Sleep-Walking Through Life

(Originally posted July 16, 2021)

For years, as a Christian, I determined that my “job” was to inform everyone I encountered of their “heaven/hell” status. I was good at it too! I could even give you a checklist of “requirements” to get into heaven and I can assure you the hoops you were required to jump through were daunting. It was not for the faint of heart! It’s no wonder I was never successful at “converting” anyone, including myself!

We sleep-walk through life with no clue what we’re doing here or that our lives have meaning and purpose – but they do!

We are all called to use the gifts and talents we already possess that have been uniquely designed for us. But it takes awareness on our part. We can be so enmeshed in and blinded by, the things of this world we miss out on our whole reason for being here.

If you are going through life day-after-unremarkable-day; schlepping through the same routine to ad nauseum – STOP IT! Your life has a purpose people. God needs your brilliance and love to shine his light in a darkened world.

You. Matter. That. Much.

Leo Tolstoy’s novel, “The Death of Ivan Ilyich”,  considered a masterpiece, was written just after his own “profound spiritual awakening” and conversion experience.

While lying on his deathbed, Ivan ruminated about the reality that his entire life was superficial and self-serving as he profoundly stated, “Maybe I didn’t live as I should have done.”In the end, he posited a question that Tolstoy must have pondered, “What if I really have been wrong in the way I’ve lived my whole life, my conscious life?”

And don’t look to me (like you ever did) to give you a formula or checklist to send you on your way to sainthood. But, I will tell you this: You cannot love and serve others (which is our greatest calling) until you are able to love yourself. And you can’t love yourself by means of any of the myriad self-help books on the market. And…no…sorry, there’s not a pill for that either.

We are so used to being in a world that is loud and demanding of our attention. We even busy ourselves filling in uncomfortably quiet places.

Socrates claimed the unexamined life is not worth living. “To live deep and suck out all the marrow” as Thoreau put it.

If we would just stop talking and LISTEN to the lessons life is trying to teach us!  Geeeezzzzz, we’re SO BAD at listening.

The expression, “Life is short” is a yawner for most of us until it becomes a reality. My reality came a few months ago when my husband died. Now it’s real for me!

Is it Worth the Risk?

In the Book of Esther (I LOVE that girl!), Mordecai tells her she must go to the King to save her people, a life-threatening proposition for her. He asks her to consider that this may be God’s calling, “Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” And her reply? You gotta love this!  “And so I will go to the king, which is against the law, and if I perish, I perish!”

So often, God calls, and we’re afraid to answer. If we choose to ignore him, he may eventually go away, but the loss will be ours, not his because he will find someone else. Yes, a call from God probably is risky. He’s a risk expert. Remember, he took the ultimate chance by giving us free will to tell him “No”. He has also provided examples of many Risk Takers to lead the way. Not the least of which was Jesus. Of course, if you think Jesus is too difficult to emulate, you could start with any of the misfits he hand-picked to follow in his footsteps.

When I think of the question we are all called to answer: is saying “Yes” to God worth the risk? –  the first thing that comes to mind for me takes me back sixteen years. In January 2005, my husband and I were given the opportunity to go to Belfast, Northern Ireland, to spend a year working for Habitat for Humanity. Life in Belfast was full of blessings, many of which were realized from lessons learned only reluctantly (the story of my life, really).

We lived close enough to the City Center to walk there on occasion. One morning, I walked to the post office to mail some letters before going to work. My time was limited, so I was in a hurry. By then, the route was so familiar that I barely noticed the things that had taken my breath away just a few months earlier: The iron gates dividing the Protestants from the Catholics and the murals telling of each side’s pain and suffering during the “Troubles”. They no longer seemed quite so shocking.

On this day, God taught me a most profound lesson on the streets of Belfast. I was about to meet Bernie, my alcoholic teacher. On my mission to tick off another task before work, I noticed a woman lying on the sidewalk. People passing her seemed to be oblivious to her. I even saw some crossing to the other side of the street. And here’s me as I walk past her, “I wonder if she’s alive”. But did I stop? No. And then came that “Holy nudge” I knew so well.

Dang it! Not now. “Lord, don’t you have other heathens to reckon with?” I must have walked another five minutes before God got the best of me. I guess I thought I could out-pace him. I kept hearing, “Go back”. That’s all. Nothing about what I was supposed to do once I got there. No. That would have been too easy.

Fine. So, back I went.

