Reality Reflection: Tragedy, Humans and Technology

It’s been over 30 years since the disaster in Chernobyl, when there was an accident at one of the nuclear reactors. I have no personal memories of this tragedy (I was too young), but it’s a story that I’ve always followed, maybe because of the haunting images that have been appearing over the years of the homes, schools and businesses that were suddenly abandoned. We know that slowly over the past 30 years nature has been taking over where people used to live and slowly buildings and other things are decaying and returning to more original forms.

I saw an article the other day about a gentleman who flew helicopters over the site in the days after the disaster to measure the temperature and gasses. I always check out stories like these because they give very personal and personable insights into events that don’t come with a lot of details or are still impacting the world today. In the article he tells how he knew it was dangerous but there wasn’t really an option, someone had to do it because they had to get that information. Today thankfully we would be able to send a drone over the scene of the accident and let the drone get the data without having to put any human lives in harms way.

I’m thankful both for the people who go into harms way to help the rest of us like police and fire workers, as well as for the updates in technology that gives the humans a helping hand and keep them safer. We’re not yet at the place where we’re avoiding all accidents, but we have come very far in these past 30 years to where we are avoiding danger more and staying safer.

I believe that we need to support technology development more because it can help keep us safer, move resources where they can be better used, and reduce waste. But there will always be a need to be brave and courageous, to have people help people. The world is better because we have other people to share it with. If anything as technology develops and advances we need people who are more responsible and keep tabs on technology to make sure we’re using it to help and not to harm.  Both people and technology can be good and bad, it’s up to each of us to make sure that they are helping victories happen.

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Victories and Independence

Like many I’m contemplating Independence Day on Thursday this week, and reflecting on the topic of independence. Independence is something we strive for from a very early age, first wanting to walk on our own, then do stuff in the kitchen on our own, and as we get older we have more independence, but with that independence comes more responsibility. And as adults we’ve got a different network of support than we do as a child (where we’ve got more support and others who expect to help you carry the burden).

A topic that has to be considered alongside that of independence, would be that of acceptance and being content. When we think about the pilgrims and first European settlers of the US we’re talking about people who wanted something different for their lives and their future. As the eventual Independence Day and Declaration of Independence shows, they truly wanted independence, separation, from their current existence. However, for many complete independence isn’t necessary if you’re comfortable in general or overall with where things are/how things are going. Sometimes independence only means, to use the earlier example, being able to walk on your own, not to start completely over.

What does that look like as an adult, and more importantly how do you know what you need? One of the biggest keys to not only making steps into your future, but knowing what steps are right for you is being aware of your life and what’s going on around you. How often do you really stop to look at your life, your words, your actions, your relationships, your world? Just taking a moment each day, or several quick moments throughout the day, can help you make sure you’re going in the direction you want to go, and be more aware of potential issues others are having, and may be having with you.

And if you do need to declare an independence day for yourself? Keep your eyes open and take a couple of initial steps to determine if it’s necessary to take drastic action, or if some smaller steps will get you to the point of being content with life and the victories you can create.

Living and Growing

I believe that God has created us with the ability to grow. It’s fairly evident from the fact that while we may be born fully formed almost none of us are born the size we become, or with the abilities and capabilities we grow into. We should work each day on growing more closely into the person that God has created us to be, physically, mentally and spiritually. Very few of us ever stop growing in one way or another, because if we were to stop growing we would become perfect and probably wouldn’t be here on earth anymore. So yes, life is a journey, with many stops along the way, and one destination that we hope to reach some day: heaven. Until that point we keep growing.

But life is about so much more than just growing, because if we only focus on the growth we’ll miss out on things that go on around us or things we could be part of that may not help with our personal growth, but rather the growth, health or happiness of someone else. Which means that as much as we need to focus on growing, we also have to stay present in what’s going on now.

God is a God of yesterday, today and tomorrow. He knows our beginnings and our ends, our ups and downs, our struggles and victories, our potential and our failings. He knows who He created us to be for what’s going on in our lives and in the world now as well as what’s to come in the future. Working on focusing on and living in the now is not only important to what’s going on now, but also sets us up for what the future holds. The lessons we learn, even if they aren’t seemingly relevant today, may have great impact on us in the future.

If you remember the story of Samuel in the Old Testament, his life started off because God fulfilled a prayer request of his mother, and his life really took off when he accepted and listened to the voice of God one night as a young man.  You may have an equally non-traditional upbringing or it may have been very ordinary, but your beginning doesn’t have to dictate your present or your future, the lessons you learn from the past, how you live today, and what you do with your future are all up to you.  What will you do with the life God has given you both today and in the days to come?

Courage Like Daniel

With it being graduation season as well as Father’s Day and last month Mother’s Day, one topic that comes to mind is courage. It takes courage to step into the next chapter of your life after graduation. It takes courage to step up and really be the parent your kids need you to be. It takes courage to step up and be the partner that the mother/father of your children needs you to be. Some people do try to give a partial effort, and they’re partially successful, which usually ends up being more frustrating and ineffective than anything worth giving credit to.

