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Posts tagged ‘truth’

“Prayers” by Richard Bach

I am reading a collection of articles and short stories written by the incredible author Richard Bach, who wrote the bestselling Jonathon Livingston Seagull – one of my all time favourites.

Last night I read an article titled Prayers. It resonated with me to such an extent that I typed it out to share here, with you. (Note: I don’t have permission to reproduce this article. The book was first published in 1975 and I’m not sharing it for any personal gain – except metaphysical resonance, I guess. So I hope it’s fine that I share it here.)

Be careful what you wish for

Be careful what you wish for

Prayers

by Richard Bach

“You’d better be careful what you pray for,” somebody once said, “because you’re going to get it.”

I thought of that, twisting a Fokker D-7 hard through my little part of the Great Mass Dogfight scene in Von Richtofen and Brown. The scene had looked neat and safe when we chalked it out on the briefing-room blackboard, but now, in the air, it was scary – fourteen replica fighters crushed into one small cube of sky, each one chasing the other, a few losing position and diving blindly through the rest, rainbow paints flashing coloured sunlight, the loud quick blast of a Pfalz engine as the plane flashed beneath without seeing, smoke trails and the thick smell of fireworks in the wind.

Everyone survived that morning, but I was still shaking a bit when I thought about being careful what we pray for. Because the very first magazine article I wrote, twelve years ago, was one in which I prayed that those of us who learned to fly in closed-cockpit airplanes might have a place to rent an open-cockpit one, for the fun of it, ” … and fly a Fokker D-7 airframe with one hundred fifty modern horses in the nose,” I had written. And here I was this moment in helmet and goggles and scarf, pilot of a yellow-blue-white-green airplane, Fok. DVII lettered authentically on the fuselage. I came home from the film with forty hours in Fokkers and Pfalze and SE-5s, my prayers answered so completely that I had all that kind of flying cared to do for quite some time.

A few years after I had prayed for the Fokker, I had gone for a ride in Chris Cagle’s J-3 Cub, at the Merced Fly-in. Cagle had a thousand hours in that Cub alone, I guess, and as we flew across the afternoon he showed me how to fly at zero miles per hour and how to loop and roll the thing. I remember looking out the open door at the puffed yeast-doughnut tire, and past it to the ground way down below, thinking what a great little airplane, and some day, by God, I’ll own me a Cub! Today I own it, and it has big puffy yeast-doughnut tires and the doors open in flight and I look down and remember, Sure enough, it happened again: I got what I prayed for.

Time after time I’ve watched it happen, in my life and the lives of people I know. I’ve tried to find somebody who didn’t get what he prayed for, but to date I haven’t found him. I believe it: whatever we wrap away in thought is opened for us, one day, in experience.

There was a girl I met in New York, who lived in a tight-packed Brooklyn tenement, acred about by old concrete and cracking brick, by frustration and fear and quick wild violence in the street. I wondered aloud why she didn’t get out, move to Ohio or Wyoming country, where she could breathe free and touch the grass once in her life.

“I couldn’t do that,” she said, “I don’t know what it’s like out there.” And then she said a very honest and knowing thing, “I guess I’m more afraid of what I don’t know than I hate what I have right now …”

Better to have riots in the streets, better squalor and subways and sardine crowds, she prayed, than the unknown. As she prayed, she received; she meets nothing now that she hasn’t met before.

All at once I saw the obvious. The world is as it is because that is the way we wish it to be. Only as our wish changes does the world change. Whatever we pray for, we get.

Look about, sure enough. Every day the footsteps of answered prayer are ours to walk, we have only to lean forward and walk them, one by one. The steps to my Fokker were many. I helped a man with his magazine, years ago, and so came to know him. His prayers were in old airplanes and business deals and motion pictures, and he took his chance to buy, in a business deal with a film studio, the fleet of World War I fighters. When he mentioned this, I said I’d be ready if he ever needed a pilot to fly one; that is, I took one step that offered itself to be taken. A year later he needed two American pilots to join the group, in Ireland, flying the Fokkers. When he called, I was ready to finish the path I had begun with the first article, that first prayer about the D-7.

