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!

The puzzle of simplicity….

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Puzzle and simplicity

Puzzle & Simplicity!

Ever had this feeling that you have so much bottled up inside you that it felt like the slightest nudge would definitely cause you to metamorphose into a fully functional but uncontrolled fire hydrant? It has become so lame whenever these words are uttered ‘life is unfair’ that sometimes we fail to acknowledge the wealth of wisdom hidden behind those three words. I certainly know how unfair life can be but I also know that there is a world of difference between the perception of the unfair times and the choices we feel compelled to make during those times.

The last few weeks have been very revealing, for the lack of a more suitable term, and like every moment we experience as we journey through life, it also adds more zing to my individual and very unique story. Who we are at the end of our journey is a thoroughly mixed blend of all the various moments, lessons and experiences we encountered in the course of our lives – that is why we are as diverse as the word means. It is such an awesome but completely humbling experience when we are privileged to catch but a glimpse of life and its mysteries;  Better a poor but wise youth than an old but foolish king who no longer knows how to heed a warning” – Jedidiah. To some of us, that which we so assiduously pursue with every waking breath, is as meaningless as the chaff that is blown off wheat, to another. So the question is if the same fate awaits each and every one of us, how do we apply our waking moments to ensure that we are not just a very vague memory in the lives of those that we were privileged to encounter?

Tomorrow, my best friend celebrates the beginning of another new year and for me, that transitional phase holds so much potential because it is an opportunity to review our past and appropriately align our paths towards where we are headed. I have cause to celebrate too, because just being honored to share in and witness the beginning of another phase of someone very special is also a reminder that I too have had and will also have beginnings and what better privilege it is when we are given a heads start or a leg boost upwards. And whilst I rejoice and celebrate my best friend, I also realize that the choices I make will definitely influence my own beginnings as the different seasons of my own life come up, so that is mixed feelings right there – what do I choose? Dwell on the negatives or bask in the triumphs of the past or take a chestful of invigorating fresh air and gear myself to march onward.

I recall quite vividly one of the lessons I learned as a youngster during our family devotions, it was a story from the pages of ‘Just A Moment Please’ – A.J Maurus. A father saddled with meeting the dictates of his job also had for that day, the responsibility of attending to the unceasing needs of his little son (baby-sitting). Finding his son’s incessant demand for attention a little distracting, he thought of the best way to keep his little son occupied for a long stretch of time so as to enable him focus more on the task at hand. Quickly reaching a supposedly foolproof solution, he took out a page from that morning’s newspaper with the world map boldly captured on the page that his son had been playing with, ripped it into tiny bits and asked the little son to play an impromptu game of puzzle by trying to put the world map together. Excitedly both father and son turned their attention to their individual tasks, the father believing that the puzzle would keep his son preoccupied for the greater part of the time.

In less than an hour, the little boy shrieked out delightedly to his father that he had completed the puzzle. As expected, the father was stunned that his son who could barely understand the word ‘continent’ least of all the study of cartography and geology had completed the puzzle in so short a time. Believing that it was just a characteristic case of short attention span, he walked into the little boy’s room and amazingly beheld the world map correctly put together. Seemingly at a loss for words, he asked his son how he had so quickly figured the puzzle correctly. With a twinkle in his little blue eyes and that look reserved for ‘disappointingly slow’ parents, he walked up to the put-together map and turned it around, behold there was a picture of a man on the reverse side. In his little bubbly voice, he explained “When I put the man together, the world came together!”

Decades have passed and still I recall that simple lesson: when and if we can put the man (ourselves) together, then the world will simultaneously come together. Pretty simple but undeniably very puzzling especially when you take into cognizance the idiosyncrasies and unique but different values that make us who we are. Today, that lesson still rings true and whilst many of us choose to focus on the unfairness of life, the simpler task would be to get our individual acts together and then watch in astonishment as the world or our immediate environment comes together. It is so much easier to hurl blames at other people for our unfair circumstances, but truth be told, while it is so more difficult to set on the single task of putting ourself together, when and if we do, the results would be beyond what we could ever imagine. “The art of simplicity is a puzzle of complexity” – Douglas Horton

Recalling the discussion I had with one of my business associates, Johann – I was completely blown away when he said that his objective in successfully starting up his Real Estate Investment firm was not to become a millionaire. Modesty in play? Definitely not! Experience has taught me to recognize sincerity when I hear it, besides I also know him a teeny weeny bit.  It has become (and always was) a hugely growing norm now for people to leap onto the band wagon of someone else’s opinion, tear it apart, poke holes and do as much destruction as they can think up. Once that urge has been satisfied, a complete turn around is done where that opinion carries the day (success) and when failure results, then a search for the next wagon to jump on begins. It requires less work putting the puzzle together when and only if we realize that we are very much a part of that next person’s story, each of us is the man behind the map of someone else’s life and if we devote just a little portion of our time in putting our lives together as opposed to destroying “another’s life/opinion/stance”, imagine how many puzzles we would have succeeded in completing and how much good work little old you would have done.

I, for one, choose to be different and while my end is yet afar off, I opt to work more on getting my own act together. There is a purpose to every life, discovering it is a good start. Remember, the quality of whatever we aspire for or dream of can only be made manifest in the quality of what we give others. We are, because someone gave and regardless of how despondent the circumstances are demanding of you – you still get to choose. Make it count!

עד שנפגש שוב , אני נפרדתי ממךלשלוםוטוב ביותר שאתה לבד ראוי .

Adios!