Facing The Sunrise

  There are two directions to face in life. The one of these directions we choose to face and do face will determine to a large extent the happiness or lack of happiness in our lives. If we face westward we face the sunset. This means facing the fading light. This means the passing away of things. It means the coming of darkness. This is a changing world; life is ever chang ing. Many of the things that are dear to us pass away. If we face these things as we face the sunset, darkness and gloom will settle upon us. We shall look upon fading hopes; we shall see the places of missing friends; of blessings passed away. Facing this way in life tends to bring melancholy and sadness.

  It is better to face the sunrise. Even in the darkness we may face the east with the assurance that dawn will presently come. There shall be new friends for the old friends that are gone. There shall be new hopes for the perished hopes. There shall be new opportunities instead of the vanished ones. Let us resolutely look away from the sunset to where the dawn shall break again and the glorious light shine anew upon us.

  Facing the sunrise must be learned. The natural tendency, especially with very many, is to face the sunset. It is the hopeful Christian who is the joyous Christian. He looks ahead for better things. He is not disappointed. The good things are never all in the past. The things that have been lost may be replaced. What the future brings us will in a great measure depend upon the way we meet it, the outlook we have toward it, and the faith with which we respond to it.

  Let us change the figure somewhat. We should always face the light. When we face away from the light we walk in our own shadow. When we turn about and face the light the shadows are behind us. We need not wall; in the shadows. It is our privilege to walk toward the light, to walk in the light, not in the darkness. Jesus said we should have the light of life and that we should not walk in darkness. There is a way therefore, if we shall find it, to have our pathway illuminated and our steps made sure. There is great value in the forward looking attitude. One writer has said, "It is worth a thousand pounds a year to have the habit of looking on the bright side of things.'' Note that he calls it a habit. It is just that. We can cultivate good habits as well as cultivate bad habits. We should deliberately assume the task of cultivating the habit of looking on the bright side of things.

  To look on the bright side of life we must have the right sort of ideals. High ideals are a great inspiration. The momentum imparted to the soul by great ideals will carry it through many places of difficulty and will raise it above many of the obstacles of life.

  The power of the ideal has been thus expressed, "Our ideals find us where we are; they carry us where we ought to be." Ideals, even if we never reach them, put a zest and vigor in life that it can have from no other source. Ideals help us to make the best that can be made of ourselves. Through ideals we aim high, we strive earnestly. In contemplation of such ideals we lose sight of many things in life that we are the better for having lost sight of.

  One writer has said, "The best way to correct imperfection in ourselves and in others is constantly to emphasize ideals instead of punishing faults." There are 80 many people who condemn themselves and feel that they ought to punish themselves for their faults. Just recently I had a letter, a part of which I will quote, to illustrate the attitude toward life and toward themselves many people have: "I cannot understand why it is that I cannot get complete victory. Perhaps it is self-condemnation. I am wondering if I do not enjoy condemning myself because I somehow think by going over all the ugly past and saying to myself, 'What if God won't forgive you, or maybe God won't forgive, etc.' I punish myself a little more and perhaps God wil] take pity on me."

  Such punishment is no part of God's plan for us.. It in no way makes us more acceptable to him. It is, however, a great hindrance to us. The Psalmist had learned his lesson. He said, "It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows" (Ps. 127: 2). The priests of Baal tried to gain the favor of their God by cutting themselves and otherwise punishing themselves. God's approval is not won in this way. He would have us trust in his mercy, look to the sunshine of his love, face away from the shadows toward the light. We should emphasize our ideals and reach forward to them, forgetting those things that are behind. Sometimes people start in life with high ideals, but as the years go on they lose these high ideals. Then the high hopes that went with those high ideals fade. People become disillusioned as to life or rather they come to look upon its sordid and unlovely side and forget that it has a better side. Their minds become obscured to those higher things that once inspired them. We should beware of permitting such things to take place. We should allow nothing to lower our ideals or make us forget them. The pure always remains pure. The good is always good. Realities do not change. Our point of view may become wrong. We may come to face in the wrong direction. But the realities remain as they were. Youth is naturally idealistic. We should carefully preserve that idealistic outlook of youth and keep young in spirit. Years ago I observed people becoming old before their time, losing their ideals, becoming pessimistic. I resolved I should never become old. I said to myself, "My body may get old, my hair may grow white, but my spirit shall never grow old."

