There is an old saying that goes like this, “Many people look forward to the New Year for a new start on old habits.” Doesn’t that sound like most of us? How many New Year’s resolutions do we really keep? How much do we really change from year to year?
Well, I’m going to try and do a little something different this year than last year. I’m going to try and write a shorter letter this month. Gonna give you folks a break after a busy Holiday Season and start to 2004. It’s been hurry, hurry, hurry.
I’m going to start with what might be called a “modern parable.” I like it because there’s a thread of Gospel truth in it, even though it’s not a Bible quote. I like it, not because of the Ethic found in it, but because of the constancy found in it, the devotion to being constant in it.
People are illogical, unreasonable, and self centered
Love them anyway
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives
Do good anyway
If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow
Do good anyway
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable
Be honest and frank anyway
The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds
Think big anyway
People favor underdogs but only follow top dogs
Fight for a few underdogs anyway
What you spend your years building may be destroyed overnight
People really need help but may attack you if you do help them
Help people anyway
Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth
Give the world the best you have anyway
“Anyway” by Kent Keith 1968
“Anyway” has been quoted and published by politicians, business leaders, military commanders, teachers, religious leaders, and coaches. It’s been used by the Boy Scouts, the Special Olympics, published in Ann Landers, quoted at the United Nations, and appeared in Reader’s Digest and from friend to friend. Mother Teresa’s children’s home in Calcutta, India has it hanging on their wall.
It’s the Hope that makes this “parable” so attractive to me. If we would just make up our minds to follow our hearts and to live the Truths of God, we would end up doing the things described in this “poem.” We just need to make up our minds to do the things that God says works for us and quit making “adjustments” to the world around us all the time. And even though so much is against us, we can have a confidence described in this “parable.” “Do it anyway!” should be our motto as Believers.
“Do the Gospel anyway.” It doesn’t matter how illogical or how unpopular with the people around us, just do it anyway. God said His ways were foolish to men so quit being so ashamed of that! For me, the Gospel is not so much laughter, as it is a smile. It’s a quiet confidence, even when it doesn’t look or feel like things are working for us at all. Remember the story of Samuel and Saul? Samuel was trying everything to solve his “king problem,” and had done everything else but trust God. But Samuel’s answer was already in the field; a shepherd boy was God’s provision even though Samuel was unaware! Where might your provision be hidden?
While writing last month’s newsletter about Dwight L. Moody, I found a story about Moody’s confidence in God. Someone asked him how he felt about the death of his grandchildren and Moody replied he had almost forgotten how he “felt” about anything. Moody acted on a confidence in God, rather than depending on how he “felt” about any situation. The relevancy of our “feelings” compared to God’s Word and Spirit becomes almost comical to think about. How we feel about anything is in no way as powerful as dependency on God an trusting Him above any of our feelings.
Psalm 4:6-7 says, “Happy is that people whose God is Jehovah.” God’s our source of abiding gladness and joy. It’s not the things we can put in the bank or our garages or our homes. it’s what we can put in our hearts that matters. Secularism depends on circumstances to be happy. God’s Joy is available in any circumstance simply because God is present in all our circumstances!
I’m thrilled to have an old habit to start again this year, but it’s one I don’t want to “resolve away.” It’s one I try and encourage myself with, and one I’d share with Dad! I know the winds are raging, the lightning is flashing, the rain’s falling and the noise is frightening, but we can trust the “calmer of the storm.” Calm down! There is Rest in God and that Rest is not obtainable by our labor or pain. That’s not how He gave gifts to Solomon (1Kigs 3:3-15), or Adam a bride, or Abraham a covenant! They were all asleep, unable to do for themselves. Jesus slept in his storm, can we?
The time of Jesus’ rejection was a time of confusion, doubt and fear. John had questioned who he was, people had rejected him saying that Jesus was a drunkard and glutton, and his works were fruitless. It was a time of seemingly great failure and trouble, yet he found Rest in a Faith in knowing the Father’s will. While the disciples were “weary and heavy laden” with burdens, while everything seemed to be going wrong, Jesus offered a solution. He invited them to “come unto me and I will give you Rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find Rest undo your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-9)
Love anyway, do good anyway, succeed anyway, be honest anyway, think big anyway, fight for the underdog anyway, build anyway, help people anyway, give the best you have anyway. Do it without looking around, without being moved by what we hear and see. Do it because God said it would work for Believers “anyway!”
P.S. Couldn’t do that short thing after all… so much for New Year’s resolutions.