How do we experience God in misfortune and inconvenience? How do we experience Him in good fortune and ease?
While sailing on the Potomac in the shadow of Mount Vernon on the fourth of July we lost our engine. On the way out we had discussed whether we could dock under sail alone, having never done it in the narrow and shallow channel that leads to the Fort Belvoir Marina. Now we had our chance. We tacked into the wind and slowly sailed toward the marina. My mother in law Susan asked the children to pray for success. My son David questioned whether God cares about little things like that. Though the wind sailing south was against us, when we turned to starboard to sail into Dogue Creek, the quartering tailwind was perfect. As we approached the marina we dropped the main and moved in slowly with the jib. Much to my mother-in-law’s delight, we docked successfully. We recognized it as a work of God in our lives.
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Our fundamental biology, assumptions and experiences, passed down through our families and environments, shape us more than we know. By identifying these influences, we can shape them.
In the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical the Sound of Music, 17 year old Rolf sings to his beloved 16 year old Liesl about her innocence as she makes the transition into adulthood. Rolf’s song, Sixteen Going on Seventeen, includes the line “your life, little girl, is an empty page, that men will want to write on.”
Though a charming sentiment, it is not really true. None of our lives are an empty page, ready to learn and experience anything that comes our way with complete accuracy and objectivity. We are each preconditioned by a host of factors to see and respond to life in a particular way:
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