Monday, October 31, 2011

If I Should Depart Early

Imagine the 42-year-old who’s the successful executive, with wife and two young children, and a lovely home. He’s got it all. Except, that is, his health. He has the early stages of Motor Neurone Disease (MND). He must now prepare for an early exit; to leave his life far too early.

He compiles a video-log just so his children can remember him; it’s a way of including his wishes for the way they are to live their lives.

He must juggle the impending degeneration of his body, to the point where breathing will be impossible, with maximising every single opportunity he has to live life with his wife and children, and the extended family. He has two years to live.

What this man has in common with most of us may be little. But, think. Any of us could be gone anytime.

Let us, just for a moment, imagine that reality. Life, finished, done.

It’s not the propensity for morbidity; it’s the plain willingness to stare truth in the face—that is, the face of God. The Lord could, by our circumstances, call us in, anywhere, anytime.

We might arrive there, with the Almighty, even before this man with MND.

The Blessing of a Changed Mindset

What is generated in our thoughts as we consider the possibility of an untimely death?

It beckons us to prepare, to reconcile any brokenness within our power, to make the moments count just a little differently. We look at our children from a distance with fresh eyes and, indeed, our parents cause a new degree fondness in our hearts. These relationships (or the memory of them), and others, despite our problems, are the most wondrous gifts of God.

We may look at our jobs, our time-pressed commitments, the lack of space, many conflicting priorities, and see that God has placed us here—for a purpose. As we reflect, that purpose glows resplendently, even when it simultaneously causes us frustration. The frustration is in perspective; God’s perspective.


If we are suitably changed by the above thought—a very real prospect for every one of us—then we might commence more of our days, sprinkled with forethought, prefacing every word in the mood: “If I should depart early...”

Of course, we will forget.

But, if we faint for purpose anytime, with lives momentarily bereft of meaning, we have it instantly in completing the sentence: “If I should depart early...”

It propels us forward into reality-check mode.

Reality checks are few and far between. But every moment is a potential reality check. Our lives will have power, purpose, and poise when we learn to courageously stare our deaths in the face... of God.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Power from the Ground Up

It’s not from the halcyon heights we derive the spirit to annul defeat. No, from there we complacently take in the sweeping views. The power in resolve is found when the chips are down.


Sinking to the depths,

Is not the end game,

Belief from faith we collect,

That’s the way to take aim.

Stirring within our spirit,

Is the power beyond words,

A power to enfold merit,

Same that empowers birds.

Climbing from the canvas,

The courage to rise up,

Fears forming are foundless,

Overflows the underdog’s cup.


What happens when things draw to a grinding end?

Most people, in most circumstances, will give-in to the pressure and simply fold. Some, however, don’t feel they have a choice but to fight. Wisdom conveys itself and they hear it!

The former look upon the obvious, highly visible signs and believe what they see. The latter don’t believe it can end this way. Even in a flurry of confusion, punch-drunk from the volley of setbacks, they find the poise, somehow, to believe in an invisible vision.

Believing in Myriad Possibilities

The only real difference between those that give up and those who refuse to lie down is the vision they see. Both see no hope, but those who cannot give up insist there must be a way through.

Realistically, there’s always more than one way through.

Not only are there myriad possibilities—limited only by our imagination, ingenuity, and overall pluck—there are other variables to tap into. Like, the faith to believe unstintingly in a selected path once it is envisioned. Or, the resilience to see it all the way through.


Power from the ground up is a simple principle enshrined in truth and God’s Wisdom. It’s not just that God wants to see the battler rise—to conquer their demons; it’s also what the world wants to see.

Such guts inspire everyone.

Power from the ground up is the inspiration of the true story brought to motion picture glory; the championship point from against all odds; and, the victorious battle for remission when opposed to cancer’s scourge. Even more so inspiring is the impossible dream, backed in action, disregarding the eventual result.

It has a million forms; each one inspires us to believe... we, too, can do it.