From time to time, when I was barnstorming the Midwest a few summers ago, a passenger or two would say, “What a great life you have, free to go wherever you want, whenever … Sure wish I could do it.” Wistful, like that.

“Come along then,” I’d say. “You can sell tickets, keep the crowds behind the wing, strap the passengers to the front seat. We might make enough money to live on, we might go broke, but you’re invited.” I could say this, first because I could always use a ticket seller, and second because I knew what the answer would be.

Silence first, then, “Thanks, but you see, I’ve got my job. If it wasn’t for my job, I’d go … ” Which was only to say that each wistful one wasn’t wistful at all, each had prayed harder for his job than for the life of a barnstormer, as the New York girl had prayed more for her tenement than for the grass of Wyoming or for any other unknown.

I consider this from time to time, flying. We always get what we pray for, like it or not, no excuses accepted. Every day our prayers turn into fact; whom we most want to be, we are. It all sounds like justice to me; I can’t say as I mind the way this world is built, at all.

Of lies and truths and fairy tales

Honesty is the key to successI recently discussed the value and importance of integrity in dealing with our children. Well, this week we were addressing how to take the moral high road when dealing with other children in situations that seem to us to be unfair. Myu poor darlings, terrified of some fiery, dragonish retort at what an adult might perceive to be childish pettiness, were reluctant to volunteer their ideas on ways to turn the situation around and treat everyone fairly. I encouraged them to be honest and promised to listen to their concerns impartially.

It worked extremely well. They opened up and shared their fears and concerns, as well as some really good ideas for working together in harmony. We laughed and joked and connected. I was delighted.

Of course, my children will never cease to catch me off guard. Once we’d addressed the issues at hand, Goldilocks looked at me very seriously and said, “Mom, please can the same apply to you.”

I was confused. By this stage, we’d moved far from the topic of open sharing, and I didn’t know what the “same” thing was that was supposed to apply to me.

“Honesty,” she answered simply.

“I’m always honest with you! I make an effort to be as open and clear on every subject – as far as is appropriate.”

She looked at me with scathing cynicism, and uttered a single word: “Fairies?”

Ah.

So I came clean. I explained my views (which took some time) and encouraged them to develop a rich imagination while still understanding the line between fantasy and reality. And I admonished them sternly NOT to tell DeeDee and Dexter – or anyone else their age!

Much later I realised the value of having cleared all that up. “Girls,” I called. “Now that you know the truth, do I still have to give you money when you lose your teeth?”

“Of course not,” they sang out sweetly in chorus.

Then Red Riding Hood, with her piercing (and domestic-focused) mind, asked, “Mom, what do you do with the teeth when you take them out from under the pillow?” (There was a horror-laden pause as she weighed the options). “Do you – *gasp* – throw them away?”

“Well …” I began.

“Yes, you do,” she said pragmatically. “‘Cos otherwise that’d just be GRIM.”

Don't lie to your kids.

Don’t lie to your kids.

Doubt. Without it, your faith does not exist.

Red Riding Hood is a deep thinker. She ponders ideas and philosophies, turning them round and round in her beautiful young head until she begins to find the sense, the meaning behind it all.

This is most apparent when it comes to pondering her faith. We feel strongly that it is our duty to teach our children what we believe to be true. If we saw them heading towards certain and imminent death – walking onto a busy highway, for instance – we’d be compelled to stop them, correct them, and show them the right way. The safe way. To save them from certain death. In the same way, it is only right that we teach them what we believe to be the only way to be truly Safe.

