Making the best of a best

Sometimes, when someone has done their best but the best isn’t good enough, it’s best to put ourselves into their problem and, because it’s the right thing to do. My friend, life’s a story, stayed tuned for more on This Passing Day.

“I did my best, really.” With tear-streaked face and bit lip, the little boy looked up at his stern-faced father. In his hand he held the remnants of what was supposed to have been a box kite. But, what was supposed to have been a neatly balanced craft of tightly bonded paper, taught string and crisp balsa wood angles was anything but. The little boy thought he could do it. The directions seemed easy enough. All you needed was a scissors and some glue. But, what he now held in his arms didn’t look anything like the picture on the crumpled bit of cellophane laying on the floor beneath his feet. Some of the paper had ripped and nothing was tight. The glue hadn’t dried properly and he had more of it stuck to his finger than to the kite. It was obvious even to the little boy that what he held would probably never fly.

That little boy was me decades ago. My dad had taken me to the Five & Dime downtown and allowed me to buy a real kite, a box kite. While all the other kids had simple kites with a tail, I was determined to have a box kite. I know that he had misgivings about it. My dad was a bit of a kite connoisseur. But, in the end, he had given in. He even chipped in 50¢ to seal the deal. But now I had not only wasted my 25¢, I had wasted my dad’s half dollar. I felt ashamed as I handed the wounded kite to my dad. Luckily for me dads can fix almost anything and it wasn’t long before he and I were standing in Geason’s field behind our house with a shabby but marginally flight-worthy box kite tugging albeit limply from my hand-held line. It wasn’t the kite that was important any more and my dad knew that. That was my “best” on the end of that line and that was all that counted.

Sometimes, when someone has done their best but the best isn’t good enough, it’s best to put ourselves into their problem and, even if we have to “take part of ourselves” to cover their “best” efforts, it’s the right thing to do.

Here’s a story. During quail season in Georgia, an Atlanta journalist met an old farmer hunting with an ancient pointer at his side. Twice the dog ran rheumatically ahead and pointed. Twice his master fired into the open air. When the journalist saw no birds rise, he asked the farmer for an explanation. “Shucks,” grinned the old man, “I knew there weren't no birds in that grass. Spot’s nose ain’t what it used to be but him and me have had some wonderful times together. He’s still doing the best he can -- and it’d be mighty mean of me to call him a liar at this stage of the game!” (Bits & Pieces, August 20, 1992, pp. 15-16.)

When the Apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonians to encourage those who were worried that should they die before Jesus returned they might not see their Savior, he knew that he was dealing with a congregation that meant well and was doing their best to abide by what he had taught them. Yet, even with the best of intentions, they were way off-base. Paul could have sat them down and drummed a lesson into their head about the “resurrection of the dead.” He could have chided them for not picking up on what he had clearly taught them. Nevertheless, he chose to encourage them and reas- sure them that even though they might die before their brothers and sisters in the faith, they too would see Jesus face to face. Paul knew he was dealing with their heartfelt concerns and their best efforts were at stake. He chose encouragement instead. He made the best of their “best”.

We pray. Heavenly Father, teach us that when someone does good we should applaud, so making two people happy. Remind us Lord that often our best and that of others isn’t good enough to win the prize. We need to know that it is the effort toward that goal that makes the difference to you, in the lives of others and our own lives. Teach us to be encouragers and not critics. In Jesus name we pray. Amen!

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matt 6:34)

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