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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Know vs. Show

No one really knows the day or the hour of their final breath, although some may sense it as quite near, while others fight for every last breath as though it were something they might control. As time winds down for some and time begins for others, the world continues the constant buzz of life's circle. Some believe there is no end to their life, with perpetual opportunity to return in some other form in a life hereafter, while others hypothesize there is nothing beyond that last breath. I will always believe there is life after death - not in "some other form" such as returning as a goat or coming back as some famous person - but in union with the Most High God - ever present with him into and throughout all of eternity. If that makes me a little flaky to some, I shall not apologize. If that makes me a little too "holy" for some, I also shall not apologize. As much as it matters where I am headed once this is all over, I want to be assured I am living this life I have been given in the best manner possible. I don't want to miss a beat, nor do I want regret at the end of my life for not having done more of something that mattered, or having had opportunity to forgive and did not. How we live today determines a great deal about how we will face that last breath on this earth - with joyful anticipation of the hereafter, or sorrowful regret at the missed opportunities!

Jesus leads us into a place of radical grace where we are able to celebrate the hope of experiencing God’s glory.  And that’s not all. We also celebrate in seasons of suffering because we know that when we suffer we develop endurance, which shapes our characters. When our characters are refined, we learn what it means to hope and anticipate God’s goodness. And hope will never fail to satisfy our deepest need because the Holy Spirit that was given to us has flooded our hearts with God’s love. (Romans 5:2-5 VOICE)

Charles Spurgeon is quoted as saying, "A good character is the best tombstone. Those who love you and were helped by you will remember you when forget-me-nots have withered. Carve your name on hearts, not marble."  There is much truth in what he says - the best character, lived out in our everyday life, is the greatest honor we can achieve in this lifetime. We are not the name carved on the stone as much as we are the "dash" between the years! That dash can represent all manner of "living", but those who will be remembered well will have lived in such a way their real memory lives on in the hearts of those they have touched by their kindness, integrity, and love. It may seem a somber thought for consideration today, but it is a worthwhile one, nonetheless. We make the day today, not in our tomorrows. We are given today - we are never assured of tomorrow.

One thing is for certain in this life - bad stuff will happen.  Some of it will happen to us, while other stuff will happen without us even being aware - maybe even because of us! It is not that we escape the bad stuff, but that we shine with the character of Jesus as we go through it. It is how we respond in the midst of the rough seasons that often is the tell-all of our real character - what is at the core of our being. Do we pout and sulk in our disappointments? This might just reveal how much we were putting our trust in something quite untrustworthy in the first place. It could also reveal just how much we counted on getting our own way in the matter. Do we get angry or anxious when things "interrupt" our plans? We all plan - even those who don't think they do. Some "plan" to do nothing - that is still a plan! How we face those plans gone awry often reveals a great deal about our inner character, doesn't it?

Lincoln said it wasn't adversity that tested a man's true character as much as it were to give that same man power - power being the ultimate test of one's character. This is so often the truth - for power and position can be the undoing of many a good man or woman - often without them even noticing how much it has changed them. This is why those who find themselves suddenly in the view of public fame face a myriad of criticism - with those who look upon that individual's actions with an eye focused on finding some "fault" in their actions - some disconnect between what they say they stand for and what they reveal in their actions. I think this is why scripture warns against desiring to be a teacher of the Word - because the scrutiny of one's character is ever present. This is also why I will be the first to tell you that I am far from perfect, struggle with exactly the same things you do, and find myself sometimes quite far from the mark I was aiming at hitting! 

I am as human as the next person, but because of Jesus in my life, I trust in his grace to bring me through to where I should be and not where it was I was headed!  Sometimes my "show" doesn't always match my "know" - if you know what I mean - but I am confident Christ will bring me to the place these both align in my life. I also am confident he will do the same for each of you as you place your trust in him to help your show match what it is you know to be true, right, and just in every action you take today. Just sayin!