Put the goats out
Tis the season of giving and receiving, taking inventory of our ordered life, and giving thanks for all the “stuff” we’ve accumulated throughout the years. At the same time we’re bombarded from all sides by worthy causes asking us to give up a small portion of our “stuff” to help others who have little to nothing, or are suffering with severe physical problems. Well, we think, maybe a little, and cynically deposit a small donation. Without a direct relationship to a cause, our heart isn’t moved to incite our actions.
Not to discount our feelings for others, we continue to ask “Why?” when we hear reports of accidents, fire, theft, murder, and strife bringing ruination to other families, not giving a second thought that it could happen to me at any moment. We live in the midst of war, retaliation, mental illness, racism, you name it, and there’s no doubt in my mind as to why people are challenging themselves to greater heights of self-satisfaction -- it’s all an attempt to escape the unexplainable atrocities of life. The reality of it all is, you can’t escape, so learn to live happily and feel blessed with what you have. We can’t all be rich beyond our dreams or enjoy worldwide fame, but we can all be the best we can be with what we’ve got. “I’m satisfied with, just a cottage below, a little silver, and a little gold...” I don’t care if I ever gain my fifteen minutes of fame on this earth, “... I’m not discouraged, I’m heaven bound; I’m just a pilgrim in search of a city; I want a mansion, a robe, and a crown...” Through faith I’ll achieve my goal.
George Mikes writes: In Budapest, a man goes to the rabbi and complains, “Life is unbearable. There are nine of us living in one room. What can I do?” The rabbi answers, “Take your goat into the room with you.” The man is incredulous, but the rabbi insists, “Do as I say and come back in one week.” One week later the man comes back looking more distraught than before, “We can’t stand it!” he tells the rabbi. “The goat is filthy!” The rabbi tells him, “Go home and let the goat out, and come back in one week.” A radiant man returns to the rabbi a week later exclaiming, “Life is beautiful. We enjoy every minute of it, now that there’s no goat -- only the nine of us.”
[Isaiah 64:7-9; Romans 9:14-21; 2 Corinthians 4 and 2 Timothy 2: 20-22] Now come on, that’s not a lot of reading. One cannot expect to understand God and life without reading the Word of God. We say we are thankful for all we have and enjoy, yet at the same time we have this tendency to complain to God about our present situation of discomfort. When it gets right down to it, we have nothing to complain about. Nobody said life was fair with a sense of equality for all. We feel wronged, and it’s because we don’t know God. Isaiah reminds us: “... O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” Paul says: “... we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”
Looking to God with faith in His promise of eternal life is a greater comfort in this life than any self-indulgence can produce. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not trying to be a prude here. God wants and expects us to have fun and enjoy life, but this world is not our home. This is where the Bible comes in. Do you want to go to heaven? Then you need to know how to get there. Strangers will not be welcomed there. God is your friend, not your enemy, and life is great, when the goats are outside.
Thomas W. Bonham is an associate minister with the Floresville Church of Christ. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find his column on his blog at http://wilsoncountynews.com.
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