Saturday, August 9, 2008

I Found God In A Brick Wall...

By now you've probably seen the coverage of Randy Pausch - author of The Last Lecture - who died recently after losing his battle with pancreatic cancer. This computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University first spoke in September 2007: a lecture entitled Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams. It's remarkable how Mr. Pausch remembered his dreams as he grew into adulthood and how many he could actually accomplish.

The lecture is fascinating - it has been turned into a best-selling book, you can listen to the lecture in it's entirely on YouTube, and you can read a transcript of the lecture as well.

There are many life-quotes spread throughout the lecture, but my favorite is about a brick wall:
"Brick walls are there for a reason.
The brick walls are not there to keep us out.
The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something.
Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough.
They’re there to stop the other people.”

I just love that idea - the idea that an obstacle in my path might have been placed there to give me a chance to prove that the prize on the other side is something I really, REALLY want. But I have to reconcile this idea with the one that I've written about before:

That God allows hardship in our lives to warn us we are on the wrong path.

Are the two mutually exclusive?

God wants us to be persistent - to never give up:
2 Chronicles 15:7 "But as for you, be strong and do not give up,
for your work will be rewarded."

But he also wants us to pay attention to the signs He provides when we are straying from the path He has set before us. So how do we discern which message to head? When does "persistence" make way for "get a clue?"

My first thought is that God would not use a brick wall... but something even sturdier - a reinforced, bullet-proof, steel wall of infinite height and density... or he will erect many brick walls - a stumbling of hurdles blocking our path. Of course, people are often stubborn and ignore the bright, blinking warning signs that God provides. I suppose it is easy to take the brick-wall-is-merely-there-to-get-you-motivated idea and run with it willy-nilly through all blockages in your path. Perhaps we need some method of discernment? Can you ask yourself if the prize on the other side of the wall is something that God might want for you? Can you know that your methods of getting over the wall won't hurt another person in your quest? Will your Christian life be better for achieving your goals?

I'm all about rules - following the big ones AND finding loopholes in the others that would allow me to circumvent them altogether. I'd be the first to glare at the brick wall before me and find the angle that would allow me to climb over it, dig under it, wrap around it, or bust through it. But the brick wall is there for a reason - either to inspire me to want to get past it, to warn me that the path ahead is lined with hardships, or to thwart me completely from making a BIG mistake.

I guess for each wall, I just have to figure out which! :)

Good luck scaling the walls in your life,
:) Mags

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1 comment:

David said...

This is a good question and one that faces each of us practically everyday. I think you hit on some good testing questions ... will climbing the wall make your Christian walk better, bring you closer to God, help you help someone else that God has put in your life. It's not always clear or easy to discern but by turing to God's Word in The Bible and discussing with others who you know earnestly seek God's will in their own life we can sometimes gain additional discernment. I'm glad we don't have to go it alone ... God is always with us, we have His Word, and we can seek the wise perspective of fellow followers of God.