Joshua Tree Counseling

Review of Capt. Dale Black’s “Flight to Heaven”: Majesty and Humility

As close as most of us will get to heaven until our final flight.
As close as most of us will get to heaven until our final flight.

When Capt. Dale Black visited heaven, he had not yet become an instructor for almost all kinds of commercial, Learjet, and small plane pilots.  He had not yet earned his M.A. and his Ph.D.  He had not yet piloted over 1,000 missionary ventures and many 1,000’s of commercial flights.  Also, because of a vow he made after discussing his trip to heaven with his grandfather, Black waited 40 years to tell his story.

Although he earned his pilot’s license at age 19, Capt. Black sat in the back of a red and white Piper Navajo that would be flown by two more seasoned pilots.  On May 29, 1969, the “pilot-in-command” took off poorly and crashed the plane into a monument near the end of the runway.  Located in Burbank, California, the monument with a mosaic dome is called, “Portal of the Folded Wings.” It contains the remains of aviation pioneers who have died and plaques to Amelia Earhart and others of flying renown.  Some day Black’s remains will be contained there.

Written about in “Ripley’s Believe It or Not,” only Black survived the crash.  The plane nearly disintegrated and Black fell 70 feet.  Black endured many operations and endless trips to the surgeon’s office.  Because his left foot was receiving no circulation, he was advised to have it amputated.  Black didn’t cooperate with the doctor’s advice, as the operation would have ended his flying career.  Black swore he would be the pilot-in-command of a plane that flew over the same monument within one year of the crash. Against all odds – and after barely passing a physical – Capt. Black did just that (this is a tearful moment for the reader); and many years later, Black led his surgeon to faith in Christ.

In the emergency room, Black experienced himself above his body.  But his journey had only just begun.  Spinning through a narrow pathway that was illuminated by a beam of light, Black traveled through total darkness.  He traveled at a blinding speed and became aware of two angelic companions.   He seemed to have 360° vision.  Fast approaching “a magnificent city, golden and gleaming among a myriad of resplendent colors,” he also heard “majestic, enchanting, and glorious” music.  He felt like he was “made for the music.”

This review hasn’t begun to capture what Black saw and experienced in heaven.  The rest of his account is mesmerizing.  I’ll let you read his incredible story yourself, but here are a few profound quotes: “I understood in my heart that God’s will was perfection and His Word was the source of all creation…Somehow I recognized that Jesus, the Word, was the structure that held it all together. ..He was the creative power that brought everything that I saw into place and stabilized it.”

Here’s an “asterisk” to Black’s near-death experience: His ankle made a miraculous recovery, but he still suffers pain.  Also, his short-term memory is not good.  Ever since the accident, he’s had to work twice as hard as most people to remember anything by making sure his thoughts and experiences are stored as long-term memories.

This reminds me of when the Apostle Paul went to heaven.  When Paul returned, God gave him a “thorn in the flesh” in order to keep him humble.  As with Paul, Capt. Black has at least two “thorns in the flesh.”  He’s suffered from short-term memory problems throughout his life.  Also, he still suffers from pain in his left ankle.  As with others who have experienced such majesty, humility is increased and is not an option.

Capt. Black can be contacted at CaptDale@DaleBlack.org or by visiting www.DaleBlack.org.  He narrates the crash flight path into the “Portal of the Folded Wings” on this You Tube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dQoavT66TE

Captain Black's Photo

Portal of the Folded Wings in Burbank
Portal of the Folded Wings in Burbank

Other favorite near-death experience accounts are listed on my “Psychology and Christ” Facebook site.

Some Gifts Last and Some Gifts Don’t!

