WHAT THE HEART OF THE YOUNG MAN SAID TO THE PSALMIST TELL me not, in mournful numbers, Life is but an empty dream! — For the soul is dead that slumbers, And things are not what they seem. Life is real! Life is earnest! And the grave is not its goal; Dust thou art, to dust returnest, Was not spoken of the soul. Not enjoyment, and not sorrow, Is our destined end or way; But to act, that each to-morrow Find us farther than to-day. Art is long, and Time is fleeting, And our hearts, though stout and brave, Still, like muffled drums, are beating Funeral marches to the grave.
In the world’s broad field of battle, In the bivouac of Life, Be not like dumb, driven cattle! Be a hero in the strife! Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant! Let the dead Past bury its dead! Act,— act in the living Present! Heart within, and God o’erhead! Lives of great men all remind us We can make our lives sublime, And, departing, leave behind us Footprints on the sands of time; Footprints, that perhaps another, Sailing o’er life’s solemn main, A forlorn and shipwrecked brother, Seeing, shall take heart again. Let us, then, be up and doing, With a heart for any fate; Still achieving, still pursuing, Learn to labor and to wait.
God bless and have a lovely weekend, all my darling avidReaders. 🙂
It’s so hot. I can’t breathe. It’s as though all the heat and heaviness of all I’ve done is weighed on my shoulders. It’s so heavy I can hardly stand up. I lift up my head and all I see is more sand as far as the eye can see. Not a blade of grass or a single cactus, never mind tree, is within sight. Why is it so far and so difficult? Why is there no end to this wilderness? Will it never end? I’m so encumbered with my burden and so thirsty I could fall at any moment, yet I keep pushing on. I can’t stop. I keep going, as though there is no way it will ever end. Death won’t come as much as I beg it to.
I try again to look up, the sun is setting, then comes the cold–the loneliness and the unbearable cold. I can’t do this, anymore. Why can’t I just die? Please, let me die. The burden grows heavier with each step. My breath hitches in my throat, my mouth drier than the cracked ground I walk over. What I would do for a drink–I don’t even care what as long as I can feel moisture in my throat again.
This burden it’s too much and I collapse under it’s weight. Death? Will you eventually come for me? Then, just passed the great weight on my back, I see feet. They aren’t cracked or shredded like mine. Why is that? Haven’t they been walking this wilderness as I have? Their owner lies flat on the ground to look me straight in the eyes. They are so happy and open, yet there’s something about those eyes. Something different, it scares me, but somehow it also makes me feel safe. There, on the ground where I lie, he asks me if I need help. What a question, can’t he see the burden that’s brought me right to the ground?
“Yes!” I shout desperately. He points to the burden and asks if I want him to take it off. Again I shout yes. I need this man’s help–this man I met in the wilderness as darkness was about to encompass me and my only escape from it was death! I can almost feel his smile as he lifts it up and puts it on his own back–what? Why is he carrying it? It’s so heavy–how is he even standing? I was on flat on the ground with its weight! He grins at my amazed expression. It’s a compassionate smile, almost as though he was walking this wilderness in search for me. Why would he be here and why take my own burden onto his back? Who is he? What kind of man would help a stranger in the wilderness?
“What’s your name, sir?” I rasp. Instead of answering me, first, he gives me a bottle of ice cold water and then he says to me,
“I am the Lamb of God, I walk this wilderness in search of those who need me. You see many, many years ago I came into this wilderness as a traveler myself. I walked and watched the people around me doing whatever they could to get their burdens to go away, but all that happened was that they got bigger and bigger. My Father, Who had sent me here, and I knew what had to happen to help these people. You see, we’d watched and tried to help. We put our words into people who were willing to speak them to the world, but few listened. My father and I both knew from the very beginning what had to happen. So, my Father waited for the right time and then I came down to walk among you, but I myself never picked up any burden of my own. I walked in my Father’s will all the days of my life. Until, one day, the world killed me. Taking my life, because I made them see that their own burdens were what weighed them down and they didn’t care. You see, they were quite happy to keep picking up more and more burdens as they went. My Father and I knew this would happen, but that wasn’t the end of it. After I had been dead 3 days, I rose from the dead and walked the earth once more until my Father called me back home.”
“This is a lot to take in, sir.” I say, scratching my head quizzically. He grins once more at me and helps me up, carrying me as though I weigh nothing.