As I sat down on the cold sidewalk beside her, I nudged her, but she didn’t move. Oh my God, I got a sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach. What if she was dead?! What if I stepped over a dead woman without a thought of her humanity?

I nudged her again. She slowly opened her eyes, and I could tell she was intoxicated. “Come on, Love. Sit up.” (that’s what they say in Ireland. They call everyone “Love” even if they don’t know them).

She looked at me and angrily responded, “Leave me alone!”

“No, come on, you can’t stay here. It isn’t safe. Sit up.”

She managed to sit up and stare at me.

“What’s your name?”

“Bernie”

“Do you have a home, Bernie?”

“No”

Now I’m wondering what I am going to do with her. Being unfamiliar with Belfast, I didn’t know where to take her. “Are you hungry? We’ll go get something to eat.”

“No. You got a fag?”

“No, sorry, I don’t smoke (are you ready for this?). It’s bad for your health.” That caused both of us to laugh. It was such a ridiculous response.

Then she looked me straight in the eye and said, “Look at me! No one wants me. It’s no use. It’s no use. Just leave me alone!”

“No, Bernie, that’s not true. I am looking at you and what I see is beautiful. Now, come on, let’s get you someplace safe.”  Then, as I struggled to help her up, I prayed, “A little help here, Lord!”

Just then (I’m not kidding), a van pulled up, and a young man got out. Bernie recognized him, “Here comes the welcome wagon.” We both laughed again. The man, calling her by name, very gently and lovingly got her in the van and climbed into the driver’s seat. Wait! He was interrupting my “Good Samaritan” moment! Not sure what to do, I quickly wrote down my phone number, “Please, would you give her my number if she wants to contact me?” He assured me he would and drove away. After they left, I resumed my walk to the post office, at a slower pace, though, and still a bit stunned.

“Lord, what just happened? You stopped me dead in my tracks and sent me back to help her.  Now I’m certain I’ll never see her again. What was the purpose of all of this?”

No answer.  I sensed he was going to let me struggle with that one for a while. Except he did fire a Matthew 25:41-43 warning shot at me! As I continued to walk in silence, I could feel God speaking to my heart, “Linda, next time, don’t pass me by.”

A few weeks later, I broached the subject with God again, “Come on, Lord! You’re killin’ me. I know you aren’t finished with this lesson.”

And then came my answer, “Oh, Linda, you poor thing! I didn’t send you to save her; I sent her to save you – from your indifference.” (Ouch! I should have left well enough alone!) 

Soon my next risky adventure came along. I was walking down Falls Road behind a woman and a boy about four years old. It didn’t seem to concern her that I was right behind them when she suddenly reached down and smacked the little boy on the face. I have no idea why. He said something, and she hit him again. Amazingly (or not so amazingly, I suppose), he clearly was not surprised by the abuse. Then, they crossed the street, and I continued toward home, just a block away. I didn’t get there, though, because I knew instantly that voice I had heard so clearly before would come again. But I got a jump on it this time, “I know, go back!” I crossed the street and headed toward the woman, unsure how she would respond to the intrusion. What would stop her from striking at me if she hit her own child?

“I don’t like this, Lord. Please help me out! What do you want me to say?” It felt very awkward, but as I approached her, I simply asked, “Do you need help? Do you want someone to talk to?” She gave me the stink-eye and brushed past me, and the little boy stuck out his tongue at me. Cute. I assumed they lived close by. Maybe I would see her again. Perhaps she would knock on my door one day. But that never happened.

After our year in Belfast, we returned home to settle back into our former lives, to business as usual. I found a beautiful trail nearby to begin running again. I loved the beauty and serenity there. At times, I encountered a few cyclists along the way and occasionally a scary dog, but I was usually alone.

One day, I noticed someone coming toward me. He was walking alongside a bicycle with a chain of baby bike trailers behind it. It’s funny how you can suddenly become acutely aware of your surroundings. We were approaching each other in a secluded area of the trail. Trees blocked the view of the road, and no one else was nearby. I ran a little faster and offered a “Good morning” as I passed. I’m sorry to say that, as we approached each other, I did not feel less threatened because I gave my trust to God – I felt less threatened because I was confident I could outrun him –okay, and someone else was approaching on a bike. As the cyclist and I passed each other, we both said “Hello”- but he did something I did not, he stopped to talk to the man; the man who is our brother; the man I should love and respect because of his dignity as a child of God – no different than me. I was feeling pretty crappy right then. So, I went back, and we spoke for an awkward moment.