1972_oldsmobile_cutlass_supreme-pic-59038

After earning a master’s degree at the University of Arizona, I called my parents to tell them I was coming home to Columbus, Ohio.  Walking around to classes and nearby restaurants was never a problem in Tucson.  But now without a car there was no way that I could hold a job and get to shops and stores in a cow town that was so spread out.  I was 29 and I never owned a car.  I never needed one.  In college I could walk everywhere.  In graduate school in New York City, I could take a subway.  Back in Columbus I walked to my jobs or took a bus.  But finally I’d hit the wall on this transportation thing.  And I sure didn’t have enough money to buy even a used car.

Well, my parents had a beautiful ’72 Cutlass Supreme that they were getting ready to trade in.  They offered it to me, and I flew home to drive it back to Tucson.  I stood in awe of this sleek, powerful car!  As I was driving away from my parents’ house, driving back to Tucson, my father was standing in the middle of the street, his hands high in the air, waving them back and forth in a criss-cross fashion.  In my rear view mirror, I saw my father waving.  I don’t think he stopped till I was out of sight.

About thirty years later, my mother told me the story behind “the waving.”  When my father was young, he left his home in Chicago to pursue graduate studies in Boston.  Leaving Boston on a train, the 20th Century Limited (featured in “North by Northwest”), his father was waving his arms in the air, repeating, “Proud!  Proud!”  So the significance of the wave is obvious.

Thanks to the blue Cutlass, I was able to stay in Tucson where I’ve lived ever since, fully committing my life to Christ here, meeting my precious wife, and launching into a career in Christian-based counseling, pastoring, and worship leading.

But which was the greatest gift?  The sleek, blue Cutlass Supreme or the good will and wishes of my father (and my mother) who loved me and always cheered me on?  Both Wayne and I remember how often our dad would stand in the street as we drove away, waving his hands back and forth in the air.  This happened a lot!  I’m sure he was saying, “Proud!  Proud!”, as he’d heard his father say to him many times.  I have a feeling that the greater gift is the image of my father in my mind and the truth of how proud my father was of me.

Note: I eventually fixed the car up with new tires and other maintenance updates and gave it to a friend.  One year later the car was totaled.  The memories of my parents’ love and of “Proud!” are still intact.

How Do I Know Who’s Safe?

I highly recommend this book and any book by these authors.
I highly recommend this book and any book by these authors.

Who Is “Unsafe” and Who Is “Safe?”

When I was a counselor at a Christian agency, the front desk received a call from a distressed woman.  She said that she didn’t feel safe because her husband would chase her around the house with an axe.  (Apparently, he stopped long enough for her to make the call.)  She also said that “he’s really a nice guy; I just think he has a spirit of murder on him.”  Woah!

The woman didn’t want counseling and she wouldn’t give us her phone number or address.  Because I counsel people with severe complaints against their mates – though rarely this severe – the situation still makes me wonder how we know who is “safe” and who is “unsafe.”  The “really nice guy with the spirit of murder” on him is pretty obvious.  Well, I guess it wasn’t obvious to his girlfriend.  But the rest of us could probably conclude that he was the carrier of many red flags.

Here’s a great list when things aren’t so obvious:

Personal Traits of Unsafe People:

1. Unsafe people think they “have it all together,” instead of admitting their weaknesses.
2. Unsafe people are religious, instead of spiritual.
3. Unsafe people are defensive, instead of open to feedback.
4. Unsafe people are self-righteous, instead of humble.
5. Unsafe people only apologize, instead of changing their behavior.
6. Unsafe people avoid working on their problems, instead of dealing with them.
7. Unsafe people demand trust, instead of earning it.
8. Unsafe people believe they are perfect, instead of admitting their faults.
9. Unsafe people blame others, instead of taking responsibility.
10. Unsafe people lie, instead of telling the truth.
11. Unsafe people are stagnant, instead of growing.

