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If all of life is a lesson than I wonder just what it is that I am being taught now.
Am I being given a tutorial in how to handle adversity and challenge. Is this the lesson in which I learn that it doesn’t matter what road we choose to walk upon because they all have their challenges.
Is this the moment where a voice reaches down from the heavens and tells me that the grass is always greener and that we all have our challenges.
Do I look at this time and shrug my shoulders because, “this too shall pass.”
Perhaps. Or perhaps not.
It reminds me a bit of that joke/story/parable that I have heard so many times:
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A religious man heard an urgent news report on his radio that a flash flood was within minutes of entering the peaceful valley where he lived. Immediately he went to his knees and prayed for safety. The words were still on his lips when he became aware that water was gushing under his door. He retreated to the second floor and finally onto the roof of his house.
While he sat on the roof, a helicopter flew by and the pilot asked over the loudspeaker if they could lift him off. It’s not necessary since I have the Lord’s protection, he replied.
Moments later the house began to break up and he found himself clinging to a tree. A police boat, braving the waters, approached him for rescue, but he assured them that the Lord would save him. Finally, the tree gave way and the man went to his death.
Standing before the Lord, he asked, “Lord, I’m glad to be here, but why didn’t You answer my prayer for safety?The Lord responded, “Son, I told you over the radio to get out of there Then I sent you a helicopter and a motor boat!”
I appreciate that story for a whole variety of reasons. What I take from it is a very practical message. It is a wake up call that says we are responsible for taking care of ourselves and our needs.
Granted some of you will be fixated on the other stuff. You’ll tell me that this story is a perfect example of how prayer is answered but not always in the manner we wish that it would be. I don’t get caught up in that. Is that possible? Sure, I can’t say that it isn’t.
But what I can say is that taking responsibility for ourselves is absolutely the right thing to do. It is the right thing to do because it is the only way that we guarantee that someone will be looking out for our personal interests.
I am not talking about material things but the stuff that makes you want to get up in the morning. The relationships with others and the feeling that your life has purpose and meaning. The initial task is to identify what those things followed by the hard work of setting out to get them.
So when I look at that story and think of a person who is waiting for G-d to save them I make a face and roll my eyes. I have faith in many things, but my faith is deepest in myself. At least when it comes to taking care of that which Jack requires.
Besides it is much easier to beat myself up for shortcomings or to point my finger in the mirror and say that the only one preventing me from getting what I want is me. As I tell my children it all comes back to being able to go to bed knowing that you did the best that you could.
It doesn’t feel good to fail at things and sometimes it is a small consolation to go to bed with that knowledge, but in the end the one person you can never truly hide from is yourself.