Monday, April 21, 2008

Are You Up to Challenge?

Life's greatest challenges are in every day decisions! Learning to choose wisely and learning from your experiences can prepare you for a rewarding future.

by Larry Greider

Have you ever thought about what a dull experience life would be if it were not for its amazing variety? God gives us this incredible variety in His creation—daytime and nighttime, seasons and cycles—making life full of contrasts, changes and increasing challenges. Life is full of enough variety and touches of adventure to constantly move us outside our comfort zones. As a reader of Vertical Thought, you know that our articles are written to encourage you to make the most of your life and to develop a deeper spiritual quotient so that you will be confident that you can develop your full potential. Youth is a time to stretch yourself and to take on new challenges. Whether it is to develop your skills in a sport, learn a new language or learn how to play a musical instrument, the more you try different pursuits, the more likely you are to discover your innate talents.

Choices you make

Our lives are composed of the choices we make, the values we embrace, the crises we experience and the mentors we choose. Free choice is one of the greatest gifts God has given to man. We are not like animals that react primarily by instinct. Human beings, made in God's image, have the ability to accept or reject opportunities. When you make wise choices and set your heart to accomplish something wholesome and healthy, the result can be satisfaction and greater understanding of life and of God. In contrast, making poor choices in life can be costly and sometimes deadly. In the beginning, God presented the first human beings, Adam and Eve, with two trees in the Garden of Eden representing two different ways of life (see Genesis 2-3). God's instruction was to not take of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. You probably remember the story and the repercussions for humanity that ensued. We all have the opportunity to choose. When admonishing.Israel about which lifestyle to choose, God told them to choose life (Deuteronomy 30:19), showing them what the result would be of each option. Many people today make wrong choices and don't even realize the consequences until some disaster or pain has come upon them. Values you embrace our choices usually center on what is important to us. We all have to decide how to live our lives and must accept the reality that not all values are the same. The values that God offers us show us how to have a better relationship with Him, our elders and our peers. These values stem from His law, which He reveals as truth. Jesus prayed to God the Father: "Sanctify them by your truth. Your word is truth" (John 17:17). When we base our lives on God's inspired law, God says it will go well with us: "Observe and obey all these words which I command you, that it may go well with you and your children after you forever, when you do what is good and right in the sight of the LORD your God" (Deuteronomy 12:28, emphasis added).We all have 24 hours in a day, but some use time much more effectively than others. If we value time, we can use it to accomplish something lasting or important. An athlete must practice, a worker must perform, a student must study, etc. It has been said that if you don't know where you are going, you'll probably end up somewhere else—and that usually means having to face the question of where your time went. Time can be one of God's greatest gifts, or it can be a great curse when misused. Spending precious moments to learn godly values is one of the most beneficial uses of the time we have. Crises you experience No matter how good we might think our choices have been, eventually we will face challenges or crises that will try our character. Bad things can happen to good people, and being in the wrong place at just the right time can bring a life-changing moment. I remember a sobering story of a young boy who was riding in the backseat of the family convertible. They were enjoying the warm weather on a family outing when a stray golf ball from a driving range next to the highway smashed into his forehead. The freak accident caused a lifetime of headaches and some permanent brain damage. Coping with this unfortunate accident became the challenge of his life. Some people are born with severe birth defects, while others may find themselves in the middle of a war or a natural disaster. Besides these random acts of man and nature, we can make poor decisions that have repercussions that are just as serious—more than we could possibly have realized at the time. Driving too fast, not wearing a seat belt or choosing to hang out with the wrong crowd are all real choices that young people face in today's world. You can either learn or lose from your experiences, and how you recover from your mistakes is often indicative of your character. God wants us to learn from our mistakes and determine to change by making wise choices. Sometimes it takes suffering the consequences of a poor choice to motivate us to make better ones.

Mentors you choose

Having someone to guide you could be one of the most important ingredients in making the most of your life, at any stage in life. Hopefully, your parents, a pastor or older siblings are part of your mentoring network. Hanging around with the wise provides an opportunity to become wiser yourself. "A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel" (Proverbs 1:5).Many people let their lives become dictated by routine and expediency rather than making creative choices to bring something better. Accepting the challenge of developing your mind, body and spirit can be a springboard toward a fulfilling and exciting life. As a young man growing up, I was privileged to be a part of the Scouting movement and was encouraged to work toward the highest level, the Eagle Scout award. Being encouraged to set goals and push myself at an early age helped me more than I realized at the time. It has been instrumental in achieving all that I have accomplished and in going all the places I have been. We live in a time when there are so many opportunities, if you have the eyes to see them and the desire to grow. Vertical Thought readers realize that they must take responsibility for their own lives. Accept the challenges that come your way to become the best you can be. Set worthwhile goals for yourself, and remember that your life is a composite of the choices you make, the values you embrace, the crises you experience and the mentors you choose. The challenge is up to you. Make the most of your life!

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