Welcome to This Passing Day. I’m Mark Brunner. My friend, may I ask you a question today? Did you ever notice that often things are ugly before they become beautiful? For example, butterflies don’t start out life with shimmering wings, but with a hairy, segmented body. They don’t launch out into life, they crawl before they can fly.
My friend, life’s a story, welcome to This Passing Day.
Recently I ran into a very unexpected wall of criticism that literally knocked me flat on my back. Cruising along through a pretty good day, I received a phone call from a friend. That call was brimming with well-deserved criticism directed at a momentary lack of leadership initiate I had shown. I took it personal–as all criticism does affect us personally–and, literally, had a “pretty good day” knocked right out of me. From riding emotionally high to sprawled spread eagle, it only took a moment. You know the feeling? It’s like receiving an electrical shock that continues to reverberate through your limbs for hours after touching a hot wire. Even though the circuit has been broken, the nerves continue to send out a stinging signal every time you think of how you touched that wire. With time the feeling dulls, but only when the incident has had the time to recede in memory as well. Later, when I had time to reflect on the criticism, I was able to pick myself up and, to my amazement, employ the criticism in such a way as to make a negative into a positive. It wasn't until I did this that I realized how important it had been to be knocked down in the first place.
Did you ever notice that often things are ugly before they become beautiful? Butterflies don’t start out life with shimmer- ing wings, but with a hairy, segmented body. They don’t launch out into life, they crawl before they can fly. With many things in this life, first comes the ugly, the less valuable, and then comes the good stuff.
Here’s a story. Author Irving Stone has spent a lifetime studying greatness, writing novelized biographies of such men as Michelangelo and Vincent van Gogh. Stone was once asked if he had found a thread that runs through the lives of these exceptional people. He said, “I write about people who sometime in their life . . . have a vision or dream of something that should be accomplished . . . and they go to work. They are beaten over the head, knocked down, vilified and for years they get nowhere. But every time they’re knocked down they stand up. You cannot destroy these people. And at the end of their lives they’ve accomplished some modest part of what they set out to do.” (Crossroads, Issue No. 7, p. 18.)
We read in Isaiah 35:7: “The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground a bubbling spring.” Like those men Stone wrote about, Isaiah the Prophet had a vision. It was a vision, however, that involved starting with a negative which would lead to finishing with a positive. It’s very difficult in this life to achieve anything worthwhile unless you experience a time lying flat on your back, knocked down by the fist of a mistake, the boot of a miscalculation or the stinging tongue of a well-placed criticism. Certainly both our professional and personal lives hold these things in store and we must be willing to accept the fact that being successful in life has everything to do with endurance and the ability to be lifted up when we are cast down. If you want to float like a butterfly you must be willing to crawl before you fly. As Christians, life is far more bearable if we accept the knocking down as a necessary step to flying high.
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We pray. Thank you Lord for caring about the necessary hard work that goes into a life well-lived in accordance with your good purposes. Father, so often we find ourselves in circumstances that seem hopeless, even defeating. Help us to find the opportunity that often rests within the struggle that may be apparent in defeat. Help us to turn these circumstances into opportunities to reflect Your glory. In Jesus name we pray. Amen!
Therefore my friend, Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry for itself; each day has enough trouble of its own. This Passing Day. (Matt 6:34)
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