Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton (1874–1922) was an Irish explorer who is best remembered for his Antarctic expedition of 1914–1915 in the ship Endurance, described in his book South. Less known is that Shackleton had an unseen source of strength to draw from—his faith.
The other day my wife and I took a stroll along the waterfront, enjoying the beauty of a large lake—the rugged mountains rising on both sides, the river that flows into the lake and supplies it with fresh water, the birds bobbing on the waves, the ever-changing hues of the lake, and the sun reflecting off the surface, transforming it into a stream of glittering gold. The big body of water and surrounding mountains provide a uniquely sheltered and pleasant climate.
After graduating from college, I was glad to leave my books and assignments behind and was itching to jump into all the new experiences awaiting me in the workplace. I had been a good student during my college years and I was sure that my foreign language proficiency and good work ethic would land me a challenging job in the field that I was the most interested in. When I did not receive any substantial offers after sending out a first batch of resumes, however, I realized that my new and exciting job wasn’t going to happen as soon as I’d expected.
Making decisions is rarely easy to do, and one of the most important times to get it right is when you are deciding on a new job offer. Some years ago, my wife and I were at a crossroads. I had just turned 50, and there is some indefinable thing that happens to our psyche each time our age rolls over to a new decade. The realization begins to dawn that we’re not getting any younger and we don’t have as many strong years left.
Our city in South Africa regularly experiences major power issues, with up to five hours of what they call “loadshedding” daily. Due to overdemand and undersupply, the electric company must cut back and shut off the electricity intermittently. During these periods, industry grinds to a halt, stores close, traffic booms, fans and fridges turn off, and everyone suffers. There’s only so much you can do without power.
On my second day on the job, my new supervisor handed me his laptop: “I need you to upgrade this to the latest Web-based operating system.”
I was in a foreign country, surrounded by coworkers speaking a foreign language, and as a junior IT technician, I was finding it challenging to familiarize myself with the new work environment, understand foreign technical terms, and handle the inevitable problems that exceeded my level of experience.
The Brazilian writer and poet Cora Coralina, from a very poor family, became a famous teacher and author. She left many wise sayings in her books, one of which was: “The most important things in life are our choices!” She meant to teach her students that being rich or good-looking or other things society values are not as crucial as learning to make the right choices in life.
Some years ago, after a series of mistakes left me exasperated and discouraged, I pleaded with God to turn me into a robot, programmed to always do what He knew was best. You know that deep down I want nothing more than to do what’s right, but my wrong decisions and harebrained ideas keep getting in the way! Can’t You reprogram me to always make the right choice and do the right thing? Think how much better off Your world would be!