“There’s a lot more for you to learn, but walk this wilderness with me and I will carry you and teach you about my Father. If you would would like to? I will never force anyone to walk with me.” I look around me and see he has another ice cold bottle in his hand. It’s then that I realize I am all alone. This man in front of me–this stranger who holds me up–he’s the only one who came to help me.
“You have taken off my burden and have helped me when there was no one in sight. Who are you?” I ask. It still hasn’t sunk in. Everything he has said to me.
“I was a traveller as you are, yet I never did anything that caused me to carry a burden. When I was killed, all of your burdens–everyone’s burdens–fell on me. I walk here, looking for people who will let me help them. Will you let me help you?” When I look into those eyes, I see nothing but love shining from them. I’ve never seen such a pure love and never had anyone look at me like that. So I nod my head.
“Sir, thank you. If you will let me walk with you? You see my burden, it is of my own making. You see all that it contains, are you sure you want to walk with someone that’s done the things I have?”
“I see your burden. I know all you have done and all that you will. I love you despite that. If you walk with me your burden will be gone and no one will ever see it again. All of it is erased. You need never carry it again. Watch this!” He lifts the burden off his back and drops it to the ground as he does it, it’s gone! My jaw drops as I see this.
“How….” I don’t even know where to begin.
“I told you. It’s gone. I have taken it away. My Father and I no longer see it. I am your help in this wilderness and any mistake you make from here on, it’s gone. Tell me what you did and I can help you.” I fall to the ground again and start crying.
“I am no longer alone?” I weep at this stranger’s feet. This man who saw I needed help and without me asking, helped me and says I need never be alone again and that I need never carry that burden again. I can’t stand this time for all my weeping. He bends down again and places his hand on my back.
“No, you will never be alone again. I’m here now. From here on, it’s you and me together. Stay close beside me and you will be alright. At the end of this wilderness, I will take you into a place where you will never know suffering or loneliness. You will only know joy and peace.”
“You have asked me my name.” he says,” My name is “Jesus”.” We both smile. I take his hand and shake it.
“From here on, Jesus, I will never leave you. I want to be your friend.”
At the end of my life, when I close my eyes, I know one thing. I have walked beside the Son of God. He is my friend, my guide and my only help in this wilderness. At the end of my days, I will go into an eternal paradise. My wilderness looks less lonely and I am able to look up and see everything that I was blind to before. Jesus has never left my side and when I am lost, he always knows where to go. He is my salvation!
We’ve all had those days when we wake up and we feel like nothing is working out–as though we were born for failure. Why was I even born? Just to screw up? Just to be unloved, unaccepted? Sometimes we just don’t even want to try anymore.
Can I tell you a secret? Even the most successful people have days when they wake up and they feel empty or uninspired to do anything. I, myself, prefer to look for my motivation in the one place I know I’ll find it. I look to the Bible, all throughout the pages of the Word of God are people who felt like we do. I woke up this morning and it was just the most frustrating and horrendous morning. I had just finished an article the day before that Ihated and I just felt like a failure. While hanging up laundry, a lightbulb went on and I knew what my next article should be. My source of motivation and the inspiration for my next article would come from the pages of My Father’s Living Word. So I looked at a man who lost EVERYTHING, but still knew where his comfort and salvation lay. His story is found in the Old Testament.
His name was Job and he was a very wealthy man who lived in the land of Ur. He had 7 sons and 3 daughters. He had 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 she-asses. He also had a rather large household, that would include servants as well as family members. He was a righteous and upright man in the eyes of God. One day when all the angels came to present themselves before God,
Lucifer said “I have been all over this earth”
and God asked him “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is a good and righteous man.” Lucifer’s counter to this was that God had made him prosperous and that was why he served Him. He then went on to say that if God took all his wealth away he would turn on Him. So God said to him that he could take everything from Job, but that he shouldn’t harm him. In one day Job lost everything–his wealth and his family. All gone in the matter of one day. Job went into mourning for the loss of his children. Still, he refused to turn on God and praised Him rather saying that what he had God had given to him. Lucifer saw this and challenged God again saying that if his very flesh was touched with illness Job would turn on God. So again, God gave permission to harm his flesh only he was not allowed to take his life. So we see Job become struck with boils from the very top of his head all the way to the sole of his feet. In this condition, Job’s wife said to him, “Curse God and die!” Job would not and rebuked his wife for saying such a thing against God even calling her a “foolish woman”. Despite all that had happened Job still would not blamed God instead thinking he was the reason. Had he sinned? Throughout the rest of the book right up until Chapter 38, God is quiet in all Job’s bemoaning. Then God speaks and reminds Job that God is God and that He had made the very ground Job sat on. He then proceeds to ask Job a series of questions such as “Where were you when I made the very foundations of the earth?” and “Who provides for the raven his food?” After all these questions Job admits that he was wrong to doubt that God was all-powerful and Job just needs to trust in God’s plan. In the end of the book, we see Job is blessed doubly in all he had before. He had 7 more sons and 3 more daughters. God blessed him and exalted him. A man who had no motivation found it in God and God encouraged him by showing him that God was always there and that He is all Job ever needed.
