Inside Every Block of Stone

“The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.”
― Mark Twain

photo (19)Wise words from Mr. Twain. There is no advantage over the ones who don’t have if the ones who do, do not make some use of what they have. I doubt there is a single person in this world who was born without a single gift to make themselves useful, not only for their own lives but for others. There is that common argument lazy students often give: “I’m not stupid. I’m probably smarter than all of you in this class, but the only reason why I’m failing is because I don’t try. Not because I’m stupid.” Wise words for a young child, but oh so wrong in several ways!

What probably frustrates a teacher more than anything isn’t the student who slowly but cautiously applies himself to the challenges of studying, but the student who pipes up about his intelligence yet shows no application of that so-called intelligence. It is also a trait that aggravates so many of our parents when a child refuses to work up to his capabilities.

There are no guarantees that any two people are built the same way: genetically, without a doubt, but also in factors of intelligence, personality, and capability. Yet what separates the doer from the observer is that one lives his life, and the other watches the doer living. The observer develops a sharp-tongue, a critiquing mind that parses the acts of the doer into multiple categories of good and bad. Yet, that is only a skill that has developed from spending time observing, comparing, and judging lives from the third person. Not to say we don’t need observers who put into study a comparative module of good and bad, but speaking solely of those who lay back and create nothing helpful or useful neither to themselves or those who they critique.

Yet, the doer, though slow in tongue he may be, lives his life. He changes, he develops, and he creates extensions of life by the works of his hands and mind.

In the Book of Isaiah, chapter 64, verse 8: “Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand”. This confession promises not only that we leave it up to our Father to shape us, but furthermore, that we are shapeable. Inside every block of stone, there is masterpiece. Likewise, by the hands of our LORD, we can be made like valuable. We can be made into a new creation from the clay that we are.

It is a complete transformation. We have been made new.

And like our Father, have we worked, have we molded anything into something valuable? Meaningful? We may not have all received the same amounts and qualities of talents and skills, but have we expressed our gratitude for what we have by working and molding what we have into something better?

In summary, first let us entrust God with our lives. There is no door God cannot open, and there is no open door God cannot close. If God chooses not to use your talents, then no effort or work invested into your talents will prosper into anything you hoped for. However, as long as you stand righteous before God and entrust Him, discover what God has given you. There may not be a hundred, fifty, or even ten. But take whatever you have and constantly work on it. Farm it, water it, and nurture it with prayer.

Just as you are molded by Christ, mold what you been given for Christ today.

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Importance of Practice

2014 has begun and I bet we all have done planning and setting goals. That is the first and the most important part of achieving a goal. However, we tend to forget something more important: “how to achieve that goal?”

“How to achieve?” is a crucial question because you get lost if you do not know how to get where you want. I want to suggest that the most important step to it is to reflect your habits. What were the bad habits that hindered you to succeed? What kind of habits do you need in order to reach your goals?

good-habits-bad-habits image from: http://www.lawyerswithdepression.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/good-habits-bad-habits.jpg

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle

 

Aristotle stated that a habit is what we repeatedly do. This might be discouraging since this means that we need to “practice” in order to have a good habit. It might take some time and effort to get a good habit because habit is something we can do it unconsciously. Some might say practicing repeatedly might bore us and we can get burn out. However, I want to oppose to that with the story of the Shouldice Hospital.

Shouldice Hospital is a small medical center located at Toronto, and they are specialized in hernia repair surgery. A hernia is a weakening of the abdominal wall and in most hospital, from 10 to 14 percent of the cases, the operation eventually fails and the hernia returns. However, none of that statistics apply in the Shouldice Hospital. Their recurrence rate is an astonishing 1 percent. The secret to this success is that dozen surgeons at Shouldice do nothing else but hernia operations. Each surgeon repairs between six hundred and eighty hundred hernias a year, which is more than most general surgeons do in a lifetime. 1

With a lot of repetition, surgeons performed each step without pause, and the assistants and nurses were in perfect harmony. Bynes Shouldice, a son of the clinic’s founder and a hernia surgeon, was asked whether he ever got bored doing hernias all day long, and he said, “No, perfection is the excitement.” 1

Perfection always excites us because we can never be perfect. “Practice makes perfect.” Practicing is the only way to reach the perfection. Therefore, practicing and creating good habit should motivate us to move forward rather than exhaust us.

“Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him.” (Luke 22:39)

             Jesus also showed us a good example of habit. His habit was to go up to the Mount of Olives and pray. This was the secret to His victory on the cross.

Reference:

1. Gawande, Atul; “Complications: A Surgeon’s Note on Imperfect Science” pg 39-14