When I was a teenager, my Mom told me that there were three things that I must protect my whole life long. Those things were my good name, my reputation and my credit. I only understood the reputation part, but that only because my Mother talked so much about “getting a reputation” ~ as my Mother put it… At that point in my young life and in my young mind, “getting a reputation” was the same as pre-marital sex. I didn’t want a “reputation”, nor did I think it was wise to protect it ~ if I was to get one… Well ~ so much for what I “thought” I understood…
Now I am older ~ MUCH OLDER ~ and from the perspective of age, I can tell you that my Mother gave me valuable advice. I came to understand that when you “protect” your good name, you are protecting all of it… name, reputation and credit. I understood little about my upcoming “credit”, or how I would protect it. (Actually, back in the day, women weren’t allowed to have their own credit.) Neither did I understand how I was to go about “protecting” my good name…
A good name is to be chosen
Rather than great riches,
Rather than silver and gold.
But, I was taught well and I CHOSE to protect my good name above all. This meant that in the good times and in the bad times, paying my bills came first. I had my parents as teachers and role models. It really doesn’t get much better than that.
My parents were careful to pay all bills and to pay them on time. I watched my Father work hard to provide for us and I learned, by example, perseverance of a dependable employee. I watched my Mother stretch every dollar and I learned thrifty ways to manage a budget and a home. I knew that the time would come that I would have a job, a home and bills of my own. I understood the importance of being a steady, dependable worker. I understood budgeting and paying all of my bills “on time”. But the most important thing that I learned ~ the one most important tip I can think of to pass along to the younger folks ~ is this: Be responsible with your money and your credit! You will thank yourself later…
And….I am so glad I paid attention to early instruction and the examples set by my parents because it was followed by the biggest quiz of all ~ LIFE~. What I didn’t know is that the “quiz of life” is full of trick questions, dips and curves, mountains and valleys. Kind of like a roller coaster ride!
On the other hand, at the end of the ride, I will certainly be able to shout “Woo Hoo ~ that was some ride!!!”
And the day of death than the
Day of one’s birth
Solomon knew the value of a good name. In Ecclesiastes 7:1, he called it better than precious ointment. Following that brief statement about a good name, he makes a strange statement about the day of death being better than the day of birth. My reaction in the natural was ~ “What???” “Huh???” I began to think of the births in my family ~ happy days all… I heard the story of the day of my birth ~ happy day ~ funny day because Mom (still drugged up) said she had puppies…LOL… Ahh…hemmm…but I digress. How can the day of death be better than the day of birth? Well, I suppose we think that way because we are still in the middle, or close to the end as in my case, of the quiz of life. We know from experience that the day of birth is a wonderfully, happy day and that the day a loved one died was sad to the max. I have long thought that God’s view of “death” is completely different than the way we view death. I do believe it is a move from the physical to the spiritual, but since I haven’t been there – yet – I cannot state it as fact. What I know for sure is that this life as I know it in this physical body will end one day and I HAVE FAITH that this little spark of life in my physical body –my spirit– will join the Lord in the place He has gone to prepare for us. But, that is not my point. My point is this… “life” can be quite a trial at times. Our journey takes us over mountains and through valleys.
It can be trying enough that sometimes we take our eyes off of the goal and set them lower…yes…we all have done that lowering thing – even if you don’t want to admit it. There have been times we just want to give up. Yes…we look at that next mountain and decide to sit in the valley and rest for a while. Well, yeah…me too… But, what I learned is that I developed my strength in faith while climbing those mountains. I grew not the least little bit while resting in the valleys. In fact, if I rested too long, I grew weak and, a few times, even took my eyes off of the goal. So, after all the mountains and valleys, I think it will be a better day to reach that goal ~ that is IF I don’t sit down in a valley and stay there until I take my last breath.
Many times in life, things get really hard. I have a favorite passage in my Bible that I turn to in such times. When I was working the last couple of years before retirement, I was really tired…not just physically, but mentally from the extreme mental activity needed to do my very complicated job. One day, I took a piece of paper and wrote these words… “PRESS ON” and I taped that paper to the wall in my office where every time I lifted my eyes from my work, I would see that piece of paper on the wall. Many people who entered my office didn’t understand the sign ~ for those people, it was a witness tool. The Christians who entered my office understood very well. There were days when I took my eyes off my “sign” and put them on those guys named “frustration” and “aggravation”. In those times, a fellow (Christian) office worker often said just two little words to me ~ “Press on”. It was like our own secret code ~ like the Christian fish… When she said “press on”, I got back on track.
I love how Paul said it:
Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press
on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.
Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,
I press toward the goal for the prize of the
upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Therefore, let us, as many as
are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.
Well, as you know, I did reach that retirement goal and you know what? It was the best day of my career ~ much, MUCH better than that first day on my first job more than 42 years earlier. I was happy that first day, but I was ecstatic on the day I retired. There were ups and downs throughout my career. There were good times and there were hard times. How we handle the hard times are the things that shape us. I think life is like that…
And I believe I have not yet seen the best day of all… While waiting for the “best day”, I continue to “press on.” I am NOT sitting in that valley in my retirement…I have mountains to climb!
(Note to friends: OK…so I sat in a valley for the past 3 weeks… Ecclesiastes, Chapter 7 looked like such a mountain to me. Chapter 7 is loaded with wisdom and I wanted to do it justice, but there is NO WAY to do justice to Chapter 7 all in one blog, or the blog would be so long that nobody would want to read it. So…I am breaking Chapter 7 up into smaller bites. Not sure yet how many bites, but it will be as many as the spirit leads…)