Then, my emotions kicked in – or God thumped me (whatever). I said goodbye and ran quickly to my car, drove the three miles home in a cloud of dust, and woke my husband to enlist him to help me pack up a cooler and some money to take to my soon-to-be new friend. We found him by the river – fishing. He was amiable and enjoyed telling us about his travels, and he allowed my husband to take a picture of us:

Here’s what makes me so sad. Look closely at this picture. I’m not sure, but he didn’t want me to touch him because he hadn’t had a bath in a while. Yeah, I knew that, but after running for an hour, I was pretty smelly myself! There we were, two smelly, beloved children (and one worm) of one AWESOME God!

From these three very brief incidents, I learned volumes about risking and reaching out to others: that the outcome may not be ours to know. But oh, the unexpected blessings we receive from it.

These were momentary encounters with hurting people that I fancied myself saving. Truth be told, they actually saved me. We weren’t meant to have ongoing relationships that would last a lifetime. None of them would call me years later to tell me they named their first-born child after me or invited me to their college graduation. God was working quietly and without fanfare on my hardened heart, which he somehow knew was not beyond reach. It would just take time.

There are signs all around us of man’s inhumanity to man. Violence against our brothers and sisters never seems to abate. We strip our fellow human beings of their dignity when they are suffering, and we refuse to involve ourselves in their lives. How easy it is to ignore the misery of others! But when God teaches us to “see” with our hearts, there’s no going back.

Honestly, I’m not sure I will ever stop gauging my compassion by my sense of safety. But, I pray for the grace to let go of my fears so that I can reach out freely – out of love instead of guilt – like Sister Karen Klimczak.

Many would say that  Sister Karen Klimczak should have paid closer attention to the dangers surrounding her. For years, she ran a transitional housing program in Buffalo, New York, for men being released from correctional facilities. Her selfless, heroic work ended with her murder on Good Friday of 2006 at the hands of one of the very people she had cared for. Ironically, Sister Klimczak, like Jesus, believed that “people will die if we don’t reach out”. 

Fifteen years before her murder, Sister Klimczak dreamed (or had a premonition) that she would die violently. Just before Holy Week of 1991. In her personal journal, she wrote the following words to the person who would take her life:

Dear Brother, I don’t know what the circumstances are that will lead you to hurt me or destroy my physical body. No, I don’t want it to happen. I would much rather enjoy the beauties of this earth, experience the laughter, the fears and the tears of those I love so deeply! Now my life has changed and you, my brother, were the instrument of that change. I forgive you for what you have done and I will always watch over you, help you in whatever way I can. Continue living always mindful of His Presence, His Love and His Joy as sources of life itself – then my life will have been worth being changed through you.

Sister Klimczak’s advanced warning that she would meet a violent death didn’t stop her from championing the world’s outcasts. Instead, she continued doing what she knew she’d been called to do for as long as she could.

“You leave your fingerprints on everything. We need to be people who leave imprints of peace wherever we go in our world.” Sister Klimczak

Fear does not protect – it limits – it limits the blessings and grace God longs to pour out on us and those we reach out to in his name. 

Richard Rohr in his book, Job and the Mystery of Suffering, explains risk beautifully:

There are two things that draw us outside ourselves: pain…and…beauty. Those – pain and beauty – constitute the two faces of God. Whenever we see true pain, most of us are drawn out of our own preoccupations and what to take away the pain. I think we are rushing not just toward the hurt child, we are rushing toward God. That’s why Francis could kiss the leper. That’s why so many saints wanted to get near suffering – because, as they said again and again, they met Christ there. It saved them from their smaller and untrue self.

Jesus’ Matthew 25 challenge is always right in our midst: The poor, the homeless, the lonely neighbor, the crotchety checker at the grocery store, and the elderly are left to die alone in nursing homes. If only we would embrace the vulnerability that allows us to dare bravely for the sake of others, what a different world we would create.

2020 Vision

The Lord gives us eyes to see, really see, IF (big if) we are willing, open, and present to him.

For too long, we have cast God aside for our own wants and desires, striving for ambitions and material obsessions. Things we thought we couldn’t live without may have hindered our ability to survive what is surely coming.

As I write this, the coronavirus is rearing its ugly head in every area of our lives, but I would like to focus here on one area – churches are closed all over the country.

Oh no…

This can’t be…

It’s Lent…

What will we do?

God must be beside Himself knowing we aren’t sitting in pews praying.

Or is he?

