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Life 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
Out of 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 profitable things.

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 life.

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 ]

 

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