May 31

“Like a shock of corn fully ripe.” Job 5:26

A gentleman, writing about the breaking up of old ships, said that it is not the age alone which improves the quality of the fiber in the wood of an old vessel, but the straining and wrenching of the vessel by the sea, the chemical action of the bilge water, and of many kinds of cargoes.

So there is a vast difference between the quality of old people who have lived flabby, self-indulgent, useless lives, and the fiber of those who have sailed all seas and carried all cargoes as the servants of God and the helpers of their fellow men. Not only the wrenching and straining of life, but also something of the sweetness of the cargoes carried get into the very pores and fiber of character. (Streams in the Desert)

It is far easier to lament failure than celebrate progress. Disappointment looms large when moping over a big picture that encompasses missed opportunity, impotent decision making, intentional disobedience, and insufficient courage. Shadow boxing with the worst of me; I end up with a brown study of life with little reason to look up. Cruel truth is often convince myself I have failed at everything I’ve ever attempted; disappointment threatens to debilitate.

Thankfully, my grandson reminds of what is so amazing about grace. He and my granddaughter were on the floor competing to construct the best track arrangement for a battery powered car manufactured to navigate the track. He tended to opt for steep inclines that prevented the car from making it over the top and around the course. Invariably, his car reached the same spot only to topple over and off the track. I waited for him to meltdown—an emotional throwing-in-the-towel—but he surprised me. Instead of quitting the contest, he said that he learns something every time the car falls off the track and adjusts the course accordingly. “The chance to get better keeps me from giving up.” Deep truth from an eight-year-old—if only I can embrace the same.

“Forgiveness is the giving, and so the receiving, of life” (George McDonald). We are not created to live in reverse. Our bodies face forward; our lives should as well. Each of us have reason to occasionally crane our head around to look behind, but the greater portion of our time is spent scanning what lies ahead. The horizon spreads before us, not abaft. Our past is forgiven and our future guaranteed.

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