Sunday, January 27, 2008

Our Most Powerful Gift


It's snowing again. Quietly. The flakes are so big that they remind me when I used to 'make' snowflakes back in Grade 2. I never liked doing crafts, but I liked creating snowflakes. Folding up the paper and cutting a fresh new design into each snowflake. And there was always that 'ahhh!' moment when I unfolded the paper.


It's been a long time since I made a snowflake, and the memory brings a smile to my face. The street is still, as it often is, the Saturday night parties rarely make it down my little street. It's been an eventful two weeks, every day seems like a bit of an event, like some sort of learning experience. In many ways, I feel as if I have left my will behind, as if I am no longer in control. I mean that in a good way. The irony is that I have exhibited more control than I have had in a long time, and it is this very discipline that has left me waking up each morning feeling as though God has attached wings to my back.


This past week I have been astounded by a couple of observations. The first is how little we seem to enjoy the idea of managing our lives well. And the second is how easily we relinquish control of our daily life. We do so in countless ways. Whether its continuing to do the same things every day, or by not setting goals for ourselves, or by not even thinking about attempting something new or something that will push us out of our comfort zones, we program ourselves into routines when there is no need to do so, and yet we refuse to discipline our lives so that we have freedom to do the things which we feel called to do.


It is both ironic and sad.


Most of us live in a bubble of self-absorbed frustration, and yet, when the opportunity arises to take us from our 'rut-like' existence, we pass on it. I can relate. I struggle with the same thing. And while I can list any number of reasons, the biggest reason for the times I merely 'exist', and don't 'live', is that I am afraid. I am afraid to try something new. I am afraid to meet new people. I am afraid to fail. I am afraid to try. I am afraid to experiment. I'm afraid to start a new relationship. And so my life moves forward, and time leaps ahead, and I am left in the same day, the same month, the same year. I commiserate with my co-workers and friends and celebrate occasionally, but my life never really changes. It never challenges. And one morning I wake up and I realize that I am no longer alive.


It's sad isn't it? And yet, it is the story of so many of us.


What we forget is that God has given us a great gift to counter this human tendency. It is so powerful; we often ignore it or excuse it away. We snicker at its simplicity, and take away its power by refusing to acknowledge it. And on that day, we truly die.
What is this powerful gift, you ask?


It is choice.


We choose our life.


Oh, we don't choose everything. I didn't choose my parents or my country or my upbringing. I didn't choose my parents' finances or what I look like or my natural intelligence or some of my basic personality traits. However, I choose everything else! Let me repeat that.


We choose everything else.


I choose how I respond, how I treat others, where I want to live, what I believe. Every day our lives are filled with hundreds of decisions. We will make every single one of those. This is an unprecedented and unbelievable gift. Some of our decisions (stop at the red light, good decision!) are routine, but so many more are not. We have the power to create our life. The Creator's greatest gift for us(next to life), is that we too, create and mould our life.


...I am consistently amazed at how many people complain. Complaining is a choice not to choose. Every time we complain, we deny the power to choose our life. When we complain, we are victims, and victims have no control of their life. Most people think that complaining is part of human nature, that it's not a big deal, but it is. It is so much more than simply saying what you don't like. It is a denial of control. What we're actually doing is stating that others should and do control our lives.


I slide out from the stoop and let the snow fall onto my face. I'm tired but I thank God for my day, and my job. I remember what it was like not to work. Gratitude is the counter to complaints, and the compliment to our gift of choice. Every time we express thanks, we raise the level of our life. Sometimes, that isn't easy, but it is always worth it.


My prayer this week is that you'll remember that your life is wide open, it is yours to create (and give away). You have been given a powerful gift, and my hope is that you will no longer ignore it. Pursue it, be thankful, and don't let fear stand in your way! Become what you want, fulfill your dreams, stretch yourself to the limit! God will walk with you, I promise you. He has called you to something greater than you have ever imagined... don't be afraid. We all have the opportunity for 'ahhh' moments in our own lives, if only we will take the chance, and make the choice, to do so.


-Steve