How do you know what will happen tomorrow? For your life is like the morning fog—it's here a little while, then it's gone.
What's Really Important?
Pain in my chest… moving down my left arm… I think I'm having a heart attack! This is probably the last time I'll be able to eat a meatball sandwich!
My friend Rich was driving home one evening when this happened to him. The local sandwich shop was having a two-for-one special that month on meatball sandwiches—his favorite. So he bought a couple. He ate one on the way to pick up his wife, the other on the way to the hospital.
The doctor confirmed that Rich was indeed having a heart attack. After getting him stabilized and "out of the woods," the doctor put him on a restricted diet. But Rich felt like much more than his diet had been restricted. He was forced to ask himself some very hard questions.
After Rich survived the heart attack, he saw that he needed a more balanced and positive long-range life plan. He rediscovered who he really was and what really motivated him. He realized that he liked to help people, so he started looking for a career that would allow him to do just that. To his surprise, he found his niche in the funeral industry. Assisting others during their time of sorrow and transition brought clear answers to the questions in his own life.
Rich also discovered that the simple things in life—such as watching his kids' ball games—gave him real joy. He resolved to spend more time watching the kids play and less time being angry at the referees.
What things in life are really important to you? What gives your life joy and meaning? Think about decisions you can make today to keep you from missing out on those things tomorrow.
Lord, help me hold on to what's really important.
2 Corinthians 3:1–4:16
All of us have had that veil removed so that we can be mirrors that brightly reflect the glory of the Lord.
2 CORINTHIANS 3:18
As I was growing up, my mother told me many times, "You don't have what it takes." Mom believed in reverse psychology, so she tried to motivate me by pointing out everything I would never accomplish.
Well, I set my mind to the task of proving my mother wrong. The only problem was that no man wants his mother to be wrong.
As a result, my twenties were characterized by the word almost. I almost ran a successful drafting business. I almost carried on a successful ministry. But whenever I got close to accomplishing my goals, I felt a strange need to change directions and do something else. Many times over, I almost finished the course—but not quite.
The final straw came when I almost lost the house I had spent a year building. I had dug and hammered and painstakingly given rise to the house that would be home to the most important people in my life. But after one year in the house, I was having trouble making the payments. When the foreclosure letter arrived in the mail, it stung. Waves of failure crashed down upon my heart. I desperately prayed for help.
A couple of weeks later, I was approached by a fellow pastor whose church was in a building program. They were looking for ways to cut their budget. He knew about my drafting background and asked if I would consider working with their architect to produce the final drawings. The church saved some money, and I earned enough extra income to keep up with my house payments.
What are the "almosts" in your life that cause you to despair? Help is only a prayer away.
Lord, don't let "almost" be the word that defines my day.
1 Corinthians 9:24–27
Remember that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize. You also must run in such a way that you will win.
1 CORINTHIANS 9:24
Run for the Prize
Ron's hatred toward Ken consumed him. Ron was sure that Ken had been hanging around the preschool just to meet women, but why did it have to be his wife? Ron had been busy with his career, and his wife, Kathy, had been busy with the kids. But he never dreamed she would have an affair. He knew he hadn't been as attentive to her needs as he should have been, but he thought they had a stable relationship.
Ron hated Ken for stealing his wife's heart. He hated him for stealing his contentment. He hated him for complicating his life.
Ron hated himself too. He was losing his wife. In desperation he turned to the Bible. He read 1 Corinthians 9:24: "Only one person gets the prize." He remembered from a sermon he'd heard in church that this verse was a reference to the ancient Olympic Games, where athletes competed with one another and each race had only one winner.
In an instant, Ron realized that only one man was going to win Kathy's heart. But the other contestant, Ken, was increasing his lead every day because Ron's hatred was keeping him out of the race. If he was to have any chance at winning his wife back, he had to refocus.
That day Ron decided to get back in the race. Rather than dwelling on his anger and hatred for Ken, he would try to win Kathy back. By resuming the race, Ron rediscovered his love for her. In the race, he found his confidence again. In the race, his affection for his wife overshadowed his hatred for Ken. In the race, Ron found he had the advantage, and he won back his wife's heart. In the end, he won the prize of a stronger, more vibrant marriage.
Is there an area of your life where you feel like you are losing the race? Ifso, it may be that you need to refocus and start running like a winner.
Lord, teach me how to run as a winner and not a second-place finisher.
Copyright © 2004 by Stephen Arterburn.