Commentary by Rev. Michael VandenBerg
Much of life is what we make of it. Don’t get me wrong, we are a privileged people, living in a country of abundant freedoms and opportunities, but even here many people see only despair and hopelessness. Being used to the surrounding freedoms causes us to take them for granted and focus on the things that are still not perfect.
Even within the Church, the holy nation of God, a called people of hope, there is the tendency to focus on what is wrong instead of what is right with the world. To focus on the difficult and differences instead of the things that unite us and that which we have in common is to miss the opportunity to see the world in the bright light of hope.
You may think that’s a deluded way of looking at the world or that I seem to be ignoring the injustice, the violence, the poverty, the mental illness and all the rest, but that is untrue. I see them all and yet choose to see the world as a hopeful, positive, inspiring and creative place.
I see the works of God all around me, recognize that he is still in control despite our best attempts to hijack his creation and that in the end God will overcome all. It is not that I don’t see the wrong with the world; it is that I choose not to let it be the determining factor in how I see all of life.
Let me ask those who focus on the dividing factors of life, how has that made your life? Is it better for focusing on where we have gone wrong, or is life now seemingly out of control? Has focusing on the evils around us solved them or simply made our life more troubled? I am fully aware of all our world’s shortcomings, but choose not to focus on them as much as all the areas of life that have grown, succeeded, inspired and created opportunities.
I see volunteers, coming every school day and assisting children that are not their own and coming to love them as though they were. Thanks, Neil. I see those battling their own cancer yet always coming to the aid and assistance of the most senior members of our community to meet their needs. Thanks, Holly. I see a young mom, struggling with a difficult pregnancy yet refusing to quit helping those in her care. Thanks, Ashley. I see police officers and firefighters enduring public abuse and scorn for action not their own, yet still running toward situations that would make the rest of us run away to keep safe those in danger. Thank you, Lawrence police and firefighters. I see YMCA staff, raising funds on their own time so that all can take advantage of programs that build body, mind and spirit. Thank you Jenny, Kim, Megan and all. And I see church members, allowing their heart to break over the things that break God’s heart and determining to be used of God rather than sit on the sidelines and do nothing.
The world is a good place and a God place that allows us to choose to see either the beauty in the challenges or their failings. Seeing the challenges, I choose to see the beauty and opportunities to grow, to serve, to hope, to dream, to inspire and be inspired and to never forget that when God created, it was and still is good.
Now go and take another look out your window and see it with God’s eyes.