Greetings, and thank you for spending your time with us!
You could be anywhere else in world, but you are here with us, and we appreciate you!
Now, relax and let these words wrap themselves around your mind and create a cushion for your thoughts. Please let me remind you, this website, this blog, and this community are always safe places for you.
The second chapter is brought to you by the letter N. In this chapter, I explain the importance of Never giving up, Never losing your faith, and reaching for the power of what’s Next in your life.
I once heard that if you attempt something and fail, you end up down on the ground. In other words, when you fail, you fall. Falling to the ground often leaves you hurting. Besides that, no one likes to be down there. The ground is dirty, hard, and rough. It’s also embarrassing, and sometimes we’re too ashamed to look up, so we stay there. If you’re not careful, you can turn a temporary circumstance into a permanent situation. So, while you’re down there, don’t get comfortable. You need to look for a way to pull yourself back up. I didn’t say, don’t fall. I’m saying, get up! After you fall, don’t stop trying or give up. You need to find the handle called the “Power of Next.” Once you find it, you need to grasp it with all that you’ve got and pull yourself back up like you’re on your way to your subsequent success- because you are.
What interests you? What do you like to do? Do you have something that you like to watch? If it’s sports, you can surely think of the name of an athlete who is known for being at the top of their field. Do you like to listen to music? If so, you probably have a favorite music artist. Whether you like to listen to music, watch movies, or enjoy cooking shows because you love to bake, there’s someone who you admire. They are widely recognized, have won awards, are acknowledged for being one of the best, and are known around the world.
Question: What do they all have in common?
Answer: Several times in their life, all of them wanted to give up!
If you don’t believe me, find someone you admire, and do your research. Search for articles, interviews, or if they have written a book. I would be willing to help you if you can’t find it. I’m not a gambling man, but if I were, I would be willing to bet that individual, whoever you selected, has found themselves amid a struggle and wondered if they should give up. Because they didn’t give up, they are who they are today.
"You can’t lean on a shovel, and pray for a hole!"
Last week, I found a seed package in my garage. It was lodged between the wheel of the lawnmower, the wall, and a bag of potting soil. Weird, huh? You might wonder, "How long was it in there?" I really don’t know. But, I know one thing I know for sure. The seeds were still in there. I know because I shook the package and could hear them shake, rattle, and roll inside the paper envelope. I also know that even though the package was wrinkled and dirty, inside the paper envelope, the seeds hadn’t changed from the day we bought it.
Seeds are like prayers. We can have a prayer, a dream, or an aspiration, but as long as we don’t do anything with it, it is just like the seeds in an unopened package. Those dreams are just there, waiting for something to happen. It was easy for me to hold a seed package and say, “I want to plant some vegetables!” And, it’s easy for me to show off my garden and say, “Hey everybody, look that this all of these vegetables! I planted them months ago, and look at this garden now!” But what wasn’t hard was everything in-between.
Someone told me, “You can’t lean on a shovel and pray for a hole!” I believe that’s true. I can’t hold a seed package and pray for a garden, either. If I open the envelope and pour those seeds in my hand, a garden still won’t appear. Even if I hold the seeds and pray, I won’t see a garden grow.
Jesus, the mustard seed, and faith
In case you haven’t already figured it out, my favorite book in the Bible is the Book of Matthew. In Matthew 17:19-20, After Jesus had returned from the high mountain with Peter, James, and John, they came to the crowd, and a man approached Jesus. Then, the man knelt before him. The man said, “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.” “You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment. Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
In this same way, it was easy for me to say, “I want to go back to school!” It’s easy to type it too. I know that because I just did that. Even using my two pointer fingers, it only took a few seconds to type those words. It was also easy to show everyone my degree and say, “I did it!” That was easy too. The hard part was everything in between. In between the start, and the finish line, was the struggle. The hard part was having the faith of a mustard seed and the confidence in knowing that God brought me to it, and He would bring me through it too.
Can you have the faith of a mustard seed?
Similarly, as you read this blog, I know you are going through something. You might want to buy a house. As I type, I'm saying a little prayer for you. Because I believe in the power of prayer, I congratulate you on your new home. You might want to start a business. As I type, I believe that you will achieve. Congratulations, on your accomplishment! It might be life-threatening, like trying to get well from a recent surgery. As I type, I pause and bow my head in prayer for you. I'm asking God to give you the strength to endure the hurt, and smile because you're feeling stronger. You might even be struggling with an addiction or in a mental struggle with an addictive substance. I'm praying for God to give you the strength to look into the mirror and realize that you don't need that. Why? Because you are more wonderful without it, than with it. You are great all by yourself and you don't need anything else to make you better than you already are. Or you might even have cancer, and you’re trying to endure the treatments. Every time you go to your treatment, I pray that you'll read these words or ask someone to read these words to you: You are phenomenal. You are going to make it. God isn't finished with you yet. I don’t know what you're going through, but I know one thing: We are all going through something right now, and we're all going to get through it together.
