Tag Archives: character

The Last Will Be First

Carl hasn’t been challenged that much in life. Every day, he has a similar routine that begins with a walk, lunch, sleeping in the sun, dinner, and then finding a good spot to spend the night. Every once in a while, his routine is broken up but nothing to get his panties tied in a knot about.

Most of us would initially say that we would love to have a life like Carl’s. Just drifting from one fun thing to the next without giving much thought to anything but our pleasure and basic needs. Initially, everyone says, “Sign me up!”

Yesterday, I went to my second go cart race with my nine year old grandson. He has driven five races and initially he did extremely well. Since he just started, he began in a division that didn’t require much skill. He easily came in first or second place without much effort.

But as most of you who have played a sport or been involved in developing a skill, there are different levels that change up the effort and perseverance needed in order to be successful. So my grandson was now racing among boys his age that had raced fifty races to his five. They had cars that had been fine tuned to the race conditions and lots of people supporting them.

My son in law and his good friend are both mechanics and raced when they were young and are now getting back into the sport after being away for decades. So as you can guess, winning wasn’t in the picture. But on the other hand, an unforeseen gift was.

Everett, my grandson, and his best friend started the first race with high hopes. Everett had made a mistake in qualifying and ended up at the end of the pack. He was extremely upset but pushed through the emotions and went out determined to do his best.

Yesterday’s conditions were challenging to say the least. It was over 95 degrees and the course was hard and slick which made it difficult to stay on the track when making turns. After about the fifth lap, my attention was deferred from my grandson to his friend. A car started spinning right in front of him and he had no choice but to run right into him. From afar, it didn’t look good. And when the ambulance pulled on the track, my heart started racing.  All I could do was start praying.

With my other grandson and Everett’s friend’s brother running toward me, I pulled them close to me and comforted them. And then something happened that touched my heart more than any victory could ever. Eli, my five year old grandson took his friend’s hand and said, “Let us pray for your brother.” And then he closed his eyes and asked God to take care of his friend.

It seemed forever before finally, Everett’s friend was able to walk off the track on his own. He was shaken up and had to be closely monitored for the rest of the time we were there. The paramedic came over to our trailer and double checked on him, but he was ultimately okay.

Everett raced his last race without his friend. He got out there and did the best job he could, spinning out several times, but just like the ready ever battery bunny, Everett pulled back into the race and finished last.

But to me, Everett and Eli finished first. First in character and integrity. First in reaching out to God, when so many children would have become angry and self-absorbed. First where it truly matters in life. In my mind, this is what Jesus meant in Matthew 20:16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

As for Carl, I believe he has a great dog life. But as for me, I want to be more like my grandson, who was willing to be put in a situation that challenged more than just his driving skills, but also his character.

The Blessings of Waiting

Carl spends most of his day in the waiting mode. He is either waiting for the delivery of food, human contact, or a good walk around the block. When he is in the act of waiting, it is clear that this is not what he wants to do.  He demonstrates this by looking right at us and letting out a squeal that reminds you of a wild pig. When this tactic doesn’t work, he will lay down on the floor and produce a pitiful expression.IMG_2080

No one likes to wait.  It makes us feel awkward and uncomfortable. Just yesterday I went to the drive in window at my bank and found one car in front of me. Given my most recent wait times, I was expecting a couple of minutes but after five minutes, I began to fight off feelings of agitation. When my watch indicated that I had been waiting ten minutes, I began to think of ways to get out of line.

Waiting in line is one thing but waiting in life is completely different. Have you ever thought of the times that you believed it was time to receive what you wanted and how you felt when you had to wait?

So often we make plans and insert them into our heart only to come up empty. It could be a successful career, a spouse, a baby, a huge house, and the list goes on and on. No matter what your situation is in life, you are probably waiting for something.

Proverbs 16:9 states a simple fact that can be easily understood but hard to digest. “A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.”

In other words, we can make plans and become passionate about them but God will have the final say on what will actually happen. We also need to remember that God does this because He loves us. He knows when it is best for us to wait and when it is time to be given what we desire.

As I have grown older and hopefully a little wiser, I can reflect back on my life and look at the times of waiting as a blessing. I had to wait to become pregnant with both of my children and know I appreciate them much more because of the wait. And at the other end of life, my husband and I had to wait for the death of our parents.  All four of them had terminal illnesses that lingered for months and for one, years.

During these times of waiting, my character was revealed. Many days were spent in a constant desire to be in a different place of life. But even as difficult as it was, I do believe God intentionally placed me in a state of waiting to refine me.

It is too bad that Carl doesn’t change due to all of the waiting he has had to endure. I have heard the waiting that we go through referred to as the white spaces in our lives. I find it fitting that Carl happens to be a white dog and thus the white space that has made his home in my life.IMG_2163