Interpersonal Traits of Unsafe People

1. Unsafe people avoid closeness, instead of connecting.
2. Unsafe people are only concerned about “I,” instead of “we.”
Safe people are empathic.
Safe people act on their empathy.
3. Unsafe people resist freedom, instead of encouraging it.
4. Unsafe people flatter us, instead of confronting us.
5. Unsafe people condemn us, instead of forgiving us.
6. Unsafe people stay in parent/child roles, instead of relating as equals, e.g., “I feel like a kid around them,” or “I feel like I have to be their parent.”
7. Unsafe people are unstable over time, instead of being consistent.
8. Unsafe people are a negative influence on us, rather than a positive one.
9. Unsafe people gossip, instead of keeping secrets.

As with the story above, I’ve heard plenty of other stories of unsafe people:  There was the person who smuggled dope aboard their plane when they traveled abroad – without the partner’s knowledge.  Someone just told me how their car was rear ended by someone who was talking on a cell phone.  The man with the phone got out of the car and told my friend, “You made me drop my phone” (perhaps, he’s in the category of someone who thinks he has it all together).  I once advised a woman to get out of a relationship with a controlling man.  She did.  But the woman who ended up marrying him, not knowing of the other woman’s experience, came to my office to tell me of her misery, due to marrying someone so controlling.  (Stories have been slightly alterred to insure confidentiality – except for the cell phone story!)

Do you know anyone who is unsafe?  If that person(s) is a close friend, do you have a plan to either leave the relationship or draw boundaries to create safety?  Always stay safe!

(The list above is from “Safe People,” by Cloud and Townsend.)

And now for some comic relief:

Funny-Safety-Sign-2

Prisoner at the “Hanoi Hilton” Is Saved by An Angel

20230001

Navy flier, Lt. Paul Galanti, is pictured on the front of “Life” magazine on Oct. 20, 1967.  He sat on a bench in a cement room with a light bulb suspended over his head.

20230002

On Feb. 26, 1973, Lt. Galanti and his wife are happily embracing on the cover of “Newsweek.”  In the seven intervening years, Lt. Galanti was imprisoned in the “Hanoi Hilton,” a torture camp where Senator John McCain and other prisoners were detained.

What saved the lieutenant’s life is incredible.  An angel appeared to him and spoke with him.

20230003

Galanti was on his seventh Vietnam combat mission.  After ejecting from his crippled Navy Skyhawk and while dangling from his parachute, he was shot in the neck. After capture he marched for 12 days to the prison in Hanoi.  Two and ½ years into his captivity in which “I was brutally beaten and tortured,” Galanti says, he still refused to sign a piece of paper, admitting guilt to “war crimes.”

Galanti was taken to a room for another “process of breaking me down.”  He was kept awake for 10 days and tortured intermittently.  Food consisted of an occasional can of gruel.  With his hands tied behind his back, the only way to eat was to tip his chair over and lick the food from the can.   Then the rats came to lick food from his lips.  Galanti decided that the next time food was brought to him, he would not tip over his chair.  Rather he would die.  That’s when his life was changed forever.

In his own words, “At that instant of spiritual and psychological checkmate, slumped on my stool, I experienced something so powerful that it still affects my life to this day.   With complete clarity I realized I was not alone in that desolate room…I saw clearly a figure standing near me.  He wore a white robe more vivid than any earthly garment I have ever seen.

“Though I could not make out his features, I could tell he was bearded.  Then, in a voice I heard with my whole being, he told me ‘Paul, you are going to be all right.  I am always with you.’…Suddenly my companion was no longer visible.”

Peace filled Galanti and suddenly the gruel on the floor seemed like a feast.  “I tipped over the stool and ate gratefully,” he said.  Galanti was tortured for two more weeks and released about four years later.

I emailed Paul Galanti to confirm his story.  Galanti emailed me back, giving me permission to share and telling me that the Virginia War Memorial was naming its new education center after him and his wife.

I’ve found that at the point of our greatest need, that’s often where God reveals Himself in the most profound ways.  When you think you can’t go on, you can.  God will help you.  Usually, we have to ASK, but our Creator is a God of great mercy.  He certainly had mercy on a helpless, desperate prisoner at the Hanoi Hilton.