Next we move to the New Testament. Now in this section of the Bible we are going to take a look at a man whose journey starts in the book of Acts chapter 9. A man by the name of Paul. Now Paul’s life did not begin as a man of God. He was a persecutor of God’s church. Paul was a witness at the martyring of Stephen. He went on to persecute the church, until one day God stopped him right in his tracks and asked him “Saul, Saul why are persecuting me?” Paul asks him, “Who are you, Lord?” and the Lord answered him, “I am Jesus whom you persecute. Why do you resist my pricking in your own heart?” Paul, understandably astonished, says, “Lord what would you have me do?” And from that moment on Paul went far and wide preaching to all the churches that he, himself, had been instrumental in scattering. People were scared at first not trusting this man who had killed so many of their fellow believers, but assured by God and Paul’s own testimony, he became a great messenger of God to the churches. His letters to the churches make up most of our New Testament, we call them ‘epistles’. However, Paul did not have a life of sunshine and roses. Paul experienced tons of rejection, in one town it was so bad that the church there lowered him through a window in a basket so he could get away before they killed him. He was shipwrecked a total of 3 times, beaten 3 times, stoned once, and spent a day and night at sea adrift. Yet, not once do you hear Paul accusing God, instead we see a man who carried on doing the work of His Saviour. If anyone had cause to be demotivated and discouraged, Paul would’ve probably been him.
Let me take us back into the Old Testament and just briefly discuss two major prophets: Jeremiah and Elijah. There are many more I could discuss, but these two are the most prominent. Jeremiah you will probably remember as the “Weeping Prophet” or the “Prophet of Doom”. Jeremiah had a very painful calling of God, yet he kept on as God had commanded him. God sent Jeremiah to Israel despite the fact that they wouldn’t listen and his ministry would be rejected. Now how’s that for motivation? Being told that what you’re doing is going to be of no purpose to the people it was supposed to be teaching. We, as children of God, can now look at the books of Jeremiah and Lamentations and see warnings and comfort from God, but for Jeremiah this was probably the hardest time of his life. He suffered greatly from depression, as did many of the prophets, which brings us to our next prophet, Elijah.
Elijah was the prophet that challenged the prophets of Baal. The challenge was whose god was real and whose god Israel would serve. Israel was on the fence, about which god to serve–Baal or the God of Israel? So, Elijah then presents a challenge to the prophets of Baal. The conditions were very simple: both were to prepare a sacrifice and the true god would send fire from heaven to burn up the sacrifice. You can read the whole event in 1 Kings 18: 20- 40. Suffice to say, as He always does and always will, God came through. Yet after this, Elijah runs into the desert to hide from the wicked queen Jezebel who was none to pleased that all her prophets had been killed. We find him in a cave bemoaning his lot, similar to Job. He says to God, “I am the only prophet alive in Israel.” and God’s reply is, “No, you are not there are 100 prophets of Israel hidden away.” All this time God sends food and drink to give Elijah the strength he would need to continue on the journey Elijah still had to take. God was’t finished working with Elijah.
I have only mentioned four of the thousands of prophets and teachers mentioned in the Bible, but as you can see, despite one day being on top of the world, they sunk to the bottom very quickly. It happens to everyone. We all need God’s strength and motivation to keep moving forward. It can be something you hear from a friend, a song, a message on the radio or a thousand other ways.
I started this blog feeling so demotivated, but now I feel motivated to keep writing. Simply walking through the Scriptures has reminded me that no matter how sad or demotivated I feel, the only source of inspiration I will ever need is my God.
God bless you and keep you motivated, my avidReaders.