Rise to the Challenge

Are you quick to give an excuse as to why you cannot start something? Without missing a beat, we can name ten things that keep us from starting something that we’ve wanted to start for the longest time. The point is, it takes a great deal of effort to start something and little effort to stop before we gain enough momentum to get things moving smoothly.

If life is filled with obstacles now, when is it ever going to change? There is no such thing as an obstacle free life. When you stop to think about it, life has always been complicated and obstacles change but never disappear the further you go. In fact, they often get bigger and even harder to overcome.

Think about how many obstacles babies face. They are completely helpless in the beginning until some giant human comes to their aide. But along the way, they experience a growth process which helps them overcome each obstacle in their present situation. From childhood to adulthood, they face all kinds of obstacles differing at each stage of life.

Each obstacle overcome builds on the previous ones. Relationships. Aging. Children. College. Health. A host of issues will always arise. If you wait for the day when there are no obstacles, it may never come. Instead, remind yourself of all the things God has brought you through. Remember your childlike faith and reignite the passion within you that declares, nothing can stop me. Rise up and overcome the obstacles that lie before you. The world needs what you have to offer.

Future Self

No matter how dark my hair gets, my blonde roots make an appearance now and then. When I opened my mailbox there was a single letter inside, with no return address. Much to my surprise, the handwriting was my own. I gasped. My future self was writing to me! Perhaps to warn me of something. Seconds later, I thought, you idiot, that is the self-addressed envelope you sent a few weeks ago to the local tax bureau for a receipt.

Leaving this ridiculous moment in the past, a thought often intrigues us after receiving hindsight. That’s because we have made countless mistakes in life, many of which could have been avoided. But unfortunately we do not have the luxury of steering ourselves in that fashion.

What we do have though, alternatively, is an urgent need to steer those who come after us. As “experienced lifers”, we have an obligation to young people, a duty to fulfill to any who will listen. If you were hearing your words instead of speaking them, what would the message be? What message are we sending our young people?

There is a scripture in the Bible, Judges 2:10, that mentions a new generation that came up that did not know the Lord or what He had done for the people of Israel. How does something like that happen? How could an entire generation turn away from God? Perhaps the previous generation spoke more of today’s troubles than yesterday’s victories. Until young people have experiences of their own with God, all they have to rely on is what information they are receiving from others who have had experiences with Him.

There is a weird connotation with some testimonies, not knowing whether they are real or not. But when we come across one that is false, it shakes our faith. A seed of doubt is planted and if given the chance, it will grow. But not all testimonies are false. Some are very real and cannot be dismissed. I don’t believe God changes the way we do, nor that He is a respecter of persons. We can add to our faith by building on the faith of others. Even if there is the smallest chance that God will do it for me too, I would want to know that it was possible.

But what if we are silent, no longer telling the stories of all that God has brought us through? Miracles start out miraculous, but when time elapses, they became less of a deal to the point which we may be tempted to not even tell the tale any more. However, telling the next generation how God worked in our lives accomplishes two things. First, it illustrates to them the possibilities of how God can work in their life too. Second, it brings to remembrance in our own minds what God has done previously for us, which helps reinforce our faith for the challenges we face today.

There are no do-overs. We cannot erase our past. But while this future self isn’t likely to tell us about what will come, it is in our power to do the next best thing. We have a responsibility to help those who come after us. We can tell them the stories of how God brought us through the struggles and challenges we faced along the way. If they are open to hearing our past mistakes, they have the potential to learn from them without having the often painful experience of living them. If they can build on the foundation God has started in us, then think of the heights they can achieve beyond what we did. Progress is made possible by those who continue to strive to do more and become more. If there were a future me out there, I have a feeling what he would tell me.

“Reach higher!”

See it, Do it

What’s your vision like these days? I don’t mean how small are the letters you can read. I mean, do you see things as they are or as they could be? Are you able to visualize something in your mind and turn it into a physical, tangible thing we can see, hear, smell, or touch?

If you can’t see it in your mind, you won’t see it with your eyes. Look around and see everything that surrounds you; it was once a vision in someone’s mind. They had to see it before the rest of us could see it. That’s how it works. Things do not just appear out of the blue. They come as a result of thought, and then equally important, action.

You vision will change over time. If not, perhaps you are not stretching yourself enough. When you were born, people made a big deal when you started walking. It was an accomplishment when you were finally able to walk without smashing your head on the coffee table. But by this stage in your life, you won’t get much applause for such a simple action. People expect more out of you. You’ve even come to expect more out of yourself. The more you stretch yourself, the more you will achieve over time. You will accomplish things you were once not able to see yourself doing. Keep growing and your vision will grow in proportion.

Your vision may not necessarily be shared by another. For this reason, communication can be hindered. It may be necessary for you to change the lenses with which you see things. See from the perspective of another person. When you do, it will help you understand them better. Then you can both work harmoniously to achieve better results for everyone.

The rest of the world awaits with eager anticipation for you to make your vision a reality. It’s easy to see things small because it takes little to no vision. We need people who are willing to see things beyond themselves, to reach beyond mediocrity. Along the way, be mindful of others. You don’t have to agree with them, but at least be respectful.

Stretch yourself, see it big, and do it!