It’s In Your Hands!

The story is told of some young foolish boys who were always trying to fool a wise old man who lived in their village. It had become somewhat of an obsession with the young boys, because every time they went to the old man with what they thought was an enigma, the old man would come up with an answer!

So one day, one of the little boys came up with what he thought was the perfect plan to stump the old man! He told his friends that he would go to the old man with a live bird within his closed fists and ask the old man if the bird was alive or dead. If the old man said the bird was alive, he would close his fists tighter and kill the bird! If the old man said the bird was dead, he would open his fists and the bird would fly away!

Completely satisfied that the plan would work, the boys took off to go see the old man, almost unable to contain their excitement at the thought of finally fooling the wise old man. When they arrived at the wise old man’s house, they eagerly presented him with their fool-proof riddle. They said: “Old man, Johnny has a bird in his hands! Tell us, is it alive or dead?” The old man sat silent for a moment, intently looking at their mischievous little faces. Then, the old man simply said, “The answer is in your hands!”

Well, that’s the way life is! Although many think it is in the hands of the governments, family, friends, circumstances, or situations, the ultimate success or failure in your life is in your hands! You can live life with open hands to give and receive, or you can live life with closed fists, attempting to hold on to what you have, not realizing that while a closed-fist secures what you have, it also prevents you from receiving more!

But not only is it in your hands, it is also in your head! Much of life is not ‘what it is,’ it is ‘what you think it is!’ The Bible says: “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he!”  The poet, Walter D. Wintle wrote:

If you think you are beaten, you are;

If you think you dare not, you don’t;

If you’d like to win, but think you can’t,

It’s almost a cinch you won’t.

If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost,

For out in the word we find

Success begins with a fellow’s will,

It’s all in the state of mind.

If you think you’re outcasted, you are;

You’ve got to think high to rise.

You’ve got to be sure of yourself before

You can ever win a prize.

Life’s battles don’t always go

To the stronger or faster man;

But soon or late the man who wins

Is the man who thinks he can.

Several years ago, I read Zig Ziglar’s book: See You At The Top, Ziglar wrote: “How you think determines what you become. . . The mind is a dutiful servant and will follow the instructions we give it. . . I am convinced your business is never either good or bad – out there. Your business is either good of bad between your ears. . . . You are what you are and where you are because of what has gone into your mind. You can change what you are and where you are by changing what goes into your mind. . . Realistically, most locked doors are in your mind.” In his famed work: Psycho-Cybernetics, Maxwell Maltz writes: “A human being always acts and feels and performs in accordance with what he imagines to be true about himself and his environment. This is a basic and fundamental law of the mind. It is the way we are built. . . .You act, and feel, not according to what things are really like, but according to the image your mind holds of what they are like. You have certain mental images of yourself, your world, and the people around you, and you behave as though these images were the truth, the reality, rather than the things they represent.”

Yes! But not only is it in your hands and in your head, it is also in your feet! Some weeks ago, I rode a bike for the first time in many years and I found out that it’s true what they say; if you ever learn how to ride a bike, you will never forget! Riding a bicycle teaches several fundamental lessons of life: The only way to remain upright and balanced is to keep moving forward at certain rate of speed! As long as the bike is moving forward; you’re making progress toward a destination and you are balanced. It’s alright to stop peddling for a while and coast, but if you wait too long before you start peddling again, it will be almost as hard to regain your momentum as it was when you first started! And if you keep coasting and never start peddling again, you will eventually stop; progress will no longer occur, you will lose your balance and you will fall, if you don’t stick your leg out! Yes! In many ways, life is like riding a bike; to make progress, to reach your goals, to maintain balance, you must keep moving forward at a certain rate of speed!

My bike-riding experience also reminded me of another truth! I noticed as I was riding that I had to constantly adjust my direction! Nothing major, just constant minor shifts! The same thing happens in driving a car! Even on a straight road, you have to make slight and minute shifts and adjustments. That’s the way life is! It is never perfectly straight! But, to get to where you want to go, you must first of all, have somewhere to go! We are designed to have goals and to work progressively toward them! In Psycho-Cybernetics, Maltz talks about the fact that human have a built-in success mechanism that must have a goal or a target. It’s in your feet because you will only find fulfilment in life as you walk or peddle your way toward your goals, making slight adjustments and sometimes major turns along the way!