Truth first

The truth is like a lion: let it looseHaving said that, we encourage them always to seek the truth. Truth is robust. It cannot be contained. It cannot be ignored. It cannot be denied. It certainly should not be feared. Above all, it must be sought. I encourage my girls to ask questions, to keep digging into all they know, until they are completely satisfied that they have found the truth. And then I encourage them to dig some more. No question is taboo. No answer is too unpalatable to be given.

No matter the cost, we must know the truth. I want to know the truth. I want to believe the truth. It’s not a case of wanting what I believe to be true, although of course I want that. Who wouldn’t want the assurance of knowing that their beliefs are true? And who would wilfully continue to believe something they know to be false, after all?

Quetions are our friends. They lead us to truth. So the girls are never discouraged from asking as many questions as they can think of, to anyone who will take the time answer.

A shaky foundation?

Red Riding Hood has a persistent fear. She is concerned that her faith isn’t real. We’ve covered this ground over and over again, and it’s taken me some time to get to the heart of the problem. This week we had a breakthrough. Even though Red believes in the fundamentals of our faith, sometimes she has doubts. These very doubts provoke the questions of all true truth seekers.

When I understood that, I could address her fears properly for the first time.

The fact is that it is these very doubts that create the need for faith. They justify faith. Without them, all we’d have is knowledge. Knowledge is good and pure, valuable. The Bible tells us that the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. That is the way to pure truth. But faith is a beautiful thing. It brings with it a sense of mystery, an aspect of the divine. Faith sets us apart from the animals. Faith makes us human. It gives us purpose. It gives us hope. Faith gives us the strength to keep going.

Without faith, we are less than we could be. Less than we ought to be.

And if we have no doubt, we cannot have faith. Our doubts define the course of our life’s journey towards truth. But they serve a higher purpose in creating the requirement for a deep, unwavering faith. In these ways they do us a great service.

How about you? Do you ever doubt your faith? Do those doubts make you question the validity of what you hold to be true? I encourage you to recognise those doubts as opportunities for growth. Allow the questions they give rise to to lead you down new paths of enquiry. Embrace the faith that holds you to the truth. And never, ever fear truth. As St Augustine famously said,

“The truth is like a lion. You don’t have to defend it. Let it loose. It will defend itself.”

Love is patient and kind

Live Intentionally

Live Intentionally

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

4Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.8 Love never ends.

This is true love.

We talk about love all the time, don’t we? “How do you know if it’s true love?” “How can I show my love?” “Does he love me? I wanna know! How can I tell if he loves me so?”

The point is that love is a verb. It is an action word – a doing word. And the person doing the loving is YOU!

11 practical ways to demonstrate love in action:

  1. Be patient. Don’t expect the person you love to change over night – or at all.
  2. Be kind. Cutting words and cold sarcasm are destructive weapons, destroying souls in their wake.
  3. Don’t envy, and don’t boast. Don’t crave what someone else has. Don’t begrudge them their success or joy. And don’t rub their noses in yours.
  4. Remember that you’re no better than anyone else. Don’t be arrogant. No one is inferior to you. Don’t be rude. No one deserves that. Ever. And it demeans you to behave that way.
  5. Don’t demand your own way. What are you? A Four year old? Since when is getting your own way the best thing – even if you ARE right?
  6. Don’t be irritable or resentful. I battle with this. I resent what I perceive as me having to do everything while Papa Bear seems to me to be doing nothing. It makes me irritable, cold and mean. And then it makes me ashamed when I realise all he has done, and how I have allowed in self-pity like a petulant child. I could save myself a lot of mojo-sapping negativity by simply applying this principle. Just don’t let it get to you. It’s never worth it.
  7. Don’t celebrate poor responses to life’s trials. That means “don’t laugh at your girl friend’s mean joke about her useless husband.” It’s not funny, it’s not kind, and it does no one any good. Even if it is accurate and witty.
  8. Rejoice in the truth. The truth is, you love that person because God loves that person. And because God loves you. Not because they (or you!) deserve it. We deserve nothing. We get infinite riches. That’s definitely something to rejoice about in my book!
  9. Take it (you can, and you must); endure it. Loving someone difficult may be hard. Bear it. You can bear it, I promise you. Endure what you face now. It will be worth it in the long run. It really, truly will.
  10. Believe in the person you love; hope for the results you desire. No matter what they do to erode your faith, believe. Hope for the change and, infinitely more importantlybe the change. It doesn’t start anywhere but with YOU. And even if you never see the future you’ve been hoping for, your faith will be counted for righteousness.
  11. Never give up. Hang in there when it’s tough. Hold on tight to your Saviour: He is your anchor. Stay the course and look ahead: the light IS there, no matter how far the end of your tunnel may seem to be.