If you may find yourself reeling from a devastating blow, recoiling in disbelief and strangled for hope, know now that power indwells from the ground up. Unbelievably, you may never be better positioned. Believe in the invisible; hope in the unheard of; love despite it all. Life is now.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Attending to All the Emotions

Emotions have a funny way of commanding our attention—if not initially, by way of our honouring them by truth, then it’s by distraction as they confuse our further reactions to future situations. Poorly handled emotions make us even more emotional.

Emotions are God’s way of forcing us to own the truth about how we feel.

If we obey the Lord we allow emotions their appropriate hearing, but if we deny the emotion, pretending it’s not there, God says, “Okay, have it your way then.”

The problem is having it our own way—if we deny our emotions—means we lose the majesty of God’s glorious Presence and our following interactions in life are characterised by missing the mark. Again, denied emotions make us more emotional.

An All Encompassing Truth

Knowing that the emotions are an essential safety relief valve means knowing that running from them just increases the pressure. Yet, many people find themselves skirting the truth for a more comfortable lie of life—even if so, partially.

But such comfort is short lived.

We know this in the moment of anger; it’s an unreconciled emotion that holds us back. Something within us is not being resolved and a dark and heinous secondary emotion bears its ugly head.

It might only be a small thing—a minor detail glossed over—but the dissonance kills us from within. We don’t like lying to ourselves, yet we try it on every day.

It’s an all encompassing truth. Human beings cannot bear much of the truth and, ironically, they cannot bear much without the truth. It's hard to know which of these truths is more powerful. It’s clear that both are.

The Only Remedy

If we wish not to be fooled, able to handle each event on its distinct merits, we will accept the prevailing emotion and do something to adequately amend it.

This will mean being honest about how we feel, as well as bravely communicating such feelings. This is the only remedy for the human condition that must abide by the truths that impact the person in question.

The only remedy, when we are feelers, is to convey validity to our feelings by being honest about them, personally and interpersonally. This is done with courage, for no authenticity can be procured without adroit boldness.

The only remedy, when we reach inner confusion, is to search even deeper inside, to find the blockage, to explore the missing link. This is done patiently, for no search can be successful in frustrated anger.

The only remedy, when we grapple with fear, is to call it for what it is, and to look beyond it. This is done with awareness, for no fear will stand where the awareness of faith-to-conquer-it is present.


We are emotional beings. This is because we were made to live truthfully. When we deny the truth, especially if that truth hurts, our emotions call us higher to crisis. We are compelled to meet our emotions in truth.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Friday, October 28, 2011

If You Find Yourself in Peril...

WITH THE FIGHT of your life on your hands—whether imminently drowning or being slowly eaten away—fight your hardest. It may be your last. But, by God’s grace you may get through and live much longer than you ever thought.

The veterans of the great wars fought many days like this, hemmed in and about, their circumstances grim and dire. For their company, and their country, lest their families and very lives, they could not afford to give up.

Though the threat of combat is foreign to so many of us, we are all on-call—at the behest of the human will—to go into warfare at the moment’s trumpet blast.

The Reason to Fight

If it is to be our last fight we have no reason to preserve the body; we use it with every innovation of the mind, every ounce of energy, and every straining sinew we have.

This is perfect reason. If the Lord wishes to call us home it will still occur, but our will must obey the underpinning gallant vanguard for life, which is a gift. Life is, at all times, a gift.

Whether we live or die—in the overall scheme of things—is inconsequential.

If we meet the Lord today, or an imminent tomorrow, because the fight beat us, we gain a crown for it. Likewise, if by God’s grace we’re granted ‘immunity’ from the present scare we will be found faithful in this by the reprieve and later, also, at the proper time—in the future world.

Honouring God, Predecessors’ Legacy and Dignifying Those Following

We have more to fight for than ourselves.

Those who have gone before us more than likely fought. Those coming behind us need an example of the human spirit, indwelt of God’s power, to infuse and focus upon life’s chief goal—to further the contest until God says stop.

It can, and should only, be the Lord who raises the chequered flag; the white flag we stow. Such a God that loves us—he gives us charge over that white flag. There is no shame in using it, and often we have and will do, though perhaps not with indefinite results, but we have within us power for the fight.

