|Vol. 16 No. 11 November 2014||
Gary C. Hampton
In A 3rd Serving of Chicken Soup for the Soul, Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen repeated a story they had found in The Sower’s Seeds.
Thomas Edison’s laboratory was virtually destroyed by fire in December, 1914. Although the damage exceeded $2 million, the buildings were only insured for $238,000 because they were made of concrete and thought to be fireproof. Much of Edison’s life’s work went up in spectacular flames that December night.
At the height of the fire, Edison’s 24-year-old son, Charles, frantically searched for his father among the smoke and debris. He finally found him, calmly watching the scene, his face glowing in the reflection, his white hair blowing in the wind.
“My heart ached for him,” said Charles. “He was 67 – no longer a young man, and everything was going up in flames. When he saw me, he shouted, “Charles, where’s your mother?” When I told him I didn’t know, he said, “Find her. Bring her here. She will never see anything like this as long as she lives.”
The next morning, Edison looked at the ruins and said, “There is great value in disaster. All our mistakes are burned up. Thank God we can start anew.”
Three weeks after the fire, Edison managed to deliver his first phonograph.
I must confess, the more I read about Thomas Edison, the more I am impressed with the attitude he had. Unfortunately, not everyone has the same attitude. Many people are being held back by faulty thinking. Thankfully, for those who will listen, God has the answer.
Just about every parent has seen a child struggle with some new task until finally saying, “I can’t.” It is then that the thoughtful parent will come to the rescue with words of encouragement and perhaps some further directions. Despite realizing a little encouragement and further directions might help, many adults fall into the same trap. “I can’t” is more than the expression of a frustrated child.
A rich young ruler came to Jesus asking, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” The Lord let him know he should keep the commandments that God gave to Moses. The ruler said he had kept all of those from the time of his youth. Then, Jesus replied, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” The ruler turned away sorrowful, because he had many possessions.
Jesus then turned to His disciples, saying, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” This led the disciples to wonder who would be able to be saved. Jesus responded by saying, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God” (Luke 18:18-27). So, I can succeed if I rely on God. That seems to be precisely what Paul was telling the Philippian brethren when he said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (4:13).
Others, especially in times of trial, will say, “Nobody loves me.” This is an especially common problem among children, whether young or grown, who are victims of divorce. They sense it is their fault their parents have separated. They painfully feel completely unloved. God answered their cry on the cross of Calvary. Jesus told Nicodemus, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:16-17).
Interestingly, God’s love was shown to man when he was the most unlovable to God. After all, man’s sin separates him from the Almighty (Isaiah 59:1-2). As Peter put it, “But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil” (1 Peter 3:12). Sin’s final reward is eternal separation in the second death (Romans 6:23). “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him” (Romans 5:8-9).
Some, suffering through the loss of a lifelong mate or the agony of divorce, are heard to say, “I am all alone.” However, God responds by saying, “Let your conduct be without covetousness, and be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5-6). In unknown circumstances, David penned the reassuring words of the twenty-third Psalm. They should be a constant reminder that the one who makes the Lord his shepherd will never be alone, though surrounded by enemies!
One of the reasons certain people do not obey the Gospel is they feel, “I am unforgivable.” Though Paul may have had such a sense at one time, he penned God’s answer to such faulty thinking. “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” He went on to say, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Romans 7:24-8:1). Of course, to continue to know the blessings of God’s forgiveness, I must walk in the light and be ready to confess whatever sins I may commit. If I do, God will cause Jesus’ blood to continually cleanse me, and He will forgive me of my sins (1 John 1:7-9).
Clearly, God does not want us to have the defeated attitude of many in the world around us. He has given clear answers to all of man’s faulty thinking so we may go on in hope!