Monday, February 18, 2008

Life is Like a Steam Iron

There are illustrations all over the place that we can apply to life and learn something about life from. Last week it just so happened to be pancakes this time it is ironing. The other day I was ironing my clothes for church. I know, some of you are thinking, “Geesh, this guy is a big girl! Last week he was cooking, this week he is ironing clothes!” First of all, do not be so barbaric, there is nothing wrong with a man ironing and cooking in the 21st Century. Second of all these are all traits I learned in the Marine Corps, where by the way I even learned how to sew on buttons. So for anyone who thinks that the Marines only produce killers, you are wrong. We had to learn other life skills as well. So if you make me mad I will kill you then replace missing buttons as well as iron the suit we bury you in. Obviously I am totally kidding about that. I would not kill anyone with a wrinkled suit that is missing buttons; that would just be rude. Unless of course I had fixed them pancakes for breakfast then it would perfectly polite.
Seriously though, I used to iron clothes like the stereotypical American until I had an ironing life changing experience. What do I mean by stereotypical American? Well, let us just say that moderation is not an American strong suit. If one teaspoon works, then two must work better. Americans are known for overkill and rightly so. So, I used to iron everything with the heat and steam on them turned all the way up because I thought that the hotter and steamier the better it must iron clothes. Then one day I decided to actually read the chart on the iron. I noticed that there were different settings on the iron for different types of fabric. Just for giggles I actually set the iron to setting that matched the tag in the shirt. I was amazed at how much better the iron worked! Since I have started matching the setting to the fabric it takes a lot less time to iron my clothes and they come out looking better.
Have you ever wondered why life does not always work-out like you want it to? Maybe it is because you aren’t living it like you are supposed to. Maybe it is because you aren’t living life at its proper setting. Maybe you have more things going on in your life than you can handle and life is getting too hot. Maybe you are not doing what you can and life is too cold and boring. Maybe you are trying to do things that you aren’t programmed to do at that setting. Either way, your life is not going to be as effective as it could be. Life works much better when it is being handled properly, at the right settings. When used the way it was intended it will yield much better results.
God put us on Earth with a right way to live. Along with this right way, he also gave us freewill. He actually lets us decide if we will live right or not. He does not make us do it right nor does He force us to read the directions. He leaves all that up to us. If we want to just skate through life settling for less than the best by ignoring the directions and doing things our own way, then He will let us. If we do decide to read the directions then He will allow us to understand what it is saying. But when we decide to take those directions and our new understanding of them and actually apply them to our lives then our lives will click like never before. We will still encounter wrinkles in our lives, but we will be prepared to overcome them and even change them. We will be able to flatten the hills and fill-in the valleys of our souls. We can also decide to approach situations in life at the wrong settings, but if we expect to churn out the desired result in doing that then we are fooling ourselves to believe we can do it our own way.
May you learn to live your life at the setting which God designed for every situation you find yourself operating in. May you actually apply what you have learned of the proper settings to the situations which call for those settings. May you learn that when you live the way God intends you to live that He will do infinitely more for and through you than you could ever hope for or imagine.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Life is Like a Pancake

Saturday I was fixing breakfast for the family. I was fixing pancakes, the whole grain kind. Hey I am getting older and need to get used to that stuff and the kids use enough syrup that they do not know the difference! It could be a piece of carpet under all that syrup and they would not know the difference. Anyway, back to the real story. Speaking of rabbit trails, I tried to take my beagle back outside to chain him up this morning, he was busy trying to follow all of the rabbit tracks in the snow. Man he was everywhere! Do pets really take on the personality of their owners? I do not chase rabbit trails do I? Ok, maybe the people take on the personality of their pet instead. Ok, now back to the real story for really real this time.
When ever I flipped the pancakes they would kind of get all warped on the side I had just griddled (is that a word?) I like my pancakes to be flat and smooth which makes no sense because then the butter and syrup run right off and do not soak in. So I would take the spatula and smack the pancake to make it flat again. All the women are now screaming, “What are you doing? Don’t you know how to make pancakes?” Which is the very reason for this story. My wife noticed this and promptly told me that hitting the pancakes would make them hard. Being a typical man I muttered under my breath, where she couldn’t hear of course, something like, “Leave me alone woman, I know what I am doing.” Now the men are saying, “If you were typical man you would not be cooking breakfast.” Men, you would be surprised how many brownie points that wins; you ought to try it sometime. Plus our women have to live with us so they deserve our help sometimes and if Christ died for His Church and God told us to love our wives the way Jesus loved the Church then the least we can do is make some pancakes. Well, after I got over myself I was hit with a Forest Gump moment only this time life was not like a box of chocolates. Life is like being a pancake is it not? Society and even the Church have their idea of how we should look and when we get a little warped from their idea they smack us into submission. Even when doing so makes us less effective in our mission because now we are not allowed to be what God created us to be and God created us a certain way to serve a certain purpose in His Kingdom and now we can’t serve that purpose. Now instead of being shaped the way God shaped us we have become flat and hard and can’t serve the higher purpose. Now I am not saying that there are not certain standards to live by. There is an absolute right and absolute wrong way to live, however, none of God’s standards will ever prevent you from being what He created you to be. That would be insane and God is way smarter than that.
It would be nice to tell people to back-off and let us be what God created us to be, but if that ever happens it will be a long time coming. So in the meantime we need to work on ourselves. We need to not allow life and others to make us hard on the inside or flat on the outside. Allow only God to shape us, and He is not standing over us with a big spatula making us all the same shape. Take heart in knowing that God created you unique for a unique purpose that only you can accomplish. Find friends, family, and a Church that will support and encourage you to use your God-given shape to build His kingdom and then life will have purpose and keep you moldable to His will. Besides, if we all work on ourselves in this area we will stop beating others into submission and if the people stop, society will stop, and we will instead encourage each other.