Getting Dirty

Every year, around this time, people begin to look back at their year and say, "I can't believe it's almost Christmas! This year went so fast!" As they contemplate the fleetness of their days, the song Happy Christmas, by John Lennon and Yoko Ono rings out, "So this is Christmas, and what have you done? Another year over, and a new one just begun..." Next, there's the pangs of their conscience, as they lament over lost time, and lost opportunity to change for the better. The sit- ups they stopped doing, the friends they forgot to call, the spirit-man they didn't strengthen, the finances they didn't fix--all these miscarried goals flood their mind. In my home office (the war room), I have a quote by Thomas Alva Edison that reads, "Most people don't recognize opportunity when it comes, because it's usually dressed in overalls and looks a lot like work." If only there was a magic pill, magic bullet, or magic trick, that you could pick up at the local magic store--and POOF--your life would be magically delicious! Everything nice, neat, and pre-packaged. For a moment, there's the bright idea to ask for the magic gift for Christmas! Last week, you remember seeing an info commercial offering the magic gift in your choice of color. About this time, you realize that your God-given goals and dreams don't come in a nice, neat box. They are found in seed and soil--sometimes covered so only you can see them. You have to get your hands dirty. You have to work with the seed and soil. I'm not talking about a toilsome work. Rather, I'm talking about diligence--steady and earnest in application to a subject or pursuit. God says that the hand of the diligent will be successful. As we approach 2009, and you map out your goals, dreams and desires for you and your family, here are some instructions we can learn from an old cotton farmer that might help you in the process: Preparation: A. Till your soil, eliminate weeds, and add compost. B. Next, drag a garden hoe in a straight line the length of the garden to create a row for planting. If making more than one row, make them about thirty inches apart from each other. Then pre-moisten the soil with a good deep watering. C. Plant. Application: What are some weeds that you've allowed in your soil? Take action to eliminate the weeds immediately. Renew your mind daily to ensure the soil is rich to grow a strong harvest. If you have dreams and goals, make sure you give them room this year to grow properly. Don't crowd your dreams with so many activities, clubs, commitments, and committees that you hinder any one thing in your life from truly reaching it's God-Size! Get familiar with the word, "NO". It's OK, go ahead and say out load--No! Staring at the compelling distractions on a television screen is one of the major consumers of time. You can enjoy and benefit from the very best it has to offer in about seven total hours of viewing per week. But the average person spends more than thirty hours per week in a semi-stupor, escaping from the priorities and goals he or she never gets around to setting. The irony is that the people we are watching are having fun achieving their own goals, making money, having us look at them enjoying their careers. Even so, time is amazingly fair and forgiving. No matter how much time you've wasted in the past, you still have an entire today, month, year. If you've just frittered away an hour procrastinating, you will still be given the next hour to start on priorities. Time management contains one great paradox: No one has enough time, and yet everyone has all there is. Time is not the problem; the problem is separating the urgent from the important. Clear your calendar to get your hands dirty doing what God has uniquely called you to do this year. Take time prior to Jan. 1, 2009 to pre-moisten the soil with a good deep watering at a one-day retreat. Book it in your calendar now, get out of the house and dream cast, pray, seek God (alone). If you are married, spend time alone with God and schedule a portion of the day to come together with your spouse and discuss what God's prompting each of you to accomplish. A few ideas--my friend rents a room at "Glenn Erie" each year, walks the grounds, brings paint brushes, paints and canvas, his guitar, his Bible, lots of paper, and meets his wife for a dinner date later in the evening to discuss, etc. Cultivation: A. Check the soil temperature using a soil thermometer. B. Refrain from watering the newly planted seeds until four to five weeks after the plants emerge. Then water the small plants through the summer months about every ten days. C. Stop watering the cotton plants sixteen weeks after planting. Soon after they stop receiving water, they will start to dry and shed their leaves. The cotton bolls, or pods, will split open allowing the cotton fiber inside to dry. Application: Get a game plan and follow it. Check on your dream seeds on a regular basis. Give your dream seeds time to take root. It's all about the slight edge. Sometimes (OK, maybe all the time), the tendency is to over do it, and want to see fruit on day one. Example: you want to lose weight, so you join a gym, and on Jan. 1st you go in and "over water" by lifting too much, for too long. The next day, you get up and your body is screaming! Your body is stiff and sore from all the lactic acid rushing to rescue your muscles, so you don't go back to the gym that day. Day three the soreness hasn't subsided, and you're feeling sorry for yourself. You can't even raise your arms above your head, and you don't want to cook, so you order McD's for dinner on the way home from work. After downing a Big Mac, a biggie fry and a large strawberry milkshake you feel guilty, fat and sore, with clearly no results in sight. The next day you sleep in and say, "I'll start again next week." Next week turns into next month, and ultimately next year. The key is daily, diligence and monitoring. There is a problem with even a little bit of neglect. Neglect starts as an infection. If you don't take care of it, it becomes a disease. And one neglect leads to another. Worst of all, when neglect starts, it diminishes our self-worth. Once this has happened, how can you regain your self-respect? All you have to do is act now! Start with the smallest discipline that corresponds to your goal/dream. Harvest: A. Harvest the cotton when all the bolls have cracked open and the cotton is a ball of fluff. Application: Celebrate the harvest! People will see the fruit and so will you! Something good is going to happen in 2009! IDEA: Get a cotton ball and put it somewhere you can see it daily (put it on the dash of your car, tape it to your computer monitor, keep it in your pocket, etc.). Make the cotton ball a visual reminder of the dreams you're cultivating, to be diligent, to be ever-monitoring and to get your hands dirty! CP

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good thoughts! Is it really almost Christmas?!