Ambition can be good. Striving for continual improvement can be good. Wanting to be the best can also be good. But these all come at a cost—and often a too high cost. We can, however, strive to be the best that God has potentialled us to be. And if, along that journey we are kind to others, humble, caring, dependable and reliable, we may run the risk of having others think of us as ‘ordinary’ — a high compliment indeed — but in reality we will not just be ordinary, we will have attained the elusive honour of being ordinary and noble.
A brush with death will sometimes have a dramatic effect upon a person. It can (and has) cause(d) people to re-evaluate their priorities and reset their life on a completely different course. This phenomena has been the basis for several Hollywood blockbusters including, Big Fish (starring Albert Finney, Ewan McGregor, Danny DeVito), and Meet Joe Black (starring Anthony Hopkins, Brad Pitt) are two great examples. But it’s not just the stuff of movies. Throughout history there have people who have had a brush with death which has shaped them to live a life without fear and accomplish extraordinary things. Examples include Martin Luther, who nearly died in a storm and cried out to God to save him (he is now the second most written about person of all time), and Winston Churchill who nearly drowned as a child. How differently would you live if you knew when you were going to die?
Of all Rudyard Kipling’s six best friends, I think Why is my favourite. Why is a question that leads to understanding – not just facts, but heart. Kiplings other five friends: Who; What; When; Where; and, How; are really mere lieutenants to their chief, Why. Most of you are probably already acquainted with Why but I want to help you to get better acquainted with this master of the interrogatives – especially those of us who want to change the world!
“Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
Why leads to discovery and enlightenment. In Mark’s Gospel, he records the Jewish scribes asking themselves “in their hearts” why Jesus dared speak with divine authority. Their question is squarely answered when Jesus “perceiving in His spirit that they thus questioned within themselves and trumped their why with His own. “Why do you question these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’ — He said to the paralytic — ‘I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.’ And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, We never saw anything like this!”