Feasts, sacrifices and puzzles….

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Celebrating in style…

One of my favorite genres in movies is action themed medieval films, especially those trying to reenact history. I do remember that during my growing up years, I loved and dreamed of being born then because it seemed like a good sword fight and banquets with huge boars (or any animal deemed a good catch and unfortunate to be killed) roasting over huge flames went hand in hand. However what fierce battles raged then (some for reasons unknown or lost with time), times when men and women were usually valued based on the formidability of their strength in battle – skill and brains combined. Why go to war if you could win over territories by the sheer knowledge of your previous conquests preceding you?

Approximately between 1050 – 1030 b.c, it was a tumultuous time for the Israelites as they vacillated between the era of judges; some notable for leading in righteousness and those infamous for allowing unrighteousness prosper. You see, it was really quite simple back then as it still is today – 2 options; one based on doing right by God’s standards and the other based on the opposite, the crowd pleaser. God’s standard was not that difficult to discern, much easier these days with the ability to read almost an ability that is taken for granted. I just remember the opulence of their feasts, carving up an entire hog with casks of ale flowing….cholesterol wasn’t an issue, actually they outlived us by centuries and it was definitely not because they lacked medicine (I dare opine that they actually had better and so much more affordable healthcare than we do today).

In the last 2 weeks, I’ve unfortunately been discomfited by frequent (and very painful) back spasms that I’ve been forced to unearth my lumbar belt – a wide inflatable belt with magnet inserts. There are those unfortunate periods when fashion and other trivialities go out the windows as we try to get some degree of comfort in the midst of some medically influencing torrid times. I digress because I trust that the season is over now and thus apply myself to more noble pursuits. One event during the Israelites circuitous journey to acknowledging God’s sovereignty was when their colour party (The Ark of Covenant) was captured. For anybody versed in these matters, your colour party must never be captured in battle because that in essence is who you are. However they (The Israelites) lost it due to sheer disobedience and thinking righteousness could be obtained by lavish sacrifices, just like attempting to put on a slap-on band aid on a gashing cut . Disobedience can never be wiped away with lavish sacrifices because obedience in itself is a sacrifice worthy of God’s attention.

It’s best imagined what feasts the Philistines threw with the capture of God’s Ark (not forgetting the massacre of over 35,000 fighting Israelites too….). Now nothing can be further from the truth in these words, ‘abuse is inevitable when purpose is unknown’ and so heady with the victory, the Philistines placed God’s Ark in the temple of one of their many esteemed god’s temple. What humiliation Dagon suffered in his temple because the idol was first cast to the ground in the first night and the next night after being restored, not only was it cast down but both hands and feet were cut off. Now, that situation right there is not something you can immediately restore and no matter how much mead or ale has been consumed, whatever fogs still remain are sure to clear. The Philistines knew without a doubt that they were way in over their head…..

The events unfold in subsequent pages but it kind of reminds me of times when I’ve in folly tried to combine two insoluble events together. The results are usually catastrophic and filed under ‘past experiences’ many times, and ironically till date we still make the same mistakes (I often wonder happened to learning from history). We allow the headiness of triumphs (obtained by God and delivered to us) cloud our senses and inadvertently we find ourselves on the seat of our pants, a laughable sight as we try to shake out the clouds of dust from our hair and clothes. In reality, everything around us was created and therefore our response should be a deserved reverence for The Creator but even as life zips by digitally, it often takes a crash to make us aware that the solution to puzzling events staring us in the face cannot be gotten from neither our feeble minds nor our shallow and limited understanding.

Puzzling….in our faces

For some reason, puzzles will always be a part of life’s package and regardless of how much time we spend trying to decipher them, the solution is usually right there just that we fail to see it. I remember a dear friend, with tears unchecked and rolling down, telling me a couple of weeks back, “I just got a call that my father has only a week to live!” Now that I truly can understand because that single call is one of those moments that define you going foward. Is this a storm that you hunker down and wait out or do you take it on head on? For me, that is an alarm screaming for you to pause and be sure that you’re in His Hands because in situations like that, where else can you be? Events like these will always pop up and how they transform you is ultimately determined by how you respond.

I have long learned that emotional stress is a definite trigger for dystonic episodes and so even when everything about me is itching to gear up for battle, I look down and see scars that remind me to pause, step back and reevaluate my position. ‘Anything worth living for is worth dying for!’ is not just the utterance of a mind in drunken stupor but one that should be carefully understood. Preceding every feast is a triumph but the most notable of triumphs are those gotten without lifting a Honjõ Masamune or wielding a C15 M4 Type Carbine (configured like an M4-style carbine with a flat-top upper) from Bushmaster. The greatest weapons are usually largely invisible and most often less thought of.

In our journey through life’s seas, prioritizing is a skill best learned early. Storms are a certainty however our preparation prior to the storm cannot be taken for granted because very many people define success as opportunity meeting preparedness. I define success as being thankful for where I am today and the liberty of making the right choices. Chance befalls us all, choice differentiates us and so taking time to realize how significant our choices will be to a great extent defines how much merriment awaits us ahead. The success of our journeys is a combination of controllable and uncontrollable events and the choices we make.

