Monday, January 2, 2017

The Lamps, the Lanterns & the Lifeboats

Daily Gratitude Year 5-Day 2: Today, I am grateful for the lamps, the lifeboats and the ladders. 

"Be a lamp, a lifeboat or a ladder." - Rumi (Persian poet, 1207-1273 AD) The St. Louis artist, Mary Engelbreit has been a favorite of mine for almost 30 years. Her artistic style typically includes an excellent quote and her sweet, whimsical images bring the quote to life. 

Mary E. is on my list of people I would like to meet one day. I wonder which she chooses first... the art or the quote? I wonder if there are times the inspiration is born at the same moment. The other element that draws me to her art is the attention to detail. I can look at a print for years... and still find something new. 

Her art has been a lamp, a lifeboat and a ladder at different seasons in my life.  Today's image is one I have only been familiar with in recent years. I need to order it and have it framed. I am grateful for her every day. Her art surrounds me, but the message in this print is particularly inspiring. It combines perspective and the power of choice. 

Each of us wakes up with a choice to make every morning. Most of us are going to leave the comfort of home and encounter other humans. If we don't leave home, often... there are still other people (even little people in diapers) with their own unique ideas and agendas. In all of our relationships we can choose to be:

A lamp that lights the way.
A lifeboat that carries another to shore.
A ladder that acts as a step to raise another person up. 

I am grateful for the lamps who have offered their light in dark days or simply helped me see more clearly.

I am grateful for the lifeboats who have rescued and traveled with me to safety when they find me flailing in murky waters. The people in the lifeboats are truly with us on the journey. 

I am grateful for those who have humbly and compassionately acted as ladders to raise me up when I was too short or shortsighted. 

Each one of us takes roles in relationships. Sometimes, the role will change as we learn and grow, or the circumstances change. In marriage, reciprocal actions of light, help and lifting up helps strengthen the marriage vows. 

On the days we want to push our partners out of the lifeboat (oh yes... we all have those days), we can consciously step back and choose to be a lantern or a ladder. Some days, we all need a little light or a push up more than actual help. Other days... they need us to be with them... sharing the burden... all the way to the shore. 

Our Sunday School class is working through a series called "Love Does" by Bob Goff. It is really good... and he is quite funny. This thought on failure is a good one. None of us gets it right all the time. 

“Failure is just part of the process, and it's not just okay; it's better than okay. God doesn't want failure to shut us down. God didn't make it a three-strikes-and-you're-out sort of thing. It's more about how God helps us dust ourselves off so we can swing for the fences again. And all of this without keeping a meticulous record of our screw-ups.”  - Bob Goff, Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World

Life isn't perfect. The easy answer isn't always the best one. Human love and relationships are never perfect. Only God can present us with an example of perfect love. He is love. He is light. He is our salvation. He is our encourager. What does he ask us to do? He instructs us to keep trying to love more and love better. 

Every day counts. We only have this day.

"So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom." -Psalm 90:12

Every act of kindness, love, help, compassion and encouragement are a response to Christ's teaching:  

"And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”  And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him." -Mark 12:30-32

Lamp, lifeboat or ladder... each is a way to love. 

Today, I am grateful for the lamps, the lifeboats and the ladders in my life... and the opportunity to pass love on in the same way. 

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