It pains me to start a sentence with the same old line. The line that I feel keeps finding the repeat button in me life. It goes like this: I’ve been going through a difficult situation, or maybe this, “Circumstances have been challenging lately.”
As I considered this today, I recognized the fact of the matter is life is difficult. Mostly. There I said it. Life is mostly difficult.
Life presents circumstances that offer us a choice, daily.
I walked the beach and came across a perfect shell. Beautiful, unbroken. That it was completely intact surprised me. Because the winter does thrash shells, stones, and even ships. All take a beating and some find their way ashore, broken, tattered, a fragment of their former beauty. Sometimes they are unrecognizable, so changed by the journey. Yet, here before me, lay this exquisite pristine beauty. It had not a crack. It’s complete intactness got me thinking about our own “intactness” and where it is derived.
The same sea carried, tossed and tumbled this shell. Yet I found it wedged between two large rocks. I had to dislodge the shell by moving one of the stones first. It clung tightly to the place it had found refuge. Safe places and safe people have that effect. One does not want to depart from the place where rest and shelter from life’s storms has been found.
How will we respond to what life presents us this day?
Perspective. It really makes or breaks us, doesn’t it. I tell you it does. And it will. Victor Frankl said, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” From a man that survived the Auschwitz concentration camp of Nazi Germany during World War 2, those words must be weighed heavily in light of our own unique circumstances. Not in a way to diminish our own trials. But to gain understanding. To gain proper perspective. To gain hope from someone who could have easily lost hope but instead persevered.
I don’t want to offer you some kind of pious platitude, and speak words that are meaningless. The fact remains, life isn’t easy or fair and people don’t always play nice. And that includes you and me, my friend. The longer we live, the more obvious it has to become. I fail you, you fail me. I cause another to stumble, you cause another to stumble. None of us is guaranteed a pain free existence. The sooner we start to embrace the reality that life is not about the living large so much as it is about the choosing daily how we will respond to what life is throwing our way…today, the sooner we will be free from our own limited perception. Right now. Can you embrace the life that is being dished out to you today?
Though it is hard, ugly, painful, imperfect, not what you had planned, hoped or chosen? Though it hurts, can you look up and say, Yes, Lord, not my will but thine?
“When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves.”`Viktor Frankl
The hardest words we will ever say, will ultimately bring us the most freedom. That shell may have weathered much or little, I don’t know. But we, like that shell, remain intact through the one whom we are able to derive our identity, strength, purpose and courage. Our resilience will come if we can just allow our perception to be changed.
We remain intact because the One who holds all things together according to His will holds us.
As we surrender our will and trust God, we too are held secure as that intact shell was wedged between the rocks.
And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto you; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what you will. Mark 14:36
Lord, may I too, be found completely intact, despite the tumultuousness surrounding me. May I find rest and security in your promises and presence alone. May your grace and truth beautifully permeate me. And for any who find hope or encouragement as they read these words, may you do the same for them. Lord, Change our perception until we truly see with your eyes, understand with your heart and hear with your ears. Thank you for your longsuffering, gracious loving-kindness towards us. In the Precious Name of Jesus. Amen.