Thank goodness the elections are over! I don’t think I could handle another commercial telling me how one candidate or the other was too extreme. As if there is a “mild” extreme.
I don’t know about you, but it sure was hard to get a real sense of a candidate’s views based on television portrayals alone. For instance, I saw one commercial that claimed a candidate wanted to “rip up” the Constitution. The very next commercial stated that the same candidate wanted to “get back to” the Constitution.
Then there were the infamous robo calls. My phone practically rang off the hook in the weeks leading up to the election. In each call, someone practically begged me to vote for a particular candidate, and based on what, a mere phone call? It didn’t take long to start screening our calls through the answering machine. Being bombarded with ads on TV was bad enough; I didn’t want to hear more of them on the phone all day long, either. I think I would have started pulling my hair out.
I heard that a record number of dollars were spent on this recent election. An estimated $394 million was squandered on advertising alone. In the California governor’s race, one of the candidates dished out $160 million, only to lose. Does that sound completely outrageous to you? It does to me. And why would someone spend $160 million in an attempt to win a job that pays around $250,000 a year to begin with?
It pains me to see so much money being burned to support a person’s ego. I’m not saying all the candidates are egomaniacs, but it just does not make any sense to dump so much money down the drain in an attempt to procure a job that lasts 2-6 years, at which point the process starts all over again! I guess it shows to what lengths those who crave power are willing to go.
Consider the statistics from our one son’s life: Ten major surgeries over the course of fifteen long years.
Admittedly, this is sometimes a very strange existence. Recently, my son said he was wondering if all this is a test or just a random and unfortunate cruel act of life. Is this part of God’s greater plan?
His tenth surgery was to fix what went wrong with surgery number nine. This set him back an entire year, causing him to have to work extra hard to just get back on his feet.
He said he is trying to not be angry, but it seems to me that he has very good reasons to struggle with these types of emotion. Of course, a lot of his anger is masked as fear: fear of how the new surgery will go and the worry that it won’t go as planned.
Back when I was a young and single, Valentine’s Day seemed like a cruel event of the calendar.
If you were a guy in a relationship, you ran around trying to do something spectacular to impress your special girl, but usually to the disappointment of both parties. Call me cynical or inept – or both -- but something always seemed to go wrong. Could it have had something to do with me always waiting until the last minute to find the perfect gift? Probably. If “Danger” is Austin Powers’ middle name, “Procrastination” would have to be mine.
Even today, all the commercials from Hallmark and the countless flower outlets don’t help to make it much easier for guys. In fact, they might even make matters worse. Every polished commercial only helps to raise my wife’s expectations of a grand, glorious and romantic day, expectations which I invariably don’t meet.
So, is Valentine’s Day as an evil plot contrived by commercial outlets? Whatever you think of it, there is some interesting history tied to the day.
Some attribute it to a Catholic bishop named Valentine. As the story goes, despite the Roman Empire declaring marriage for soldiers illegal, old “Val” continued to perform weddings for them until he was put to death for the crime.
Still others say it’s tied to the fact that a Greco-Roman festival devoted to fertility was outlawed by the Pope. In an effort to “Christianize” the festival that ran February 13-15th, they declared the 14th to be “Valentine’s Day.”
Whatever the case, according to Wikipedia, the day didn’t really get to be known as a day to celebrate romantic love until Geoffrey Chaucer’s "Parlement of Foules” in 1382.
Shockingly, a posting suggested that prior to 1832, “earlier links” had been “focused on sacrifice rather than romantic love.”
And hear I thought the definition of love had been lost closer to our own time! Not quite.
Time can often take its toll on us in a variety of ways.
After 17 years of marriage, my wife and I will sometimes communicate in ways contrary to the methods of our newlywed years. Admittedly, there are some days when our conversations are reduced to a series of grunts and groans only perceptible to us, and maybe one of our children. Believe it or not, the exercise is a highly tuned system meant for the other that conveys the exhaustion of the situation or maybe the exhaustion with the other. Mainly me. I am a man prone to all things stereotypically male. I revel in routine and I’m not prone to appreciate change.
Granted our grunts and groans aren’t always ideal, but we’ve used this system to communicate with each other when our words are barely audible and the composition of a full sentence is deemed cruel and unusual punishment.
Over the last two years I have worked to get back into shape. It's a mid-life crisis kind of thing. Being a tech geek, of course I use apps to keep track of everything from the food I eat to the miles I run. The other day as I was headed out for a run I turned on my app as usual. When I was through, I checked the app for feedback on my workout. I promptly found out how far I had gone and how many calories I had burned, but, much to my shock, according to the app I had burned hardly anything. I was really upset and annoyed, thinking the app was buggy; after all that work I had gotten very little benefit. Because I can't really read the screen on my phone without my glasses, another side effect of middle-age, I had to wait until I got back to my car to get a really clear look at the numbers: I had left my glasses in the driver's seat. As it turns out, I had set up the app wrong.
In some ways, this experience is a lot like many things in my life. Rarely do I see a complete picture of any situation. I am faced with a lot of confusion and uncertainty, like looking at my phone without my glasses on. We pray to God for answers, wondering why we get none. Luis Palau [briefly explain for people who Luis Palau is] suggests that we do, in fact, get answers, but that they may not be what we think of as answers.
The answer to a question may be no! God tells us that he loves us, and while we may think we should get what we want, sometimes we have no inkling of what's actually best for us, something God sees clearly.
The answer we receive may be "Not now!" Patience is a virtue I need more of. I hate waiting, but getting what I need at the time I need it is how God operates. If I can demand what I want, when I want from God, how am I supposed to learn that He is God and I am not? He is good and wants the best for us, but our best can't always come on our own preconceived timetable. God's in control: this is something we all need to know.
Another possible response to a request is yes, but not in the way you think. Hard times sometimes come, and they push us out of our comfort zone. God tells us He loves us too much to leave us the way we are, and answering our prayer might mean we can no longer stay the same.
Yes is always a possible answer; our God is a gracious God. But when I do get what I want or need do I see it as answered prayer? The hard part for me is to see the picture as God sees it; all good things are gracious gifts from Him.