My favorite railway in the world is Australia’s Indian Pacific. The line runs between Sydney on the east coast to Perth on the west coast, traversing a whole continent and connecting two oceans, the Pacific and the Indian. It spans a distance of 4,352 km (2,704 miles) and crosses three time zones—farther than London to Istanbul.
Walking around my hometown in India where I grew up and have spent most of my life, I am intrigued by how much the city has changed over the years. What was once a small and laid-back city in the early ‘80s has exploded into a major technological hub and a thriving metropolis. Cinema halls we frequented as youngsters have been demolished to make way for shopping malls and office spaces, older buildings have been torn down to make way for new structures, and new flyovers have been constructed to ease the burgeoning traffic. The cozy city of bygone days has almost become unrecognizable.
In his classic autobiography Confessions, Saint Augustine, a theologian of the early church, narrates an incident which happened when he was a teenager. There was a pear tree near his family’s vineyard loaded with fruit that wasn’t even attractive in appearance or taste. Yet he and some friends stole pears from the tree. They did so not to eat them themselves, but to throw them to the pigs. He says that he and his friends committed the theft simply because they had pleasure in doing something that was forbidden, a tale as old as that of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
One of my favorite movies is the 1967 classic Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. The movie was released at a very sensitive period in American history when race relations were highly volatile. It went on to become a major hit and acted as a great agent for social change.
Recently I was thinking about how the collapse of the American stock market in 1929 toppled the world’s financial and economic systems one after the other. Businesses, industries, and banks failed. Many lost their jobs, and millions were unemployed, which caused widespread civil unrest. While this has not occurred to such a widespread scale since then, there have been many lesser economic depressions or recessions that have caused financial turmoil.
I was going through a tough period. People who had offended me were frequently on my mind, and I found myself almost exploding with resentment and anger.
The only thing being angry and flustered does, though, is cloud my thinking and perspective. It never solves my problem. My natural reaction is to retaliate and set things right, but in the long run, this only makes matters worse.
I still remember that day. It was the early 80s and I was a teenager sitting in the back seat of our car. Somebody at a stop light handed my parents some beautiful color posters to read, and they quickly handed them to me in the back seat. Then they stopped at a place where they had some business and left me alone in the car for a while. As I had nothing else to do, I picked up the posters and glanced at them. They had a picture in the front and a message at the back about salvation and the gift of eternal life through Jesus.
For the last few years, I’ve volunteered in a project teaching underprivileged youngsters. I was brought up in a typical Indian upper-middle-class family, and for most of my life, I’ve lived in an affluent neighborhood of the city where I was raised and have enjoyed a comfortable lifestyle. So it was bit of a culture shock to set foot in the slums and experience life on a totally different level.
I am currently reading a book about the Wright Brothers, who are credited with inventing and building the world’s first successful airplane and making the first controlled flight. It had always been a dream of mankind to take to the air and fly like birds, and while hot air balloons had been in use for some time, it was universally assumed that mechanical human flight was impossible.
We need patience to accomplish our goals in life. Even when our situation is not ideal, it is important to persevere and make the most of what we have.
Most of us experience times when we are frustrated with our jobs or feel so unappreciated that we want to quit. However, before making a rash decision, we should look to God and His Word for guidance. Basing our decisions solely on our emotions or circumstances is not a wise thing to do, because these are unstable. If we cannot stick to our tasks through thick and thin, we risk being “double-minded and unstable in all [that we] do.”1