Enjoy the journey and try to get better every day. And don’t lose the passion and the love for what you do.” – Nadia Comaneci, and remember that “he/she is no fool to give up cannot be kep to gain what cannot afford to be lost” – Jim Elliot.

עד ניפגש שוב, תן אהבה שלו למלא ולשמור אותך!

Adios!

Leaving Footprints…….

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leaving footprints

Footprints…

You must stick to your convictions, but be ready to abandon your assumptions’ – Denis Waitley. What are your convictions?

Phew! It has indeed been a long period of re-evaluation,reminiscing, re-education etc Every new day should truly be treated as though it may be your last because, hey! it could be. Over the last 4 weeks at The Wood, we have been looking at the subject of ‘What kind of footprints are you leaving behind?’ and I remember experiencing my first snowfall (ironically I stayed up all night because the forecast was for sometime in the wee hours of the morning), sneaking out of the house in my new pair of snow boots and just taking a walk in the snow – funny that right now, I for one could do with some snow. Oh my, the excitement of seeing the footprints I left behind; and it strikes me how funny it is that regardless of enthusiasm or the passion to learn something new, we are all leaving footprints behind. Life in itself is a journey that we all must must make.

One story strikes a chord within me – the story tells of a man who felt he had gotten the short end of the straw, and as the days went past, he had become a constant fixture at the local tavern in his misconceived notion of drowning out the woes of life. Ignoring his family, he would make a beeline for the tavern from the coal mine and most times, he never recollected how he made it home. Many who had tried to intervene felt it was a thankless task and so he usually was left alone. Until one ordinary evening in winter as he made his usual trip to the tavern, he heard some noise behind him and needless to say that curiosity got the better of him. Turning around, he saw his young son all bundled up in his little winter clothing, with head bent and face all screwed up in concentration, walking towards him – each tiny stride in the deep snow made with such an effort that he could not help but call out to his son. On hearing his father call out his name, the little boy lifted up his head and stretched out on his tiny face was this huge beam of excitement, accomplishment and satisfaction. “Daddy, see me! I am following in your footprints”….. With tears coursing down his bearded face, the father wordlessly reached out and lifted the little boy into his arms and that was the very last time he was seen at the tavern or with liquor.

Even as I write, I know that this story resonates within you. Many of us unwittingly choose to forget what we have in the face of life’s harsh lessons, huge mistake!  Sometimes we get so carried away with our ‘problems’ that we fail to realize that we are headed in a particular direction and even if we are so consumed by the situation or present circumstances, one thing is inevitable – our destination and direction is always marked by our footprints. We may have become so overwhelmed by the circumstances we are in, that curiosity does not even get the better of us anymore and so we fail to realize and acknowledge that someone could very well be following in our footprints. I recall learning the importance of leaving good footprints in the sands of time as a freshman in high school, and through weekly recitals at the very least, the words of that beautiful poem (A Psalm of Life by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow) are ingrained in my heart (specifically the 7th verse)….

‘Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
 And, departing, leave behind us
 Footprints on the sands of time’

Does this memory alone stand out so much that it has become a barrier that cannot be breached by the mistakes and errors that we are oft to make? The answer is a definite No! Over the years, it has lost the status of just being a recital of words for me but has gradually metamorphosed into a conviction. The knowledge, acceptance and constant meditation on the fact that my identity has become ensconced in the Identity and Will of a Loving Creator has evoked the transformation of those long learned words into a living part of who I am today. Do the limitations of my earthly body, frail in itself change the truth that I am also leaving footprints? Do the unrelenting battles with a rare medical condition deprive me of my footprints? In all earnestness, my footprints are even more obvious and distinct with my staff.

As each day, newly birthed, is presented to me – I make the choice that regardless of whether I have a million followers or none at all, I choose to leave behind footprints that lead to a destination where hope, love, joy, grace and peace abound. The going has definitely had its share of hard knocks and will still experience some more but the choices I make today have their consequences in my tomorrow, so like any blessed person (we all are, even if we do not acknowledge them), I have realigned priorities and trudge on strengthened by the hope that someone after me will have a less wearying journey. That is all there is to life – what have you done for that person whom you may never meet to make their own journey better? Are we all wrapped up in the self delusion that life is all about what I can get from it? The very fact that you are where you are today is a result of someone else’s sacrifices – your parents, teachers, friends (of-course the good ones) and what an awful shame it will be that we spurn these sacrifices in a foolish attempt to assuage our own selfish needs.

