On our bicycle trip a couple of years ago part of our trip had us going through Yellowstone park. There was a pass of about 9,000 feet that we road up and over that had a very small lake at the top called Isa Lake. The lake straddles the continental divide and does something that no other lake does, it has two outlets, one of them flows to the Missouri, then the Mississippi River, and then ends up in the Atlantic Ocean, the other outlet flows to the Snake River, than to the Colombia and then the Pacific Ocean. I used some little sticks to see what way the water was flowing as I threw them in the small lake and watched which way the sticks flowed. From this I came up with a pretty close to center location on the lake. I then took some powdered gator aid and put in my mouth and spit into the lake. The bright orange color of the gatoraide made it possible to watch the progress of several really good spits. Standing in one place I spit and it eventually ended up in the Atlantic Ocean, I spit again, just a few feet to the left of the last spit and it ended up in the Pacific Ocean. This experience was quite amazing to me, just a few feet apart and two spits ended up thousands of miles apart.
Our lives are filled with moments where if things happen one way the result is “miles apart” from where we would be if the event occurs another way that is very close to the first way. Small insignificant differences in events can result in major differences In the outcome in our lives.
Another interesting fact about these defining moments is that almost all of them happen with very little input or cognitive choosing on my part, they just sort of happen.
I believe that it is God in his infinite wisdom who controls and chooses for me that results in most of the outcomes of the various events in my life. If I truly believe that to be true I will worry less and less, and live a life of relaxed intensity.
A mystery in life is the balance or melding of my choices and God’s sovereign control over the events that occur in my life. There are so many things that have happened to me that from our perspective look like a coincidence, but the Bible is clear, there really is no such thing as a coincidence. God even is in control of the numbers that show up on the role of the dice in a game of Yahtzee.
Proverbs 16:33 The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.
When I graduated from High School in 1967 I went to a Christian College in Portland, Oregon called Cascade because of the influence of a friend who was attending there. At the end of that school year the school lost their accreditation and it looked like they would not reopen so I enrolled in Biola University in Los Angelos, California, again because of a friend at Cascade who decided to go there. The first part of September in 1968 I moved in with my Uncle and Aunt who lived near the college in Los Angelos, enrolled, started classes, and got a job at a veterinarian clinic. Two weeks after I started classes I got a phone call from a Cascade College official saying the school was going to open, and would I please return. He said he would take care of cancelling classes, getting what I had paid to Biola transferred to Cascade and that my scholarships and financial aid from my previous year would all be good. I packed my bag and was in Portland the next day. That was a significant decision because that was the year that I met Patty. Today there are kids and grandkids that wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t made that move. There was a whole series of coincidences that brought that about. Today sitting here thinking about each of my kids and their lives and all the coincidences that brought each where they are today, it really is quite amazing, such a mystery, and truly wonderful. I still choose but there is a safety net under me, God, His love, and His sovereignty.
Yesterday riding in the van, I read more news on my iPad than usual and the result was a depressed and sad state of feeling emotionally. As I recognized where I was I made some changes, and by the time we reached our camping site I was feeling much better.
We all are in a state of being all the time, a general sense of feeling or an emotional state that influences how we think, talk, and act. Sometimes we feel up and happy, sometimes we are depressed, blue, or sad, and sometimes we feel generally grumpy. It is almost always the events and circumstances in our lives that have the most influence on our emotional state of being. Sometimes it is other people’s treatment of us that shapes our state, other times it can be how we are feeling physically because of tiredness or sickness, and a biggy is the trials and unexpected crises that come into our lives.
There are 2 basic disciplines that mature people practice in their lives in order to control their emotions. The first is, “I can’t control the circumstances of my life, but I can control how I think about the events that occur in my life”. We all understand that our emotions will be automatic following an event, but we can move the needle by choosing and controlling our predominant thoughts following the event. The Bible commands us not to be anxious, not to fear, and not to fret, so we must be able to obey those commands. In the context of those commands is the statement, “God is with us”, “He hears us”, He cares about us”, and “He controls our life”. So choosing to set our minds on God, on His promises, and talking to Him about our life and asking for His help results in His peace, His joy, strength, and sense of confidence and self worth. The simple thought, “I know You are with me, Lord, I trust You that You are causing all things to work together for good in my life, help me now”, will result in a positive lifting of our emotional state.
The second discipline is choosing to act and talk responsibly in spite of how we feel. “You don’t have to act the way you feel”. If we choose to act right we will soon feel much better, we control our emotions by choosing to obey, and by being in charge of ourselves.Way back in the book of Genesis God gave this principle to Cain, but he didn’t get it.
