Seeking New Heights
Do you know who the stars are of your story this holiday season?
Growing up as the oldest of five boys, there was never a shortage of places or opportunities ripe for exploration and discovery. My brothers and I built a treehouse during our preteen years not unlike one my father had built in his youth. Like his, ours was complete with electricity, heat, and a hibachi stove for cooking. The host tree was a sprawling Willow that produced the perfect canopy to hide the fort beneath its shade.
Higher and Higher
We’d often climb the tree to “look-outs” in its highest branches – strings that draped toward the ground like streamers of light from exploding fireworks on the fourth of July. When tired of climbing trees, there were plenty of nearby buildings, their rooftops high above ground and waiting to be conquered by youthful boys with surging adrenaline.
What is so captivating about being in high places? Mountain climbers have as many reasons for climbing as there are mountains.
One of our favorite climbs was the multi-building campus of the local high school. Slowly we’d ascend, surmounting progressively higher rooftops like frogs leaping from one lily pad to the next as they move upstream. Eventually we’d be peeking over the edge of the highest roof where everything on the ground level appeared as miniature pieces of a model train set.
For me personally, there’s always something curious about looking down from death-defying heights. There’s an allure and exciting temptation that fosters a sense of power and invincibility attempting to disguise raw vulnerability. There is usually a brief and momentary urge to leap out into the open air. This is immediately followed by a shudder and chill that runs from head to toe as I realize the insanity of such a thought, for to act on it would surely result in a violent death.
Sense of Control
The illusion of control – that my life is in my own hands – becomes a mesmerizing magnet drawing me in. There is an undeniable sense of cogency I feel gazing down on my world from places where only birds naturally share the air. Of course, I neither could, nor would, choose to end my life—”leaping out into the air” or by any other means. Besides, only God decides when the bell of death tolls.
But somehow the free will to exercise my discretion allows me to feel omnipotent in that brief moment when the choice is mine. In that respite, there is a profound, immense but magnanimous respect for the sanctity of life.
Does that mean I have any control over God’s will? No.
It’s the sense that regardless of His plan for my life, I have the power to end it all with one split-second decision to jump. Could He, or would He, intervene? It’s possible.
But it’s more likely that His perfect will includes the laws of physics and Newton proved that I would hit the ground with a force proportional to my mass, multiplied by the height from which I jump and acceleration due to gravity.
The allure of control is an attractive illusion but God’s will should not be tested. He has a plan for us and each and every life is precious. That is the take-home message.
Thinking We’re In Charge
Regardless of God’s will, we all have our own wills – in fact we have a will, goal, objective, and plan for every venture in life. Someone once said, “God’s will is what happens while we’re making other plans.”
Life is a series of moments strung together forming events that become memories, like 8 mm film with its many frames. We cherish the warm and “good” ones while hoping to learn from the “bad” ones. Hopefully the traumas we endure allow us to persevere – stronger for the wear.
Everyone Has A Story
The truth is, everyone has a story. Every life has value. Each life is priceless to someone, if not everyone, simply by virtue of the fact that we all don’t know each other! Yet!
It’s well beyond time that we all begin to appreciate one another as individual and precious family members. Those we don’t yet know are valuable lives we’ve yet to meet! Every individual we encounter has the potential to be a vital character in our own story.
As the holiday season unfolds, the end of 2017 draws near. It has been a brazen and challenging year of trauma and hardship for many. Thankfully, it has also been marked by resultant triumph, inspiration, and hope.
A Record Year
2017, so far, will carry the record title for the most natural disasters exceeding $1 billion in cost with a range surpassing $190 billion, (Hurricane Harvey). The traumatic toll on lives resulting from hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, wildfires, and floods and landslides, has been all but immeasurable.
Also in 2017, record lives were lost and affected by over 400 mass shootings. In less than two years, in the US alone, we’ve seen the two largest mass killings between Orlando and Las Vegas.
It’s no wonder that biblical scholars cite recent historical changes as signs that the “end of days” and second coming of Jesus Christ, is near.
At the very least, it’s high time we begin to appreciate the supporting roles in each of our own personal stories.
And each of those persons has a starring role in another story – his or her own life story. And all of our stories are connected by One Director. It’s time we find a way to realize and appreciate the truly priceless value of every role in the bigger story.
As we bounce loosely through the hustle and bustle of the holiday madness, let’s not allow “brotherly love” to become a cliché buried amongst other signs of the season. Let’s look closely and carefully for the magical spirit within, much the way a certain star guided three wise men long ago.
Let’s cherish each moment and the other “stars” of every story. They’re all meant to reflect the real reason for the season.
On whom do you rely as supporting roles in your story? As Director? Please feel welcome to share your story, especially evidence of the Spirit of the season.