Galanti told his story in “Angels on Earth.”  After the miracle appearance he made a sincere confession of faith: “My life was saved, not just once but forever.”

 

Target Berlin or “God Draws Straight with Crooked Lines”

B-24_hit_by_Flak

As the gas tanks of the B-24 were blown open at 22,000 feet over Berlin, Lt. George Lymburn struggled to maintain control of the craft.  Others on the plane had already bailed out, but Lymburn was simply too afraid to jump.  This was the first daylight attack over Berlin, and 69 bombers and 11 escort fighters were lost that day (against 400 Luftwaffe fighters).

In the Sunday, March 11, 1984 edition of the LA Times, I read the story of Lt. Lymburn and the crash landing of his plane.  I saw the German photo of his upside down plane called “God Bless Our Ship.”

When Lymburn thought the crew of seven was safely out, the plane went into a steep spiral, and Lymburn “just froze.”  He screamed, “Oh, God!  I don’t want to die!”  At that moment, at 16,000 feet, he was able to straighten out the plane and bring it to a crash landing.  An answer to prayer?  Read on!

After the craft landed, Lymburn discovered that there was another man on the plane: the tail gunner.  To quote the LA Times (I save articles for a long time!), Lymburn laughed and said his decision to crash-land the plane could have been either fear or wisdom “or God saying, ‘You’ve got a guy in the back seat, chum, who’s gotta go home and have seven children (which [Cittadino did).’”  For the time being, the two were taken to a prison where they were reunited with their crew.  His crew had not been strafed, as had others who had parachuted from destroyed planes.

There’s a Portuguese proverb, attributed to a Bishop in the 13th century: “God draws straight with crooked lines.”  Lymburn was ashamed for being too afraid to bail out.  Yet if he’d bailed, the tail gunner would not have lived to have seven children.  God drew straight with that crooked line.

Here are a few such “lines” from the bible: King David should not have slept with Bathsheba and then had her husband killed.  Yet after the death of the first child of David and Bathsheba, King Solomon was born, and Christ is descended from Solomon.  Rahab was a prostitute, yet she was the great-great grandmother of King David.  Judah committed a great sin by sleeping with his own daughter-in-law, and Christ is descended from that union, as well.  Although there’s no escape from the consequences of sin, God can use it for good.  God can “draw straight with crooked lines.”  Ephesians 1:11 says that God “works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.”

When we look at our own lives with all of our sins and regrets, let’s keep in mind that God is sovereign and His love for us never changes.  He can take all of our crooked lines and make them straight!

See also “Target Berlin: Mission 250: 6 March 1944,” by Ethell & Price for an abbreviated story of the B-24 (page 100).

The Praying Hands: A Story of Great Sacrifice

Praying_Hands

This is the inspiring story of the famous picture of the Praying Hands, by Albrecht Durer.  Durer created these hands in appreciation of a brother who went to work in the mines to support his, Albrecht’s, education.

Back in the fifteenth century, in a tiny village near Nuremberg, lived a family with eighteen children. Eighteen! In order to keep food on the table, the father and head of the household, a goldsmith by profession, worked almost eighteen hours a day and did any other paying chore he could find. Despite their seemingly hopeless condition, two Durer children had a dream. They both wanted to pursue their talent for art, but they knew that their father would never be financially able to send either of them to Nuremberg to study at the Academy.

After many long discussions at night in their crowded bed, the two boys finally worked out a pact. They would toss a coin. The loser would go down into the nearby mines and, with his earnings, support his brother while he attended the academy. Then, when that brother who won the toss completed his studies, in four years, he would support the other brother at the academy, either with sales of his artwork or, if necessary, also by laboring in the mines.

