It was the end of another long workday. In my first semester as an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher, each day brought dozens of new challenges, which I failed to conquer. The concepts I tried to pass on to my students would somehow escape them, leaving me to groan over their exams. The principal of my school had been telling me that my students weren’t making enough visible progress in their English. Parents were complaining about my classroom management methods. I was a failure in every aspect of my work.
When life gets to be too much, when everything around you seems to be falling apart, when you feel that nothing you do helps, think about Me. Think about how much I love you. Think about My power. Think about all your blessings. If you thank Me for all the good things in your life, the negative feelings will gradually dissipate.
When I was a kid, I saw plenty of goldfish in the houses of my friends, and I remember wondering why so many people would want to keep such small, unexciting creatures as pets.
Recently, I came to a wholly and thoroughly unsurprising conclusion: I am not good enough.
Now, of course, I know that no one can ever be “good enough” in this life. What would be more accurate, I suppose, would be to say that I could be much better. Admittedly, I am not as bad as one could be, seeing as I was raised in the love and admonition of the Lord in a home where rules and love were both dished out in their proper helpings. But still, the inescapable fact is that I could be better.
Take a close look at the two guitars pictured above. If you were a guitarist, which would you pick up to play? Probably the one on the top with the straight frets (the thin metal pieces along the fret board that the strings are pressed down onto), right? Well, you might be surprised to hear that it’s the one at the bottom that some leading guitarists say makes the best sound. Odd, isn’t it?
Recently, I was reviewing my past, thinking about choices I made, and I began to blame others for how some things had turned out. I blamed my parents for the decisions they made that affected my childhood. I blamed my school for the insecurities I felt, and how I never felt I was perfect enough to succeed in various areas. I blamed my church for attitudes I had about God that affected my relationship with Him.
Have you ever experienced some particular problem or pain that surprised you by how debilitating it was? Perhaps it was a sore toe or an earache that outwardly seemed small, but it made your day a major struggle. Then along comes someone who says, “I get infections in my ear all the time, and it’s uncomfortable but I don’t let it bother me. You just need to stay positive and keep going.” Well, though we do need to strive to “give thanks in all circumstances,”1 trying to keep your head above water may be difficult for you at these times.
One fine day, my wife and I took Kristen, our 13-month-old daughter, to the beach. It was perfect, beautiful weather. As we strolled down the sand, each holding a little hand, she excitedly smiled and chattered in that special encrypted language of hers.
In The Horse and His Boy, one of the seven novels in C. S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia series, a boy named Shasta dreams of traveling to the unknown north, which turns out to include the magical land of Narnia. One night Shasta overhears the fisherman he has been led to believe is his father sell him to a noble from a neighboring kingdom. (We find out much later that Shasta had been shipwrecked as a baby and was found by the fisherman.)
A few months ago, on a muggy Saturday, our family made the much-anticipated trip to a big theme park. Our teenagers, undaunted by hot sun and crowds, were looking forward to a day adventuring on roller coasters and other adrenaline-surging rides, so as soon as we entered the park, we headed straight for the biggest, loopiest roller coaster of all.