“So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.”
Prolonged periods of a negative emotional state gives the devil much greater opportunities to influence and control us increasing the probability of wrong actions resulting in our emotions moving even lower on the scale.
Ephesians 4:26-27 BE angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.
A key discipline for me to be successful in this area of my life is memorizing Bible verses that I can choose to set my mind on, and meditate on. God’s Word is living, supernatural, and powerful in controlling my emotions, and motivating me to right actions.
There are 45 people in our immediate family and we are all heading for the same spot in Idaho from various locations including Alaska and Hawaii. There are 13 in the van we are presently riding in. We left our house in Jefferson at 3:30 pm and are going to camp in Burns tonight and finish the journey tomorrow. It is pretty noisy in the van with everybody singing and talking, but a fun kind of noise. I can turn my hearing aids off and they are very effective ear plugs, or I can listen to a pod cast of my favorite preacher as my iPad blue toothes into my hearing aids, and nobody in the van even knows! We will all hang out tomorrow and Saturday at Amies house where Amie and Seth and her 4 kids will live happily ever after, after the wedding on Sunday. It is kind of funny thinking about this trip and the gathering this weekend, compared to family trips years ago when we all went to see Patty’s parents or mine. Then I drove the van and told everyone what to do as the Dad. Now I sit in the back and everyone tells me what to do. When the transition started a few years ago I was a bit resistant and often got my feelings hurt as I became less and less the one in charge and more and more “grandpa”, with everyone constantly asking me how I was doing, as if I was on the verge of having a heart attack. Now I am pretty close to being fully adjusted to my new role and place in the family, I just tag along and do what I am told, and enjoy the relaxed time of not having the pressure and responsibility for everyone in the van.
I don’t get sick very often, and I like everyone else hate the experience. What I hate most is the total lack of desire to do anything but sit in my chair. I like my normal feeling of “anxiousness to get something more done”, a restlessness inside of me that If I don’t hurry I am going to miss out out something, an inner urgency to get one more thing crossed off of my todo list! That fire in me makes me feel alive, and is what stirs my dreams for more accomplishment in my life and motivates me to write goals. But as I sit here tonight my fire is out, my engine is dead, my passion is ice, and all I can do is write about it, a rotten state to be in.
I am thinking that one of these days, probably fairly soon, that the physical toll of getting older is going to result in this present feeling being a permanent state, rotten or not. So I am wondering if I am capable of choosing to get out of my chair and pursuing some “Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal’s” when I am feeling as unmotivated as I am tonight. Talk about not acting how you feel, that would be a test. That is basically why I am writing this blog tonight, earlier I thought, “I don’t want to write that stupid blog”, so I got this done. Patty asked earlier if I would go out in our shop and find all of our sleeping bags for our trip to Idaho for Seth’s wedding for the grandkids to use. I growled and grumbled and said I would do it in the morning, I think I will do it right now. Not a very big victory over my unmotivated flesh, but a start. I know how to make it happen anyway, we will just keep working on it, training.
We left Fairbanks, Alaska at midnight last night, and walked into our house at 11:00 am this morning. In the middle of the journey we had a 3 hour layover in Seattle, and I mostly sat in a chair and watched people. We normally don’t look at people for very long in real life because it is awkward and perceived as rude, but in the airport you can stare at a person and notice their eyes, how happy or sad they seem, how relaxed or stressed they look, how much bounce is in their walk, and how confident or fearful they seem as they look around. As I stared at people walking by in front of me I tried to perceive from what I could see whether they were believers in Jesus Christ or not. As I did that I wondered to myself, “what does a person who loves Jesus look like”? Then I wondered if others who stared at me as I walked down the aisle in a busy airport thought, “Now there goes a Christian”!
When people look intently at us, the squint in our eyes, the clenched teeth etc they see what is called our countenance. It is true that what we believe to be true, our sense of being loved by God, our freedom from worry about the future, and our freedom from guilt have a major impact on our countenance and it can be seen by others. Our countenance attracts people to us or repels them.
If my countenance seems hard and lacking in joy why would I be that way? It would be cool if we had some way of seeing our countenance and expression as we walked along like when you have your phone in selfie mode. I wonder if I could see my countenance if I would make an effort to improve it in the sense of attractiveness.
A basic principle is that what we predominantly think about controls our countenance. What do I think about most of the time? As Proverbs says, ” As a man thinks in his heart so he is”.