They tossed a coin on a Sunday morning after church. Albrecht Durer won the toss and went off to Nuremberg. Albert went down into the dangerous mines and for the next four years, he financed his brother.  Albrecht’s  work at the academy was an almost immediate sensation. Albrecht’s etchings, his woodcuts, and his oils were far better than those of most of his professors, and by the time he graduated, he was beginning to earn considerable fees for his commissioned works.

When the young artist returned to his village, the Durer family held a festive dinner on their lawn to celebrate Albrecht’s triumphant homecoming. After a long and memorable meal, punctuated with music and laughter, Albrecht rose from his honored position at the head of the table to drink a toast to his beloved brother for the years of sacrifice that had enabled Albrecht to fulfill his ambition. His closing words were, “And now, Albert, blessed brother of mine, now it is your turn. Now you can go to Nuremberg to pursue your dream, and I will take care of you.”

All heads turned in eager expectation to the far end of the table where Albert sat, tears streaming down his pale face, shaking his lowered head from side to side while he sobbed and repeated, over and over, “No …no …no …no.”

Finally, Albert rose and wiped the tears from his cheeks. He glanced down the long table at the faces he loved, and then, holding his hands close to his right cheek, he said softly, “No, brother. I cannot go to Nuremberg. It is too late for me. Look … look what four years in the mines have done to my hands! The bones in every finger have been smashed at least once, and lately I have been suffering from arthritis so badly in my right hand that I cannot even hold a glass to return your toast, much less make delicate lines on parchment or canvas with a pen or a brush. No, brother.  For me it is too late.”

More than 450 years have passed. By now, hundreds of masterful portraits by Albrecht, pen and silver-point sketches, watercolors, charcoals, woodcuts, and copper engravings hang in every great museum in the world, but the odds are great that you, like most people, are familiar with only one of Albrecht Durer’s works. The praying hands.  Here’s how that famous sketch came about:
One day, to pay homage to Albert for all that he had sacrificed, Albrecht Durer painstakingly drew his brother’s abused hands with palms together and thin fingers stretched skyward. He called his powerful drawing simply “Hands,” but the entire world almost immediately opened their hearts to his great masterpiece and renamed his tribute of love “The Praying Hands.”

Note: Article is slightly condensed from one posted at http://christianrep.com/blog/the-good-stuff/praying-hands/#

How to Do What You’ve Never Done!

Overcoming

“People of mediocre ability sometimes achieve outstanding success because they don’t know when to quit” (George Allen).

But how can I have mediocre ability and achieve great things?  Here’s how:

Christ said that if you’ve been faithful in little, you’ll be faithful in much (Matthew 25:21).  Jim Rohn says the same thing: small disciplines move us toward success and lead to more disciplines.  Rohn advises that we read, journal, and turn our philosophies (e.g., “I am a spiritual and moral being before I’m anything else”) and values (e.g., “I highly value service to God and man”) into activity.  Excelling in small and often unseen disciplines is a huge key to achievement.

Here’s another thought:

“It is not what we get that makes us valuable, it is what we become in the process of doing that brings value into our lives” (Rohn).

My goal is more to become like Christ than to achieve what others might view as success.  Sometimes I forget this.  It’s so easy to be lured into others’ definitions of success (usually related to numbers and money!).  Are you the person that you want to be?  Because that’s the person who will do what you’ve never done!

Don’t forget about proper rest: Rohn agrees with the biblical ratio of work to rest: Six days of work and one day of rest.  “Rest should be a necessary pause in the process of preparing for an assault on the next objective and the next discipline.  The punishment for excessive rest is mediocrity.”  According to neuroscientists, adequate rest and sleep is directly proportionate to productivity.  By the way, this includes taking a short nap during the day.  More on this in a future blog!

Facing where you’re at: Facing our present reality, including the “impossibilities” and our limitations, contains the kernel of miracles, says Rohn.  And all we need is a kernel!  Robert Schuler said, “Anyone knows how many seeds are in an apple, but only God knows how many apples are in a seed.”  When we face reality, even not knowing specifics of the future, that’s a good time to move forward!   Use what small gifts you have and take advantage of whatever opportunities come along or you can create.  Acting with faith and integrity, we can enter into all that God has for us.

