Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The tipping point

After hearing that yet another movie actor may have taken his life, my mom and I were discussing just how many film stars brought an end to their own life "down through the ages".  In considering those who have known fame, we also considered just how fame and fortune had left them wanting so much more than it ever promised or provided.  This is a sad truth, but truth nonetheless.  Fame and fortune are elusive - they keep those who pursue either of them running toward them as if under their spell.  They are also disappointing - leaving those who finally "achieve" their end wanting more, but not really satisfied with what they have!  Sound familiar to anyone other than me?  Wanting more that what we have, chasing what seems to have us under some "spell" or external "control"?  We may not be pursuing fame in the sense of the movie stars, but we may be pursuing something with as much tenacity - something which will not truly bring us any satisfaction once attained.  


A thick bankroll is no help when life falls apart, but a principled life can stand up to the worst. (Proverbs 11:4 MSG)


The reality we can all count on:  Life WILL fall apart at some point.  Whatever we place our trust in today will become the force we reckon with then.  We may not realize when or where our "tipping point" may come, but there is a tipping point.  I like to play this online game called "Angry Birds" - it tests my skill at figuring out the right point at which to hit this stack of objects to see them tumble so that I pop all the little green objects on the screen.  It is like when I was a little child and I used to line up all the dominoes in the house on the floor.  As I would align them one by one, presenting some obstacles for them to hurdle over, I would work tirelessly to get them to all fall down with the impact of the first domino falling.  Life is kind of like that - if all the dominoes are aligned, they all fall!  There is a "right combination" of "tipping points" in our lives which will get us every time if we are not careful!

I worked for hours on those little domino experiments.  Sometimes I would encounter a particular point at which I just could not get anymore of the dominoes to fall.  Most would have fallen, but at this one point (either a turn or because the height was different), no more would fall.  What made the difference was either the variation in the height or the distance between the last domino to fall and the one which remained upright.  Sometimes it was the slight variation in angle at which the domino was erected.  Regardless, they wouldn't fall beyond that certain point.  I think our lives might be a little like this when we get our focus off where it really should be.  We go along "erecting the dominoes" in a good path for a while, then we get a little variation in where we are headed, causing us to be at risk for "falling down" in rather short order.  It is good to know that the slightest "variation" is all it takes to set us in a course which can come tumbling down in a moment's time, though.  I think it keeps us humble!

We all have "tipping points" in life when we are at our greatest risk for life crumbling or tumbling down.  The "trick" is to allow the space between what could take us down and what has become our foundation to be great enough to keep us from being knocked down when those things we have been focusing on might just come tumbling down!  If our foundation is laid correctly, we are not going to be totally wiped out by a wrong pursuit!  We may suffer some loss, but we won't be totally taken out by it!  Now, at first this may not seem like a very "spiritual" thing to say, but it is truth.  We are the kind of creatures who will (on occasion) pursue a path which is not really the best for us to pursue.  Those paths are what place us at risk of succumbing to the "tipping point".  At that moment, what might just be the slightest difference in distance between our "firm foundation" and that wrong path makes all the difference in keeping us on our feet!

Think of the dominoes as "principles" upon which we build our lives.  Domino number one:  Serve no other God but the One True God.  Domino number two: Love him with all your heart, soul, and mind.  Domino number three:  Love others as he has loved you.  Domino number four....  You get the idea.  As we surrender to the one who wants to set the "dominoes in order" in our lives, we are assured a good foundation.  It is when we begin to take on the work of building that we get a little off-course.  The dominoes we erect will eventually produce a tipping point which can set us at risk of loss - but hear this clearly - only to a certain point!  That which was erected by the Master's skillful hand will remain standing - that which was erected by our own lusts, greed, demands, and warped perceptions will eventually be knocked down by whatever it was we were pursuing in the first place.  Just sayin!