If you’ve ever invested in stocks or mutual funds, you’ll probably have come across a disclaimer like this:
“Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results.”
This phrase is meant to warn us and give us pause before we press the “Buy” button. We shouldn’t assume that an investment will continue to succeed in the future just because it’s done so in the past.
But there’s a secondary meaning that can be read into that disclaimer, too.
We shouldn’t discount or overlook an investment opportunity simply because it has performed poorly recently. It could well turn around and gain ground.
It’s this last meaning of the disclaimer that we see exemplified in several characters in the Bible. It applies to our own lives as well:
Past failures in our lives don’t mean that God can’t still use us.
They’re not a reliable indicator of our future results or success.
If you have ever owned a cat (or have been owned by one), you’ll know that if you want to find the warmest, most comfortable place in your home, just follow the cat.
Cats unerringly zero in on the most comfortable spot in your house. They’re not above stealing your favourite chair or displacing you from your own bed in their quest for comfort.
Our feline friends consistently find the sunniest windowsill on which to perch or a warm heating vent in the floor over which to drape themselves. They’ll snuggle into the coziest, most protected part of the sofa, or stake out a claim on the most comfy lap.
Cats are masters at pinpointing zones of highest comfort.
But if you’re in need of comfort, reassurance, love and protection, where do you find it?
Follow the people who know the Source of all comfort.
Last week, NASA’s science rover “Perseverance” landed successfully on Mars, to jubilant cheers from scientists back home.
Mission managers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab near Los Angeles had been waiting anxiously for confirmation that the craft had landed safely.
Because it takes radio waves 11 minutes to reach Earth from Mars, “Perseverance” had already settled on the surface of the Red Planet by the time news of its safe arrival reached scientists back on Earth. NASA had to endure a nerve-wracking wait before they got the verification.
We encounter this time lag throughout our universe.
The light from our own Sun takes 8 minutes to reach Earth. Light from Pluto takes 5 hours. It takes 8 years for the light from the “Dog Star” Sirius to reach our planet.
This time lag means that with stars extremely distant from us, we’re actually seeing them now as they were thousands of years ago. It takes that long for their light to travel to us.
It sometimes seems as though there’s a similar “time lag” between our brains and our hearts.
Don’t you love recipes that are so simple that you can easily memorize them?
The ingredients list isn’t too long, and the items are probably measured in even cups or teaspoons, not fractions.
You’ve made the dish so often that the instructions are now fixed in your head. You don’t have to go rifling through your recipe box or searching your online files to find the recipe.
Even years later, you can still bring the recipe to mind and whip up the dish reliably.
You’ll never forget it.
There are things that God will never forget, either.
I heard a pastor say that “God has not forgotten the recipe for manna.”
God still remembers how to cook up whatever you need and get it to you!
Why is it that when traffic is diverted around “Men At Work” signs on the road, we often don’t see anyone doing any actual work?
Sometimes the construction zone is deserted, and work on the project seems to be at a standstill. And yet vehicles are still forced to circumvent the area.
At other times there might be a few workers milling about and talking, or peering down an open maintenance hole. But again, lanes are blocked off and traffic is being slowed down for seemingly very little reason.
We naturally find this very annoying. The disruptions and delays would be easier to handle if we could actually see some work getting done, some real progress being made.
Sometimes we show the same impatience with God, don’t we?
We have prayers that we want Him to answer, and circumstances in our lives that we want Him to change. But we get frustrated when nothing seems to be happening.
We all love receiving more than we expected, don’t we?
Like when you order a product online, and to your surprise the company throws in some extra goodies or samples as a bonus.
Or perhaps it’s your birthday, and your family outdoes themselves with a party, special gifts and a scrumptious meal, all despite being in a lockdown.
It makes us feel valued to be the recipients of these unexpected blessings.
God certainly knows this. That’s why He often seems to enjoy outdoing Himself, showing up in a big way in answer to prayer or simply to demonstrate His power and majesty.
