The Bumps of Life

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Conventional wisdom says that you can never be too well-off or too good-looking. That’s a myth! According to the Bible our weaknesses are what make us strong because they cause us to depend on resources that are outside of ourselves. Of course the main source of strength when we’re feeling overwhelmed is God. Secondly, we can depend on other people to help us out. Especially helpful are those who have been through what we’re going through.

Everyone has weaknesses. What differentiates one person from another is whether or not one admits his or her weaknesses and then what is done about them. A college recruiter interviewed a high school basketball star. The recruiter said, “I hear you’re pretty good.” “The best there is,” the player replied. “I averaged 45 points a game, was the best rebounder in school history, and I led our team to three straight undefeated seasons and three state championships.” “That’s incredible,” said the recruiter. “Tell me,” he asked, “Do you have any weaknesses?” “Well,” said the non-Lebron sheepishly, “I do have a tendency to exaggerate.”

We all have weaknesses. There are no perfect “10’s” in the world. Ninety percent of men rank themselves above average athletically, which is statistically impossible. Very often we’re only legends in our own minds, but our weaknesses can become strengths. People who think that they’re perfect remain emotional adolescents and spiritual babies. Emotional and spiritual maturities are forged in life’s furnaces.

George Reedy was President Lyndon Johnson’s press secretary. He was a very persuasive person, as presidential press secretaries need to be. He was so persuasive that he convinced President Johnson that he should never have any assistants who were under 40 and who hadn’t suffered any major life disappointments. Without that maturity and without that disappointment, Reedy felt these people were under-qualified and overly conceited.

It’s not that optimism is a bad thing, but sometimes too much early success has a tendency to spoil us. We begin to think of ourselves as clever. We begin to rely on our ability rather than our hard work. Worse than that, we begin to rely on ourselves rather than on God. Everyone who does anything spectacular in life knows what it is to have failures. It’s what they do with failure that separates the truly successful from the also-rans. I pretty much disagree with ruling out the young in leadership circles due to their lack of hard-knocks. My wife is an Elementary Guidance Counselor and I get to hear the horror stories of bullying victims. I remember my own early years and their toll on my self-esteem. Everyone, if truth be told, has been through life’s crucible of crisis, and age hasn’t got anything to do with that. My 30 year-old daughter with a brain tumor is a whole lot more seasoned than I am with life’s crud.

What makes for a blessed 30-something or 50-something, with or without a brain tumor, is that failure throws us into seeking help – from God and others. One of the most revealing lines in literature appears in the opening paragraph of A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh: “Here is Edward Bear coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin. It is, as far as he knows, the only way of coming downstairs, but sometimes he feels that there really is another way… if only he could stop bumping for a moment and think of it!”

Well there is another way and that’s to ask for help when you’re bumping through life. I know we won’t make it with everything that’s been tossed our way this summer without help. We will keep on bumping along because that’s the way life is, but thanks be to God and you – we will survive. Your prayers and support have made a difference. Thank you and thank God.

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