A friend ran his first half-marathon last year. He set himself this goal and duly went about preparing for it. He monitored his diet, built his fitness and began strategically running with them aim of being able to complete a half marathon first in training. When my boys decided that soccer would be their chosen sport, we prepared by kicking the ball in the backyard, learning the basics of trapping and passing. There are some things, though, for which we cannot prepare.
My dad was diagnosed with a form of leukaemia a few years back. The prognosis for an older patient is somewhat worse than for a younger person. Suffice to say, this was bringing the end of his life nearer. It is one thing to know something, it is another altogether to be ready for it.
People, myself included, have over the years offered the profound advice “at least you know and you can prepare for it”. This is fine when the event is your first half-marathon, but when it relates to the passing of a friend or family member, it is entirely irrelevant. Some things, we simply cannot adequately prepare for. Some things need to be experienced to understand the emotion.
As much as I am an advocate for planning and preparation, I have come to realise that we cannot prepare ourselves for all things. It is at those times, the love and support of family and friends is key. As too, is faith.
My personal faith journey has held me strong in those situations for which I was not our could not be prepared. Rather than seeking to understand ‘why’ something was happening, my faith continues to enable me to focus more on ‘how’ I can help.
Accept that some events will leave us confused, upset and even angry. And that’s okay. We cannot adequately prepare for all things that will happen in our lives but we do need to accept what has happened and then decide to deal with it.
LET HOPE RISE
A foundation is the substance upon which something is built. The foundation actually supports the structure. In earthquake-resistant design, it is suggested the foundation design should tie together all the elements of the substructure, unifying the different components for maximum strength.
If your world is regularly being shaken then it’s probably time to check the foundations. Foundations for you and I are the fundamentals upon which we build our lives – our beliefs, our “go to” point in times of confusion and stress. Bedrock provides the greatest foundation – it delivers much more stability than gravel, sand or mud. If we build our lives on things which are unstable and unreliable, then we can expect to be regularly damaged by earthquakes. If, instead, we chose to build upon rock then we will stand even in the midst of turmoil.
The stronger the foundation, the more weight it can carry, the greater stress it can withstand. We need to build our lives, our families, our nations on a solid foundation, ensuring these things have been built for a great purpose and can withstand whatever comes against them. Earthquakes will come, but will we remain standing?
On what are you building your life?
LET HOPE RISE
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I pray. And I know many others who also pray and can testify to the power of prayer. I think sometimes, though, we may not be asking God the right questions…
When we’re looking for opportunity we’re knocking on doors and when a door opens onwards we boldly stride. We’ve asked God to open doors so this must the one, right?
Maybe not… I’m not suggesting I know what God’s detailed plan is for me, let alone you, but I’ve learnt that opportunity presents as a series of decisions. Often there are several doors from which to choose. Asking for open doors is one thing, I reckon asking for doors to be closed is another!
After all, we don’t need endless open doors, we need the right God-given opportunity for this time. For me to make sense of this I need less choice – I need doors to be closed. I need opportunities to be shut off once I’ve elected to investigate, I need the field to be narrowed.
Let’s keep praying but let’s start asking the right questions!
LET HOPE RISE
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When we assess an opportunity, a new venture, we can often be very detailed focused. SWOT analysis, cost-benefit ratio, risk mitigation strategies and so on. Whilst this level of investigation may be valuable to ensure the opportunity is viable and aligned with our long-term goals, if we apply this approach too broadly across our world we may well be closing the doors unnecessarily.
Sometimes we may just need to ask “What if…?”
What if… what I say to myself about not being good enough is not true?
What if… my fears and doubts can be overcome?
What if… I actually have the skills to do something different?
What if… that wild idea is not so crazy?
What if… my dreams could become reality?
The biggest “what if…” for me came around a decade ago “what if… this Jesus stuff is true?”
What’s your “what if…?”
LET HOPE RISE
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Despair can grip us when we view events around the world – war, poverty, famine, crime. The apparent “bigness” of these problems can lead us to think we cannot have an impact. The key, however, is understanding the + One principle.
The same approach deployed in our families and workplaces empowers us to make a difference. I may be just one person but if I accept that I CAN make a difference, ONE person at a time, then I WILL have an impact.
The simple key is to draw our vision to the people around us – to the One, to each and every one. If we decide to make a difference in one person’s world, we will. If we empower this one person to value the one, then the cycle of reaching and connecting grows. We can change the world by applying the + One principle.
Think about it this way – I recently saw The Avengers and whilst it’s not an Academy Award winner of Schindler’s List ilk, it is a fantastic piece of movie-making and a truly fun way to spend a couple of hours. Because of my enjoyment of this movie I have willingly recommended it to all and sundry. Similarly, if I have found something that makes a positive difference in my world then when I think of the one, I should not only be excited about sharing it but may even feel obliged. Why would I not want to share something that has made a significant difference to my life and to my family?
A great friend shared a truth with me around 10 years ago, a truth I have since claimed as my own which has changed the course of my life for the better. This truth was the power of Jesus Christ. Jesus was all about the One. The parables of the lost sheep, the prodigal son, the good Samaritan, the lost coin all emphasises the value of the One.
Let’s be challenged by the + One principle. Who is your One today?
LET HOPE RISE.
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