My father always repeats these words ‘no man is an island‘, and putting that phrase in conjunction with the undeniable fact that there is just one of you in the entire universe with a unique gift, talent, skill – just maybe then we are able to catch a glimpse of the big picture. We all have been created for a purpose, and that purpose will always intersect with some other person’s and how shameful it will be when and if our spot at that very significant moment is glaringly absent and empty. Today, we can do something! Disregard how insignificant it might seem to you, I can wholeheartedly assure you that it is very significant to someone else. Or have you been repeatedly kicked down and are on the verge of ‘doing no more for nobody’? Or you might already have made that selfish decision, just remember that you are where you are because Some-One loved you so much that He willingly gave His all for you, in addition to the countless unknown and un-celebrated individuals whose footprints you have followed.

Get out of that rut (even if it has become very comfortable), self constructed or not, and do something that today and even in hindsight will be truly beneficial to someone else. You can begin leaving good footprints today, it is never too late to begin again. And whilst you are at it, remember “Love sought is good but given unsought is better!” – William Shakespeare

ייתכןשהרוחות תמיד תהיה לטובתך עד שנפגשנו שוב!

Adios!

What really counts is……

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What Really Counts?

My friend just reminded me that we weigh our expectations based on what we feel, and though not quite succinctly put, I would say that our priorities influence our everyday actions. In reference to my last post being two months ago, my dropping off the ‘bloggradar’ and all other proffered observations being a display of how often I was thought of……(really poignant) however what do we do when we are faced with our own challenges regarding a task is actually a display of how high that task is on our priority list. So this year, it is all about prioritizing and in order to do that, there has to be a clear picture of what really counts when push comes to shove.

It has been a significant start to the best year ever and whilst I cannot dwell on the past, I can also not do same for the future but what I can do is utilize the period in-between using the lessons from history and my aspirations for the future to get myself walking and not just ambling along but imbibing the sage words of Reverend Steve Banning; walking with purpose. The question that kind of jumps out now is ‘does purpose change with each new year?’ Honestly, in my own opinion, that answer is influenced by the necessity of reviewing the past because purpose really does not change but what changes is our position with regards to achievement. It would actually be a foible admitting that nothing has changed or that I am now a perfect version of who I was, instead I attest that I am a better version of who I was and needless to say that the health situation might not have varied much (it actually has, depending on where you stand), the financial situation might still be more within arms’ reach or that the lows were more than the highs (definitely not) – the glaring fact is that I am in a new year and old things have passed, all things are new as they stand.

I am writing on the eve of going for a battery of tests, resulting from my last appointment with my PCP and regardless of what new diagnosis was made, I am determined not to allow my priorities be juxtaposed. What counts to me are not the variables like the results from the doctor’s but that I am alive and choose to walk with purpose. I will definitely be lugging around more medication (and it is only just a few days into the new year but guess what, I see them as new too!), requiring more restraints as to what I can but should not do (like taking a swim and almost passing out from hypothermia and literally having brain freeze) but then I have to focus on what should count because ‘a man is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose’. I cannot afford to lose my faith neither can I afford to lose the overwhelming knowledge and conviction that I am led by a God who so loves me. I cannot afford to lose the opportunity to share my experiences truthfully with others especially those suffering from circumstances similar to mine. I can afford to lose loved ones (numbing as it may be) but I cannot afford to lose the opportunity to be a loving one to someone else, regardless of skin color, race or whatever indices there may be.

I know that what really counts may not be the immediate results of our actions, directly or indirectly but the effort towards achieving a purpose. It may tarry but as the heavens bear witness, no labor of mine is going unrewarded. I realize that what counts is not how many years I mark off the calendar but how much I am able to do today with regards to achieving my purpose. The excesses and the droughts will surely come but what counts is how I respond in such times and so I choose to be a first time responder to the needy, regardless of how ignorant they might be of their lack. In a bid to become what the world wants you to be, most times you give up the very core of your existence and I for one will not spend a precious moment being a shell of a being; merely existing with no real purpose and so though it takes every fibre of my physical strength, I will depend on the reserves that can never be exhausted and make my every day count for something.

Long ago, I realized the futility of making resolutions because in my opinion, they are just high falutin words made in a somber moment at the beginning of a year and so I choose to spend more time transforming those un-penned resolutions into actual works. Acknowledging what I see but walking by faith, because I see that what awaits me ahead is way beyond my feeble imagination. I hold dearly to they whom God has given me because I know that it is all for signs and wonders – an awesome display that will blow the minds of those that are still waiting to see. As for those that have witnessed something from my life and who have witnessed something to me, I say thanks for the privilege of being in your company albeit for whatever period of time. I know how limited (and I say that with a grimace) my strength is and so I know that what counts is that in Him, I truly will never know my own strength. The doors are all lined up and I walk towards doors that have been opened for me, truly anticipating the delights of walking through those doors. This is just the beginning, but what a beginning it is. With each freely given breath that I take, I extol the praises of My Creator and despite the limitations I face sometimes, I will make each breath count as a sweet exhalation of every grace and favor received.

Now is my time and as I plant each seed given to me, I know that the produce will surely count for something, someone ….

המטרה שלי היא ללא שינוי . פרידה , עד שנפגש שוב ….

Adios!