It will be easy to tell everyone, “I’m cancer-free!” or, “We are having our ribbon-cutting ceremony for my new business!” or “I just had my baby, and look, he’s adorable!” But, right now, you’re in the in-between part. You feel scared to go through labor because you know it will be painful. The labor is the in-between part, and that middle is, by far, the hardest part. You might feel hopeless and don’t know how to get through the in-between part. You might feel stuck in the middle of your dream. You might wonder if you will get through the struggle and question if you get through the pain. You might have even prayed, but you don’t feel anything happening. You might be doubting God and no longer believe that your prayer will come to fruition. Don’t doubt, believe. Don’t have reservations, trust. Remember, you can’t hold the seeds and pray for a garden. A mustard seed can remain in a package for years, and that seed won’t grow while it is in that package. But, when you bow your head in prayer, remove it, and plant the seed, God starts to go to work. When you believe in God, and trust Him, He will do His part. But, what will you do to keep up your side of the bargain?
When you have a prayer, an aspiration, or a goal, it’s like a seed. First, you have to water it with faith. Even before that, you have to till the ground with hard work. Next, you have to let your belief shine on it. Then, you have to bloom where you have been planted and grow in the direction of the Son. Both the astrological sun and the spiritual son.
What am I saying? I am saying you have to do something. I am saying that you should never give up. You can’t lean on a shovel and pray for a hole. You need to do your part. If you’re going to school, you need to study. Study like you’re giving the lecture for that class. Never give up trying to learn the concept so you can pass the test. If you’re preparing to open a business, get your finances straight. Construct your plan, then never give up on your plan. Things happen, and the plan might change, but never give up on yourself. Plan, plan, and then plan some more so that after the ribbon-cutting ceremony, you’re ready to open the doors to the future of your success. If you’re pregnant, you can’t give up on your pregnancy. You’re going to have a baby! You’re going to bring life into this world. You can’t give up before the delivery. Take the time to talk with the doctor and find out how you should eat and how much physical activity you should do so you and your baby are in the best health possible. If you’re getting ready to have surgery and your doctor tells you to stop smoking or maintain a nutritional diet, follow her instructions. It’s not to hurt you; it’s to help you. If you see your partner trying to stop drinking alcohol, do them a favor, don’t drink in from of them. They are struggling, and whatever you can do to help them will be better in the end.
Sometimes we don’t know it, but we can be an answer to someone’s prayer too.
You might be a nurse. You don’t know it, but the patient you will have in the morning will be scared to death for her son. She prays that the doctor and nursing staff will be compassionate, patient, and understanding. You have the opportunity to be the answer to her prayer. You might be a florist. You don’t know it, but the person (who ordered flowers from you) just lost the most important person in his life. He doesn’t know how he will live without her, but he knows that he wants the most beautiful bouquet. Why? Because she absolutely loved flowers, and he knows that’s the last gift he will ever be able to give her. So you have the opportunity to be the answer to his prayer. You might work for the Post office. You don’t know it, but someone is at home pacing back and forth for a letter, a gift, or very important legal documentation. They haven’t received the mail, it’s getting late, and they depend on what’s in that package. You pull back into the post office and straighten up your vehicle before leaving for the evening. It’s late, it was a long day, and you are ready to go home. Then, before you get out of the vehicle, you see the corner of a box in your rearview mirror. You think, “It’s late. I’m ready to go home. I can send that tomorrow.” Then you stop and decide to take the package anyways. When you get to the house, the lady cries when she sees you, gives you a big hug, and tells you, “Thank you so much! I was so scared because it was getting so late, and I was sitting here praying so hard, and you pulled up!” You don’t know what to say. You hug her back and walk to your vehicle. While sitting in your car, you realize that you were the answer to her prayer.
If you are reading this, you didn’t know it, but you are the answer to my prayer too. I prayed for you to read this post, and you did that for me. Thank you for being the answer to my prayer.
As I close this blog post, I will tell you what I say to myself every day: “The best of my life is the rest of my life!” And just like it’s waiting for me, it’s waiting for you! So live your life, love your life, and enjoy the journey. You were uniquely created and creatively designed by a God who doesn’t make mistakes. You are so important that if you tell me that you want to keep reading, I will keep writing for you! If so, I will meet you here next time!
Until then, please take care, be safe, and be well.
Kindest and sincerest regards,
Lionel Quartus Lowery II