Living the Odyssey

We live in a way acceptable to society with habits that we do not even think about. Here’s a few examples – – are the golden rules for living:


If you open it, close it.
If you turn it on, turn it off.
If you unlock it, lock it up.
If you break it, admit it.
If you can’t fix it, call in someone who can.
If you borrow it, return it.
If you value it, take care of it.
If you make a mess, clean it up.
If you move it, put it back.
If it belongs to someone else and you want to use it, get permission.
If you don’t know how to operate it, leave it alone.
It it’s none of your business, don’t ask questions.
It isn’t broken, don’t fix it.
If it will brighten someone’s day, say it.
If it will tarnish someone’s reputation, keep it to yourself.



Those are simple rules.


Did you ever think about the fact that your life is an odyssey. How exciting to think about having control and living life fully. Now, not just the overall picture of where you want to go, but day by day living your life and finding enjoyment in it; more than enjoyment, finding magic in your life in the moment. This is what life is supposed to be.


Psalm 27: 13 – I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living..


John 14:6, “Jesus said to him, `I am the way, and the truth, and the life.’ . . .” We have to follow on the Way. We have to live in the Truth of God and be totally alive in the Life of God.


Henry Miller once said, “Every man has his own destiny; the only imperative is to follow it, to accept it, no matter where it leads him or her.”


Proverbs 3:5-6, it “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge God, and God will make straight your paths.”  This proverb talks about the lead we all should follow.


We often decide to go one way or the other using our own human mind. Yet, if we go apart for a while in prayer to discover what God wants us to do with our life, we are going to find something very powerful – the correct path for us to be on. That path will guide us around the negative potholes of all kinds.


What you can do today as one person following the path of God is GREAT. It concerns me that so many are giving so much attention to the negative, There are millions of people right now with smiles on their face and doing the right thing, wanting to create a better world through positive focus. There will always be one person who can cause havoc and gains media attention. How interesting that the negative gets the attention. Even so, there also can be one person who creates light. One person can make a huge difference in the world.


Here is a perfect example of an ordinary woman by the name of Florine Thornhill in Roanoke, VA.
She was 73 years of age when this story took place


She walked to town with an extraordinary request of city hall. She wanted to borrow a lawn mower to make her part of the city better. For some time she had passed an overgrown lot. One day she passed the lot and she noticed a woman was passed out in the high grass. She walked on. When she was having breakfast that morning, she said to herself, “Wait a minute, how could I walk on? There was a woman there who was unconscious in the high grass. Have I become so accustomed to the blight of the neighborhood that doesn’t bother me anymore?”


She asked herself the question, “What would Jesus do in this instance?” She walked to city hall and asked a very suspicious clerk, “Could I borrow a lawnmower so I can cut the grass?” She took the lawnmower back and with the help of her son she woke up this lady who was passed out and took her to the hospital. Then she cut the grass on this one lot.


The neighbors started to watch what this 73-year-old woman was doing and they started to wonder what this was about. Then they told her, “You are just one person. You can’t make a difference. There are drug dealers on every corner of this neighborhood. It is going downhill and there is no way you as one person can fix this up.”


She went on and said, “Well, you can join me or not, but I am going to do what I can possibly do as one person.”


This 73-year-old lady had nine children, including one child with mental disabilities. She borrowed the mower and cleaned that one lot. By next week, 15 middle-aged and elderly residents were picking up trash and mowing vacant lots around the neighborhood. In city hall within weeks, the officials started to notice the once declining neighborhood had begun to shine. In 1980, Roanoke city officials asked Thornhill and her Gibner neighbors to join in a pilot project with three other city neighborhoods. It would allow them to set goals for their city, to show the officials how to turn their poor, urban areas around.


The experiment was successful, thanks to Thornhill and other ordinary people like her. Over 25 neighborhoods are working in the system to improve Roanoke. Other Virginia cities have followed Roanoke’s lead. The model is being studied across America, as government officials try to involve the people they serve. Thornhill and her group, the Northwest Neighborhood Environmental Organization, won the 1994 President’s Volunteer Action Award for volunteer efforts that changed a community. Thornhill said her real measure of success was not in the White House recognition. It is in the children playing at a fully equipped park that was once an open-air market for drug dealers. It is in the homes her group was able to buy and rebuild with housing grants they tracked down and won with the help of city officials. It is in the professionals they have been able to entice into helping.


We know as Christians that the good overwhelms the bad. But in order for it to happen in this country, we have to be willing to be brave enough, to dare enough, to stand up and be willing to let our light shine. When we do, things change. When we do, we become leaders and people follow and they help. People have an innate desire to do good. They are just waiting for someone to follow to do that good. People do not want to follow the bad. They want to make a difference in this world. Everyone can make a difference in some way. Life is a real adventure; so today begin to live that adventure, your odyssey.


The best adventure in the world is called your life.


“As a child, Mary Groda did not learn to read and write. Experts labeled her retarded. As an adolescent, she “earned” an additional label, “incorrigible” and was sentenced to two years in a reformatory.   It was here, ironically, in this closed-in place, that Mary – bending to the challenge to team – worked at her task for as long as 16 hours a day. Her hard work paid off. She was awarded her GED high school diploma.


