Rising to the Occasion

Rising to the occasion is doing what needs to be done no matter how hard, uncomfortable, unpopular, or frightening the task at hand may be.

I’m sitting here awake. I just got up from a dream where a few of our kids ( I don’t know who was there, but it felt like church family) were swimming in a river. Somehow, they got on top of a submerged wooden playground that was traveling downstream way too fast. I grabbed a fishing rod and snagged it. It was the most powerful pull that I’ve ever experienced.

I lost the lure when the line snapped. Sarah and some other mothers come to me alarmed about the children. I look down the river and they’re going away fast, almost out of sight.

The unseen playground has picked up speed. I hear the concerned voices raised around me.

Out nowhere, my friend and some other men have grabbed boats to go fetch the kids.

Now my friend jumps into the swift water and rescues Wesley and the other children from the runaway playground.

I catch up with them on the shore about a mile down river past the bridge where my line broke. The hero of the situation walks out of the water straight faced, not expecting any reward. He just did what needed to be done.

Thank God for people like this.

I’m writing this in the middle of the night because I need to remember it. Sometimes you have a dream and you know that you shouldn’t have finished off all of the weekend’s leftovers before you went to sleep, but sometimes you know that there was something more in a dream. I think this was a case of the latter.

I remember being worried about labor when Sarah and I were expecting our first child. It’s like war, no amount of training can prepare you for the real thing. A friend at church laughed at me when I told him I was concerned about not passing out. He said, “Don’t worry about it. You’ll rise to the occasion.”

I suppose that’s what happens a lot in life. We are constantly faced with difficult situations and we either rise to the occasion and win, or we don’t do anything and lose. Even if we don’t lose, inaction rarely brings a desired outcome. Some of us wait for a hero to come and fix everything, and while it is a nice thought, it hardly ever happens.

Rising to the occasion is doing what needs to be done no matter how hard, uncomfortable, unpopular, or frightening the task at hand may be. It doesn’t take much talent to rise to the occasion, just a lot of courage.

I wonder if David felt like this when he showed up at the battlefield with bread and cheese for his brothers only to find a stalemate with men cowering under the taunts of the champion of the Philistines. In spite of the ridicule and belittlement from his own brothers David rose to the occasion and slew Goliath. Not because of any reward-he didn’t receive one-but because he understood that there was a cause.

Most of the things that I am most proud of where the hardest things I’ve ever done. I will not promise you that rising to the occasion will be fun, easy, or even enjoyable, but I firmly believe that you will not regret it.

The Art of Ignoring

What’s a slobbering hog to jaybird? What’s a yapping dog to a freight train?

There will always be negative people. They tend to show up to discourage you whenever you’re doing something worthwhile. Like Sanballat and Tobiah did to Nehemiah. The Bible calls these kind of people Sons of Belial (literally sons of a devil). They specialize in running their mouth and not minding their own business.

The paradox of dealing with these people is it seems like you cannot win.

Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit. Proverbs 26:4-5

Some of the best advice I was ever given came from Pastor Jeff Dillon. He told me of a time that he had been in a difficult situation and people had started to talk. So he called his father-in-law, W.C. Parkey to find out what to do. I think he was hoping for some clear direction on what to tell the sons of Belial but Bro. Parkey simply said, “Rise above it.”

Back when I used to listen to a lot more public radio than I do now, I caught the tail end of an interview with some nameless, faceless celebrity-I think it was a comedian- who told of the first time he got sued. He was pretty disheartened at the news for a few days before he received a phone call from Dr. Phil of all people. He was surprised that Dr. Phil knew who he was, much less had his number.

“Hey buddy, I heard you got sued. Don’t worry about it. You ain’t nobody until somebody sues you.”

I can’t remember the comedian, and I have never watched Dr. Phil, but I have drawn encouragement from that statement.

Anything worthwhile will probably be difficult and is guaranteed to have critics. There are art critics, music critics, and literary critics, but I’ve never heard of a stand alone critic, because they have nothing to offer. They can only criticize what is.

For anyone reading this that is planning on doing something worthwhile-and I hope it is everyone- I want to let you know that there will be someone who has no plans to do anything constructive and will use all their energy to keep you from doing anything constructive.

Don’t listen to them. What’s a slobbering hog to a jaybird? What’s a yapping dog to a freight train? Rise above it.

I’ll leave you with a passage from Nehemiah 6:1-3

Now it came to pass when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and Geshem the arabian, and the rest of our enemies, heard that I had builded the wall, and that there was no breack left therein; (though at that time I had not set up the doors upon the gates;) That Sanballat and Geshem sent unto me, saying, Come, let us meet together in some one of the villages in the plain of Ono. But they though to do me mischief. And I sent messengers unto them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?