God says we should use it—all the power given us.

But, as we are part of the human family, we will waver. We will doubt, and weaken, momentarily withering. Cognisance of the Lord, however, means our minds are refreshed, and the battle can continue with added strength—and just enough.

Grace is sufficient for us, eternally (2 Corinthians 12:9).

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Graphic Credit: Les Henson, For Those In Peril.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Song for the Soul

“The LORD put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.” ~Psalm 40:3 (NRSV).

The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness is a gorgeous portion of the Lord (Isaiah 61:4). There is majesty and mystery in the stoic approach of the otherwise besieged person detecting the Lord in their presence. When depressive times come we reach for a song or we clamour in helpless desperation.

Not much of a choice.

Finding a Song at Depth

The story of Psalm 40 is an inspiring one. The miracle of redeemed rationality has climbed aboard the conscious awareness of the psalmist.

He has found something altogether alluring—a thing that non-believing onlookers will be amazed by as they take note. “Fear,” in this setting, is not being afraid but being in total awe by the transformation that has taken place: a low person, who has found their feet, having climbed from their knees, bellows a song of praise in spite of the tremulous events they find themselves in.

Finding a song at depth is something that can only occur in, through, and for God.

Discovering such a song is a gift of Divine revelation in response to a search; prayers sent to the Almighty for a clear and present salvation to amend the challenge at hand.

A song at the depths can only be found through faith, motivated by the state of being sick and tired of being sick and tired. The moment staunchness takes over from self-pity, raw honesty from insipid excuses, God joins the hunt.

In Truth the Song Lifts the Soul

A song for the soul is one we either sing vocally or by the movement in the mood of our heart—it’s the rocking therapy of the Spirit.

The practice of singing, allowing the melodic meander of a favourite tune to soothe the weary bones of the psyche, is a thing facilitating tears; initially in sadness, sure, but then our souls are enlightened by the refining joy of a salvific moment; the redemption of the Lord.

The music in the song, or the words, brings us to an imaginative place—a dreamy land destination—where God’s healing hand goes to work.

Music makes as open, ensuring that our guard is dropped for long enough that Spiritual healing can occur.


Songs for the soul are the fruit of healing and the besieged are freed. They break us down to who we are; no pretence, no barriers, no pride. Only there can God work on us, massaging the warmed oil of gladness into the dulled, numb glow of the spirit’s heaviness. Praise comes.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Blessed Are The Generous

The more we can do without, the simpler our lives, and the less stress we will feel due to threats of overload and temptations toward self-sufficiency. It’s pretty simple, really. Generosity is a good choice for everyone.


Everyday choices give us a way,

Choosing for kindness—its dawn holds sway,

Actions have about them matters of clout,

Better to give away what we can do without.

One generous act,

A heart bent on glee,

Positive they’ll react,

Blessings for all to be.


Just how much better would our world be if there was a generous streak in every living human being? It’s perhaps a moot point. But there are enough of those who care, reading this, to make some practical difference to the world we live in and share. Indeed, it’s already happening to some real extent.

Generosity Meets Real Needs

To read that there are one billion people desperately underfed, in a world where there is ample food resource to go around, we know that the generous action-oriented spirit—as exemplified in Third World mission and aid agencies, and many social justice advocates—is still relatively scarce.

Yet, we know how much we are blessed.

We probably have very much more than we already need. What can we give away that will make our lives simpler, more purpose driven, more relevant, and, more importantly, more loving in the eyes of the needy—and in the eyes of God?

This is nothing about feeling guilty for not doing enough. It’s everything about asking what we can do, and doing it.

It’s interesting to note that poverty experts are saying that it is possible, for the first time in the history of the world, to actually make poverty history, now and in the coming years and decades.

Generosity in General

But generosity doesn’t finish there. It’s not just about giving material possessions and money away. Generosity is the kindness of a heart, sensing in love, all the discernible need in a given situation, and doing something tangible about it.

