16 September 2011
There are moments that mark us. The call back from the doctor. Two lines on a pregnancy test. A concert. A first kiss.
One of those moments came my first timid day behind the wheel of the family car learning to drive with my dad. And like son’s often do I was paying close attention to my driving but even closer attention to what my dad was saying. And as fathers and sons need to do sometimes, we were talking about life.
My dad explained to me that day that there are many young men with dreams. Many with honorable desires but very few who will ever invest what it really takes to see those dreams a reality.
My dad understood something that comes from many years of wise observation: there are no short cuts in life. To be great at anything will cost me greatly.
If I want to be a great father it will take great sacrifice.
If I want to be a great pastor it will take great diligence.
If I want to be a great writer it will take great effort.
You want a quick sprint to the top? It won't work, but there are lots of rambling routes to get you lost. But when you shake off the haze of wasted wandering you'll come back to this: the common factor of true accomplishment is character. And character takes time and effort.
But there is more. Success is its own burden that only people of substance can bear without crumbling. The hard path one takes to achieving worthy goals is what God uses to make us ready for it when it comes.
But that doesn’t mean we do it alone though we might feel lonely at times. It doesn’t mean God will only help us if we help ourselves. No, the good news is much better than that. God will give us what we need to accomplish the great things He has planned for us (Ephesians 2.10). That’s why it says, “He gives more grace” (James 4.6).
His is the quick helping hand when we drift below the waves (Matthew 14), and the quick response when we are full of questions (John 3). He is willing to put up with our silliness to see us satisfied (John 4). And there is the steady giving of Himself because we always need Him (John 15). The good news is that we are in this thing together.
So what is your honorable aim?
Do you want to be a great mother? It will take thousands of diapers and a long fuse.
Do you want to write the next bestseller? It will cost you your pride and quite a few hours of sleep.
Do you desire to be deeper? It will take facing yourself in the mirror and some time away from your normal distractions.
Do you yearn for change? It will take more than a list of goals, it will take getting on your knees.
There won’t be any magic words but there will be encouraging ones. There won’t be any shortcuts but there will be divine direction. There won’t be skipping the hard stuff but there will be a Savior.
Life is more like a hike than a helicopter lift to the top: it hurts but the rewards are inherently huge.
"Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
whose hearts are set on pilgrimage."
- PSALM 84.5