Everything in life is relative. If we are open-minded, our perspective is constantly changing which is the way we were designed. As we learn and grow the more we know. A closed mind interferes with this process and makes us vulnerable to prejudice, ignorance, and neglect. Neglect for all the blessings in our life because we are not willing to know and appreciate the world around us.
Many of us are at a stage in life where “climbing the corporate ladder” consumes our purpose and passion. In its midst, we will likely forget that it represents only a slice of our life and fulfillment. In fact, it will unlikely be the most important thing we encounter as time passes.
For these children who climb to school, they are learning about a different kind of ladder. The ladder of character. I could barely get out of bed to go to school much less climb 800 meters to get there. It probably wasn’t going to happen for me. While I was blessed with more convenience, I missed the blessing that would have better shaped my perspective on life at the time.
In pictures: Steel ladder makes 800m climb easier – BBC News
God blessed your past
For good reason
It came first and not last
God blesses His plan
Your future by His hand
Not the one influenced by man
God is blessing this moment
Whether you feel joy or resent
Because God’s gift that keeps giving
Is not just any gift…
It’s THE present
The Purpose Of The Past
For every ounce of happiness in the past, we can certainly find an equal dose of sadness. Maybe more. So the true value of the past, and the reason it is behind us and not ahead, is to remind us of God’s grace and blessing.
The wake of life, like that which trails a boat, has the potential to hypnotize us away from the conscientiousness of the moment. It can have us drifting into one of those “Wish I could have…,” “What if I did…,” and “Why me…” kind of mental games which bind us from fully living in the day. Similarly, it can overwhelm us with the euphoria of what “once was” and set us sailing on the “those were the good times” and “remember when…” excursions which lead us to believe the best already came and went. This cannot be the purpose of the past. The past should liberate us, and more importantly, unleash the potential of the current moment.
The Purpose Of The Future
The future, as we know it, is at best uncertain. This is how I describe it:
We have what we know; I call this our instinct
We have what we think we know; I call this our righteousness
We have what we don’t know; I call this our ignorance
And finally, we have what we don’t even know we don’t know; I call this our future
The result is endless, pointless, wasteful worry. Worry about our children, our health, our things, our jobs, our retirement, our country, our future… It is a no wonder that developed countries have medicated populations struggling with anxiety and the like. This cannot be the purpose of the future. The future should breathe life into us and more importantly, invigorate hope into the current moment.
There are gifts. There are presents. And then there is the ultimate gift which is the present. The moment. In fact, this very moment. It is the present that gives function and form to the past and the future as I illustrated above. Every new moment is a gift from God giving true, practical, and celebratory purpose to its two distant cousins, past and future. It gives us every reason to live, every reason to hope, and every reason to give thanks to God. Every moment of every day. That is my prayer for you.
By Greg Pai Inspired By Andrea Mani Photo Credit: Andrea Mani
This is a time of the year where many feel lonely or empty. Especially those who have no family to speak of. Our hearts have to place orphans at the top of that list. What we learn from this story inspired by Andrea Mani, is that we are all orphans if we don’t connect with and depend on God.
Orphans have seemingly perfected that connection and dependence as a means of survival. In fact, they do not see themselves as orphans; They see themselves as God’s blessed children. Experiencing His abundant, unconditional love as no earthly parent could ever offer.
“You say I am an orphan,” the hearts of the unwanted cried out. “But, I say I am loved. Loved by He who made me.” Andrea Mani fell in love just moments after she arrived for what was six months of service. At a little known ministry in Jocotepec, Mexico, orphan children are changing everyone who comes in contact with them – One soul at a time.
The orphanage cares for twenty-one girls and one boy. “One boy!” you say. Well, eight-year old Chuy (pronounced “chewy”) is one of three siblings and when the orphanage converted over to an all girls institution a few years back, they didn’t have the heart to separate Chuy from his two sisters, one named Milagro (meaning Miracle in English). A victim of physical and emotional abuse, it was only by a miracle that 8-year old Chuy survived those earlier abusive years. Cigarette burns on his body and later, months of being mute, unable to speak. Inevitably, Andrea would take a special interest in Chuy as he faced the journey of healing ahead of him.