I want to run this race and be proud of my results. I want to run well. I want to run to the end. I don’t need to be happy as much as I need to be successful. Sometimes, those two things are not the same thing; sometimes they don’t go together. Sometimes, doing the right thing, taking the high road, behaving with dignity and grace, makes you very sad indeed. But it is right. Not in the self-justifying sense of the word, but in the absolute sense of the word. No one can doubt that self-sacrifice for the good of another human being is noble and – well, good. So do it.

John 15:13 “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

So lay down your life. Give it up. Give up the small dreams you may have nurtured for a fairy tale ever after, and choose instead the glory of a rich, hard-won eternity. You don’t need a half-life when you give your all to get it all, and gain a life along the way.

Live intentionally. Live your best.

– By Vanessa Davies – daily discovering Joy on a Shoestring.

If you’ve decided to live your best, please let me know. Did you start today? Last week? Last year? If not, what’s holding you back? I’d love to hear from you.

Freeing Truth

John 8:32 “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

A lot of my friends are lost. They don’t know the life-changing joy and peace that comes from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. They have very good reasons for rejecting His offer of salvation, and I’m hopeful that as we work through each successive objection, we can reach a level of clarity that finally allows them the freedom to believe in the Truth.

What I find interesting, as we work through the various obstacles people face to believing in God’s Word, is the number of people who are reluctant to share their own beliefs or views, in case they offend me. I find it amusing at best, terribly sad at worst, to think that they’d even be concerned about that. Even if a person’s belief was that all Christians were deserving of death, why would I be offended personally? I’d be concerned for the safety of my family, obviously. Not to mention harbouring doubts about the person’s state of mind if they could think that any group, for any reason, is deserving of such a radical “treatment”.

But offended? No. No, I don’t think so.

You see, I am a truth seeker. I want to know the truth. I don’t want to believe in something because it is popular or comfortable. I want to believe in it because it is true. Why would anyone waste their time and energy believing in something that isn’t true, and can be disproved. Surely that’s a symptom of insanity?

And so, if you can show me the truth beyond any reasonable doubt, why should I not believe that? And if it is true, why should I be offended?

Once upon a time, I was very fat. Granted, I was very pregnant. But I was also eating upwards of two chocolate-smothered donuts every day, and loving every minute of my enormity. I accidentally dyed my hair black and cut it into a very straight bob. And I got mumps. I looked like a giant, solid block with a triangle on the top. So when somebody accused me of being a house, I wasn’t offended. I laughed out loud. It was true! I certainly resembled a very solid and poorly decorated house. It was my own doing, and how could I take offence against the truth?

Now, the Word of God is no donut. I don’t find The Way to be one of ease and comfort, nor particularly popular – with myself or others. But that’s not why I follow it. I follow it because I believe to my very core that it is the RIGHT Way. The ONLY Way. I hear the arguments against our brand of faith – in fact I welcome them in the search of truth – but nothing convinces me that God’s Word isn’t the sources of true Truth. In each case, something key has been left out of the equation. Having said that, I don’t think I’ve finished my search for truth – I don’t think I’ll be finished until I’m dead – so I suppose that anything could happen along the way. But if the God of the Bible continually proves Himself to me (and He does), what shall I do but believe? How could I not?

