Friday, January 09, 2009

2008 Ramblings in Perspective

I sit today and contemplate this past year with a numbness and almost an indifferent attitude.

What happened during 2008 that significantly affected my life? Was there anything I could have done differently, or did I do what I thought and felt was right? What percentage of my life was able to impact anyone's life within my "circle of influence"?

The more I contemplate these questions the harder it is to answer them with clarity and honesty. When thinking of myself, I will have a natural bias to favor my own good responses, but then that is unfair and nonsensical in my approach to define who I am.

In retrospect 2008 was a difficult year for many. Some decisions regarding survival had to be made under circumstances that were seemingly out of touch with reality. Nonetheless, here we are today navigating a new year with a whole new set of opportunities. Some events were interesting, some were unavoidable, most were endured regardless of what we planned for.

In February, I had the second Cardiac Ablation procedure which corrected the irregularities in my heart. For the rest of the year physically I often felt as if I was not myself. My energy levels dropped and any zeal to do anything was severely compromised with an unreal lack of desire to do anything. It was like living a dream, knowing and seeing everything that was happening, but having no control or ability to change anything. I might add that this type of dreaming is not good, and is in fact detrimental to real life survival.

In March, I glanced at the calendar and remembered that in 2005 Mom passed away and went to be with the Lord. When I spoke with her on the phone she would ask "son - what is America like?" I would tell her often that "the next stop is Heaven..." I would describe what I was seeing here, the warm sun shine, the palm trees, the blossoming jacaranda trees, beautifully manicured gardens and clean streets, rolling blue waves crashing on the shore, and miles of clear beaches. At the end of our conversations she would sound peaceful and content after seeing through my eyes the things I spoke of. Little did I know that March 20th the Lord had a completely different plan, and that He would prepare her for eternity and usher her into His presence. It stands to good reason that the Lord is very clear about His thoughts not being our thoughts, nor His ways being likened to our ways in the slightest!

Then April rolled around and I recalled the events of the year prior 2008. On May 5th it was Dad's turn to be called home to the Lord. Miraculously the Lord provided for me to go and bury him alongside my brother Bill, and sister Karin. The memories are etched in my mind and heart with clarity and a realism that cannot be denied. I remember vividly, after the service we prepared for the internment and as we stood by the graveside, I peered into the ground, and was struck with a deep sense of attachment. I knew that just a few inches below the soil, Mom's casket lay embedded and compacted in the earth. Knowing that they had been together in life, and would now be together in eternity brought an incredible sense of peace and acceptance for the Lord's mercy and grace displayed in their lives, how He prepared each of them for what was to come.

Business began to falter during the course of the year. Some sectors didn't feel the decline as quick as others. We predominantly printed for the real estate industry, and as the year dragged on, figures began declining month by month, then week by week, then day by day. We had to act fast. The titanic was beginning to sink, and the life boats were in a state of disrepair. Decisions were made to scale down our little "mom & pop" print shop. We off loaded leased equipment, and began farming work out to trade suppliers. In the process we discovered that this was actually a lucrative way to sustain business, and allow the vendors to carry the bulk of the costs, while servicing our requirements. The key to survival rested upon driving volume to the business. Did we get the volume? No. So we had to diversify and include different complimentary services to the business. One such inclusion was building and hosting websites.