But more misfortune was to visit Mary Groda. After leaving the reformatory, she became pregnant not married. Then, two years later a second pregnancy resulted in a stroke, erasing her hard-earned powers of reading and writing. With the help and support of her father, Mary battled back, regaining what she had lost.


In dire financial straits, Mary went on welfare. Finally, in order to make ends meet, she took in seven foster children. It was during this period she started to pray. She asked God, “I have tried to do this with my own mind, but I am asking now for your path and your direction for my life.” She received the idea to take classes at a local community college. On completion of her course work, she applied to and was accepted by the Albany Medical School to study medicine.


In the spring of 1984 in Oregon, Mary Groda Lewis – now married – paraded in full academic-regalia across the graduation stage. No one can know what private thoughts went through Mary’s mind as she reached out to grasp this eloquent testimony to her self-belief and perseverance. Her diploma announced to all the world: here stands on this small point of planet Earth a person who dared to dream the impossible dream, one person who confirms for all of us our human divineness. Here stands Mary Groda Lewis, M.D.”


Although these stories are about twenty plus years old, they are typical of stories of successful people today. Life is an odyssey; it is extended, adventurous, and wandering.


Napoleon Hill once said, “Cherish your visions and your dreams, as they are the children of your soul; the blueprints of your ultimate achievements.”


Within our minds, our subconscious, is a vision – our vision. It is like we are on a train or bus, looking out the window; and we see all the scenes of cars on highways, children waving at the cross walks, horses and cattle grazing in pastures, farmland with growing hay and corn in the fields, mountains and hillsides, city lights and skylines. We see life as we travel through it.


This is a lovely trip, but the most important scene in the trip is our destination. We will pull into the train or bus station. At this point, we have the opportunity for many of our dreams to come true and our lives will be filled with our true purpose. Our life, all the pieces of it from the past til the present will come together to be whole. It is like a puzzle and the last pieces all come together and fit perfectly. We know in our heart and mind what we are to do and we are fulfilled But first we must arrive at the station.


We keep thinking that the station will be when we reach a certain age, when the kids are off on their own, when the mortgage is pain off, when we retire – yes, then we can reach my fulfilment .. When we reach the station, that will be it. When we buy a new Mercedes Benz, that will be it. When we put our last kid through college, that will be it. When we have paid off the mortgage, that will be it. When we get a promotion, when we reach the age of retirement, then we will live happily ever after; that will be it.


Sooner or later, we must realize there is no station, no one place to arrive at once and for all.   The true joy of your life is in the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly out-distances us.


Relish the moment is a good motto, especially when coupled with Psalms 118:24, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”


It isn’t the burdens of today that drive humans mad. It is the regrets over yesterday and the fear of tomorrow. Regret and fear are twin thieves who rob us of today.


“So stop pacing the aisles and counting the miles. Instead, climb more mountains, eat more ice cream, go barefoot more often, swim more rivers, watch more sunsets, laugh more, cry less. Life must be lived as we go along. The station will come soon enough.”


Imagine the situations and experiences you are living like it is a book/novel or just a story. You don’t actually need to write a book, but if you begin to view your days as if they were going into a book then every circumstance and every event takes on a brand new dimension. You can live your life and capture each moment as a gift that can be part of a great story.


“One day a South Dakota school teacher complained her job was getting her down. She had recently been caught in a blizzard in her isolated schoolhouse and was snowed in for seven days with thirteen pupils. I said to her, “What a story!”


She said, “What do you mean what a story? I almost went out of my mind.”


I said, “Think of the dramatic material – snowed in with thirteen pupils in a 12 by 20 room for a solid week. Think of the people who would envy you for such an adventure. Think of the human interest, the things the kids did and said, the resourcefulness you had to demonstrate, the funny as well as the sad things that must have happened.”


“Well,” she confessed, “I wouldn’t give up the experience for anything, but I don’t want to go through it again.”


This is exactly the point. The highlights of life have a price tag. If they did not, we would soon forget them. We should look at the extraordinary situations in our life as a writer looks at her life or his life, then the events take on a brand new meaning.”


Here is another example – “There was a coal turner from Harlan, Kentucky, who said he just hated his work. He was given this idea, to go in as if he were a writer. Over the next six months, his life totally turned around. As a matter of fact, it so turned around he was having a spiritual experience every time he went into the mine at night.


He was saying, “Even though it is dark down there, the night is different. It is as if the Earth stretches and groans. When the dust would fall around me it was like stars falling from the sky.”
He said that he would always go in and God became so real as he was writing the story of his life day-by-day. It was as if he could hear the voice of God. What happened? He became happy. His burdens were taken away.


When your burdens are taken away, it does not necessarily mean the load is lifted from your shoulder of what you do. Your attitude changes. Your whole outlook on life changes. You may do the exact thing you are doing now, but you are going to do it with a new mind and new eyes.


If we were to go right now to Yellowstone Park, we would see signs everywhere we went. The signs say “Do not feed the bears.” You would think because these signs are all around it is because the bears are dangerous to the humans. Not so, months after we depart from Yellowstone Park, the bears so dependent on us for food die. They forget how to do it themselves.


