Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Words of Wisdom

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

-- Colossians 3:23-24

Longtime fans remember Yogi Berra as quite a ballplayer. The former New York Yankees catcher, outfielder and manager was a 15-time All-Star, a three-time American League Most Valuable Player, and caught a perfect game in the 1956 World Series. He attained the sport's greatest honor through his 1972 induction into the Hall of Fame. But the St. Louis native was also well known for his "Yogi-isms" -- unique words of wisdom about everyday life that often left readers scratching their collective heads.

"If you come to a fork in the road, take it," Berra once advised. Then there was this bit of sage counsel: "You should always go to other people's funerals; otherwise, they won't come to yours." And who could argue when he opined, "You can observe a lot by watching."

Although Yogi Berra's words are no doubt brilliant, King Solomon probably beats the Hall of Famer when it comes to wisdom and discernment. In fact, Solomon asked God for wisdom - rather than riches or fame - after he took the throne following his father's (King David) death. God honored Solomon's wise request with wisdom beyond human understanding. Great riches and fame soon followed.

Solomon was an effective ruler when he lived by God's standards. But as wise as he was, Solomon tended to strike out in his personal life and make very poor decisions when he took his eyes off the ball. It's through his years of "learning-it-the-hard-way" that Solomon penned Ecclesiastes - an Old Testament book that summarizes many of the wise king's observations about life.

His first observation is that this is our one and only life. And it's only through God that we can find true happiness in it. Likewise, our lives are short. Therefore, we need to make the most of the opportunities God gives us each day. Although our lives are brief, they are more like cross-country marathons than straight-ahead sprints. Jesus centuries later reinforced Solomon's observation. "For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction," Christ warned His followers, "and many enter through it." We instead must enter via life's winding roads and narrow gate.

Finally, Solomon wrote that everyone's hour will come when they leave this brief lifetime and pass into the next chapter of existence. And since none of us know exactly when that will be, we all need to be ready; for both when we'll die and for where we'll spend the rest of eternity.

So how do we get ready when life is so full of unknowns? This first step on this guaranteed road to success is to accept Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior - the One who is ready, willing and waiting to wipe away all the failures of our pasts and give us literal new life and a fresh start.

If you think it's too late in life to start over, you still have time as long as you're still breathing. Yogi Berra's wise words sum it all up: "It ain't over 'til it's over."

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