Wednesday, May 18, 2016


     When I was a youth, my dad was a deliberate decision maker, especially when it came to investing or spending hard earned dollars. He'd stew and mull things over, plan, tentatively decide, change his mind, research, and plan some more until something triggered a decision which would then be final.
     For awhile, it was whether to buy a new VW Rabbit (this in the late 1970's), which would be his first brand new car, or a used low-mileage early 1970's VW, Toyota, or Datsun (i.e. Nissan)—which would be comparable to all his prior automobile purchases: reasonably priced, reliable, and an overall good value. The Rabbit would be over twice the price of a used car, but would it afford twice the value? Probably not. Twice the fun or joy from owning brand new for once? Perhaps. (He didn't say these things but his stressed looks and excitement as he read brochures and Consumer Reports Magazine said it all. He wanted the VW but with Joan in college and Grant and me headed there, could he justify its cost? Probably not.)
     We were watching the excellent Cosmos PBS TV series when astronomer Carl Saga narrated a video showing a child at play on the front lawn of a suburban home when the camera pulled away into the sky, revealing the child's house, then the neighborhood, the city, clouds, lakes, rivers, oceans, continents, the entire globe, the Moon, Mars, asteroids, Venus, all the planets, the Sun, interstellar space, galaxy clusters, more interstellar space, and on and on until the entire universe with its billions and billions of stars were revealed from billions of light years away. At the end of the show we all felt puny and insignificant, as well we might compared to the Universe's unimaginable vastness.
     Dad said with a jocular smile, “You know what? Let's get the Rabbit—can afford!”
     Mom said, “Good, that's the way to say it! You only live once!”
     I, a lifetime penny-pinching saver felt bemused that it took a wonder-inducing science show rather than careful pro/con financial analyses to tilt Dad's decision to what he truly wanted. It was after all an emotional decision.
     For me, I find over an over again that when stressors build, accumulating to almost unbearable levels, that it's usually because I'm too zeroed-in on the itty-bitty details without considering the big picture. Sure Braden may act rude and disrespectful at times, but overall he's a good, responsible, and reliable kid. Sure I may not agree with my boss's priorities and his bossy management style, but overall, I haven't found a better alternative workplace that I'd want to go to at this moment. Sure Deanne and the kids aren't perfect, but neither am I. Yet, we're overall still a loving, respectful, and supportive family. And God has been with us and kind to us with blessings countless and profound.
     The main thing, however, was something I got from writer Pearl Buck's memoir of her pastor father. Though she herself was not a Christian, she did see her father—especially as he approached death—as becoming more and more angelic, even more spirit than human-this as his body faded, ever weaker and more slight. At the end, she said, he was with God, something even she, a nonbeliever, could see.
     Must we wait for death to be with God? I don't think so. He's here always, it's only us who aren't with him. But once I remember, realize, and sense he is with me, and I can and do surrender even my life to him, then the itty-bitty things are less than dust by comparison to the entirety that he is (the “biggest picture”—eternity, existence, love, everything that matters—there is.)
     And he always finds solutions to all our itty-bitty problems—even if it means giving us a healthy dose of repentance, forgiveness, or humility. And that's the best perspective of all!

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