My kids love to get mail. If we were honest, I think we all like getting mail. Yes, I mean “snail mail!” A card in the mailboxes fun to get. Even more so, if it has a gift card or cash inside! At least that’s what my kids say. Charlie, my youngest, loves when we get anything in the mail. To her, a birthday card is no different than an electric bill. It’s all Greek to her. She asked My wife, Amond, to read one such anonymous card last night. Amond proceeds to read, making up what the card should say:
I hate your stinkin’ guts.
You make me vomit.
You’re the scum between my toes.
It’s one of the most recognized letters in film, from the movie The Little Rascals. Charlie thought it was hysterical, and repeated it word for word, for better or for worse! In the movie though, Alfalfa writes a completely different letter to send, but doesn’t want his friends to know about his true feelings towards Darla. As I was thinking about this highly spiritual topic, a few things came to my mind that I wanted to share.
1. Tell them how you feel.
I don’t mean that in the negative sense, but rather the positive. Maybe it is a guy thing, but I would rather joke around and say that “you make me vomit,” than say something like, “you mean a lot to me,” or, “I couldn’t have done this without you.”
Maybe you don’t like sharing feelings, or perhaps you want all the the appreciation for yourself. Either way, it is wrong. No one is where they are without good people around them. Tell them that you appreciate them and have noticed them. It will mean a lot.
2. Tell them in person.
Don’t let someone else tell them for you. Write them a letter of appreciation instead of a text. But know that even a text is better than nothing. The best thing you could do is call them or see them face to face. Again, maybe that’s uncomfortable, but that’s why it will mean so much.
3. Tell them today.
We aren’t promised forever. No one knows when our last day will be here on earth. I’ve heard too many people say, “I wish I had more time.” Or they have said, “If I would have known this was it, I would have said this or that.” Don’t let that be you.
“Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.”
James 4:13-14 NLT
So why not go and start your letter to someone today.
"The opportunity of a lifetime needs to be seized in the lifetime of the opportunity." - Leonard Ravenhill
I've heard it said that second place is just the first loser! Funny, right?! I personally like the quote, and use it often. Mostly, in defense of my third place finish during a family game night! I wonder though, if there is a tinge of truth in this statement that causes us to pause before we try anything. Should I even attempt this if I know it probably won't turn out the way I imagine?
I know myself. I know that I am a dreamer and self-proclaimed visionary. It is in my nature to keep trying new things and pursuing new ideas. But over the past few years I have slowed down a lot in this area. I have played it safe you may say. I try to do only what I know will be successful. If I, the never scared to fail person, starts perceiving life in such a way, how many others do the same thing? When did "Plan B" start becoming our "Plan A?"
I like to look to the Bible for answers to these all-important life questions that I tend to have. (If the Bible is really the answer to all our problems, and that isn't a cliche statement, then we should probably stick our noses in it a bit more often! Just a thought.) Let's look for a moment at a Sunday school story, called David and Goliath! Sit up, lean in, and let's relive one of the greatest moments in the history of this earth!
In 1 Samuel 17 we learn that the Philistines and Israelites have lined up for battle. Before the war began, a giant Philistine by the name Goliath, marches out to the battle line and issues a challenge to the Israelites. "Choose one man from among you to fight me. If he wins, we will serve you. If I win, you will serve us." There seems to be a sanity in this statement that could save a lot of blood shed on both sides. The problem is, no one wants to fight him. So for forty days, a stalemate ensues.
Insert David. A simple, ruggedly handsome teenager tending his fathers flock of sheep. He was not looking for a fight. In fact, I would guess that he's not even aware of what is going on. That is why his father Jesse, asks him to check on his brothers. Sometimes I wander if our purpose in life is to go about looking for a fight? We argue about everything, and can't seem to get along with anyone. Shouldn't we, if at all possible, try to live at peace with everyone? When did that scripture disappear? Needless to say, David was not looking for a fight, and he was certainly not looking to be king. We should take note that he was not looking to be anything more than a sheep following the Shepherd. If the valley is not enough for you, then the platform will not be either.
David shows up to the battlefield, sees what is going on and offers to fight this giant. Everyone was a bit shocked, and his brothers were even a bit jealous and angry. I think though, that David was more shocked that out of the thousands in the army, not one had already volunteered for the task! Here is the point of this story that I want to bring out: David was not the first to see the opportunity, but he was the first to seize the opportunity!
