My journey of giving back

On 4/5/2011, I visited the First Prebyterian Church Jobs meeting in Greensboro, NC

The speaker was Bishop Chip Marble of the Episcopal Church of North Carolina.

Chip felt led to share Psalm 23 (written by King David) with the group. As he read it out loud, I realized that this Psalm was speaking to me and the journey I am on now. Listen to the words:

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Chip had another version of verse 4 that I really enjoyed.

“Yea, though I walk thru the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, cause I’m the meanest SOB in the Valley.”

I asked Chip for permission to use his quote. I think he heard me, I think he said yes. (lol)

As I listened to Chip’s reading of Psalm 23 and later as I read it to myself, it really seemed to me that these words are very relevant to my previous life, current life, as well as my future.

Here is how I compare these verses to my life:

“The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.”
As I have mentioned before in my post titled, Why Me Lord?, I have always been able to provide for my family. I always managed to pay my bills, put a little money away and even buy just about any new gadget, tool or toy I wanted. I know that this was because a) I worked hard and B) God was there to help my family thru life and especially when times were tough.

“He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.”
Again, I have been saying all along that my life is good, easy, comfortable and safe. A) This is likely because I rarely put myself in situations or environments where I could not manage to achieve success or happiness. Also, my wife always offers me “input” that kept me in line, even if I did not think I needed it. B) God always seemed to point me in the right direction, even when I thought differently at first. I generally strive to live in line with God’s desire for me.

“He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”
I normally don’t talk about the mistakes I have made in life. I could tell you that this is because I have not made any mistakes, but too many people know this is not the truth. The honest truth is that I have made many mistakes in life. Some trivial, others not. A) I know how to discern right from wrong and strive every day to be sure I am doing right by everyone. Again, my wife and even my kids help me with this regularly, not that I need their help. B) I know that God loves me enough to forgive me for my sins, as long as I always strive to do better, and I work hard at doing this.

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.”
Yeah, no way am I the meanest SOB in the valley. Actually, I try hard to live safely. I have been in a few dangerous situations and even feared for my life on at least a few occasions. In each situation I felt the urge to quickly ask God for help, and without fail, God felt that I have enough value to Him, and likely others, that he protected my life. That’s very obvious to me since I sit here today writing this story after some very precarious situations, now long past. A) Again, I do not purposely put my life at risk, either physically or emotionally. I also have a wife who councils me regularly when she feels I am doing something dangerous. B) I trust in God to protect me and to keep me safe while I am doing what he wants me to be doing. For many years I knew my task was to provide for my family and to make sure that my daughters had the guidance and support necessary to get them to the point in their lives where they could provide these things for themselves. I did this and while I did, God protected me. Now, I believe that God wants me to start focusing my time and energy to help others, and if I do this, again, I will fear no evil.

“Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.”
I have always felt that there is really no one out there who is an enemy to me and my life. Maybe people who don’t understand me or wish I were different, but no enemies. A) I don’t try to please everyone, but I do try reduce the risk of confrontation with others. This helps me limit the number of enemies I may have in life. B) Being a Christian, I learned to treat others as I want to be treated and to turn the other cheek when necessary. This attitude is likely the real reason I have no enemies.

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.”
I have never been one to wear my Christianity on my sleeve. That being said, I am very happy that my religion has guided my life significantly. I understand and believe in the value of the 10 Commandments, the Golden Rule and many other common sense (to me) rules of a good life.

On my new journey to start giving back has made me a little less guarded with what I wear on my sleeve. I have found myself comfortable telling others about my faith in God and belief that as long as I am doing good, God will take care of me.

Like Chip, I too morph good statements to fit my own personality as well.

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, as I continue on my journey of giving back and befriending the meanest SOB in the valley.”

Teddy