That depends on how we live our new reality, which runs the full spectrum from those who are frightened and immovable to many who seem indifferent.

Yes, these already are, and will continue to be, trying times as we suffer the physical, emotional, spiritual, and economic impact unlike anything we have ever known.

But, hold on…don’t leave me for a stiff drink yet! I have GOOD NEWS. Really!

Here we are, experiencing one of the worst disasters we have ever known in the holiest season of Lent. We have no idea what the outcome of the virus will be, but we do know how the Passion of Christ plays out.  So, let me ask you a question: what has your celebration of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus meant to you up until now? (To make this work, you have to be brutally honest. Okay?)

Many faiths observe various practices during Lent. The Catholic Church has requirements and suggestions for observing this season. Over the years, some of those “requirements” have become “suggestions”.  For instance, Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of fasting and abstinence unless you’re old like me. Daily Mass, prayer, Scripture readings, traditional Lenten Devotions, sharing our abundance with the poor, and throwing in a confession somewhere are all strongly recommended.

Oh yeah, and then there’s that pesky self-denial summed up in the Christian concept of “mortification,” which in no way should be misconstrued as self-flagellation, an extreme practice of physical self-punishment that somehow, since medieval times, has been thought to imitate Christ’s suffering. Don’t do that!

Mortification actually means “cause death to our self-will,” which is what Jesus meant when he said to his disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mat 16:24). When we surrender our self-will we are imitating Christ. Jesus prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42).

So, let’s take an honest look at our individual observances of Lent, shall we? Then we’ll break down the three phases of The Passion in the context of today’s reality. I’ll go first.

  • I used to love fish fry’s when I was still a beer drinker and less concerned about recycled hydrogenated oil – YUCK!
  • I used to go to confession until, on two separate occasions, two different priests each said something totally inappropriate. I never went back.
  • I regularly do Intermittent Fasting for my health, but my “spiritual” fasting practices are pathetic…okay, non-existent.
  • Going to Mass always felt like a requirement to have my card punched once a week. Sort of like getting that sticker, “I voted” or “I Gave Blood”.

When I outgrew the fear instilled in me by the powers-that-e within the Church, I grew into a different person, a better person, hopefully. I quit “volunteering” to impress others and started to actually care about my suffering brothers and sisters. Which, in turn, led me to my life’s purpose.

I gave up my ambition of being the “Catholic Woman of the Year” or Saint Linda and began seeking God’s purpose for me. But, of course, I had no idea what that purpose was. He seemed a bit wiser than I always imagined myself to be.

Fear of going to hell when I dropped dead got me to church most Sundays. It would be like sitting in that confessional, spewing out mediocre sins to get my ticket to heaven.

Then I discovered this definition of hell: “Hell begins on the day when God grants us a clear vision of all that we might have achieved, of all the gifts which we have wasted, of all that we might have done which we did not do.” Gian Carlo Menotti…OUCH!

Okay, guys, I’m standing here with my sins uncovered. It’s your turn. Don’t worry no one’s going to call you out. You don’t have to expose yourself to judgment like I just did. Just take a quiet moment to think about it and then we’ll move on. Go ahead I’ll wait right here.

Okay, so, Pope Francis offered some powerful words to consider this Lent, “Jesus’ Pasch is not a past event; rather, through the power of the Holy Spirit it is ever present, enabling us to see and touch with faith the flesh of Christ in those who suffer.”  

And there it is.

God has been making this call to us since Jesus walked the earth; the call to get off our backsides and care for the poor and suffering among us. He was here in the flesh to show us how that should be done. And how do we respond today? There are many who heed that call, some just half-halfheartedly drop coins in a beggar’s hat”, while some simply aren’t listening. Not much has changed in two thousand-some-odd years I suppose.

Now, let’s consider the three phases of Jesus’ Passion: His life, death, and resurrection, in light of our call to imitate him.

  • His life: Of his thirty-three years here (give or take a few), on the surface, it appears that only the last three were spent fulfilling his purpose. Three years. That’s it. I’m seventy-one and hate to admit that I have probably wasted at least sixty of it. But, Jesus wasn’t wasting his life. He was growing into his purpose.

When I look back on my life: all the mistakes and missteps, the hurt inflicted on me and by me, the selfishness and rejection, there would have been no way for me to be all God created me to be because I didn’t even know who that was. But, I do now! I don’t know how much time I have left here. But it doesn’t matter because time has no meaning for God, so it shouldn’t for us either. Each day is a new opportunity to bring Christ to our suffering brothers and sisters. And it isn’t just a privilege; it’s a responsibility we all have.