You can in life, see the giants in your way as an enemy and a problem, or you can choose to see them as an opportunity. I know that I pass up on opportunities because I only see a giant. Fear and unbelief is much more dangerous to your dream than any giant! And the person who refuses to move until the fear is gone, will never move.
We were not made to be perfect. Failure is a part of life. We were made to trust in the One who made us. Trusting that His design is right, and His plan is good. God is not so interested in perfection; He's far more interested in direction. So what happens if David failed? I believe he had the same mindset as the three Hebrew children heading into the fire, "even if He does not come through, I will still not bow! Even if God doesn't deliver me, He is still good!" Can you say that in your life? Even if this fails, even if life doesn't seem to go according to plan, I am still a success because of who HE is in my life!
And if you can, then seize that opportunity that's in front of you!
There are days when I feel like I am not cutting it as a parent. Ever been there? I hope I am not alone! There are days I don't pay as much attention to my kids as I should. Other times I find myself needing to apologize to them for one reason or another. I could always do more and be better for my three kids. I try my best to be the great father that they deserve, but there are days!
Then there are other days. Days that you want to remember for a lifetime. Days that you did it right. Days that seemed to be perfect and everything fell into place.
I gave the right advice at the right time.
I came in at the right moment to stop WWIII from breaking out in my house.
I listened intently, as a concerned father would.
I took them out for ice cream after a bad day and it made all our problems go away.
We have our ups and we have our downs as parents. And then, every once in awhile, something happens that has a category all of its own. A moment, a word spoken, a look, a trip or activity that seems to rise above the rest. Let me give you some back story to one of these moments.
It was a Thursday, my day off from work. Around the house, I typically feel like a pitcher in t-ball! I help with laundry (folding, not washing!). I attempt to help with the kids schooling, emphasis on the word, attempt! This particular day my mother-in-law was bringing her outdoor furniture for us to have on our back patio. A nice table, six chairs, and one giant umbrella! I tried to finish up with yard work and get the back patio blown off so it would look ok for the arrival of said furniture.
She shows up in her truck and everything is in the bed. I then proceed to take all of her furniture out of the truck, all the while having two ladies tell me exactly how to pick them up, where to put them, how to arrange them, etc! You get the picture. Everything seemed to be in its place and it was time to get the giant umbrella. There is nothing heavy about carrying the umbrella, but it is large and to a three year-old girl, looks impressive. As I had the umbrella on my shoulder, carrying it from the front driveway to the back of the house, I hear these words come out of my three year-olds mouth: Look at my daddy!
Those words! My daughter, looking at me with pride, and sharing to the whole world what an incredible feat I had just accomplished. She went over and grabbed her nana and again said, "Look at my daddy!" Wow. With those very words she broke through something in my heart.
Anything she asks in that moment is hers. Whatever she wants to do, we will go do it. Money is not an issue. Time no longer exists. If the world was mine to give, it would be hers.
There is something special about a son or daughter feeling pride in a father. I wonder, perhaps, if God feels the same way. I imagine He does. I think about David facing off with Goliath. "You come to me with a sword, but I come to you in the name of the Lord!" And then God responding, "David, Goliath is yours! The kingdom is yours! My love is yours!" I think the same could be said of Elijah. "Let me show off what my God can do. Bring buckets and buckets of water to pour over the altar. There is nothing impossible for my God!" And God consumed the sacrifice for Elijah!
We brag about athletes, that we don't even know. We talk big about this political party or that and all of its accomplishments. We spout on and on about what great words pastor so and so said (and I'm sure they were great words!). I like you have done all of this. But, is our Father, our Daddy, not greater than all of those things? I wonder if we actually spend the appropriate amount of time giving Him the praise and honor and adoration that He deserves?!
I may be meddling some here or there, but I would be remiss to not present the case before you, that the God I serve is still the God that can do the impossible. That He can still shake the foundations of the earth and move mountains. That He can still heal and deliver; redeem and restore. He is capable of far more than we could ever think or possibly imagine. His love is endless and His power is unmatched. There is no other god who can stand beside Him.
I say with great pride today, “Look at my Daddy!”
And I believe with all of my heart, that if we were to treat Him a little more like He deserves, and share a little more with the world what He could do for them, God would show up and show off, time and time again!