Posted in Family, gratitude, life, Scripture, wisdom

The Treadmill–Friend or Foe?

What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?” Romans 8:31

They say that outlook is everything. Some people are always asking, “is the glass half full or half empty?” I just want to know what’s in the glass.  I remember a great story about two salesmen.  One was send to the wilds of Africa to sell shoes.  He arrived and pretty quickly sent this message to the company headquarters: “Bring me home immediately. No opportunity. No one here wears shoes. Waste of time.”  So they brought the guy home.  Not wanting to give up, they sent another salesman.  This guy arrived on the scene and also quickly sent a message to the company headquarters.  It read, “Please respond as quick as you can.  Opportunities abound everywhere.  Everyone is barefoot and need shoes.  Send all that you have…what a future.” Well I guess they are right.  It all depends on your outlook.

Like many folks, Judy and I have a treadmill in our home.  It sits downstairs where Judy has her office. The treadmill and I on occasion have been very good friends, however, we just don’t see eye to eye.  He wants me to get on and walk ferociously and go absolutely nowhere. I prefer to walk outside and actually move. Now if it is pouring down rain or ten degrees below freezing that is fine—we are buds.  But on a normal day, well, we just agree to disagree. He thinks we should get together every day. I’m thinking more like only when absolutely necessary.  Frankly, and don’t tell him I said this, our relationship was always kinda painful.  He sees himself as a path to being healthy…my new BFF. I see him as someone out of one of those torture movies where some guy named Egor is always tightening the screws.

We have a couple of grandchildren that really like the treadmill.  For years and even now, when Hope and Ethan come over to the house one of their inevitable questions is, “Papa, can we get on the treadmill?”  I mean, what’s the deal?  What I try to avoid they openly embrace.  One day I asked Judy, “What’s up with the treadmill–why do Hope and Ethan love it so much?”  Well, her thought was the “no” factor.  Because the answer was frequently no, they keep asking. It could be that it is the “thrill” factor.  You know, maybe the thrill of it all.  Maybe, just maybe, it is something totally different.

My theory is that instead of seeing it as a device for torture, they see it like a toy–like something that is fun. They will turn it down real slow and allow it to carry them from the front to the back.  They will see how fast they can go and not get ejected. (Now don’t call Family Services—we keep an eye on them.) And sometimes…they just walk. Now honestly, they really don’t use it for its intended purpose (which by the way is torture) but as something that they can jump on or off, that they can ride (howbeit short)—maybe just have fun using.

I’m probably stretching it here, but I just wonder if I changed my attitude about my friend the treadmill, would we better enjoy our times together? What if I saw him as a partner and convenience and not the enemy?  It probably doesn’t matter much to him since he is an inanimate object getting walked on, but it would definitely be beneficial to me. I’m pretty consistent in my exercise but on those rainy fall days ahead my friend could be a help in keeping me healthy.  He fulfills his purpose (which by the way, is not to hang clothes on) and I make Judy happy by walking even more.  How about that?

Perspective can change just about everything. When we start seeing things through the lens of half full instead of half empty it might not only change our attitude but it just might make us a better person.  It could even change our relationship with God.  Too often we see Him as someone who is out to get us when instead, He is out to save us—to rescue us—to bless us. The Bible says, “What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?” Imagine that…the God of Creation wants to be your new BFF or best friend forever.  Like our friend the treadmill, He is just waiting for us to make time for Him.  When we do we will discover that He wants to help us be a better version of ourselves. Go ahead, give Him a try.  Take a rest from the “going nowhere” rat-race and trust Him.  He’s got this.

Posted in Family, life, Scripture

Concrete Desert

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:10

They were all heading straight for disaster and they didn’t have a clue.  I was walking on our local bike path the other day.  It was early morning but not so early that the sun wasn’t already hot.  It was going to be warm one—especially for May.  As I was walking I looked down and saw several, no many, earthworms on the bike trail. They were trying to make it across.

I know, you’re thinking, “Why did the earthworm cross the bike path?”  The answer is “I don’t know but it sure wasn’t going well.”  Some had already bit the bullet and others were in the struggle of their wormy lives.  Most were squirming…doing everything they could to make it to the other side.  The only thing is, I could see what they could not.  They were a long way from home.

I can just imagine one of the worms with the gift of leadership shouting to his friends, “Keep going guys.  You can make it.  Just a little further.”  The trouble is he just didn’t have the whole picture…the view from above.  From his perspective the end was right over there.  From his perspective just a few more inches and they would be home free. Perspectives from ground level are often like that.  That is why we need someone with a better view.

One of the things I love about believing in God is knowing that He has a higher, better view. He can see things that you just can’t see at ground level.  And when He speaks…He speaks true encouragement because He knows what is around the bend or a few days down the road.  God is really good at helping His kids do life.  If only we would learn to listen.  If only…

See, I talked to some of the earthworms as I walked.  I would say things like, “It’s not looking good, partner.”  Or maybe, “Dude, you’re not gonna make it squirming like that.” Then, “Hey, why are you crossing the bike path anyway?”  I just had to ask. Well, no one listened and on they squirmed.  It was going to be hard day for most of them.

And, then, and this is the truth, I would sometimes stop and actually pitch one or two of them into the cool, wet grass.  It was a random thing I would do.  I would stop, pick one out, and chuck them to the side.  While not one of them said “thanks” it was enough for me to save him or her from the dreaded concrete desert. It just felt good to save a life—even if it was just an earthworm.  I just hope it wasn’t his cousin I put on a hook last week.

When I thought about this whole perspective and rescue thing I just naturally thought about God.  Along with His great perspective, He cares enough to rescue us.  He wants to rescue every person from an eternity without Him.  I mean He loves us so much…and He loved us before we even thought about loving Him.  The Bible says that we love Him because He first loved us.  He saw all our warts, all our imperfections, all our bad choices and chose to love us anyway.  He loved us before we even promised to try and do things right.  A promise, by the way, that we could never keep anyway.

Oh and one more thing.  As I said, I would pick an earthworm to save for no apparent reason.  I just picked one.  God said, “That will never do.” And do you know what, He loved the whole world…everybody…everyone.  Now we still have to choose to repent, choose to follow, choose to believe.  But when we do…well, the welcome sign is out.  Welcome home, son.  Welcome home, daughter. And this is the best part.  Should we wander back onto the concrete desert, He doesn’t say, “Good grief or good luck.”  No He just reaches out, takes us by the hand and pulls us back into the cool, green grass called His presence.  You gotta love that. Well, I don’t know if you will ever feel compelled to rescue an earthworm or not.  But the next time you see one on the sidewalk on a hot May Day, just remember the time He rescued you.  Remember the time He didn’t leave you out in the hot to become a crispy critter.  No, He reached down and picked you up.  Isn’t it great to have a God that cares? That you can rest in?  That’s got this? Yup…I know it’s so.