Life comes at us fast...are we ready?

I have been cleaning out small spaces lately, going through all of mom's belongings, sorting little things to give to family that will hold meaning to them. In the process, I came across a small trinket I have carried with me for years - a "Dope-Stopper" coin given to me by Art Linkletter when I was around 12 years of age. I was honored to hear him in person, having won a challenge at my local school to create a poster that spoke to remaining drug-free. In the height of the 60's, drugs were rampant and kids everywhere were beginning to experiment with the stuff. His goal was to speak truth and hope into the lives of pre-teens, on the cusp of making life-changing decisions as they entered their challenging teen years. My "Speed Kills" poster afforded me the opportunity to meet this great man, but most importantly, gave me the chance to hear his message of his daughter's addiction and her ultimate death. In the end, I walked away with his words echoing deep within me to keep kids - friends and those I'd never even met yet - safe from the damaging influence of drugs. I am grateful he shared his pain, because the careless decision to 'do drugs' carried more than one 'bad outcome' in lives all around me. If we were to be honest, there are a whole lot of things that we 'do' in this lifetime that are blatantly 'careless' and without much thought. Drugs aren't the only thing we should avoid - because there are a whole lot of careless living choices we make that take us down pathways that lead to pretty awful outcomes.

Keep the rules and keep your life; careless living kills. (Proverbs 19:16 MSG)

I have shared this before, but my poster, entitled "Speed Kills", featured a man taking speed, then speeding down a road filled with turns, until finally he crashed and died. Kind of morbid when I look back on it, but my thought was to capture the twists and turns life puts us through and the dangers created when we don't "obey the rules". The rules we 'violate' are the ones that would have helped us avoid those twisty and danger roads! "Keep the rules and keep your life". Many don't realize Mr. Linkletter was an orphan, adopted by a preacher, growing up as a "P.K" (Pastor's Kid). He was abandoned by his own family when he was only a few weeks old, adopted by an evangelical preacher, and he grew up to be quite a man. One of his most talked about accomplishments in life is the longevity of his marriage! 75 years married to the same woman! Not a thing most people in Hollywood can boast! One of the things I liked best when he spoke to us was what he said about choices in life - there will be many, but not all will be the best for us. He was saying we have to keep growing, constantly developing, because none of us is perfect yet. So true!

Life comes at us fast - decisions made on the fly often get us by, but they don't always make sense for the long haul. When we have a good foundation, we often respond better to the "on the fly" choices we have to make. When we don't take time to lay the right foundation, we often lack consistency, or what some may call integrity in our decisions.  We have choices in life - not everything is cut and dry. If you have ever tried to find some things in scripture, such as exactly when to marry, if you should marry at all, or if you should get a tattoo, you might be a little frustrated to see there are no clear cut "words of wisdom" recorded for us on these matters. Sure, there are "guidelines" like not doing something that will offend others. There is nothing in scripture which clearly says YOU should marry HIM, or YOU should not ever marry ANYONE. In fact, the Apostle Paul tells us some will desire to marry, and this is okay. Others will desire to stay single, this is still okay. Not one set of guidelines fits for everyone. In cases such as these, we need to go with the guidance of scripture and prayer. God is giving us choice in some matters such as marriage - so, if it is for you, go for it! Just use wisdom in selecting the one you are going to spend the rest of your life with - it is a "for keeps" relationship!

Carelessness kills. Being careless is when we don't really pay attention to the choices we are making. We might think of it as being a little too "unconcerned" about the outcome. In making choices, when we are not concerned with the outcome, we almost always will be caught a little off-guard with what "comes out" of our choices! Rules are there for our safety. Although I don't like to think of scripture as a set of "rules", they are! The guidance set out in scripture does what a "rule" does - it sets boundaries for living. Embrace them and we usually come out okay. Disregard them, and we are mopping up the mess! The heart of our heavenly Father beats for us as his kids. His words to us are heard over and over in scripture - the beat of his heart for us is found in the words recorded for our learning and protection. His goal in all the "rules" - for us to avoid the hazards of carelessness. What seems burdensome to us at this moment makes all the difference in the outcome! Just sayin!

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