Generosity is a smile. It’s the method of sacrifice; giving from one to another without thought of return. It’s the little thing done now, not the big thing planned for later on. Generosity cringes at thought of adulation—it wants none of it.

Realistically, generosity is the Christ-call, a spiritual burden on hearts for righteousness to come, and a song of empathy to the marginalised and oppressed.

The virtue of love is known by what is done.

Certainly one of the greatest blessings a pitiable heart can feel is the wash of gladness for all the things it has, as well as bristling sadness for the many millions worse off.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Art of Refocus

Most people can focus on a goal for a short time, or even for a medium-term period—for instance, to lose twenty pounds. But how do we maintain focus or, more aptly, refocus after we’ve let our guard down?

For every line of resolve there is the relief of returning to what we might deem, normal life. But, for many people such a ‘normal life’ brings with it temptations too great.

Once the grip of resolve is lost, regaining the momentum can prove, seemingly, impossible. It’s a great skill of self-control to be able to refocus.

Let’s consider the following ideas that may help us rein in our desires:

1. The power of the conscious mind cannot be underestimated, or its importance to us and our goals overstated. Focus, by definition, is mindfulness, and such a state can resecure our resolve.

2. As we invest in the power to think about what we need to think about, shutting out what we shouldn’t think about, we are given the keys to refocus—one day, and one moment, at a time.

3. Surely also the role of vision compels us toward success. Vision comes in many ways, from visualising the desired outcome to understanding our purpose to believing we can do something that we’ve never achieved before, which is also faith. Vision is fuel for refocus. The trouble is, our vision has tended to be negative and we focus on what we’re missing out on rather than what we stand to achieve. The former focus delivers results that are short lived; the latter is, on the contrary, food for life.

4. As we set out on a goal it will do us a power of good to understand that the initial focus will be easier than the refocus will be if we drop the ball. This obliges us to have a safe fear for the future that will guard us on the road to achievement. This endears us to determination that will drive us forward in the balance of humility.

5. When we prove we can refocus we have mastered self-control. This is a thing that many people take for granted—God has made them with that capacity, or they have mastered the art of refocus. For many others the achievement of self-control is a lifelong, and painful, quest. Refocus must be our aim.


One of the most discouraging aspects of life is achieving something, only to lose what was achieved because focus was lost. Learning to refocus is a critical human maintenance skill. Without it we will always struggle with self-control.

The good news is we can achieve our goals, long-term, as we maintain focus by refocusing each day, and upon slips we quickly determine a fresh resolve. Our practical lives depend on refocus.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Making Up for Lost Time

CAUSE FOR REFLECTION brings about possibility for regret over decisions made and time spent. Only with the benefit of hindsight are we gifted options for ‘what could have been’—everyone is susceptible.

I recall, several years ago now, lamenting the same facts-of-regret within a small-group setting (after all, I was ‘already’ 36 [As if that’s old!]). I was quickly both challenged and encouraged by a more experienced couple there.

A Beautiful Reality Check

They said, “The fact is, you have 40 useful years to look forward to.”

“There’s plenty of good work to be done in that time,” they continued.

They opened my eyes. Both of these people were still working part-time as volunteers in ministry roles in their seventies. They seemed to enjoy everything they did, and their lives weren’t without past sadness and brokenness. They were a real couple, modelling how to struggle well in a contemporary setting. I would describe them, in one word, as ‘warm’; people you might enjoy being around, especially when in a fragile mood.

Their appreciation of regret and brokenness made them warm.

Converting Regret to Learning

There is nothing God won’t do, regarding blessing for usefulness, for the person who has reached that point of turning their life around.

Everyone, without one single exception, has deep and dark regrets if they reflect. Indeed, God made us in such a way that we would experience regret—having wasted parts of our lives.

The Lord wants us to understand, in ways that are personally relevant and meaningful, that even slight departures from the good path bring irreversible consequences. This is not about punishing us, but it reinforces a mode of living common to all. It should come as no surprise. The same laws apply to all.

You are not the only one that feels negative about how life has worked out. You are not the only one who feels personally culpable. And you’re certainly not the only one to have given up.

