Daily Devotions

We'll Miss You, Jim Fowler

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The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it. (Psalm 24:1)

When I was a boy, my favorite TV show was Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. I was awed by the many exotic, dangerous and varied animals. The show also introduced us to many different indigenous people from around the world. Even Johnny Carson loved the show and made fun of the stars. A recent Washington Post article reminds us, “Johnny would imitate Marlin, saying, ‘I’ll stay back at camp mixing drinks for the native girls while I send Jim downriver to wrestle the two-horned rhino in heat,’ Mr. Fowler once recalled.”

Jim Fowler died a couple weeks ago. It was another “end of the era” moment for me. Jim Fowler was like a superhero, who did the coolest stuff, and came to visit every week on my television. Probably the most frightening moment in Fowler’s history on the show was when an enormous anaconda swallowed Jim’s arm all the way up to his shoulder. The tribesmen ran away in panic. He coolly waited for the anaconda to tire itself out, give up, and regurgitate his arm. 

What made Jim Fowler so special was his respect for the animals and the indigenous people. Remember, Wild Kingdom began in the 1960s, in the midst of the Civil Rights movement. Here was a strong, brave, brilliant, white man going to exotic places and learning from the people of color, around the world. Jim Fowler taught us to treat all of God’s creation with respect and dignity. He knew that even though things that are different can be scary, if you learn about their uniqueness’s and needs and desires, you can live in harmony with all things. It was a message that needed to be heard in the 1960s and one that needs to be shared anew in 2019.

Pray today, that we can all learn from Jim Fowler, and bravely interact with those beings – both human and animal – who are different from ourselves. Pray that we can open our hearts to include all of God’s creatures. When we do that, this world of ours can finally be transformed. Rest In Peace, Jim Fowler!

How Do I Survive My High School Reunion?

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But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33)

What really matters? I’ve tried to assist different young people through the years, to receive help in the midst of suicidal thoughts or attempts. Ten years later some of them had trouble even remembering what it was that caused such angst and emptiness, that they were willing to end their lives. For some, it was a relationship that left them in despair. For older adults, the loss of their financial stability and recognition is reason to end one’s life. Perspective is vitally important, so one does not continue to leave such a fatalistic option on the table.

I wish there was a way to show people, during their most painful moments or failures, that those times are often forgotten or placed in a proper perspective by the retirement age. As one realizes that failures should not be catastrophic, the easier it is to focus on our failures as opportunities for learning and growth. As we are able to grow through perceived failures, our worries do not control us as much and we are able to move forward in a positive manner.

As we get older, “getting ahead in life,” isn’t as big a focus. Several years ago, I had a friend go to her thirtieth high school reunion. She said it was wonderful. Her ten-year reunion was awful, because everyone was still posing, bragging, and trying to show everyone else up. By the thirty-year reunion, everyone had relaxed and was beyond trying to impress each other. What was important transformed through the following twenty years.

How we are perceived by others isn’t as important as it used to be. We are valued by how we provide care to those we love, not how we can impress acquaintances. If the person is fortunate enough to have faith, they begin to affirm that the only one whose perception matters is God’s. Today, think about what really matters to you at your stage of life. How have these things changed through your years of life? Finally, pray for God to guide you to a more mature level, where the divinely important things are what really matters. Perhaps, God will let you get over the feelings you had at your ten-year reunion!

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