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Timely advice is lovely, like golden apples in a silver basket. –Proverbs 25:11 (NLT)
As a junior in high school, I was devastated when I was cut from the top volleyball team and sent to the second team. I felt disappointed, embarrassed and dejected. That evening, I spoke with a friend who passed on these words of wisdom, “It’s not how far you fall, but how high you bounce back that matters.” I wrote the quote on my mirror and committed to doing my best for this new team, instead of sulking over my personal loss. Instead of continuing to fall and spiral, I committed to bounce back.
What I learned that day is that what happens to me in life doesn’t count as much as how I react to those things. I had a choice the day I was cut from the team: I could wallow in misery and quit the team, or I could choose to fight through my circumstances and work hard to improve. Each day, choices like these present themselves. When people are cruel, I can choose to accept their apology or let my bitterness grow. When I am treated unfairly, I can vengefully plot a way to get even, or I can seek the Lord’s wisdom and demonstrate patience as He shows me what to do. When I am fired from a job, I can learn from why things did not work or I can blame everyone else around me for my misfortune and never learn, grow or change. When I am congratulated for a job well done, I can either pat myself on the back or thank the Lord for providing me with the skills to succeed.
Life throws different circumstances our way every day, both good and bad. Wherever you are in your life, it is important to remember that people are watching and looking to see how you are living your life. You will long be remembered, not only for what happened to you in your life but for how you handled life’s circumstances. When those circumstances cause you to fall, I challenge you to bounce back!
Recently I took a few moments to reflect on Psalm 139. The following is my personal, devotional paraphrase of the Psalm that I wrote as in response to that reflection.
You know my heart – You have searched me – You have gone the distance –taken the initiative – and therefore You know me. You know what I think–You know what motivates me to action and contemplation because You know my every thought. You know what I do – what my habits are – You are very familiar with my ways – the ways in which I move through life – from my active and social times to my quiet, somber and restful times – You know me well enough to discern my every habit. You know me better than I know myself! You know what I will say – all of it – before I even say it – every word of it! Even though You know me – You love me. I know this because Your hand of love and protection surrounds and covers me – You know everything about me – heart, mind, body and soul and yet You still love me that much. I don’t get it. This concept is impossible for me to grasp. I don’t know if I can take so close a relationship – it scares me – I want to hide – but there is no place to hide from You. There is nowhere in the highest heavens or the lowest depths to hide – You are everywhere. I can’t get up early and try to fly away. It doesn’t matter how far I travel. It doesn’t matter where or when I go anywhere. You will still be there with me, guiding me, holding me tightly. I can’t use darkness as a cloak – the light of Your presence just melts the darkness away. You will still see all of me – my heart, my thoughts, my actions, my words. And I will still be the object of Your love. You made me – I am Your creation – not some random grouping of cells and DNA – I have a soul – an innermost being – that only You could make – You gave me my mother – I am no one else’s daughter – I came from her because you placed me – heart, mind, body and soul – within her. I am unique – tenderly planted and watered from conception – created as others, yet different from them all – I am Your wonderful work – from the depths of my soul, I know that. I know that I am Yours and for that reason alone I am wonderful. What a wonderful thing You have done!
I am in Your book. Somewhere in Your book there is a chapter about me – written when I was only a thought in Your mind’s eye. You knew what I would look like – I was not a surprise or a secret to You – You thought of me, wrote of me, planned my days for me – and then you knit me together like a perfectly fitting garment – exactly matching the vision You had of and for me. You are always thinking precious thoughts about me. Not negative thoughts. Not thoughts of disappointment. Not thoughts of anger. Just precious thoughts! You never stop thinking about me. You think more about me that I do! Even when I am sound asleep, resting my mind – You are still thinking about me. I couldn’t even begin to count the thoughts you have of me. There are not enough numbers! You are so grand. And, You are so good. You are the creator who knows everything. You write it all down in Your book. You can do all of this – so why don’t You stop evil? I am the object of Your love – why don’t You keep evil away from me? Why did You include those stories in the pages of Your book? They are Your enemies. They intend to harm You. They lie about You – hate You – speak lies in Your name. I hate them! I abhor them! They are my sworn enemies – all I feel for them is hated. They hate You so I hate them. I wonder what You think of them? You created them too. Are they the objects of Your love? Do You love them in spite of their failings – as you do me? Must I love what You love? Must I love an enemy? This kind of thinking makes me anxious. I want you to search deeper inside me. No more trying to run and hide. I want You to know my heart – I want You to examine every part of me. Examine these disquieting thoughts I have. If my way of thinking and being is taking me in the wrong direction, lead me in the right one – always lead me in the right way. May I live my days – heart, mind, body and spirit according to the vision You had for me – the one You wrote in Your book.