“You can’t get what you’ve never had unless you’re willing to do what you’ve never done” (“212˚,” by Parker & Anderson).

Be proactive:  Just do it!  Then don’t stop doing it!

In the recent Winter Olympics, Michael Phelps won the 100 meter butterfly by .01 seconds.  While second place glided to the finish line, Michael gave it one more stroke and won by a fingernail.  Michael’s time was 50.08 seconds while Milorad Cavic’s time was 50.09.  Of course, Phelps has now won more Olympic gold medals than anyone in history.  Michael just kept doing it!  He said about that one race, “If I would have glided, I would have lost the race.”  We can’t glide to the finish lines of our lives and expect to excel.

Christ said, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked” (Luke 12:48).  In Matthew 25, Christ tells a parable of the rewards of good stewardship over what God has given us.  Christ highly valued our activities and said that we could know who people are by looking at their “fruit” (Matthew 7:16, 20).

God rewards both faith and industriousness.  Of course, productive activity begins with God’s grace to give us faith.  If our activities are to have eternal significance, they must proceed from relationship with the Giver of Life and from godly, noble values.  Before we can achieve great things, learning to rest in God cannot be emphasized enough.  With God’s help we can achieve a life that pleases God and blesses others.  It’s also how to joyfully do what you’ve never done!

And don’t forget that God delights to use people who don’t seem like much:

“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things — and the things that are not — to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him” (1 Corinthians 1:27-30).

Here’s a final thought: Once you’ve done what you once thought you could never do, you’ll feel better about being a different person than you’ll feel about the accomplishment.  And you’ll be set to do the next thing you thought you could never do!

Angel on the Hood

Angel Appearance

I asked my hair stylist if she’d ever experienced a miracle or seen an angel (a question that I sometimes ask anyone with spiritual sensitivity).  Laura said that as a matter of fact, something very unusual DID happen to her in 2006.

“I was on my way to an evening church service in Kingman, Arizona.  I decided to stop for a bite to eat at Taco Bell.  After passing through the drive-through, I prepared to pull out into traffic.  I looked both ways and – with the car in gear and with my foot pushing on the accelerator – the car wouldn’t move forward.  I pushed some more.  Still nothing.  Instead, the front of the car was pushed down, as if an invisible force was countering my attempt to pull into the street.  I saw the hood of the car pushed down almost a whole foot.

“It was like something big and powerful was sitting on my hood.”

Suddenly, a car sped in front of Laura, and it was at that moment she realized that she had been spared an accident.  After weeping about the goodness of God who protected her in such a way, Laura went to church with a thankful attitude and a powerful testimony.  Next year she had a beautiful baby boy who remains her pride and joy and who loves God as much as she does.  Laura told me that I could share her story.

Here’s what a Facebook friend wrote on my “wall” (with a few words rearranged):

“Several years ago I was suicidal. I decided to walk to the train tracks and stand in front of a train. I lived near the tracks and knew that at least one train ran every hour.  It was raining but I walked to the tracks with certainty. I waited…and waited. Finally the lights started flashing, the bells dinging and the arms went down at the intersection.  I walked forward and stood on the tracks. I was frightened, but determined. An avowed atheist I thought to myself, ‘God, if You exist, I need You.’”
“The bells started dinging again as the arms on the tracks went up and no train appeared. I waited a bit longer and…Nothing… I stood there for over three hours waiting for a train.  I finally took my soggy self home.  But guess what?  I met my future husband that very evening.
The next day I heard the trains pass by the hour, as they always do.   God is good.”

Such accounts of miracles, answers to prayer, and help from angels (visible and invisible) are commonplace in the bible, throughout history, and even in our own time.  In future blogs, I’ll tell of more, many of which I’ve heard in the counseling office.

