Monday, November 26, 2012

Keeping It All in Perspective

Over the past months I have been considering the book of James.  Within its words is so much wisdom.  And so much that I am missing.  But as I come to verse 9, I have to stop and let the words resonate in my heart.  They are words that should remind me about what is important.  James says, "But let the brother of humble circumstances glory in his high position  and let the rich man glory in his humiliation, because like the flowering grass he will pass away.  For the sun rises with a scorching wind, and withers the grass; and its flower falls off, and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away."

On the one hand I might consider that I am the poor man because I certainly don't have what some people have.  My computer is old, my car is old, my TV is old, my clothes are from Goodwill and my home is small.  But then I think of what true poverty is and I am so far removed from that because I do have a roof over my head and my family has more than one vehicle, old as they may be.  I have food for at least 3 meals a day.  I have part time jobs.  Other members of my household also have jobs.  Hmm.  I'm not poor at all.  So I have to consider the words to the rich man instead.

He is to glory in his humiliation.  From there it goes on to talk of death in a veiled kind of way.  For the rich man, death is the great humiliation for everything he has is going to be taken away.  No one can take it with them. Death separates us from everything we accumulated. The poor man is in a high position because he has nothing and is therefore given the opportunity to have greater faith in God's mercy and provision.  The rich man has little need for God, because he will provide for himself, at least that is his perception of things.

I think of the poor of some places in the world where a person might have nothing, not even a shred of clothing.  They may not even belong to themselves but rather are the property of another person... probably a rich man of some sort.

But this post is not a call to feel guilty for having my physical needs met.  Rather I know I have to keep things in perspective.  It is too easy for me to get caught up in plans and goals and forget that all I have is a gift.  I was born in America not by my choice, but because of several great-grandparents choosing to leave their homelands to come here.  I was not born in a place like Somalia which is so poor and war torn and seems to me like one of the most remote places on earth.  I was born to Christian parents who took me to church and so I know my knowledge of God was not of my doing either.  I did not control the conception of my children.  I waited over 3 years for my son to be conceived.  I don't know why I even got that gift when I know of so many who yearn for a child and never receive one.

So much of my life was already decided for me: where I was born, the people I have known, the schools I attended, the shape of my face and sound of my voice, my ability to create art.  These are things that were given to me.  Somethings have been sources of pain. Some have brought happiness.  At the end of it all, the things I do have control over are my attitude towards what I have been given and towards when I have yet to be given.

James says in the midst of his pursuits the rich man will faded away.  The things that I worry over will not last.  The trials of today will pass away as well.  All that I stress over is a storm that will only last the night and in the morning there will be sunshine.  I think that all my worry, which I am feeling towards this pursuit of a career, is for nothing because God himself is the only one who knows how it will all come out and in the end, I will pass away and all that i have done will eventually pass away as well.

It is a very American thing to have a dream and an ambition.  America prospers when our people dream.  But in the dreaming it is important to not forget what has been given which is so easy to take for granted.  James knew his Bible and his words reminded me of the words of Solomon who lives some 1500 years earlier.   In the book of Ecclesiastes he says in Chapter 12 verse 1, "Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near when you will say, 'I have no delight in them'".  I want to remember that I have been created.  I am not self made except in the decisions I have made personally and even these have been effected by the decisions of others.  I am choosing to pursue my dream of being an illustrator, but it cannot become an illusion that distracts me from the realities of life, which are that death is a breath away so I must live thankful for each breath and all that I have in the end has been allowed to me, whether I did something to attain it or not, it is all a gift from God.

I know there are many who say that they are self made.  I know these people have worked hard in their pursuits.  But in the end all that we have will be taken away.  It is to God alone we must answer.  I know to worry is futile.  I place my dreams in to the hands of my Creator.  I trust him.  I have no reason not to.  Even what has been difficult and painful in my life has made me more humble and more grateful and I would not trade that.

Please leave a comment and share how your feel about your dreams and plans. I would love to hear your opinion.  Thanks so much for stopping by to read my post.  It means a lot to me!  May the Lord give you peace which is what we are all really after.