The Silver Lining

James 1: 17 – Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father as lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

There was once a lobster that lived at the bottom of the sea. He was so protected by the shell that God designed for him, that a full-grown man could stand on the lobster in the water and not harm him.

But this shell that protects the lobster also confines the lobster. The lobster cannot grow past the size of its stationery shell.

In order for the lobster to grow, it must shed its protection. Underneath, there is just a thin, pink, membrane skin, the consistency of wet, tissue    The lobster has a choice to stay protected, but forever remain the same, or to be willing to risk everything to grow. Most of the time, the lobster will choose growth – even if it is risky, and causes his life to be shaky for a period of time.

Psalm 118:6 The Lord is on my side; I will not fear; what can man do unto me?”

We, too, must choose growth. Spiritual growth can happen when we choose to view life from a higher perspective than a judgmental and critical mind.”

Many of us grew up with the old television programs like Leave it to Beaver” or Ozzie and Harriet”. We saw life as a nice, non-complicated ideal day to day venture. IF anything did happen, it was all taken care of and everyone was happy again within thrity minutes.

Is this the way life was supposed to be? Is this what we thought we had to look forward to – a nice relationship, cottage and white picket fence with 2.5 children, two cars, and a PTA family. Life was going to be one big happy walk.

Life is not that way and challenges and pitfalls and disappointments happen all the time. Our lives are torn apart for various reasons on a regular basis. We wonder why these things happen . . are we misunderstanding God’s call to us, are we being taught a lesson or being disciplined, or are we not applying His plans and commands correctly.

We ask, “What am I doing something wrong?”

We have to seek the answers through prayer, through study, by talking with those spiritually able to guide us.to realize that we are not being disciplined or misrepresenting the Biblical commands. It is hard to imagine BUT – Actually, things are just perfect the way they are. Puzzling, isn’t it?
James 1: 17 – Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father as lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

This quote goes right along with that – : “I pray to God when the foundations of my life are being shaken only to find that it was God who was shaking them.” Maybe we have to be shaken up, disappointed, torn apart in order that the Light can shine through and the Good can enter.

2 Samuel 22: 33 – God is my strength and power. And He maketh my way perfect.

Now here we go again with a butterfly analogy. Imagine what a caterpillar might feel like if it were crawling across a Persian rug. From its point of view (crawling across that rug), it must encounter a lot of strange things before its eyes. It probably would make no sense with colors changing right and left. It would just seem like a mish-mash or chaos of colors and feelings, just like life sometimes appears to us.

“But one day, when that caterpillar becomes a butterfly, it can fly over that very same rug, and it will see something else. It will be able to see the patterns of color in that rug and it will all make sense. It will see that there really was a design to the mish-mash/the chaos.”

In the sometime madness of day to day life, it is so important to have a spiritual vision for our life-to have that higher point of view, like that mountain-peak experience, and to look at our life with some perspective to see the underlying design or pattern.

There is always a design or pattern to the tribulations, the trauma, the madness of our lives; and we must know that everything does happen for the best. There is not a single more beautiful, and more challenging idea, in all of God’s truth than that. Now that may be difficult to swallow as you go through the ordeal, but looking back, you will see it. So meditate on that daily, so you will be prepared.

Isaiah 12 – Behold God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is my salvation.

Once prepared through prayer and focus we will see that regardless of what we are experiencing today, God is so good, and this world is so beautiful, that there is great bliss, right here.
There are plenty of times when we don’t particularly see the point of the noise going on next door at my neighbors’ home, or in the challenges that take place at work and the politics of what goes on. We don’t particularly see the joy in it, the truth in it.

We can and often should focus on any change that needs to be made for improvement of our lives, both physical and spiritual. That desire to see change is natural, just as the caterpillar or the tadpole changes, or the look of a tree or a hillside.

It is also important to express our desire to change, our desire to find balance and that this is all part of God’s will and plan. Without the expressing of ourselves and our changes, we slow down and our growth starts to come to a halt. We are far from expressing our human, let alone our Divine, potential told to us by Jesus Christ. We must express, especially our spiritual, changes.

So, we do have a responsibility to try to change yourselves, our personal and our physical world. That is part of our responsibility given to us in Genesis. It’s art of who we are and part of our development, our growth, our change. And we must also keep this in balance and not go overboard in our attempt to change things outside of us.

In his book, “Illusions,” Richard Bach wrote: “The mark of your ignorance is the depth of your belief in injustice and tragedy. What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Master calls a butterfly. It is just when we think it is all over that it is really the beginning.”  (there’s that butterfly again)

Spiritual growth is happening in your life. There is not a person here who is not experiencing stress and strains in this life.

How are you seeing it?

What are you calling it?

What is your attitude about it?

Did you ever realize that there were no bugs in “Leave It To Beaver? No mice, ants, flies swarming around the house. Ahh, how we may have longed to live there.  In that Fifties sitcom, the world we secretly longed to live in, there would be no bugs or insects.

But these insects (bugs) create a balance also to this world and to the ecology of the world. It is really the Divine expression of God at work that we, in our human ignorance, like to call a mistake, or a nuisance. We need to honor the deeper understanding.

The experiences we are presently having – God will help us through, God will help us change, God will help us perfect.

“There is ancient spiritual story about a monk that fell off a cliff.
Falling, he noticed a branch with one strawberry attached; he plucked it and how delicious it was.

This spiritual story teaches the truth of enjoying the flavor of every moment instead of being overcome with worry about your misfortune.”

Jesus spoke quite powerfully on this subject. Maybe you might not recognize it as such, but He did say, “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.”

Now, can we do that in all honesty? It takes a lot of prayer and focus. It requires us to believe and trust our Lord, Jesus Christ. It is what He told us to do. And that is difficult.

When our enemies come to mind, (people, circumstances or situations, challenges) bless them.   See them as blessings, because they will reveal things hidden about ourselves. The friendly circumstances in our lives will never reveal to us. Hardship, obstacles, can serve us if we let them.

For centuries, the world’s religions have honored poverty. For some reason, this is difficult for us to understand. There is nothing particularly saintly about being poor in and of itself. And there is certainly nothing sinful about being rich (not in itself). Certainly not. However, there is an underlying truth. When life is going just the way we want it-some might get lazy in their spiritual practice.

When life is tough, people tend to be more aware of the simple blessings. “Thank God for this.” Be grateful for the bowl of soup you have in the evening. But there is something about that gratitude and being willing to give that gratitude that blesses you and makes life fill up.

The people who have everything they need may have the tendency to not feel grateful, but to want even more. It’s that struggle – between greed and gratitude – where these differences occur.

It becomes very important how we respond to life in the moment.

There are really only two ways to respond to life.

We can cry or we can sing.

The choice is up to us.

We must change the prescription of our spiritual eyeglasses.

Our job is not to set things aright, but to see things aright.

The importance lies in the balance. Contemplate this. Contemplate in your life, just the way it is, could it be true that everything happens for the best? Sometimes, like the butterfly, this can only be seen looking back on our life in reverse. Let us each look forward toward that light at the edge of the path and always remember –

Luke 12: 7 – But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Let us pray:           Dear God, help us to see life from a higher and clearer perception, a higher vantage point. Help us to look at our life without complaint but with joy, knowing that what we are experiencing is helping us to develop and grow and change for the better. Help us to enjoy each moment of life and let me see You in those moments. Thank You, Lord, for staying with us as we travel down this road toward change. Help us discover the silver lining in every cloud.

In Jesus Christ’s name. . . Amen

God bless you! And go in Peace with a knowledge of the beauty of life and serve the Lord!

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