An annual rite of the holiday season is the Christmas countdown. Each year, children count the days to Christmas with an eager expectation, that is only matched by their mothers’ stressful preparation.
Now that Christmas has passed, other countdowns have begun. Some people are counting down the days until the start of the new year, and others have already circled the number 14 on February’s calendar in anticipation of Valentine’s Day.
The number 14 is significant to another group of people. They are counting down the 91 sunrises that stand between them and the start of the baseball season.
When they hear the number 14, they think in terms of a Rose and and a Banks. Pete Rose was a gritty presence on the diamond during his professional career; however, he was given a lifetime ban for committing baseball’s unpardonable sin.
Like Rose, Ernie Banks also wore the number 14, but his legacy remains untarnished. Even though he had not played for over 40 years when he died in 2015, Banks remains a cherished favorite of the Cub’s fans to this day.
Professional athletes know their fans can be rather fickle and their celebrity status is the result of their performance. If they do not measure up to the expectations of their fan-base, they are quickly booed.
Fortunate for us, this is not the case with God—His love is not performance-based. He will not bench you because you strike-out, but He will toss you another bat, and say, “Ok slugger, give it another try. Focus and remember, you’re the eye of My, and I’ll be in the batter’s box with you; so, swing away (Psalm 17:8).
Most of us would find it difficult to manage the hustle and bustle of Christmas without the help of a few lists. These are scribbled on a piece of paper, written on a white board, or perhaps they pop up on a To-Do-List on your computer.
Lists are used to organize the events of our day and to lessen the stress of forgetfulness. Hosts pencil in names on guest lists; benefactors write gift lists; and wives scribble grocery lists to guide their husbands as they search for food items. Perhaps the most famous list is that naughty or nice one that’s frequently checked and monitored by old Saint Nick.
As I was rummaging through a desk drawer this week, I found a list that Mom and Pop had clipped out of a paper. It’s called the Ten Commandments For Right Living, and it offers some practical wisdom for life:
- Thou shalt not worry, for by so doing thou shalt relive the same disaster many times.
- Thou shalt not try to dominate or possess others, for it is the right of every man to govern his own actions.
- Thou halt not seek after fame, for unless God is glorified, greatness is a burden.
- Thou shalt not work for money only, for money was meant to serve. Money is a poor master.
- Thou shalt harm no other person, by word, thought, or deed, regardless of the cause: for to do so is to perpetuate the sorrows of the race.
- Thou shalt not be angry at any person for any reason, for anger injures most the one who is angry.
- Thou shalt never blame another for thy misfortune, for each man’s destiny is in his own keeping.
- Thou shalt relax, for tension is an abomination unto the flesh.
- Thou shalt have a sense of humor or thy years will seem much more tedious and painful.
- Thou shalt love the beautiful and serve the good for this is according to the will of heaven.
While I might take issue with the way some of these are worded, they do offer some good life principles. Most of the 10 can be summarized in one statement that Jesus made—The Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
There’s an ocean of difference between “doing in” others and “doing for” others. Which “doing” do you do?
When I was a kid, the most important meal of the day was supper. Mom was an excellent cook, and she worked hard to prepare the evening meal for our large family. Mom and Pop worked even harder at trying to steer their eight children in the right direction.
Each evening the family gathered around the dinner table to eat and to discuss the days events. One evening, Mom and Pop spoke about an incident at school in which I had hurt the feelings of a classmate. As we discussed the situation, my youngest brother said: I have feelings too, see! Then, he opened his mouth and pointed to the fillings in his teeth.
The truth is, fillings and feelings go hand in hand. How you feel about life is determined in a large part by how you fill your life. If you don’t fill your mind with what is right, what is left?
Your life is like your car, if you fill the tank with the cheapest fuel available, your engine may not perform at an optimal level; likewise, if you fill your mind with two-bit thinking, you’ll never live a grand life.
To fill your tank with some high octane thoughts, heed the advice of the Apostle Paul and think on whatever is just, pure, lovely, commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things (Philippians 4:8).