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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Oversized Wishbones

Robert Frost once quipped, "A person will sometimes devote all his life to the development of one part of his body - the wishbone." So true, isn't it? We find ourselves saying thing such as, "I wish I could...", "I wish I had...",  or even "I wish I hadn't..." In the dreams of tomorrow and the wistful contemplation of our yesterday, we find ourselves "wishing" our lives away! Our psalmist was having one of those moments where he began to envy all the things he saw those around him doing, acquiring, and being given - his words might just betray our hearts a little, as well. "For I envied the proud when I saw them prosper despite their wickedness. They seem to live such painless lives; their bodies are so healthy and strong. They don’t have troubles like other people; they’re not plagued with problems like everyone else."  Have you ever found yourself saying something similar to this? We don't "get" how some people "get all the breaks in life", while others just seem to go on and on in their little worlds with all the problems that come their way. Then in a short period of time, with God's grace and help, we come to the realization of just how greatly we are blessed, despite the "absence" of the "things" we might have once envied in their lives!

I was so foolish and ignorant—I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you. Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand.  You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny. Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth.  My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.  (Psalm 73:22-26 NLT)

We can "wish" forever, but in the end, it isn't wishing that accomplishes anything in our lives - it is the putting forth of the effort to see the thing accomplished. God isn't just going to deliver all of life's "things" to us on a silver platter - there is something to be done on our part with all aspects of his blessing. We may not realize it, but even the changing of our attitude takes some effort! We don't get a different mindset because God brainwashes us! We choose our mindset and we choose the attitude of gratitude - regardless of the circumstances we are in at the moment. Do you know what turns us away from comparing ourselves and circumstances to the "outcomes" of another's life? It is this attitude of gratitude. That may seem simple, but it is so true! Once we begin to settle into the grace of God within our own lives, the "things" or "privileges" of another's life just pale in comparison!

Our psalmist spoke from a heart as genuine as could be - he admits to the struggles with envy and comparison he engaged in just as much as each of us struggle with those same comparisons. We just aren't all that different from each other, are we? We all get wrapped up in this "comparison" thing from time to time. We all have the ability to get ourselves all bent out of shape because another seems to be "doing so well" in comparison to what is happening in our lives at the moment. As I sat at the memorial service for my dear sister-in-law this past week, one thing struck me that her daughter shared. She recounted the repeated times (and there were many) over all the years of struggle that her mother received that "crappy diagnosis" that she wasn't counting on - the cancer was back again or hadn't shrunk despite the aggressive treatment regime. Each and every time, as her daughter so perfectly described it, she faced that "crappy diagnosis" with grace and determination. She could have compared herself to others who got the "glowing reports" of "cancer-free", but she didn't. She pressed on, in spite of odds that were declared to be totally against her. 

When we exercise our "wishbone" too aggressively, our "comparison buttons" are pushed all too easily, my friend. When we settle into the day-to-day living of life in the measure of grace we are given for each day, despite the "prognosis of the day", we begin to find our focus isn't on what we don't have, but what lies right in front of us. If that be Jesus - what more could we need? Just sayin!