  I was struck by the tone of a letter I received recently. The writer of it was telling her troubles. In it she said, "I am an old woman. I am fifty-four years old." It is tragic that one should view life thus. Old at fifty-four; think of it!

  I know people who are young at eighty-five. Their hearts are young. Their outlook is young. Their idealism has not diminished. The way to keep young is to keep interested in life. However, the merely young outlook on life and the mere feeling of youthfulness does not assure a proper youthfulness. Youth is tuneful, but there is a great difference between the song of victorious youthfulness and the song of vicious youth. The song of victorious youth is the song of idealism. The song of vicious youth is the song of corruption and approaching decay. The song of victorious youth is the song of eternal youth, but the song of vicious youth is the song of aging,, decay, and death. Vicious youth faces the sunset. Victorious youth faces the sunrise.

  A bright sunrise may be succeeded by a cloudy day. It is important that we know how to have sunshine on these cloudy days. There is just one way to do it. That is faith's way. Faith runs a shaft up through the clouds and lets the sunshine come down on the heart. In the natural world there is plenty of sunshine just above the clouds on the cloudiest day. In life there is likewise plenty of sunshine if through faith we rise above the clouds or if we pierce them and let the sunshine through.

  Or faith may work in another way. There may be some things in life of such a nature that we cannot bring them into the sunshine. There is one thing we can do. We can put up a reflector to throw light into the dark places of life. In a recent report of the Director of the Budget of the United States government the story was told of a government employee who was trying hard to save expense for the government. He told how he had placed a mirror in such a manner that it would reflect light from one room into another and thus save the expense of a light in one room. Perhaps this was not a great saving, but it showed the right attitude. There are often places in life that we cannot light directly. We should learn how to reflect light from the lighted places of life and from the glorious goodness of God into those dark places and illuminate them, if not directly, then indirectly so that they may be lighted. Perhaps you have not thought of using this method. Try it. It is well worth learning.

  There are many sunbeams in life that we do not see. This is because we have our attention so focused upon things that trouble us that we do not observe the sunbeams. God's sunbeams are ever breaking through the clouds but often we shall not see them unless we look for them and look for them with the right attitude of heart. Maclaren says, "The secret of finding sunbeams in everything is simply letting God have his own way, and making your will the sounding board and echo of his." Yes, that is the real motive of joyful Christian life. It is to let God have his way without any reluctance or hesitation on our part. This is one of the greatest secrets of the singing heart. God's will, when gladly submitted to, is always joyous to us. We rejoice to have his will done. It is shrinking from his will that causes the hurt and stills the song.

  A very needful thing in life is that we cultivate a sense of humor. There are many interesting and stimulating things in life if we can see them. We need a safety valve. The faculty of mirth is given us as a safety valve. Sometimes tears have a good purpose in life and serve us well, but in general it is better to laugh over our troubles than to cry over them. The results physically, mentally, and spiritually will be better. Through a sense of humor we can sheer off many of the hard, troublesome things of life. What we cannot sheer off we can make easier to bear. Many a person has kept up courage, faith, and determination through a good laugh and has broken the spell of defeat. I do not refer to a laugh of foolishness, but to wholesome mirth.

  Humor, mirth, and playfulness are all divinely created to serve God's purpose in us, to balance the pain, the heartaches, and the tears that assuredly will come also. The smiling countenance, the sparkling eye, the joyful laugh, go far to add spice to life. They not only come from sunshine in the heart but they produce more sunshine therein and sunshine all about one. If we are inclined to be melancholy and troubled, moody, and heavy hearted, we need to set up a balance by filling the other side of the scales with the joyous things that may be ours if we shall make life surrender to us its treasures that lift and cheer. It has such treasures for us all, but sometimes we have to demand them before we receive them.

  When I need things in my work I fill out a requisition for them and send it to the proper place. Things are in stock but they do not come to me until I ask for them. No doubt many of our blessings grow shelf worn waiting for us to seek them. James said, "Ye have not, because ye ask not" (chap. 4: 2). Jesus said, "Ask and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find." We should ask and seek of God, of life, of circumstances till we are enriched with joy and peace and true happiness.

  It is our right to be happy. We owe it to ourselves and life owes it to us that we be happy. Life will pay us all it owes us if we give it a fair chance. But to receive what is ours we must face the sunrise where these things are, not the sunset where they are not found.




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