One of the Biblical figures that often is thought of when the topic of courage comes up is Daniel. Daniel’s this larger-than-life figure who has an incredible passion for God, is called into the presence of kings and leaders regularly, and gets himself into some incredible situations including being thrown in a lion’s den (and coming out alive).

Daniel showed courage in several different ways, including being courageous enough to tell the truth when it was asked of him, to stay faithful to what he believed, to continue to practice his faith even when it was considered illegal, and to trust in God when his life was threatened. He also had one of those incredibly close relationships with God, and God revealed much to him because he listened to God. The book of Daniel also records one of the longer prayers in the Bible, a prayer of confession, humility and a seeking of forgiveness.

We may never have the relationship with God or live on the national stage that Daniel did, but that doesn’t mean that our lives are any less important, or that it takes us any more courage to live them that it did Daniel. This week I would encourage you to work your way away from fear and into courage and live your life with the power and confidence that come with being a loved Child of God.

People of Courage

Today I’m thinking about the topic of courage. One of my favorite verses on courage is Deuteronomy 31:6:

“So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”

Sometimes the path that your life travels on calls for only one thing, and that’s courage. There’s very little that you can do other than be courageous and have faith that God goes with you and will get you through this time that you’re facing. This is how we sometimes have to deal with sudden deaths or major losses in our lives. Yes, we would be willing to take action and move in a direction, if only we knew what direction that should be and if we weren’t so blindsided by the turn of events.

It takes courage to rebuild and move on. It takes courage to try to navigate a path you can’t see. It takes courage to step into a new role or relationship. It takes courage to do what you think God is leading you to do even if it doesn’t seem possible or realistic. But if God is going with you and He won’t fail, why shouldn’t we be courageous and try?

So today I encourage you to step into life with all it’s challenges, failures, opportunities, triumphs and celebrations. Don’t let the past hold you back or limit you from dreaming and living courageously. If you’ve forgotten what it means to dream or really live, I encourage you to take steps to get out there and become that person once again, the person God’s created you to be, a person of courage.

Let’s Make Decisions

One of the most important skills we can work on are our decision making skills. One of the worst things you can do is actively choose not to make a decision, because then the decision is taken out of your hands. Which is fine if you’re OK with any decision that follows, but in most cases we really have a preference on what happens and how things develop (or which way you don’t want things to go).

In the Lent devotionals I’ve been reading they’ve been sharing some different stories from the Bible of both Jesus and others making decisions. From Adam and Eve to the prodigal son, to Jesus walking on water, speaking to the woman at the well, to the days and hours leading up to His death on the cross, there are people who make decisions in every chapter. Sometimes those decisions are good, other times they’re clearly influenced by someone or something else, and sometimes you can see that they’re wishing they could pass the decision on to someone else (or had a larger number of options they could pick from).

When you start to work on your decision making skills and you actively make more decisions, yes, you’ll make some not so great decisions. Just like many other things, it takes practice to get good at making decisions, and you’ll never always get it right, although you’ll get more right than not. But using the knowledge and experience you have as well as letting common sense, instinct and your gut help guide you, with a little courage of course, you should be able to face most situations and decisions successfully.

I think the thing to remember is that over the years some people have screwed up on their decision making in some rather serious ways and yes, some people have died as a result, but the vast majority of people are able to recover from even some epically large poor decisions. You’re never out until you’re dead, so as long as you’re still here and breathing you’ve got the time to fix your mistakes and make better decisions.

When you’re making the decisions, you’re in control of your life, and that means that even when life seems to be going out of control or you’re limited as to how much control you have, those decisions are what give you back at least some of your power. What decisions will you make today?

Personal (Purim) Victories

Today the Jewish communities are celebrating Purim. Purim is an interesting spiritual celebration, because it’s one of the few that the story behind it crosses more than the usual spiritual lines (to all who read the Old Testament in the Bible). In case you forget, it’s the story of Esther, and how she becomes queen and is able to plead to the king to save her life and the life of her people (the Jews). If you haven’t read it [lately], I’d encourage you to check it out here.

Before you head off because you think this might be a spiritual post, no, I’m not actually planning to talk about Purim or the story of Esther. Because while it is a faith-based story, the story is one that many of us can identify with and is really a hero/heroine story that countless people read each day. One with true love, respect, victory, the defeat of a villain, and a happily ever after. It’s also a rags to riches story, and one that shows more bravery in a few short chapters than most of us will ever show in our entire lives.

So if this isn’t a spiritual post, what is it? It’s a reminder to myself and you that anything can happen to anyone. Anyone can get lucky. Anyone can totally transform their life from the bottom to a much better life. Anyone can find the courage to do the right thing. Anyone can make the world a better place. Anyone can be a leader. Anyone can work to create a happy ending.

If the future is that bright, why are people struggling? Some struggle because they don’t find the courage to try. Some refuse the help others are offering. Some get paralyzed by all the options and can’t pick one. Some don’t believe in themselves. Some don’t get out there and look for answers or do the work to get there.

What about you? How does your future look and what are you doing to make it better?