In Order to Serve Tomorrow, You Have to Survive Today

shutterstock_282775064A long time ago, Seneca, a Greek sage said, “Sometimes even to live is an act of courage.”

In a sad story told in the book Girl Interrupted, the lead character, Susanna Kaysen recounts her time in the hospital in this exchange, “I told her once I wasn’t good at anything. She told me survival is a talent.”

Judy, my wife of 54 years and recovering from open heart surgery repeated some wisdom from my mother, “Growing old isn’t for sissies!”

During this past week there were plenty of personal reminders that life is sometimes a matter of survival. All this while knowing my view of life is that it is an opportunity presented by God and focused on helping to salve wounds, understand the hurting, serve others and do it in ways that bring honor to Him.

I have been further reminded of “survival” issues that dot our historical and recent landscape. The Jewish exodus, the survivors of 9/11 just remembered, and now the unbelievable emptying out of Syria’s population; well over 1,000,000 people escaping just to survive. That exodus will impact the Western nations in similar ways the Jewish exodus impacted the Middle East, to this very day.

I’d rather be writing about “Serving tomorrow” but instead I am focused on “Surviving today”.

The tomorrow extends to the end of our lives and encompasses what we at Envoy, and increasingly more of the Faith Based community, calls Future-Funded Ministry. Getting our heads straight about the future, about those three stages of retirement is an important task. An important task for each of us, individually, and to implant that perspective in the minds of those we serve as leaders.

The balance of this writing I’m going to give over to an extended quote from the introduction of the New Century Version of the Bible copyright by Thomas Nelson, Inc. in 2005. It rings so true to me and hopefully will impact you similarly. Good reading….

The story is told that many years ago, Art Linkletter saw a small boy scrawling wildly on a sheet of paper. “What are you drawing?” Linkletter asked.

“I’m drawing a picture of God.”

“You can’t do that, because nobody knows what God looks like.”

“They will when I’m finished,” the boy confidently replied.

As senseless as this story is, many of us have based our life beliefs on foundations no more solid than the young boy’s drawing. It is no surprise that life’s difficulties expose the lack of meaning in our lives and the inadequacy of our sources for answers to the questions of our hearts.

Let’s face it, we all have questions in life. When you lay your head down on the pillow at night, what are the questions that you ask? When you’re alone in the dark, do you find life’s really hard questions running through your mind? How can I find peace and true contentment? What is the purpose of life? Why am I here? Where have I come from, and where am I going? Is there a God, and if so, what is he like? Can I know God personally? Is there a source of ultimate truth for me to live by?

Many of those questions relate to our faith and our own search for truth. For instance, who has not asked the question, “Why does God allow unthinkable acts of terrorism?” Or, “When my world seems to be falling apart around me, who can I trust?” Or, “What do I do with my fears?” So where do we find the answers? Must we end our days with the same questions staring us in the face? Can our questions be answered, and can we find the peace we are seeking?

We answer that with a resounding “Yes!” In your hands you hold what reveals the real answers—God’s Word. The Bible is the most important book and the single most popular book ever written. Within its pages God speaks with divine instruction to multiple generations of people who faced the same life issues and questions that you face today. He reveals himself through his Word and presents the absolute truth that provides the only reliable answers to all of life’s ultimate questions. It dares tackle those questions honestly and openly and offers counsel for our problems, comfort for our sorrows, guidance for our confusion, inspiration for our needs, and hope for our despair.

-The Everyday Bible: New Century Version. (2005). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc.

I’ve read these words a number of times. Each time I gain further insight, appreciation and understanding…….and, oh yes, the secrets to survival.

We journey together with Trusted Advice along The Way.

I invite you to share your thoughts so others may benefit. Your contribution is appreciated.

Bruce