Politically on two fronts significant events took place in history. The first being presidential elections in Zimbabwe. Any form of outside monitoring was banned by ZANU PF - Mugabe's despotic ruling party. The MDC actually won with an aggregate percentage of 51.6% which in any true democratically elected government would signify defeat and a transition of power to the winning opponent. For four months no official results were announced. A run-off election was declared by Mugabe, and the MDC declined to partake in any farce of a so-called run-off. Mugabe declared himself the winner. Tsvangirai began pushing the OAU and the UN for intervention to unseat Mugabe - all to no avail. To save face Mugabe agreed to pressure within to include Tsvangirai in parliament as the Prime Minister - since the elections in early 2008 he is yet to be sworn in. The MDC unseated the house majority and claimed almost every ministerial seat - they too are yet to be sworn into office. A complete farce of an election if you ask any reasonably intelligent person. With the collapse of infrastructure across Zimbabwe, lack of foreign currency and inflation running in excess of 11 million percent - yes that is correct, it was a matter of time before sickness and disease started spreading in urban areas. The capital city and all major centers failed to treat water supplies and Cholera reared its killer head, and to date has wiped out over 1700 innocent lives who were unable to receive adequate treatment for their survival. The megalomaniac Mugabe began ranting and raving blaming the west in particular the British government for using "terror" tactics to deploy Cholera as a means of chemical warfare to oust the Mugabe regime. What a pathetic statement! I could go on like a duracell battery but giving Mugabe any more credence is completely unjustified.

For the first time in history the USA saw the presidential election swing in favor of electing our first black president - Barack Obama. At one point it almost seemed a credible fight was being staged by the Republicans, but in all honesty they couldn't match the funding and coverage of the Democratics and seemed to lose momentum as the race neared the end. Polls continued to show Obama as the favored winner. There is always going to be a multitude of reasons, pro's and con's, as to who won, who lost and why. I found myself asking the question "how significant if at all, is this result to me?" I looked back on my activism within the MDC, and began to understand that my opinion is insigficant when facing such a political and worldly giant. I also felt a deepening sense of shifting my personal focus while being in the midst of these changes, not allowing them to change the person I am. I admire activists who commit to the charge of changing the world, but in retrospect have began to decline in my desire to over commit to situations I know I can never alter. So what does it mean to me as we go into 2009 with Barack Obama as the President of the United States of America? It means I ought to be vigilent and take note of the changes going on around me, but I ought not to allow such changes to negatively impact my life. Will this new administration be the answer to all the wrongs that need to be righted? I doubt it. But what I can do, regardless of who holds office is pray for our leaders, that they make informed decisions, that they be guided by the Lord and that they hold true to the office they have been called to serve the people of the United States of America.

I know that my perspective will differ greatly with many, and that is the beauty of being able to express and communicate what we as individuals believe and accept as our values.

Truthfully though, I do sometimes get rattled particularly when I see the plight of my fellow countrymen in Zimbabwe. They have no choice, no freedom, and definitely no ability or means of escaping the maddening circumstances they are presented with daily. And so I will vocalize my heart in that respect.

On the other side of the coin, I know that in all of these events around the globe, we ought to be paying attention to the seasons, and noting that especially now with Israel pounding Gaza in her attempt to rid the region of the Hamas, the scriptural significance should trigger a response from us who believe that Christ is preparing to return soon. One such response is to pray for Israel first and foremost. This is where Christ will make His triumphant entry and all will see Him.

In hindsight let the world run herself as best as she can. More and more I think of what means the most to me when everything else seems to be spiraling out of control. What comes to mind is building on a foundation that I know will never perish. That foundation is Jesus Christ. How? Making the decision to constantly follow Him despite the trials and temptations and tribulations that come my way. Trust me for those who know me personally I have had a few. Refusing to back down in the face of all spiritual opposition regardless of the method of attack. By knowing who I am in Christ is a comfort when the enemy feebly attempts to dislodge my walk on that narrow path. In building upon that everlasting foundation, I think of what kind of material can be used, and the most infallible answer that constantly glares at me is - HUMAN BEINGS. Someone took the time to pray for my salvation, someone took the time to invite me to Church, someone took the time to pray the prayer of salvation with me. Someone! Am I not therefore that 'someone' who can do the same for a person who comes across my path? Scripture says 'one sews the seed, another waters, but Christ gives the increase...' That now makes me want to examine my effectiveness and ability to reach out to those around me.

We have heard it often enough - the glass is either half empty or half full. For 2009 I choose the half full metaphor. How about you?

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