Do you feel like you’ve been going through bad stuff?
Are you convinced that you shouldn’t have to deal with the mess you’re dealing with?
What you’re facing at the moment may stink . . . but that doesn’t necessarily change the circumstances.
Recently, I was reminded of a story that was told by former President Ronald Reagan.
The story concerns twin boys around six. Each of the boys had developed extreme personalities that worried their parents. One was a total optimist . . .happy, giggling all the time. . .while the other twin was a total pessimist, crying and whining about everything.
The parents were so concerned about the difference in the twins’ behavior they took them to a psychiatrist.
First, the psychiatrist treated the pessimist. Trying to brighten his outlook, the psychiatrist took him to a room piled to the ceiling with brand-new toys.
But instead of yelping with delight, the little boy burst into tears. "What's the matter?" the psychiatrist asked, baffled by his response. "Don't you want to play with any of the toys?"
"Yes," the little boy bawled, "but if I did I'd only break them or someone would come and take them away from me."
Next, the psychiatrist treated the optimist. Trying to dampen his outlook, the psychiatrist took him to a room piled to the ceiling with horse manure. But instead of wrinkling his nose in disgust, the optimist emitted just the yelp of delight the psychiatrist had been hoping to hear from his brother, the pessimist. Then he climbed to the top of the pile, dropped to his knees, and began gleefully digging out scoop after scoop with his bare hands.
"What do you think you're doing?" the psychiatrist asked, just as baffled by the optimist as he had been by the pessimist. "With all this manure," the little boy replied, beaming, "there must be a pony in here somewhere!"
Our inward disposition will always determine your outward outlook. That is why you must be grounded in God's Word. You cannot let what’s happening around you affect what’s living in you.
I’m going to put that phrase before you again because I want to make sure you got it.
You cannot let what’s happening around you affect what’s living in you.
Regardless of the adversity. . .no matter how messy, stinky or seemingly hopeless your situation may be. . .your answer lies in your outlook.
It’s like asking if we’re in a recession or a depression. If someone else loses their job, it’s a recession. But, if you lost your job, it’s a depression.
What should your perspective be? What does the Word say about about it?
Colossians 3:1 in the Message Bible says:
“[He Is Your Life ] So if you're serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don't shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that's where the action is. See things from his perspective.”
When we see things from His perspective. . .we endure everything for the joy that is set before us.
Romans 12:2 in the Amplified Bible says:
“Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Jesus endured the shame. . .the mess of this world. . .because of what He knew He must accomplish. . .the vision within Him.
You may be shoveling your way through a mess. . .but your outlook. . .your perspective on everything you’re facing should never to subject to or formed by what’s happening around you.
Our outlook needs to be determined by the Greater One who is within us.
1 John 4:4 says:
“Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”
We should never allow anyone other than the Greater One that’s in us to determine our mess with our outlook.
My circle of friends “use to” include people who liked to commiserate . . .people who wanted to hash and rehash the mess they were in. But my circle of friends and mentors doesn’t include those kind of folks any more.
Toxic talk and attitudes are contagious and infectious.
Never hang around with people who like to criticize, complain and seek out fellow commiseraters . . .because they will adversely affect your outlook and future.
If you’ve been laid off from your job . . . don’t hang out with other folks who’ve been laid off as well. It’s too easy to begin commiserating about how unfairly you were treated.
It’s too easy to rehearse your hurts. . .relive your frustration or anger. . .talking yourself into thinking things are worse than they are. It is wasted energy that needs to be put toward making things better.
At one of my meetings I remember hearing two people sharing stories about how they each evaded the men seeking to repossess their cars.
If you spend your time talking with negative folks about negative events…no surprise. . . it’s only reasonable that you’re going to find yourself becoming more and more negative.
The dominant thoughts in your life will draw similar thoughts to them like a strong magnet.
If you dwell on past hurts, failures, broken relationships and financial mistakes, then you’re doomed to repeat them.
Isaiah 43:18 in the Message Bible says:
“Forget about what’s happened: don’t keep going over old history.”
Here’s a fact. . .God can’t do a new thing in your life as long as your living in the past.
Don’t commiserate about what happened. . .instead plan for what’s going to happen.
Only hang around those folks who will speak the pure, the powerful and the positive from the Word of God into your life (Philippians 4:8)) . .otherwise you’ll end up only dealing with the messes of life.
There are times in life. . .when, like the optimistic little boy in the beginning of this teaching, we have to just keep digging through the manure. . .the mess of life. . .to find our pony. However, it’s worth enduring the stench and the nastiness to find the reward.
When you show yourself faithful. . .when you do not grow weary in well-doing (Galatians 6:9). . .when you endure the mess of life. . .then God will lift you up and set your inheritance before you.
Galatians 6:9 in the Amplified Bible says:
“And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint.”
The New Living Translation says we shall “. . .reap a harvest of blessings, if we don’t give up.”
Remember when we endure the mess of life. . .then God will lift you up and set your inheritance before you.
I remember several years ago, sharing the pony story with a protégé of mine in an email of encouragement. She had in turn shared it with her sons. . .one of whom is a senior in high school at the time.
At his theater banquet, the senior shared some words of wisdom along with the pony story and brought the house down.
I was blessed as my protégé told me: “Your seeds [of wisdom] are multiplying.” She went on to say: “It is a double blessing that they are sown into a teenage generation and received!”
And I can’t think of a better way to end this teaching other than to say. . .it doesn’t matter what kind of mess you’re going through. . .remember, there’s a pony in there somewhere.
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