Daily Devotions

For My Friends in Aguadilla

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If you close your ear to the cry of the poor, you will cry out and not be heard. (Proverbs 21:13)

When I was a little boy, our family was stationed at Ramey Air Force Base in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. I have just a few memories, but I have family stories that have been handed down. For instance, my little brother wandered out into the busy road in front of the house. If it were not for an older man who ran in front of a car, my brother would have been killed. Our home was next to a school, and I would run out and play with the local kids. I didn’t speak Spanish and they didn’t speak English, but we had wonderful times playing together. My mother learned a number of Puerto Rican-types of handwork from the local women, including intricate bobbin lace patterns.

I ache wondering, all these years later, how my schoolyard friends, now grown with families of their own, are doing amidst hurricanes and earthquakes. If you have never been to Puerto Rico, it is easy to lump them together as “those struggling people,” and forget that each one is a loving, supportive individual, with hopes and fears, dreams and disappointments. Many of them live close to the edge, balancing on the tip of poverty. I cannot imagine how each one is holding it all together amidst two natural disasters.

Today, pray for the people of Puerto Rico – but as individuals, not as a group. Picture a child and her parents. Or a young man sitting with his grandparents. Visualize their dreams and desires. Even take a minute and use Google images to see pictures of average Puerto Ricans. Pray for God to give each one strength, hope, and love. God knows they need Divine intervention after all they’ve had to endure. They also need all the care we are able to provide.

Finding Your Success

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Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)

Success is a slippery idea. I remember when I was in high school, a friend’s dad would say, “he who dies with the most toys wins.” That was his idea of success. In Minnesota, where I spent my high school and college years, there is a lot of pressure to have a summer home on one of Minnesota’s 10,000+ lakes, with the pontoon boat, the speed boat, the jet skis, the snow mobiles, etc., etc. Toys were a priority to many where I grew up.

Dan Pedersen, in his article, “Defining Success,” points out, “We tend to think of success in terms of what our tribe thinks it should be. But the tribe isn’t always right.” Further, your tribe often changes over time. If you spend your life acquiring toys, and in retirement come to realize that true success is found in philanthropy and mission, it will feel as if the bulk of your life was wasted.

Finding your success requires internal intelligence. Following the crowd, or “the tribe,” will most likely leave you empty and disgruntled. Thousands of years later, Socrates’s words remain true, “Know Thyself.” Pedersen continues, “Once you remove what the tribe thinks, it changes everything. Success, for you, will no longer be defined by what other people are going to think of you.” This is better said, than done. It requires a process of thinking and evaluating what is important to you and important to God. It isn’t easy to buck society’s values at any given moment.

Today, pray for the Divine wisdom to know what is worthy of our time, our talent, our finances, and our worship. Ask God to help see beyond popularity. Ask God to give you the confidence and wisdom to see beyond the expectations of others and find lasting success that is real and meaningful to you for the rest of your life, and for all eternity. Then, go live it! Live it with care, love, and courage!

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