Thursday, September 13, 2012

Front Porch Musings


It's fall again... no surprise there. Happens every year about this time. Actually here in Alaska it happens sooner than in the lower forty-eight. About mid-August you wake up one day and feel the chill in the air or while you're out walking you notice that some of the leaves on the ground are tinged yellow and brown. You try to ignore it like that first twinge of a toothache. Maybe if you don't pay it too much attention it will go away. "It's not time yet." you declare, but like the first grey hairs that show up one day or the wrinkles that makeup won't cover, change is happening, like it or not. Fall is a time of reflection for me. On the day I took this picture it was an ideal fall day. The sun was warm, there weren't any bugs bothering me, I wasn't thinking about fishing or charter boats or how aggravated I was with the politicians. I was just sitting in one of those comfortable chairs rocking back and forth enjoying the sunshine and reflecting on my life. It isn't often that I think of how blessed I've been. My natural tendency is to complain and once you start down that path there is no end to the things you can find to complain about. Just yesterday I was out fishing at Point Sophia. I'm trolling about forty plus leaders with thirty some years of experience behind me. All my gear is color coordinated so that if the fish find something they like all their buddies will find the same stuff and climb on. I was fishing close by a fellow who is running a hodge podge of gear- no two flashers or hoochies alike, it looks like he has maybe a dozen leaders total and has only been commercial fishing for about two years. Every time I looked over, he was cleaning a fish. I caught one- all day! Perhaps I should change the name of the boat to The Bonehead and troll three lines baited with green olives, Cheetos and Nutrigrain Bars. Who knows, it can't be any worse than what I was doing. Maybe my ego needed a good jolt and God was letting me know that blessings come from him. They're his fish and he gives them to whomever he wants. Anyway, as I was saying, once you start down that path of complaint, you never reach bottom. I actually have relatively little to bitch about. We have a friend who is visiting Hoonah right now. Her and her husband used to pastor our church. She desperately wanted children but couldn't conceive, so they adopted two boys, both from the same family I believe. They moved to Colorado but her husband was unable to find work and ended up working in Iraq where he has been for the past seven years or so. Shortly after he left she was diagnosed with cancer. Her older son got involved in some goth type movement and her younger son was involved in a shooting and is in jail right now. In the years since she's left here she's undergone several more cancers and the unbearable treatments and side effects and at present has an implant to control  the pain. She gave the word on Sunday. In a nutshell she said all these things would appear to us to be bad, bad things. (I couldn't agree more) But, we are seeing things from a limited perspective. We have blinders on. We have little spiritual peripheral vision. Good things have come from what we would perceive as bad. Her husband started several churches while in Iraq and has had a positive impact on a number of people. Her son in jail has turned his life around and is leading a praise team in prison. I don't know what the other son is doing, but his chapter is still being written. Today I was reading in the book of Job. I know I've written about this before, but I think it bears repeating.Those who know that book know that Job was a righteous man who was inflicted with all manner of terrible loss- his children, his property and finally his health. To add insult to injury, his wife suggested  he curse god and die, and his friends who were supposed to be comforting him ended up accusing  him of having secret unconfessed sins as the reason for all the suffering. Finally, after all the accusations and rebuttals, Job hears from God directly... Then the Lord answered Job out of the storm. He said, "Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you and you shall answer me. Where were you when I laid out the earths foundation? Tell me if you understand."
 Of course it goes on as God lays out his wisdom and power. In the end Job is blessed more after all the trouble than he was before. That's not to say that all those who suffer will be blessed because of it in this life. I can't see beyond the present so I can't say what tomorrow will bring. Maybe a boatload of fish to salvage the season, maybe an engine failure. In my limited capacity I'll surmise that whatever the situation I find myself in, it will either be good or bad, though, like Job, I really don't have the wisdom to make that call. So, I will leave you with this. As the fall approaches and the days grow shorter, enjoy each day as much as you can. Visit a friend, love on your spouse, call your mom and maybe take some time to sit on your front porch and reflect on your blessings. They're more than can be counted.

