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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 singOut 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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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