A few years ago, I was involved in a volunteer project that operated a meal center for underprivileged students. For the first two years, I helped with cleaning the kitchen, shopping for food supplies, and meal preparation. I felt a sense of pride in helping to produce well-balanced, delicious, yet economical meals. My diligence was recognized by the organization’s leaders and I was given greater responsibility managing the funding and designing the menu.
I’ve always thought Prince Jonathan, the son of Israel’s first anointed king, is an amazing example in the Bible of honor and integrity. Think about it: he was logically expected to succeed his father, King Saul, as king—but the prophet Samuel anointed the boy David instead.
Now, if I were in Jonathan’s position, I think I would have succumbed in one of two ways. Either I would have become consumed with envy, feeling that I had been dealt an unjust hand. Or I would have not cared about the affairs of the kingdom from then on.
The great British writer Gilbert Keith Chesterton wrote a series of short stories about a parish priest, Father Brown, with a knack for forensics. This lowly priest investigated criminal cases while maintaining compassion and understanding toward the guilty.
You can change your life, because I can change anybody who comes to Me, seeking to fulfill My will for their life. It doesn’t matter what you’ve been like or how long you’ve been a certain way. If I made the world and everything in it, don’t you see that it’s a small thing for Me to transform a single life into something better to fulfill My purpose and plan?
I’m sure parents the world over share my dread of wrestling with children’s homework and preparing for tests. Calming my teenagers’ anxiety before a test or trying to get them to eat breakfast before a benchmark exam are parenting moments I’ll be more than happy to be done with.
I don’t think that God intended any relationships to be perfect. I think of it as the “thorn” factor that He allows into the equation—that element that we shrink from, but that He knows we need. You may wonder, Why would we need differences of opinion, sensitivities, misunderstandings, jealousies, resentments, comparing, sacrificing, arguments, emotional upsets, fears, heartbreaks, and adversity? Those things don’t sound like they would build a very strong relationship.
A friend of mine told me this bit of friendly advice in an effort to encourage me to welcome some new changes in my life. My wife and I had been living in the Middle East for some seven years, and it had been a great chapter of our lives, but we were finding ourselves slowly being phased out of our roles into a kind of pre-retirement. Over the years, we’d grown our roots, and like a potted plant that outgrows its pot, we felt as if we were running out of good ground to grow in. It seemed to both of us that this could be our time to be transplanted into a bigger pot—a new place with new challenges.
As the sun was setting, I walked briskly toward the bus station after a tiring day at work. I knew from experience that the city bus didn’t come by that often, and I didn’t want to miss it.
A teenager sporting fashionable Oakley sunglasses, a plush black suit, and a haircut with designed grooves shaved into the sides above his ears stood in front of the mini-supermarket. His glasses and stance could have passed for someone applying for a position of private bodyguard.