How about those moments when life is moving along smoothly, it looks like you have a good view of where things are headed, you’re making progress … and then all of a sudden, surprise! A total about-face happens. Something that forces you to change and pushes you in a different direction. A complete game changer.
The Bible teaches that we are responsible to do our best with the talents and abilities that God has given us.1 He has entrusted us with skills, resources, time, energy, minds, and spirits, and we’ll find the greatest satisfaction when we invest them in things that please God and that are aligned with His plan.
Two essential ingredients for success in life are a sound personal relationship with the Creator of life, followed closely by sound relationships with those around us. In fact, it’s impossible to be truly happy without either of those. Jesus gave us the key to both when He said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”1
We can learn a lot about coping with change from the classic musical Fiddler on the Roof.1 The story takes place at the beginning of the 20th century and features a Jewish family suffering from poverty and religious persecution in the south of Russia. The father, Tevye, complains about having five daughters and no sons, not the ideal distribution on a farm. To make matters worse, his three older daughters picked husbands he didn’t approve of, one of them an Orthodox goy. Throughout the story, whenever there is trouble or change in the air, a man playing a fiddle on a roof appears to him in a vision.
About 13 years ago, my husband, Sam, and I had to make a trip from Calgary, Alberta, to Winnipeg, Manitoba, in Canada. We loaded up our old truck for the move and headed off. We had planned for this move pretty well. Everything was neatly packed and sorted. We had mapped our route and estimated our time. We had made a budget for gas, food, hotels, and all that. It was our first long trip with a baby, so we had made sure we had everything we needed for the journey. Our intention was most definitely to end up in Winnipeg.
I’m learning how important it is to enjoy the journey and not just be enthused with the final destination. The destination does define the journey, and of course, is very important. But we often spend much more time traveling than we do enjoying the final goal, so it’s wise to learn to appreciate the day-by-day things more.
For my son’s twelfth birthday, he wanted to explore underground caverns near our home. I was less enthusiastic, but despite my efforts to come up with alternatives, he couldn’t be dissuaded, so on a blistering hot day, my sister-in-law and I set out with our three children. Walking into the mouth of a huge cave, my heart was pounding, but soon I was pleasantly surprised to see the gently sloping walkways, clean and well lit. As we descended further, it felt as if the air conditioning had been turned on.
It is not my ability, but my response to God’s ability, that counts.
—Corrie ten Boom (1892–1983)
Alas for those who never sing, but die with all their music in them.
—Wendell Holmes (1809–1894)
The ministry of John the Baptist mostly preceded that of Jesus. John’s message was one of repentance; he proclaimed the coming of the Savior. Although some of his followers went on to become disciples of Jesus,1 others evidently stayed at John’s side.
“I had seen that man before and now he was sitting in the snow outside the stadium [in Madrid]. I asked him what he was doing there. He said he’d been there for five hours, hoping for a chance to see the game, but his money had run out. That’s when I knew I had to help.” This is how José Mourinho, then coach for Real Madrid football (soccer) team, described his meeting with Abel Rodríguez, a Mexican-American who waxes floors in Los Angeles.