I believe that if you keep vigilant watch, you’ll see God’s hand on the circumstances of your life on a daily basis.  God may seem to be moving in “coincidences,” which I call “God-incidences,” or He may surprise us with obvious miracles, but He is there and He never leaves us.

Isaiah 49:15 says, “I will not forget you.”

Psalm 34:7 says, “The angel of the Lord stands guard around those who have respect for him.  And he saves them” (New International Reader’s Version).

16 & 0: Expected by None, Prayed for by One

Photo by Vladsinger at en.widipedia
Photo by Vladsinger at en.widipedia

When I was a freshman in high school, I tried out for the tennis team.  Competition with other schools hadn’t begun, and team members played matches with each other during practice.

I knew I was a mediocre player, but I didn’t know just how mediocre.  I guess I was pretty bad.

After one practice, feeling down in the dumps about losing a match to one of the star athletes of our high school (I didn’t have a chance!), I remember being in the locker room.  I was alone in a row of lockers, and I heard a conversation between two boys in the row next to mine.  They didn’t know that I was only a few feet away.

One fellow said to another, “Who did you play today?”  The other, the star athlete that I truly looked up to, said, “Chet Weld.”  Then they each had a good laugh about how easily the superior player had beaten me.  Now I felt even worse.

That night as I was lying in bed, I said a prayer: “Lord, help me to be captain of the team by the time I’m a senior.”

Well, I practiced all winter at an indoor backboard downtown in Columbus, Ohio.  Also, I shoveled snow at a nearby girl’s school in order to hit against the tennis backboard.  I hit and hit and hit.  When I could find competition in warmer weather, I played and played and played.  I did that throughout the rest of my high school years.  Shoveling snow and playing as much as I could.

In my junior year, I beat the regular third man in an intramural match, edging ahead of the other boys my age and earning a varsity position.  Also, that year, the team voted on who would be captain of the team for my senior year.  I was elected.

In my senior year, I was also “first man” and our record against other teams in the city was 16-0.  We were the only undefeated team in the state that year.

I think that faith in God and hard work pay off.  I think that God has made ALL of us to be overcomers and that our destiny is to be exceptional in many ways.

Do You Have the Character to Go through the Next Open Door?

Anvil and SwordBefore we ride the elephant to “shake that bridge,” (like the mouse thought he did in our last blog), here’s an important truth to consider: Are you ready for your next God-sized dream?

Britt Chole is brutally honest with herself in “Anonymous” about this issue:

“But there is quite a bit of room between self-promotion and utter passivity in our stewardship of God-size dreams.  At present, I am attempting to rest in alert availability.  ‘Alert’ because I am not living in denial of the dreams in my heart. ‘Available’ because God is a gentleman and I am quite comfortable waiting for him to open doors.  Truth is, I do not have enough character to walk through doors I open for myself.”

Think of how we usually receive new blessings after dealing with difficult challenges.  Christ said that “no one pours new wine into old wineskins.  If he does, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined.  No, he pours new wine into new wineskins.”  When receiving the “new wine,” we want to make sure that the wine skins (our lives or our readiness or are character) are new, too.

Sometimes we have to ask ourselves if we’re concentrating more on the destination and less on the journey.  If we’re focused on the destination then the lessons of the journey will be lost upon us.

Important questions: What lessons have you learned in the last week?  What lessons did you learn today?  Are you noticeably closer to God now than you were six months ago?  Do you have a clearer sense of your identity now than you did six months ago?

Knowing who we are and having right priorities is necessary in order to “ride the elephant.”  If where we’re going is worth anything at all, I think we need to be sure of our identity and have the character to deal with whatever comes our way.

In the next blog we’ll talk about how elephants have traditionally carried royalty on their backs.  If you know that through faith in Christ, you are royalty in God’s sight, and if you’re letting God make you more like Him every day, you probably have the character to go through the next open door in order to receive all the good things that God has for you!