But such negativity belies the truth that regret, the inevitable human emotion, was always meant to be converted into learning and, therefore, growth.

Focussing the Contemplative Eye

What separates the negative from the positive is focus—where are we looking: to the future or the past; or, to utilise the past as momentum for the future.

A mature outlook on the past will always propel us in grace on a future path to look forward to; one bright with hope.


Regrets are not the end of the story, no matter how old we are. Today or tomorrow are days for hope, railed in the cogency of transformation. As we strive forward, making the best of what we have now, we please God despite the past.

Better is the empathy of a once broken person. They have more for God to use than the person who doesn’t make mistakes (or doesn’t admit them).

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Graphic Credit: photograph by Alexander Boden.

General Acknowledgment: John & Fay Edwards.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

God’s Power and Control of Desire

Our commitment to change—to manage our overblown, damaging desires—is blessed with God’s miraculous power to remove that desire. Was there ever a more practical need to know the Lord of life?

Only by a miracle can a once addictive desire be massaged back to normality; to the point of it no longer controlling us. Fortunate are we; God’s in the business of miracles.

Two Elements Toward Change

God will usually bless the passage of our commitment with the warrant of his indelible, moving touch.

Where we come undone is in either half-hearted or temporary full commitment to which the Lord gives us a taste of his Power, but the realisation of such help is conditional upon our focus.

Power must be experienced. It cannot be believed until such time.

Some might say we need to bring our fifty percent to meet God’s fifty percent for change to occur. It is rather our one hundred percent decisiveness, and not necessarily effort, that blends perfectly with the ever-present power of God to change a life.

Decisiveness is the key, and that level of determined resolve will draw-down the incomprehensible wonder of Power—a phenomenon that cannot be described, and just is.

Resilience Is Blessed

Where people are forgiven for giving up on their goals regarding the control of their desires—many fights of which are comparable to life and death—is such Power seems ambivalent. It seems rare in its manifestation, like we cannot control it. Ae would like more ready access to it.

We need to understand, afresh, God cannot be controlled like that.

A component to our formula for success, previously not mentioned, is faith. Decisiveness is none other than the committed faith to see a ‘project’ through to the goal’s completion. And some goals are never actually completed—like the addiction, where the goal is to maintain the appropriate sobriety.

Faith is another attribute of the person who has tried and tried and tried—with smatterings of success. But, the goal continues to elude them. They remain in torment.

God, for whatever reason, has not healed them, yet.

But... they keep trying, and they keep committing.

The message is good news in this situation as the miracle of God’s power will ultimately make its way into that life, constructing that change... beginning the first day, then one day at a time from there.

Then, all the more glory will be given to God—for it was not by a mere human’s power that the desire was controlled; but by the Lord’s.


If the control of our desire is beyond us, we can plead God for power to remove that desire. Suddenly, our attentions are redirected. Apart from our fervent commitment, that is all that’s required, one day at a time. The Lord’s specialty is healing; we all need it.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Four Corners of Human Need

INBUILT WITHIN our humanity is the need to be right, happy, prosperous, and free. Our spirits are hardwired these four ways and we defeat only ourselves if we deny these spiritual urges.

If we want to be right, we need to be honest. If we want to be happy, we need to have courage. If we want to be prosperous, we need to be diligent. If we want to be free, we need to let go.

An important differentiation: these needs are achievable any time. God makes it possible, but it depends on us.

Corner One: Being Right

Nobody likes to be wrong. Pride is what we feel when we are resistant in our wrongness; shame is what we feel when we admit to the wrong.

God designed us to seek and promote truth, and when we don’t achieve this there is a sharp dissonance felt. People also want to feel right even when they are doing wrong. The urge is still the same; even if they know they are wrong.

Being right is not an “I told you so” issue so much as it’s a matter of being in alignment with ourselves and, further, with God.

A simple truth: We can be right more often when we’re honest.

Corner Two: Being Happy

The thought of incongruence is sadness. We yearn to be happy, yet many people strive to reach happiness, forlornly, without such a necessary input as courage.