I know that some churches get it wrong. In fact, I guess most do, because each person gets something different out of the Bible when they read it with their own views and experiences in mind. And I know that can be confusing. But if you disregard all the churches and focus only on the Word, the Truth becomes plain. All the rest is needless frippery.

I believe that there is a God. I believe He created us and wants to speak to us. I believe He has spoken to us, and the Bible is one of only two books in the world that claims to be from Him. It is also the only one that stands the tests of science, history, geography and prophecy.  So I choose to believe that the Bible is the Truth. Based on this belief, I believe that all I need to know about how to live my life can be found in the pages of His precious Word. And the more I dig for Truth, the more I find this to be true.

If I am wrong, of course I’d want to know. I could never be offended by someone trying to help me find the truth, because we’re all on this journey together and should all give each other all the help we can. And in the same way, I will do everything I can to help those I love to find the Truth, as well. If that’s what they want. If not, I’ll pray for them until it is.

Listen

We live in a busy, busy world. There is so much clamouring for our attention, that it’s hard to hear a single sound through the hubbub. And if we can’t hear that makes it very hard to listen.

We need to listen.

When we don’t listen, we assume. Our children ask us an innocent question, and we answer something altogether unrelated. We receive an instruction, and do something different. We read God’s Word, but we miss His message.

When we love, we act. When we believe, we act. Our actions speak volumes about our hearts and minds, and if what we’re listening to is wrong, how we behave will also be wrong. We will be hurtful and mean. Thoughtless, and unkind. We will undermine the hope and confidence of others. When we choose to listen to negative and terrifying things, we will be afraid and overwhelmed – too scared to take action, or inclined to run away from where we need to be. When we listen to the filth of the world, we in turn become filthy. Our mouths spew garbage into our homes, and into our lives. Our actions betray teh decay we’ve allowed in.

When we listen to the lies of the devil and the lies we tell ourselves, we begin to hate and cease to love. We become suspicious, doubting the motives of those we used to love and trust. We stop enjoying fellowship with God’s people and begin to look on them with contempt instead.

Why would we choose this life of pain, deceit and suspicion, when we have a Way of love, truth and joy so clearly laid out for us, so easily available to us? All we need to do is to listen to the tender words of our Saviour as He calls us to Himself.

John 14:1 “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.”

John 14:6 “6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

Come running!

My husband is a liar and a cheat! (And that’s why I love him)

Cheater, cheater, pumpkin eater.

Every day, Papa Bear bravely faces the absolutely insane traffic on our roads, stoically driving to and from clients who really should be able to switch on their own computers themselves. Even though he can fix most things through remote access (or even just mind power, it seems!), his clients don’t feel fixed until he sees them face to face. So off he goes, trundling into the unknown and, really, risking his life against inordinately high traffic accident statistics, to bring home his share of the bacon. And (to my infinite relief), every day he comes home. Alive and well. Leaving his frustrations at the door and presenting us all with a big, fat, happy grin and his infamous “Hallooo da house!”.

Every day he cheats death. And I’m delighted with that! (and in reference to the subtitle, most days he eats pumpkin, too, and he never complains. I am grateful for that, as well).

Liar, liar, pants on fire.

I am battling with severe perioral dermatitis. I have deep, ugly forehead furrows from years of Tourette’s ticcing; and I’m getting grey hairs. I’m underendowed and “blessed” with a muffin top. But every time Papa Bear sees me, he tells me I’m beautiful. Now don’t get me wrong: I am happy with the way I am right now. I’ve earned these stripes, so to speak, and I wouldn’t change the memories that put them there. So what if they left a few scars? However, I have eyes; I have mirrors. I know what I look like. And beautiful it ain’t. Fine? Yes, okay. But every day Papa Bear looks at me as if he’s just seen his muse (he even calls me that!), and tells me I’m the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen.

Every day he tells me sweet little lies. And I feel just like that: the most beautiful woman in the world.

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