Persist

shoes

“I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13

My son recently achieved one of the greatest accomplishments that we as humans can attain – he learned to tie his shoes. He’d much rather wear his Velcro shoes every day (which, admittedly, is way easier), but shoes don’t always come in Velcro. I think learning to tie your shoes is like a rite of passage, right? Achieving such a marvelous feat, however, did not happen overnight. Whenever I would tell him that we needed to practice tying it was as if I was asking him to paint the house, fold the laundry, and make dinner for his sister all at the same time. He would let out a big sigh, slouch, traipse over, and plop on the chair with the hopes that it would all be over soon. This charade went on and off for about a year. Then there was that one fine day. I think the sun was shining, birds were singing, and all of heaven was watching. I even think that God told me it was going to be the day that he was going to learn to tie his shoes. So I confidently called him over and said, “Son, we are going to learn to tie your shoes today.” He responded with a surprising amount of positivity. We sat down, got a shoe, crossed the laces, took the rabbit around the tree, pulled him through, and, voila, his shoe was tied!

Persistence paid off.

I wish my son would have learned to tie his shoe the first time, but it didn’t work that way. It took effort for somewhere around a year before he finally got it. There were many days that I gave up before he did and days that he’d rather do absolutely anything else other than wrestle with some shoe laces. However, persistence has its way of bringing things along. When we finally arrive at our desired destination, the satisfaction rating is off the charts. You may have had to persist with some things to reach your goals, but what happened when some goals weren’t reached? Maybe you didn’t make the team. Maybe the relationship didn’t work out. Maybe you didn’t become a professional athlete. Maybe they end up dying despite your best efforts and unrelenting prayers to God.

Sometimes, persistence doesn’t work.

There is so much energy and emotion and time sacrificed to achieve your goal. When expectations aren’t met, the letdown can be devastating. Something so important is now lost. Though you can feel lonely dealing with the loss, you know that you aren’t the first to experience it. Yet it hurts because it happened to you. Sometimes things don’t work out the way we want them to, but life does not end. You and I are not defined by whether our life goals panned out or not. Our life matters because there is a God who loves us and is relentless in our pursuit of us. He doesn’t quit when things are hard. He doesn’t stop because something didn’t “work out” as we would have it. So let’s persist in one thing: loving God. Let not our circumstances dictate our attitude. This is the one thing that if we persist in, we will always succeed.  Then we can truly say the words of Paul, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

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Diets

waffles“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

Here’s the thing about diets – nobody asks the husky fellow who gorges on cake and cheeseburgers how he does it. Instead, they seek out the fit person who demonstrates the discipline of eating good, healthy food. I’m the guy that loves a perfectly cooked burger and an icing encased piece of cake. But if I ate that every day, misery and regret would soon consume me. Nobody would seek me for nutrition advice.

It’s easy to eat junk food and not very impressive.

This is much like living in negativity. It is easy to be negative and, in the long run, it is not very impressive. For me, being negative is like junk food to my soul. It seems right in the moment and there is a sense of power when I do it. However, over time my soul becomes malnourished and my view of life fills with cynicism. I know this because it has often been my modus operandi. I can form a cynical opinion with ease. It has made being a friend with me difficult and even lead to the demise of some very valuable relationships. I have discovered that as people, we have an uncanny ability to pinpoint what is wrong with other people, the world, and even ourselves. If you need evidence, read Facebook.

The world doesn’t need more critics.

That is not to say that criticism doesn’t have a place in life. It absolutely does. Some of the most important changes in the world occurred because someone spoke up against the status quo. But I have no need to be better at that. My heart longs to be filled with good. I want to be disciplined in seeing goodness around me. I want to bring life and love with the words that I speak. My relationships could use a little more positivity on a regular basis.

I think I need a better diet plan.

The apostle Paul gave some wise words when he wrote that we should think about “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable.” More simply “if anything is excellent or praiseworthy.” When I do this I feel better about myself, my view of others improves, and I can see God more clearly. This is a good M.O. A much healthier way to live. A godly way to live. What do you think would happen if we spent more time looking for what is excellent instead of criticize? I think that cheeseburger and cake would be way less tempting than it used to be. Pray with me to have eyes to see all the good God is doing inside of you, me, and the world around us.