The other children learned not to depend on “man.” God was the provider of everything in their lives and that suited them just fine. It wasn’t long before the children challenged Andrea. “You won’t last two months,” they said. These children were used to people revolving in and out of their lives, often under duress or anxiety. Andrea not only endured, but also learned why others did not. When a person signs up for this kind of work, they do so assuming they are the “strength” coming to the aid of the “weak.” To the contrary, they quickly learn that the children become inspirational and essential to their own personal journey. Radically changing their heart and perspective. Maybe even feeling inadequate and unnecessary in the ways they expected to make an impact. This is when the process flips on its head and starts to become more of a self-examination of our own lives; a sometimes difficult awakening. However, necessary.
Most of these children came from situations too difficult to write about. Even called “rats” by those the heartless of the community. Some had mothers who were prostitutes while exploiting their children sexually for favor. Absolutely tragic. However, how would you know any of this by just looking at them? They are beautiful in every way. Inside and out, their hearts and smiles radiate. Yet, they have nothing. Or do they? Andrea expected overwhelming sensations of abandonment on her arrival. She did not expect what God was about to show her.
The children had a life about them that projected pure joy. Amazing as it may seem, the children had a ritual of occasionally going into town and donating their clothing to any one of four impoverished villages in the immediate area. Yes – you read that right. Even though their very limited wardrobes were precious to them, they believed that whatever they gave up would be replenished by God’s own hand. And guess what? They were never without. Somehow, newly donated clothes always found a way to their personal shelf (that’s a single shelf). Such faith. I suppose when we have nothing to lose and expect no earthly gain, we are capable of giving and doing our most selfless work in this life. These children are living proof. They see their glass not as a quarter full or three-quarters empty, but overflowing.
We have convinced ourselves that we are somehow more equipped or better off than they are. Hence, we neglect to ever seek or find the orphan in us.
What is orphan about these children. The dictionary says the noun form is defined as a child who has lost both parents. That is innocent enough. Interestingly, the adjective form is used to describe one who is abandoned. Quite a difference. Unfortunately, we have adopted the more negative connotation as the global definition. We have convinced ourselves that we are somehow more equipped or better off than they are. Hence, we neglect to ever seek or find the orphan in us. There is that “difficult awakening” thing again!
At some point, Andrea observed a young girl’s mother (a recovering prostitute) visit the orphanage expecting to take her little girl back home. However, with the best of intentions, the woman realized that her daughter was better off staying because she was unable to offer her the same stability and nurturing.
However, I believe that God speaks to us through His beloved orphans. I now see the love of God when I see an orphan. Not an abandoned soul; But a soul that’s whole!
As I documented this story, I struggled with internal conflict and confusion. I love God and He fills my life, but am I abandoned enough to really feel the fullness of His love? Many of us have family and good friends around us who bring us a great deal of joy and companionship. But what is it like to have no one but God? Please don’t get me wrong. Family is a blessed gift from God. A special treasure from above. However, I believe that God speaks to us through His beloved orphans. I now see the love of God when I see an orphan. Not an abandoned soul; But a soul that’s whole!
Power is handed down by God, who is the ultimate power, to politicians, teachers, corporate leaders, parents, etc. Those who are blessed with power are given gifts and talents to inspire and bring out the best in us as a community. However, if the fever of power overcomes the leadership, humility is overwhelmed by self righteousness and the pursuit of personal gain.
Before long, people question the motives of the powerful and lose faith in the system. When people lose faith in the system, chaos, confusion, and a breakdown in confidence ensues which then jeopardizes the power and authority of the leaders responsible. The entire community, including its leadership, is kept from progressing as a result. It’s as if the entire society is bound by a ball and chain.
When leaders approach power with humility, and recognize that it is on loan from God, they earn the respect of the people they lead. They gain increasingly more influence to inspire and elevate the community, and bring out the best in God’s creation. The system flourishes, and is respected and perfected by the people, for the people.
Adversity is a Season with a Reason. Adversity shapes us. Molds our character. Makes us dependent and human. Most importantly, adversity brings us closer to our Creator which provides us with supernatural potential to overcome anything. Never forget as you go through seasons of adversity, that with God, all things are possible and your current trials have a blessed place and purpose in your life.