Yes! It’s in your hands, it’s in your head, it’s in your feet, and it is also in your mouth! In your mouth, there is either a miracle or a mess! We used to say as kids: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me!” Well, I found out that is not necessarily true! Not only can words hurt; words can kill! Jesus said: “I tell you that on the day of judgment people will have to account for every careless word they speak. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matt. 12:36-37 CSB17) The bad words other people say to you ‘may’ or ‘may not’ hurt you, but the bad words you say to yourself ‘will’ hurt you! When I say ‘bad words,’ I don’t mean profanity, I mean the put-down-words, the negative conversations we sometimes have with our selves! If others say we can’t do it, we can use that as motivation to prove them wrong! But if we say to our selves that we can’t do it; we’re doom to fail, because who can successfully argue with themselves and win?

Lastly, not only is it in your hands, in your head, in your feet, and in your mouth; it is also in your heart! Your heart is your uttermost desire! Your heart is what you want most in life! The commercial asks: “What’s in your wallet?” But an even more important question is: “What’s in your heart?” Jesus said: “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.” (Matt. 12:34-35 NKJ) Your heart contains the will and the fortitude necessary to get and achieve what you really want in life! You heart contains the treasure or the trash that motivates everything you do!

Yes! It’s in your hands! It’s not up to the government! It’s not up to the economy! It’s not up to your spouse or your children! It’s not even up to God! Ultimately, you must accept full responsibility for your life and say: “If it is to be, it is up to me!” Whatever you make out of your life, it is in your hands!

The Failure of Success

sad successThere are a countless number of people in the world today who are driven by the quest to obtain success! They dedicate all of their mental, spiritual and physical energy to the task of obtaining material success. Now while the apprehension of success has been touted to be a worthwhile endeavor, most who sincerely engage in the quest usually are disappointed in the end. They are disappointed, not because they fail to achieve a measurable amount of success, but rather because they do indeed become successful! Now you may ask: “Why would anyone who achieves success be disappointed?” Well, they are disappointed because they discover that success is not all that it has been reported to be! The person, who makes the achievement of success the ultimate goal and reaches it, discovers the failure of success!

What is the failure of success? The failure of success is in the fact that success was not designed to be the end or the goal of life! In the New Testament, Jesus put it this way when he asked the question: “What does it profit a man if he should gain the whole world and lose his soul?” Now the traditional interpretation of the question is that Jesus was asking what good is it for a person to gain all of the material success in life and then die and go to Hell. But I think there was more to that question than just the eschatological interpretation we have traditionally given it! Jesus could have also been asking: “What good is it if a person is successful but loses themselves in the process?” Jesus knew that success, as we commonly define it, was a failure! That is why he replied to the man who asked him to settle a property dispute he was having with his brother: “A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses!” Jesus already knew what many spend a lifetime to discover: Success does not satisfy!

But why is success a failure and why doesn’t success satisfy? Success is a failure and it doesn’t satisfy because we weren’t made just for success; we were made for significance! The ultimate purpose of our sojourn upon the earth is not to accumulate; but rather to contribute! Not to gain, but to give! The ultimate goal is not how much we can count, but rather in how much we count! Success is a failure because the real goal is not to make a living; but rather to make a life! And how do you make a life? You make a life by making your life count! And you make your life count by making a positive and lasting impact in the lives of those around you and even in the lives of generations to come!

People today are frantically engaged in the pursuit of success, but what they really want is significance! People just want to matter!  People just want to make a difference! Now if you make a positive difference in the lives of others by being successful, then that’s good! But if your success only benefits you and yours, then your success is really a failure! For in the end, the measure of a man’s life will not be in how successful he was, but rather in how much of a difference he made! Not in how much he gained; but rather in how much he gave! Not in his success; but rather in his significance!