Me with my lovely wife, Kathy:

Thursday, January 2, 2014


2013 in review:  I'm writing from Louisiana, so I'll begin with a quotation from a famous Louisianan. 
Those were the three words that James Carville put on a sign and hung up in Bill Clinton's campaign headquarters to keep the staff on message. As the saying goes, "The rest is history."
Wasn't it George Santayana, who said, 
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."?
A friend of mine, who would probably just as soon not be named here, says, 
"Put a period on it and go on."
Like so much of life this must be lived in balance.  

Remember the past < - Live in the present - > Keep your eye on the future.

It's not the balance of a peaceful ecosystem.  Satan and Adam made harmony in our world something that has to be worked at--worked at hard.  The Apostles John, and Paul, as well as my physics teacher tell me if you just sit around things will get worse.  (herehere, and here)   It's the nature of the beast in this world we call home. 
The tension in life, here at the dawn of a new year is to remember, and learn from the past without dying there.
So, since I am in the Bayou State:  I offer a sign to hang in the mental office of our campaign for the better future.
The Future, Stupid!  (Don't be insulted.  I include myself in the last word.)
No doubt those who dream big dreams and plan awesome plans are apt to accomplish more than those who don't.  Sometimes, though, those who dream big, get hammered bigger, and awesome plans become impressive wrecks.  Solomon warned that in this entropy-infected world things don't always turn out as they should.   Dreams are dashed and plans are shredded.  Solomon's observation was made through a self-imposed filter.  Looking beyond his providence blocker I know that ultimately, everything will work out exactly as it should.  I trust in the God Who took the greatest injustice, and brought about the supreme blessing.  I totally believe in Romans 8:28, but we're not there yet.  In the mean time the 
"The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men Gang aft agley,An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,For promis'd joy!"  (Robert Burns)
Given the choice, I'd build my nest in the warm house rather than the cold field, but, though I may have the power to plan, and choose, the power to follow through on those plans is often beyond me.  In my book-educated head, I have no idea what "Gang aft agley" means.  In my hard-knocks trained heart, I know exactly what Burns is talking about.  
So again, I look at my sign I have hung in the Better New Year department of my mind.  "The Future, Stupid"
When I put it all together I conclude that cynicism has no place in the life of the servant of God.  My dreams have no magic power, but they do propel me to the edge of what is possible.  I lack the omniscience necessary to build a perfect plan. Still, well-laid plans help me get there.  Especially when we get to the place where we look back on more of life than we can reasonably expect to look forward to--I don't think I'll make 126--it is important to work at keeping that future orientation.

Often those who win, and always those who lose like winners come to a critical gut-check place late in the game, or, more realistically when the battle is about done.  Be it the three hundred Spartans at Thermopylae, Lee at Appomattox, or the twelve-year-old kid who steps up to bat in the bottom of the 6th, two outs, two strikes, team loosing just one run short of the slaughter rule, that left-hander who looks like his mom put steroids in his baby-bottle is on the mound, the ump has an anniversary date with his wife--if its close, it's a strike.  
Even when we come up short we ought not to allow the past to be the deciding factor.  There is not enough bravery and determination for three-hundred Spartans and a few hundred more allies to hold back a force that numbered hundreds of thousands.  Yet would we tell tales 2,500 years later of the surrender at Thermopylae?  The Rebel forces would have yelled and charged one more time for the beloved General, but would artists lovingly paint portraits of the general who led his men into a slaughter for an empty cause, a cause that would die that day whether more blood was shed or not?.  Leonides had the courage to fight, and Lee the wisdom to surrender, because they looked to the future.  The heroism of the Spartans inspired others.  The wisdom of Lee allowed others to live.
With the same determination and ferocity as those Spartans, and the same calm as the Gray general, the kid adjusts his batting glove, tucks his elbow, and showing several thousand dollars worth of metal on his teeth, casts his best glare back at the Goliath on the mound.  The wind-up--I forgot to tell you the bases are empty--the pitch.  Somewhere from the core of that kid comes a swing worthy of Micky Mantle--no more than that, it is the swing of a Spartan fighting impossible odds.  It is a swing that is about The future.

Lord, give me grace to live 2014 as I should.  Amen

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