Just some early morning thoughts from me to you…
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
Romans 5:1-5 (NIV)
The rest of the house was still asleep, as it was still quite dark outside when I woke early this morning to prepare breakfast and put it in the warmer for Lynda and our precious younger Granddaughter, Ellie Kate. Ellie had spent the night with us, and knew that I will always fix whatever she or her sister Hannah, when she also stays with us, would like to have.
And so as she was falling asleep last night she put in the request for pancakes and bacon for breakfast. Done! I also knew that she and her Mimi, Mommy and Hannah were taking a field trip today, so I made a batch of Granddaddy’s world famous buttered popcorn for them to take.
As I walked into the kitchen I could hear our basset hound Lily still asleep and breathing softly in her crate. I opened the cabinet door to the coffee cups standing ready for that first cup of coffee for the day. The sight of them evoked memories which began to flood through the quiet of my thoughts. Cups engraved, painted and marked with remembrances of travels and family, of friendships and challenges.
A myriad of memories returned as I read the words inscribed on some of the curved sides—Kapalua, Beaver Creek, Super Bowl XXXVII, Gators, Augusta National, Duke Dad, Harvard Mom. There were others too which had been specially prepared for me with a picture Hannah and another with a picture of Ellie Kate, and still others of them both, and ones with pictures of our precious Godchildren. Wonderful moments and memories indelibly etched in my heart were drawn forth as my gaze continued to survey the now slightly faded pictures and inscriptions.
But there was one there which seemed as bright and beautiful as the day it first graced our collection many years ago. It was one, which reminded me as I was about to start my day, that a lot of how my day would turn out will depend upon me.
It read— “Attitude—is Everything.”
In his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, Victor Frankl recounts the unspeakable horrors of his long-time imprisonment in Nazi concentration camps like Auschwitz and Dachau, in which he was stripped of everything down to his naked existence, and in which his father, mother, brother and wife had died in similar prison camps. An imprisonment in which he, with every possession lost, every value destroyed, suffering from hunger, cold and brutality, hourly expecting his own extermination, was still able to find that life was worth preserving.
And in that he found that there was, in what little there seemed to be left of his life—value and hope. He found that despite his circumstances, we are never stripped of one of our “last human freedoms—the ability to choose our attitude despite our given set of circumstances.”
Frankl’s experiences should remind us all that even though we can’t always choose our circumstances, we can always choose our attitude, and through that to realize the capacity within each of us, with God’s hand on our backs, to rise above those circumstances. It’s our choice, and the depth of the inner character directing our lives is often revealed by the attitude we exhibit in those most serious of circumstances which we persevere through, or do not.
Frankl’s experiences remind us, too, of the potential that God has placed in our lives, to know Him, to receive Him, and then through Him, to make a difference in this world, one person at a time. To make a difference in a world where barriers between us which have existed for generations are now knocked down, and where we vow that the horrors of the past will not occur again, not under our watch. Where we stand ready to act to assure that the wrongs of the day are made right, and we not only feel a responsibility for ourselves, but for each other.
The circumstances of our day are difficult. They try our souls, strain our relationships and test our resolve. Yet in those moments it is important to remember that even though our life in this world is a mere blink in the eye of God, we are on a journey that is about choosing an attitude toward life that makes a significant difference in the lives of others. And knowing that in the face of need, injustice and hopelessness—we cannot, and will not turn away. And when we do that, not only will their lives be lifted and brightened by our efforts, but the quality and potential of our society as a whole will be lifted by the rising tide of our attitudes of commitment, caring, compassion and courage.
And in that journey, led by the God who created us all, we will discover anew the life we were meant to live, not measured by the standards of success set by others but by the breadth of the smile of our God as He watches from above.
In His Name—Scott