We have to realize God gives us a great power to do what we are to do. It is up to us to enjoy the moment in the doing. We can if we will but try.


Try by Margaret Finefrock


What in the world would our life be like If no one ever tried?
What if Columbus let others convince him He would fall off the other side?


Where would we be if the Wright Brothers Decided man couldn’t fly?
Or if Thomas Edison just gave up
And thought his goals too high?


What kind of life if Martin Luther King
Had not kept on with courage?
What if Eleanor Roosevelt had quit
The first time she became discouraged?
What kind of life can I create for myself If I never even try?
Everything is possible if I know
My abundant Source of supply.
The strength to try is my very first step.
I know I can do and be
All things necessary for my highest good Through the Presence of God in me.


I was at Home Depot in the garden section earlier this spring looking at some plants for the yard. I saw a sign there I loved:


“The best time to plant a tree was 10 years ago. The next best time is today.”


We can think about the fact of whether or not we have had ten years of constant devotion to spiritual disciplines, and if we had that would be ideal. But, If we haven’t done that over the past many years then the next best ideal is a commitment now to begin. What a difference your journey will be over the next 10 years.


In the world of academics there is a specialty I used to specialize in. It is called “cramming.” It is a common practice – one I am sure many have done.
It is the practice of procrastinating on studies until the last possible moment. When the day of reckoning arrives, the diet coke glass is filled to the brim, and we duct tape ourselves to our desk for an all-night journey with our books.


Cramming is a phenomenon unknown in the agricultural world.


Farmers don’t cram. They can’t delay planting crops in the spring and then hit the ground really hard in the fall to do it all in one day. If a harvest is expected in the fall, planned and scheduled procedures must take place throughout the year. Maybe this is why Jesus used so many agricultural illustrations. Spiritual growth doesn’t come like grades that are salvaged by intense periods of last minute cramming. Christ-likeness comes from a lifetime spent seeking God in the moment, not just on Sunday morning and not just in a night of intensive cramming. God can. and God will come to you.


Jesus has said, “You are the salt of the earth. . .” (Mt. 5:13) There are 14,000 industrial uses for salt.


You might say, “Well, I’m doing this, but I am not really doing the Lord’s work.” Who says?   When God works through you, you are doing God’s work.


Do you  remember or have you heard about what happened in 1981; the whole country was saddened when President Reagan was shot. Although he was okay, when the President went through the attempted assassination, our government did not stop.
It continued on as if nothing happened.


However, the very same year, the garbage men of Philadelphia went on strike for three weeks and brought the city to its knees. Although most would say the Presidency is far more important than domestic sanitation, it was the trash men who proved to be indispensable. Likewise, right where you are no matter if you are the garbage man or the president of a major corporation – if you allow God to come through you, you are going to be a light to your world.


John Maxwell has said, “History’s greatest accomplishments have been made by people who excelled only slightly over the masses of others in their field.”


Most all of us have at least one idea that pops into your mind – and it is an idea from the mind of God. It may not be what you are doing now or how you are living, but it may be an opportunity for you to stretch and journey a new. So, starting today journey down this path called life to act on that idea.
Some of the greatest inventions of all time have been made by people who prayed for an idea and then got an idea and acted on it.


There was a veterinarian who was caring for a horse someone had brought to him. He was really struggling and disliked his career path, but during the struggle he had an idea for a tubeless tire.   It was kind of out of his field. His name was John Dunlop.


A cork salesman named King Gillette had an idea for a safety razor.


There was a bookkeeper who was struggling and not doing well at all. He had already gone bankrupt once and he prayed for an idea to better his life. He was the founder of Kodak, George Eastman.


When we go to God, God comes through us every step of the way.


Life is a journey encompassing our attitude, our point of view. We do not let circumstances control us. We think positive and our mental state then brings about a direction in our fives, a channel of our highest good.


We can be “content” with our lot in life or we can rise above it. We can stay where we are, or we can go on to greater things. We can be mastered by situations, or we can master them.


The whole point of your journey is to make it an adventure. You have been given one of the greatest gifts from God, a lifetime to live. This is the whole idea: coming to terms with yourself in your life. No one can do it for you. No one will take the incentive for you. No one will step forward and say, “I want to carry the load for you.”


Even the tantalizing words which are at the heart of the Christian Gospel,
“Come unto me…“(Mt. 11:28 KJV) imply there is work to be done on our part.


Life continually evolves and gets better. It involves assignments, and we should not ask to be spared from them if we would live fully and richly because we are all in a school and it is called life.


I want to close with this piece of poetry:


When God made the earth,
God could have finished, but God didn’t;
God left it as raw material to tantalize us,
To start us thinking and experimenting
And risking and adventuring,
And therein ties life’s greatest meaning.
God gave us an unfinished world
So that we might share with God
The joy and satisfaction of creation.


A partner with God in the joy and satisfaction of creation – It is a most wonderful approach to living an integrated life.


May your journey, your odyssey,  be filled with the blessings of adventures shared with God.


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