that we deserve and he suffered so that we could have a full life and share it with Him.

Stop and think, Jesus did all this for us, shouldn’t we live our lives to the fullest as a living example of His grace? Jesus did not suffer so that we could ignore the teachings of the bible and “live our own lives”. God did not send His one and only Son into the world so that we would live in fear. Living life to the fullest is not permission to live selfishly, it is permission to live a life that inspires others, one that shares the good news and one that demonstrates love; the kind of love Jesus taught us about. Live your life to the fullest in Jesus.

Your DASH

My friend Kevin called me last week and he never calls, so as soon as I saw his number I knew it couldn’t be good. I met Kevin about 15 years ago when I accepted the fire chief position in Stoughton, MA. The night I met Kevin he was giving me a hard time about something funny. Little did he know that I was going to be his mother’s new boss. Fran became a huge help to me as I tried to fit into the community. She was always there with advice about who to lookout for and who to know. She cared deeply about “her men” on the fire department and she wanted to make sure that they were going to be taken care of. Fran really protected and guided me like a second mother. She was part of my son’s first birthday party and I became part of her family becoming friends with Kevin, attending his sister’s wedding, sharing in the family’s ups and the downs and learning all of the stories. Fran took me to Nantucket the day before I moved away because I never made it to her “favorite place”; we kept the tradition of throwing a penny in the bay as we left to ensure our return.

She always referred to herself as Mum and when I moved to Arizona I became her Sunny. Fran was old enough to retire when I was out there but she loved the Town; so much so she never took sick days. I remember her asking for a few days off once but she didn’t share where she was headed. When she came back on Wednesday I asked her how her trip was and told me that she had a little surgery. Surprised by her answer, I pressed and she told me “I had a little breast cancer and some lymph nodes removed”. She talked about the whole things though she just had a tooth pulled! The surgery was Monday and this was Wednesday. She told the doctor and me that she was too busy to be sick. Years later she was diagnosed with colon cancer in March. She told the doctor that she had a standing trip to Nantucket each September and that she was not cancelling her reservations. He suggested otherwise and performed a procedure quickly as she directed. She made the trip that year and each year for the next ten years. Fran was not only an inspiration but also an amazing woman. Kevin and his family lost their mother, I lost my Mum but heaven gained another angel this week.

6But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.  1 Timothy 6:6-7

Fran was very content with everything she had and everything she did. She spoke honestly and that was hard for some. Fran never wanted more than she was entitled to and worked even into her 80’s. People had to earn her respect but once they had it, she would fight for them. She cared about others and was always giving of herself. This verse from Timothy reminds me about the story of the DASH whose premise is: what have you done with the time represented by the dash between the year you were born and the year you die. We bring nothing into this world and we take nothing out; it’s what we do with our time that counts. God has given us the tools to do great things, we just need to slow down and learn the keys to using them. The directions are in the bible verses and Jesus lived as an example for us but God also gives us examples like Fran in our lives today. Slow down to see them and be content with the things in your life; it ends suddenly. We will never know the impact we will have on others and we all have a DASH; fill it with contentment, love, kindness and worship to God who made it all possible.