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has wonderful possibilities for good or for evil. It may be
a great adventure upon which we go, with ever changing
scenes, through which we may march with our heads up and a
song of victory in our hearts. To many life is this. On the
other hand, life may mean a servitude in which the weary,
discouraged, and almost hopeless prisoner of fate marches on
toward an eternal dungeon. One may be a slave to worry,
fear, foreboding. Life may be a series of defeats. But this
is not the normal life. No one need live such a life.
Life was intended to be triumphant, joyous,
prosperous. It was meant to be filled with gladness, with
light hearts and with singing. Facing life as we are capable
of facing it we can make it an ever-ascending pathway with
our vision expanding to an ever remoter horizon. Life may be
a series of discoveries. A great American said, "I shall
pass this way but once." Each day there is new territory to
be explored, new experiences to be had.
The terrain of our life is largely of our
own choosing. We may go on the upland way or down through
the swamps. We may have the fragrance of flowers and of
fruit, of pines and cedars, or we may have the miasma of
decaying vegetation. Life is full of boundless
possibilities. It is a great continent lying before us
awaiting exploration. Shall we go through it with bowed
heads and burdened shoulders or shall we cast off our
burden, lift up our heads, and be men and women in the midst
of a great adventure?
Explorers do not always have an easy time.
Frequently they have great difficulties to overcome. But
exploration gives zest to life. The constantly changing
scenes always bring freshness of interest. The difficulties
and privations of the past are quickly forgotten in the
inspiring prospect that lies before us. We need to cultivate
in life the spirit of the explorer. We need to develop our
possibilities, our capabilities, and have the inspiration of
a great purpose.
It is so easy to say, "Oh, I do not amount
to anything. I never can be anything. I never can do
anything worth while," then to settle down in the prison
house of this idea and attitude and never be free, not
because we might not be free but because we do not choose to
be free. So often people say, "My life is not worth living."
Every life is worth living, but every life is worth living
right. So many lives are like an airplane that is so heavily
loaded it can never gain altitude.
There are some things of which we must rid
ourselves in order to live a normal life. A bird entangled
in the grass cannot fly. It must first be freed from its
entanglement. In like manner we must be loosed from our
entanglement to have freedom of life. Our entanglements are
often of our own making. We build our own prisons; we shut
ourselves up in our own cells. Circumstances can never long
imprison us if our spirits are free. Has not someone
written, "Stone walls do not a prison make, nor iron bars a
cage"? The free spirit cannot be imprisoned. Let us not be
content with servitude. Let us cry out with Patrick Henry,
"Give me liberty," and then strike with the sword of a
determined will to cut our way through whatever may imprison
or hamper us. Do you say, "This is easier said than done"?
True, but it can be done by everyone. It is well within the
possibilities of each of us.
What are we getting out of life? In the
first place, we can get out of it no more than we put into
it. So if we are getting too little out of our lives, if
they are unsatisfying, or impoverished, or hemmed in, it is
be cause we are putting too little into them. Our lives are
what we make them. It is not how long we live but how
intensively we live, how full of worthwhile things we fill
our lives that make them worthwhile and satisfying.
Life in reality is what we are within.
Circumstances are the casket in which lies the jewel of
personality. The value is not in the casket but in the
jewel. Therefore, life is not made up of favorable or
unfavorable circumstances, nor of possessions either many or
few, nor of recognition or the lack of it, nor of honors
given by others. It is what we are that gives quality to all
these things when they come into life. We can take musical
sounds and blend them to produce either harmony or discord.
Things can be made either helpful or harmful.
Chemical elements can be combined to create
wholesome things or poisonous things. It depends upon the
elements we put into our lives and how we combine them as to
whether we have happiness or unhappiness. If we put into our
lives selfishness, disregard of others, unkindness,
discourteousness, ill-temper, complaints, murmuring,
distrust, doubts, fear, hate, malice, envy, covetousness,
and the like, we shall inevitably have bitterness,
dissatisfaction, sorrow, and similar things in our lives as
the natural result. Let us not say that God makes our life
as it is, or that it is our lot or that people wrong us.
No, we are making the quality, if not the
form and outline of our lives. Circumstances alone neither
make us nor mar us. It is our reaction to circumstances that
produces results in us. What ruins one makes another. The
things that are obstacles in life to some become stumbling
stones, but to others stepping-stones, according to the use
made of them.
So after all, what we shall have in life is
our own choice. We are the architects of our own lives. If
we build with noble materials, carved with patient care, we
shall have beauty and grace in our lives. If we put into
them love, loyalty, gentleness, meekness, kindness, faith,
forbearance, patience, hope, we shall not fail to draw good
dividends from all these things, dividends which shall
rejoice our hearts, cause our eyes to sparkle, and the song
of gladness to well up.
The purpose of life is not merely to have a
good time, to gratify the senses, to eat, drink, and be
merry. Its high and holy purpose is the building of
character. Good character is the basis of real happiness.
The poet has said,
"Only the holy and innocent sing
a bosom where pleasures abide."
The process of character building is not
always easy, but it is always profitable. Each of us has
capacity to develop a great character, a noble and beautiful
life which cannot be unhappy. In such a soul there is a
depth into which trouble never can reach. No matter how
trials and troubles may press in upon the life there is a
calm and undisturbed peace at the very center of life. There
is a joy that springs up on the darkest days. There is a
light that shines in the deepest night. Life must have its
discipline and its difficulties to make it of value, to give
it character. Iron ore is of little value until it passes
through the fire and is purified, tempered, and shaped. The
chisel must bite deeply into the marble again and again
before the angel in it looks out. Paint of little value,
when carefully spread upon the canvas by a great artist
becomes of rare beauty and worth. Likewise the little things
seemingly valueless in our lives become richer than a king's
ransom when their possibilities are developed.
The Christian life of many people is
unsatisfying. Instead of being joyous with the elements of
heaven it is burdensome. There are two causes for this. If
when we come to God we still cling to the things of the past
and try to graft Christianity upon our old lives, we shall
not have the fruits of righteousness. There must be a break
with the past. There must be a newness of life. We must be
new creatures. Gone with the old life that is forsaken will
be many of the causes of heartaches and sorrows and burdens
of the past. However, if when we come to God we give up many
things that have gone far to make up life for us in the past
and we do not replace these things with something just as
good or better we impoverish ourselves and our lives become
barren and unsatisfying.
We should fill our lives with the better
things, the pleasant things of righteousness, of truth,
nobility, and service, that make life rich for ourselves and
profitable to others. We need the freshness and beauty of
true spirituality. We need activities—interesting and
God said to us, "Rejoice and be glad." The
Christian life is full of wonderful possibilities. I do not
mean merely the formal and empty shell of Christian
profession. I mean the inner divine life begotten by the
Holy Spirit. A life spent in exploring the kingdom of God on
earth is always an interesting and attractive and a happy
Let us make our lives a great adventure. It
is our privilege now and then with heart and mind to make an
excursion to heaven, there to sit and meditate beside the
river of God. We can go back through history and become
acquainted with the saints of old. We can have fellowship
with their joys. We can drink of the "rivers of pleasure"
and eat of the "honey out of the rock." We can live love's
way; bask in the sunlight of heaven. We can "run and not be
weary, and walk and never faint." [ The End