Don’t Take What’s Not Yours
Surely, the practice of extortion turns a wise person into a fool, and a bribe destroys the mind. The end of a matter is better than its beginning; a patient spirit is better than a proud spirit. Don’t let your spirit rush to be angry, for anger abides in the heart of fools.
Don’t say, “Why were the former days better than these?” For it is not wise of you to ask this. Eccl 7:7-10 (HCSB)
Learning to be content in our present state – the challenges and opportunities that are in the present moment – is the key to learning to be patient. We cannot change the past; those former opportunities and challenges are behind us and never can be realized again. What we failed to accomplish for any number of seemingly valid reasons at the time is like water of a river rushing on by – irretrievable. Yet, in contrast, future opportunities and challenges are unknown until they manifest themselves in the present. However, it’s like trying to predict the impact of waters that just began its journey at the head of a river – so much depends upon the obstructions that interfere with the path of the river waters along the journey before those precise waters reach where you are in the present. Why? The future is unpredictable, and only God knows the future. He alone exists outside of the restrictions of space and time. He is behind all that occurs in ours lifetime: past, present or future without disrupting our free will choices and the consequences thereof.
In light of our present situation in life: why do we get so impatient and angry? Is it because we desire advance notice of what’s the next challenge or opportunity in our life? Yet where is our faith? Do we not believe that God knows what we are capable of handling and only allows what we can handle to be thrown at us in the present moment – the only time when our influence matters. At times we may feel overwhelmed; other times, bored but all times are God’s teachable moments for each of us. Our response in handling life in the now allows God to shape and mold the future for us. Therefore, what good would it do to pursue a seer’s crystal ball to peek into the future? Seers only see what we want to see, never the future. Likewise, wishing to return to our past is futile and brought with folly. If we could go back to the past, it’d certainly never be the same because we’re no longer the person who lived our past.
Learn from the past, but realize we can never relive the past.
So how can we have the strength to cope and survive the challenges and opportunities of the present that present themselves as endless tests, trials and tribulations of our patience, our endurance, and our perseverance? Just as the any river ebbs and flows as the seasons change, we too experience the endless ebb and flow of present life challenges and changes that cause us to make choices which result in consequences. We cannot avoid the challenges or the changes. We can only determine our response to them which affects our ability to cope with more endless challenges and changes flowing at us in the present.
However, the answer is simple to the source of our strength to cope with the endless flow. Seek out daily the author of time and space, the one who orchestrates the challenges and changes directed at us – God, our heavenly Father. Begin each day and return as often as needed, seeking God’s will, ways, and wisdom. Pray for the patience to anticipate wisely the future, while we persevere in the present, and offer praises for all that has passed us by and now rests behind us. Believe with all our heart that God knows what’s best for us, and that He orchestrates choices at life’s crossroads for a grand purpose, but He will also journey alongside us in the present, no matter the choices you may make.
But for heaven’s sake: Don’t be like the fool and try to dam up the river to cling to the past and stymie the future. The fool always gets washed away by what he thought he could control that was not his to possess! The fool believes he or she can take what’s not their’s to take, but learns the past and future no one may possess except God.
Words of Wisdom #238-22EC