This is how Paul describes God’s “above and beyond” abilities in Ephesians 3:20:
“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (NKJV, italics mine)
The term Paul uses to express God’s ability to work beyond what we pray for, think or even dream is possible is variously translated “superabundantly more” (AMP), “infinitely more” (NLT), “immeasurably more” (NIV) and “far more abundantly beyond all” (NASB).
However you phrase it, it says a lot about God’s character, His generosity and his abounding love for His children.
Are you a secret cookie dough eater?
Many of us learned as youngsters that raw cookie dough can taste even better than baked cookies. As adults, some of us will sneak a spoonful or two of cookie dough when we’re baking, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
For some of us, however, our addiction to raw cookie dough is rather more extensive. We have a particular problem resisting those tubes of uncooked cookie dough that you can buy in the refrigerated sections of grocery stores.
When we were kids, our Mom would buy a tube of dough and put it in the fridge, but it would mysteriously disappear before she had a chance to bake it.
As adults, our addiction to this surreptitious habit continued. We’d sometimes eat an entire tube of dough without baking a single cookie for our families.
Last summer, the Pillsbury company finally acknowledged what many of us have known for decades: their raw cookie dough tastes darn good, and people can’t resist it. So they’ve developed a formula that is safe to eat raw.
Pillsbury Cookie Dough tubes now state on the label: “Eat or Bake.”
Fellow cookie dough eaters: our secret is finally out!
And yes, I’m admitting that I’ve been a surreptitious cookie dough eater, too. There, I’ve said it.
Frankly, it’s a relief to have it out in the open. It feels liberating to finally admit my secret “sin.”
Aristotle said that “nature abhors a vacuum.”
So do I, frankly. Perhaps I should simply stop vacuuming? After all, who am I to argue with Aristotle?
Seriously, though, what that phrase suggests is that empty spaces are unnatural, and somehow or other nature will seek to fill them.
I encountered a dramatic example of this truism through a friend of my late father.
This friend had developed a disorder called Charles Bonnet Syndrome. Macular degeneration had left voids or blank spots in his field of vision. The brain finds these empty spaces to be disturbing, so in Charles Bonnet Syndrome it fills in the blank areas with patterns or random images from its memory bank.
The result was that my father’s friend would “see” people or animals that weren’t actually there. His wife would have to tell him that, no, there wasn’t really a stranger sitting on their couch, or a cow in their backyard. The hallucinations he experienced were just his brain attempting to paper over the upsetting voids in his visual field.
It seems that human nature abhors a vacuum, too.
We all have voids or empty spaces in our lives that we seek to fill: areas of dissatisfaction, lack of love or absence of validation. These blank areas make us uneasy, so we try to fill them up.
Sometimes we need a reminder of what we’re really here for, don’t we?
Many companies know this. Their employees can get so focussed on the little details of their tasks that they lose sight of what their main goal is.
That’s why for many years the auto manufacturer Ford put a large sign on the walls of its factories:
“Quality is Job One.”
An employee might have been helping to assemble the engine, working on the upholstery of the seats, or perfecting the paint finish on the vehicle.
But no matter what their specific task, the sign reminded the workers that their overarching goal was to produce a quality product.
Perhaps we as Christians sometimes need to be reminded what our primary function here on earth is?
You’ve heard it said that “man shall not live on bread alone.”
That’s absolutely correct. He also needs tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and pepperoni.
As in pizza.
I’m pretty sure that I could live on pizza alone, and I’m willing to give it a try. Is there someone out there who wouldn’t mind providing me with a daily supply of freshly baked pizza?
(I’m just kidding, of course. Sort of.)
Joking aside, we’re missing something crucial here, and that’s the rest of the verse I quoted above:
“Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Jesus in Matthew 4:4, quoting Deuteronomy 8:3)
Jesus seems to be telling us that the revealed word of God is every bit as important as the food we nourish our bodies with.
But do we really treat the word of God as being as essential to us as the food we eat each day?