  • His death: Jesus knew that his constant presence was a threat to the status quo. He knew that every choice he made to expose the rich and powerful of his day would risk his very life. That became more and more clear as he pushed against the power that held sway over the most vulnerable and lost. He didn’t hold back from calling them out with choice words to describe them even though it surely sealed his fate: Hypocrites, brood of vipers, prideful, whitewashed tombs, legalists disguising an inner corruption. “They preach, but do not practice” (Matt. 23:3). His death was inevitable.

Most of us will not be called to sacrifice our lives, but we are all called to die to our self-will so that we can be used by God in whatever way he has already predetermined. That might just mean having the courage to step into what will likely be uncomfortable, probably risky, even scary. And expect it to be a wild adventure because God doesn’t do ordinary! (You know that, right?)

  • His resurrection: When Jesus died everyone believed they would be returning to their ordinary, mundane lives. Alrighty then, that was a wild and crazy ride! We could liken it to that special vacation we always dreamed about and finally got to experience. The difference is that we probably have pictures to reminisce over; they got nothing, not even a stinkin’ T-shirt for heaven’s sake.

Anyway, when Mary and the girls got to the tomb they were met with, “Surprise! He isn’t here!!” And when he showed up at the disciple’s pity party later, they were all overwhelmed with fear. Then suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, they discovered within themselves a determination and fervor that would send them out sharing the Love of Christ with anyone with ears to hear. With the exception of John, they were martyred for their willingness to go when God said “GO!”

And for us? Resurrection, I believe, does not mean a new birth, but a “rebirth”. It means returning to our original holiness. God created us with Love, for Love. But, we have somehow lost our way. Saying “yes” to God means saying “yes” to our true selves and “no” to the lies we have believed about our unworthiness.

Jesus’ Passion was a seeming disaster turned to triumph. The conventional thinking of our time is that we can’t handle tragedy and suffering; that we will fall apart and resort to some sort of primal survival instinct. Though I suppose as we watch people claw each other to death for toilet paper some could make the case for that belief. But, I choose to look instead at the myriad examples of people who have shown love and compassion, and hope in disasters. Countless studies have borne witness to the fact that most people are altruistic, not barbaric. And out of the ashes of disaster comes the gift of the blessedness and fullness of our humanity. Yes, you and I are our brother’s keeper! It’s in our DNA

This, my dear friends can be a turning point in what we believe about ourselves and our neighbor; of what we are capable of in the face of fear and uncertainty if we trust in the divinity of our very souls where God resides and where we live and move and have our being. What you believe right now will determine how you act. So, it’s time to believe and act like you and everyone around you; friend or stranger, are beloved and precious children of God.

In our new coronavirus reality, we need to do away with “practicing” our faith and get to the business of “doing” faith. And how better to begin than to be kicked out of our comfortable pews, locked out of the church, and sent on a new meaningful, mystical, and mighty mission?!

GO ON NOW! And fear not. Remember the immortal words of Esther when Mordecai told her that her people were going to perish if she didn’t do something. Then he said to her, “And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”  And what was Esther’s reply without hesitation? “I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” (Esther 4:14 – 5:16)

As I write these words I fully understand that none of us have any idea how this will turn out. But, I do know this – God does not cause such tragedy (so get that idea out of your head), but he will use it for good!

God is our steady strength. He will not abandon us. He hears our prayers and tells us: “Don’t be afraid!”

I love this quote by Rebecca Solnit, “Disaster could be called a crash course in Buddhist principles of compassion for all beings, of non-attachment, of abandoning the illusion of one’s sense of separateness, of being fully present, and of fearlessness…in the face of uncertainty.”

My prayer is that we will take on that mantel of courage and faith now, whatever that looks like, wherever we are.

So, hang in there, pray, wash your hands, and take care of your neighbor!

lord bless and keep you

You Were Made For Such a Time as This

Originally posted on February 26, 2012

Esther ROCKS! – plain and simple.

Esther was the joy of her cousin, Mordecai, who raised her. She was a beautiful Jewish girl who became the wife of King Ahasuerus after he defrocked, dethroned, and divorced Queen Vashti for refusing to obey him. Big mistake Love!