13 comments:

  1. Hell of a post...It's very easy to focus on the negatives that life has to offer. Especially in the military. Could be a POW hoping that you're not gonna lose your head on Al Jazeera. Or living on the street with no shelter at all. Right now as is, I can hop in the truck and drive on down to Coldstone Creamery and get a Sundae if I wanted..Life isn't all that bad. The same goes for money. I'd rather have less money and be happy than to have a whole hell of a lot and hate life because it has made me bitter. Take care. Ben

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  2. Very well said Dad, I have to stop and make sure I thank God for my many blessings, it's unfortunatly, easy to forget at times! Job was definitely a good example! Love you!

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  3. Wow, great post and great spin on things. I know I have a lot to be thankful for and it surmounts a lot of what others have yet I feel like I am a big complainer as well. Thanks for the reality check:) And a big thanks to you and mom for providing all of our needs but most of all showing us how a generous heart is the biggest blessing of all. Liz

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  4. Excellent message to all of us!! Thanks for sharing those words and that amazing photo.

    Renee

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  5. Job professed a faith that was woven of dependence, belief, and utter trust in God. Had he failed in any, he knew his loss was in vain. I doubt he expected to gain a new family. I doubt his hope was for the gain he'd lost, but that he'd not lose his faith. Without it, he had nothing to hope for, believe in, trust. Job, my favorite among all OT books, relates to any of us if we'll stop long enough. After all, what hope has the hypocrite?

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  6. Wow! Guess I better get busy answering some of the comments.
    Hey Ben- I guess everything is relative. There's no end to what a person can find to complain about if that's in your nature. God knows I've complained more than my share.
    Hi Autumn- It's so easy to focus on what we don't have instead of what we've been blessed with. If I spent as much time thanking God as I did complaining,I don't doubt that my happiness quotient would improve dramatically.
    Hey Liz- if you complain you've come by it honestly. I think its part of the fallen human nature. You and Bill are very generous, I'm so glad.
    Thanks Todd- it's always nice to hear from you.
    Hey Miss Renee- thanks for commenting. I'm glad you enjoyed the blog and the picture
    Hi Rene- I like the book of Job quite a bit, although all the discourse with the comforters gets kind of old. I like some of the stories in the OT- the book of Daniel with Shadrach, Meshak and Abednego and when the hand of God writes on the wall of the palace and tells the king that he's been weighed in the balance and found wanting and also Daniel in the lions den and his faith. Anyway,it's always nice to hear from you. Thanks for commenting.

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  7. Great post, Tom. Thanks for the reminder to step back, take a moment, and remember just how blessed we are.

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  8. Thanks Jill- I need to remind myself every day- sometimes multiple times. It's really easy to fall into the lack of gratitude mode. I'm actually well versed in it. Thanks for writing.

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  9. WOW...really glad I was prompted by Remme to get on your blog tonight. Been some time since I've been online. He told me about this post last week sometime and told me you'd posted another tonight. Really does force a person to put things into perspective.We're all so busy worrying about things we can't change and whining about the little things that really are petty in life...we forget to be thankful for the blessings we are given every day....thank you for that reminder. Love you!

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  10. Thanks Amber, I'm glad you enjoyed it. I'm kind of preaching to the choir here. I need constant reminders to be grateful. The news media is so intent on painting the most negative picture possible that you want to just throw up your hands and say to hell with it. Fortunately, God's got it all under control, we just need to sit back and let Him take over and remember all He's given us. Love you too.

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  11. Really good blog dad, I am w/Ben on his comments. Keep thinking about all the stuff you don't have or all the things you want to change and you will never be happy that's for sure. Love you

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  12. That's right Camille. A little gratitude goes a long way. If a person can be grateful for whatever life delivers I think they'll have a great life.

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