God can’t give us happiness—the blessings of joy—without us, in turn, committing to do those things that help us achieve contentment.

Being “happy” is not the motivation, but the by-product of courage to identify and run after the only things that can make us happy. Material things take us away from happiness; spiritual things, on the other hand, heap happiness all over us.

It takes courage to sacrifice those things that promise happiness but fulfil little within us. We know those things that make us feel empty will not provide happiness.

Corner Three: Being Prosperous

Let’s get off on the right foot; this type of prosperity is nothing to do with material wealth and the accumulation of things. We are talking about the prosperous spirit, which is the feeling of prosperity.

Yet, we cannot ever be prosperous without being diligently active to create or enable the prosperity that God wants to give us; indeed, that which our Designer set aside for us—even before we were conceived.

It’s peculiar. Spiritually, we are already prosperous if we know God; yet we may not see it. A committed plan to do the will of God, in diligence, will create feelings of prosperity within. It’s the only prosperity that matters.

Corner Four: Being Free

No one seems to like the word “sacrifice.” But if we want to be free we need to learn to let go. Like the constant evaporation of water on a lake, life is a continuous stream of losing things.

Whenever things have their way of holding us, we are bonded—captive to an inanimate object or idea. This is madness because we want to negotiate our freedom against the eternal laws of God.

The only way of being free is to let go. “Of what?” you might say; anything and everything that compromises your pure focus on God. Only God can fill out deeper needs.


These four corners of human need—to be right, happy, prosperous, and free—point us in the indelible direction of God.

The Lord made us with these needs, and these are achievable much easier than we think; easy when we trust and obey the Creator. We were built this way. It is best accepted.

Of these four needs, which one presents you with most opportunity for better satisfaction?

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Achieving Hard Goals in Enjoyment

Changing habits involves hard work, only because we dwell on what we’re missing out on instead of appreciating, with vibrancy and newness, the new thing we’re doing.

That might seem impossible. It’s all about focus.

Focus is a time-bound thing. It’s only focus when we continuously centre our attentions on what we need to do to achieve the objective.

Time is Friend

Time is not our enemy, like: “As soon as I get this new habit squared away, things will get easier... life will be more fun—can’t wait for that day!”

Time is, instead, the gift of quantum opportunity—to deepen our experience of real life, which is strangely different from our typical experience. (Much ‘typical experience’ can resemble bondage.)

This is why changing habits and achieving a goal seems hard—it’s more foreign than hard. This is because we’re using our time differently; therefore, our conscious experience is bound to be affected.

Achieving goals in life is about noticing this simple law—that thoughts, feelings, and habits are either home or away; comfortable or uncomfortable—and defeating the power of fear with the power of God: a sound mind focused on what’s best, overall.

We can’t expect change to always feel good. It will feel foreign for a while.

Adopt the ability to think differently—holding such capacity for an extended time period—and we can achieve any goal that’s realistically achievable. The list of realistically achievable goals, as they apply to any person, is beyond our imaginations, but also more finite than we imagine, for some dreams will always be just that—unattainable.

Our deepest desires for change are God-purposed and God-willed. Moreover, our Lord graces us with the energy, resources, even the ingenuity to change.

Once we’ve set out toward our goal, time is a friend because, as time flows forward and never backward, we’re never closer to achieving our goals than we are now.

New Habits – A New Sense of Living Salvation

As Jesus said in John 10:10a: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” One of life’s thieves is the duty of compromise.

We vandalise our own dreams and brutalise our desires. It’s basic human nature, when we have the resources of commodities at our disposal, to take things to excess.

But to live the abundant life, part ‘b’ of John 10:10, we must harness our desires in order to live our dreams—the ordinary, everyday dreams that are attainable for us.

New habits, as we stick at them long enough for them to become entrenched, are the way to that new sense of living salvation. This is not so much hard work as good work—the work of faith to ‘keep on keeping on’ despite the foreign land we trudge. Take a stoic enjoyment with you!

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.