When the king searched for a replacement, he chose the meek (not really, as we will see) and lovely Esther. In Esther’s day, women were to be seen and not heard. She was undoubtedly reminded of Vashti’s fate as the crown was placed on her head. Even as Ahasuerus’ wife, there was no exception to the rule everyone else had to follow. There would be no, “Hi honey, how was your day?” conversations over tea. She had to request an audience with him or risk death.

Everything was going well until Mordecai refused to bow to Haman, who was elevated to the highest position under the king. Haman got a big head (men!) and required everyone to bow to him (except the king, I suppose). In his wrath, he became hell-bent on wiping out the entire Jewish population. And the king, albeit unwittingly, signed a death warrant for all Jews and made it official. (An important note here: Esther and her cousin failed to mention to the king that she was Jewish – oops.)

Mordecai sent a message to Esther, hoping she would go to the king to save her people. She reminded him of the king’s decree that no one was permitted to approach him without advanced authorization. Doing so would surely result in her death. To which Mordecai replied, “…who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this”? And her reply? (You gotta love it!) First, she asked everyone to fast and pray for three days. And then she said, matter-of-factly, “And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish”! (4:15-16) Meek huh? Not so much!

Do you know what makes Esther’s story really incredible? There is no mention of God – anywhere! God came to Abraham in a vision, Jacob in a dream, and Moses in a bush. There are countless “God sightings” in the Old Testament – but nothing for Esther, at least nothing visible. She had no idea if her story would end there. But that didn’t stop her. Do you know why? I would suggest to you that it is no different today for us. When was the last time you stood before a talking bush? I didn’t think so – me either.

Esther did, on a regular basis, what we should all be doing; she fasted and prayed. And from that simple devotion, she had to know, deep down in her heart, that it was what she was “called” to do even though God remained mysteriously hidden.

I will tell you that God’s call to me to write my book was as clear as anything spoken to me. I would never have dreamt that up myself. Never! Most of the time, his voice is not so audible, but I still know. Deep down, I know it is what I am supposed to be doing, and I know God is behind it.

And this is the point I am trying to get to. God has a plan for your life. A plan that goes far beyond what you could ever imagine. My book is full of God stories, of tentative “yeses” – waiting for more clarification “maybe’s” – and out-and-out Jonah-sized “No way’s”!

It’s those pesky “no’s” that stop God in his tracks. It’s too bad because I often imagine I miss out on many blessings and grace-filled moments when I sit on my fears. Then God says to me, “That’s fine, Linda; I’ll get someone else to do it. But this is a gift I gave you before you were born, and guess what, young lady? I am going ask you for an accounting when I see you.” Oops….

So, tell me…

  • Do you know what gifts God has given you?
  • Are you now using those gifts for him?
  • If not, why not?
  • Have you ever even thought about it? If not, that’s the place to begin.

Keep in mind that “God does not call the equipped; he equips the called.”

If the world has told you that you are nothing special, I am telling you that’s a LIE! I don’t care what your life has been like. I don’t care how mundane your life is now or how many times you have sinned and fallen short. God’s plan for you has not changed and never will! He will not take back your gifts, but he will be sorely disappointed if you waste them. Actually, more than disappointed, according to Gian Carlo Menotti:

Hell begins on the day when God grants us a clear vision of all that we might have achieved, of all the gifts which we have wasted, of all that we might have done which we did not do.

Let me give you one short version of an example (the full version is in the book). I graduated from high school and was nine credit hours short of an Associate’s Degree (central point) when God came calling. “Guess what, Linda? I am giving you an opportunity to go to graduate school for theology! Are you SO excited?!” Excited wasn’t the word I chose. It was more like, “Have you lost your mind”?! Here’s where I leave you in suspense…

But, I would like to say this in conclusion. Fear has no teeth when we trust God – and I don’t mean when we know the outcome. We function so poorly when we’re afraid to trust God! Instead, we dig in our heels and refuse to budge. If we don’t know for sure what’s happening around the corner, we just stay put! Fear denies us the fullness of life that God has promised.

So what are you waiting for?…

First and foremost, get on your knees and face your fears because it’s from that place where God can do his mighty work in and through you. Then, look for workshops, conferences, or presentations that focus on discovering your gifts. Go back to church if you have drifted away. Get a mentor or join a prayer group or Bible study group.

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” As you lay this desire before God, he will give you what you need to fulfill his plans for your life.

But be prepared for awe and wonder like you could never have imagined! So, what the heck – if you perish, you perish! Come on, don’t let that stop you! Wouldn’t you rather go that way than be run over by a bus or dropped off a cliff?

Now go…

Because this, my friend, is your time!