Friday, May 19, 2017


. . . He stops upon this threshold
As if the design of all his words takes form
And frame from his thinking and is realized.
Wallace Stevens
Have you considered how much of the quality of your life depends on your "designs"? Think for a moment about the meaning of the word. Apart from its more common use, "design" can mean "a reasoned purpose, an intention." It's often used in a negative sense ("He has designs on his neighbor's wife"), but it can also be used positively. Our designs are our intentions with regard to the future, and, as I say, much that is important to us depends on these designs. High quality lives don't come from inferior designs.
What happens outwardly in our lives is the "manifestation" of what is going on inwardly. Just as a house is the manifestation of what was on the blueprint from which it was made, which in turn was the manifestation of a design in the mind of the architect, our lives are the outworkings of our inward values and goals. If we're unhappy with what has been manifested in our lives, we can always change our designs, and when we do, other things will begin to be manifested.
We owe it to those around us, especially our loved ones, to be more purposeful in our designs. Those who've entrusted themselves to us in friendship and love need to know that we've carefully considered the alternatives and made wise choices in our designs. Haphazard living doesn't just hurt us; it hurts others, too. So we need to be careful.
Ultimately, our designs will turn out to be useless if they run counter to the principles of goodness and honor. We can't operate from selfish or destructive intentions and expect our outward lives to be blessed by abundant joy and satisfaction. We do not live unto ourselves alone, and the laws of human behavior and interaction can't be ignored with impunity. Our designs -- that is, what we plan to be and do -- must harmonize with the good of those around us, and even with the overarching purposes of the whole creation of which we're a part. If they don't, our designs are doomed to be inconsequential.
Direct, control, suggest, this day,
All I design, or do, or say,
That all my powers with all their might,
In Thy sole glory may unite.
Thomas Ken

Monday, September 26, 2016


There is something new every day if you look for it.
Hannah Hurnard
One of our most remarkable endowments is the ability to foretaste pleasure. The literal meaning of "anticipate" is to "take before," and we have it within us to look ahead (at least a little way) and take enjoyment from our experiences before they arrive. To make this choice and welcome the future with joy is an act of courage. It is also an act of considerable wisdom.
Not everything about the future will be pleasant, of course. But even so, anticipation is a wise choice. As a positive character quality, anticipation gives us a more constructive outlook. By believing the best and acting on our hopes, we find a better future than if we expected the worst. For this reason, Albert Schweitzer, who spent his adult life dealing with life's rough edges, said, "My knowledge is pessimistic, but my willing and hoping are optimistic."
How then can we heighten our anticipation and relish our future? Although it seems contradictory, the primary thing we can do is pay more attention to what happens in the present moment. As I write these lines, for example, it is early spring and the trees outside my window are beginning to bud and blossom. It would be difficult to look at these things thoughtfully and not anticipate (or "take before") the greater, more fully developed beauty they'll have tomorrow morning. So whatever death and decay there may be, let's also see the evidence that many good things in the world are moving, growing, and reaching forward. If we "taste" deeply the present truth about these things, our minds will tingle with anticipation for what lies ahead.
Even when we have no idea what will happen tomorrow, there are still reasons for us to anticipate it. The intriguing mystery of it all -- the very possibility that tomorrow's path may take a surprising turn -- ought to energize us. If life could be completely planned and programmed, we would be "safe" perhaps, but in our hearts we know that we want more than safety. Like the inquisitive, once-upon-a-time children that we used to be, we want to learn more than we know and do more than we've done. There's a bit of the adventurer in all of us.
Still round the corner there may wait,
A new road, or a secret gate.
J. R. R. Tolkien

Friday, January 1, 2016

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Tuesday, November 4, 2014