Point of Reference
by Fred Price
I enjoy watching sports and get particularly excited by a well-thrown pass in football or a well executed play in basketball. I am also inspired by the harmony and lyrics of a well-sung song or a well-turned phrase in literature; an idea masterfully conveyed by a few choice words. One such phrase jumped out at me some time ago in a song recorded by Confederate Railroad titled “Jesus and Mama (Always Loved Me).”
If you’ve not heard it, the song gives a short rendition of a young man’s life, his groping for purpose revealed in his grasping at “things.” Like many of us, he was “Headstrong, stubborn, couldn’t be told – like a wild horse that couldn’t be rode – a rainbow chaser hungry for gold – and still searching.” The real problem being that there wasn’t much substance to his search. With all the paths open to him, he “…chose the wrong one.” Wishing upon a star for success and prosperity, he then merely waited for it to come to him; finally growing tired of the wait – he took things into his own hands and forced the issue. His one solace through it all was that, “Jesus and Mama always loved me.” A mother’s love and a long-suffering God finding their way into any number of songs, the reality being that both are instrumental at times in bringing a wayward soul to his senses; re-introducing the prodigal back home as well as into the family of God. Which is certainly reassuring, as long as that hope isn’t used to excuse and prolong bad behavior.
And now, at least in my opinion, the significant phrase of this song. For in acknowledging his shortsightedness and rebellion, the song’s character admits that, “My dreams were big but my thoughts were small.” What an apt summation of so many lives today; and not just the one’s lived badly, but encompassing the one’s merely lived poorly as well. In particular, I’m thinking of the underachievers who don’t excel at anything not because they’re incapable but fearful of trying – neglecting to do the things that would help them acquire the ability and confidence to try new and possibly difficult chores. Peter admonishing us to, “ …prepare your minds for action,…” 1 Peter 1:13 James equating genuine faith with active service. (James 2:17) The writer of Proverbs using another cool turn of phrase to describe what motivates a person to do what they do, “As water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man.” Proverbs 27:19 Because, “…as (a man) thinketh in his heart, so is he…” Proverbs 23:7 (KJ) “…the Lord search(ing) every heart and understand(ing) every motive behind (his) thoughts.” – and deeds. 1 Chronicles 28:9 & Jeremiah 17:10
What we think about, dwell upon or ponder is vitally important; a key component of our character that determines whether we think small thoughts and consequently accomplish little or dream big with the capacity to then live those dreams out in significant ways. (See Matthew 7:18-20; 2 Corinthians 3:5 & Galatians 6:3) Maybe you don’t struggle with doing the wrong thing so much as doing more mature things. Paul acknowledging that even he, “…talked like a child… thought like a child… reasoned like a child…”; when he was young and feeling “childish.” But when be became a man and began shouldering more responsibility, he had to "…put childish ways behind me.” 1 Corinthians 13:11 He did so in part by focusing his mind on, “…whatever is true… noble… pure… lovely and admirable… excellent (or) praiseworthy…” Philippians 4:8 Following that thought pattern through would mean examining what we watch and listen to, the games we play and what we say, who we spend time with; which takes effort and is somewhat difficult – but worth the effort none-the-less. (Psalm 119:59) Of those who fail or refuse to do so, it is said, “In his pride the wicked does not seek (the Lord); in all his thoughts there is no room for God.” Psalm 10:4 However, “The plans of the diligent lead to profit…” on a number of levels in numerous ways. (Proverbs 21:5)
Which brings me to a concept I like to promote because so few people make the effort to do so anymore. Pondering, which by my definition is an intense consideration of an idea; turning it over, around and up-side down in your mind until you’ve examined every angle, nuance and possible interpretation. “…taking captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5 Much like the Psalmist who, “…ponder(ed) what (God) has done.” Psalm 64:9; and was thus able to pass on such words of wisdom and knowledge that men are still drawn to them today. Which will then enable us to, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have… do(ing so) with gentleness and respect.” 1 Peter 3:15 (See also Ephesians 2:10; 4:12 & 2 Timothy 4:2)
For, “If (we) falter in times of trouble” – which we all do from time to time – “how small is your strength!” And ultimately, who’s fault and responsibility is that? God’s word specifically promising to equip and enable us to, “Rescue those being led away to death; hold(ing) back those staggering toward slaughter. (And) If you say, ‘But we knew nothing about this’, does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?” Proverbs 24:10-12 (See also Matthew 16:27 & Romans 2:6) The solution being to dream and think big, preparing ourselves as thoroughly as we possibly can to take advantage of every opportunity to serve and prosper in every way; relying on God’s mercy to aid and cover us in the times we do less than we hoped, realizing that even in those times God, “…is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work in us,…” Ephesians 3:20
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Fred Price - married (49 years), father of two grown children, grandfather of six.
Fred retired earlier this year after 42 years as a factory worker. He has always had a heart for young people and the challenges they face today. Over the years Fred has taught Discipleship Groups for High School and college students.
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