Some of you may have seen the commercial where the little dog is pulling on the rope (tether) of a hot air balloon that has just been launched for a short ride. He is pulling with all of his might, fiercely growling while displaying great perseverance and determination to bring down the balloon.
I am reminded of my friend’s little dog who has several squeaky toys. As part of his playtime, he will furiously shake his stuffed Easter bunny and pull on it with his teeth. He acts like a predator destroying his prey. Sometimes some of the stuffing comes out of the toy.
Rope-tugging and shaking stuffed toys bring great benefit to our four-legged friends: exercise, strengthening the teeth, satisfying their animal instincts, and more.
On the other hand, this same type of behavior by a person or group of persons comes about when they become highly aggravated or dissatisfied with a situation that they feel helpless to change; or they expected different results but were left with “nothing has changed” results.
Picture a scene where people break windows, deface and destroy buildings, or throw bottles. Or they cause harm to others, name call, use four-letter words, and participate in other illegal actions. These behaviors are products of frustration, anger, disappointment, and fear. The sad conclusion to this is the creation of a “no-win” situation.
There are two parts to this state-of-affairs: Part 1 is the cause, and Part 2 is the solution.
Part 1 – Cause
Putting your trust in tangible things or other people, especially those in high-level positions, can be shakier than an earthquake. No matter how admirable their intentions, like all of us, they are imperfect. I am not referring to physical traits or appearance. It is a serious waste of time to criticize physical imperfections. What I am speaking of are the flaws that guide our thinking.
If you ever played a game of darts, you know the ultimate aim of winning is to hit the center bulls-eye. A dartboard is designed with a numbering system that encourages accuracy. The more accurate the player, the more points he or she earns. When we make decisions, we should always aim for the bulls-eye. Try counting the number of times we miss the mark for a variety of reasons.
It is very unwise to build the foundation of your life journey on another person, whether it be a leader, a system, spouse, family member, or best friend. We are all subject to the same frailties, weaknesses, and flaws.
Part 2 – Solution
As humans, we want to put our trust in something firm and constant. This becomes a rather challenging desire because, occasionally, there is a hiccup. A hiccup is how we might view an interruption, malfunction, change, or error. Mankind is frustrated by the world hiccups that we feel helpless to change. Like the dog who shakes and tears at his stuffed play toy, we often return to our early childhood behavior when we feel powerless to fix the bad stuff.
Freedom from frustration is a gift to enjoy when we have faith and believe that no matter what the outcome of a seemingly unchangeable situation, God is sovereign with thoughts and ways so much higher than ours. (Isaiah 55:9) When extreme disappointment slaps us in the face, we do not have to rip, tear, or destroy.
Things that seem unchangeable are only unchangeable in man’s perception. When our spiritual aim is straight for the bulls-eye, nothing is impossible with God!
Recently, a member of my church family told me her son was involved in a serious head-on auto accident. His car caught on fire while he was in it, and several people helped pull him away before it exploded. The car was totaled, but her son suffered only minor injuries and was back to a healthy condition in a few weeks.
Another incident involved a friend of mine who was driving in rather harsh, rainy, and windy weather conditions and had a severe accident. Regrettably, he swerved into a young boy who was running along the side of the road. My friend’s car was totaled, and he only received minor injuries. The young boy suffered a broken kneecap and a considerable loss of blood, necessitating surgery. The alleluia ending to this scenario is that the surgery was a success, and according to the doctors, the young boy will make a full recovery and walk again.
Both of these stories have one thing in common—they could have had completely negative results, but instead, they ended with thanksgiving and hope. I can hear some of you saying as you read these short stories, “They were really lucky.”
But honestly speaking, these endings had nothing to do with luck, which is defined as "good fortunate by chance, or success or failure brought by chance rather than through one’s own actions."¹ The accurate description of these events is Godly Grace. Godly grace does not embrace random outcomes.
Grace is a word frequently spoken among Christians. However, only occasionally is it used outside of these settings. There is a simple explanation for this. Generally speaking, mankind seems to think of himself as functioning independently, without the need for any divine intervention. Even those who claim to be devoted to their faith sometimes fall short in recognizing that our human existence is based on the unmerited, undeserved favor (grace), mercy, and love of God.
To further illustrate this word grace, there are a few events in the Bible that chronicle this word:
Here are some remembrances of a few of the modern-day events that involve grace:
Some of your personal experiences of grace may have been on the freeway where you had near-miss accidents, or you passed an exam you thought you failed. Your pet recovered when you were told there was no hope of it surviving, or you met someone who could help you resolve a problem. Maybe you received an unexpected job offer or salvaged a business deal you were certain was lost. My personal experience was being unemployed and going to my mailbox to find an envelope containing $500.00.
When you experience grace/favor from a person(s), naturally, your instinct is to extend gratefulness to that individual(s) for their actions. On the other hand, when you receive grace from God it is continuous, active and powerful. It wakes you up every day, gives you the strength to get out of bed, reminds you not to forget to put on clothes, and allows you to breathe the air and keep living despite our polluted environment. Far too often, we take these for granted and forget to thank Him.
Grace is getting something that not only did you not expect, but also is receiving something you did not deserve. It is more than a chance coincidence. You cannot spin a roulette wheel, shuffle a deck of cards or buy a lottery ticket to make it happen. It is a divine gift that repeats God’s unfathomable love for his creations.
We should all develop the habit of being grateful for daily grace.
¹www.dictionary.com > browse > luck; www.lexico.com > definition > luck
The world in which we live exposes our ears and eyes to a variety of circumstances and events. It is almost impossible to escape the bombardment of visions and thoughts around us. Technology has given us access to a full-scale mainstream of cinema, radio, television, video, and computers. Any one of these channels is capable of bombarding our emotional and mental senses with thoughts of doom and gloom.
Daily focus on these things can lead to a habit or, even worse, an addiction. Our thoughts can become like weeds in our minds that thrive on the dark events or circumstances. Like weeds, our thoughts sprout and germinate when we focus on the day-to-day situations. The nearly constant alerts of disaster and doom intensify with each message we hear through the different channels, including information from other persons or even family members.
Weeds are like squatters who occupy land without paying anything for the space they are using. Weeds are invasive. They compete with flowers, grasses, vegetables, and fruit plants for water, sunlight, nutrients, and space. If not destroyed, they will kill healthy plants.
If we keep our attention on the circumstances around us, our life journey will be filled with feelings of depression, sadness, hopelessness, and a “no way out mentality.” These types of feelings are parasites and drain our energy, our health, and our joy.
There are some steps you can take to reduce these parasitic thoughts:
Weeds are capable of growing into plants and leaving seeds behind. They will stubbornly grow back time after time. Getting rid of weeds permanently is a difficult task. Gardeners recommend several strategies that involve commercial chemicals and natural products. But the best all-around solution for permanently eliminating weeds is prevention.
It will take discipline to create the right conditions to prevent destructive weeds from attempting to return to our minds. We may have to retreat from our daily technological outlets, which support our listening and watching habits. We will need a commitment to build our platform of truth by relying on faith in what God says, rather than on what streams through technology.
A weed has been described as “any plant you don’t want to keep in the place it’s growing.”¹ That about sums up the importance of preventing weeds, and especially those trying to grow in our minds.